I have begun feel somewhat like an automotive Florence Nightingale. Holding the hand of a mistreated vehicle as it lies on its deathbed. And all I can do is make its final years more comfortable and convince them that their owner did care, despite the damning evidence to the contrary. But it’s not all bad; we deal with more than our fair share of well-maintained vehicles which are a pleasure to work on.
This article should help with some basic car detailing tips that will not only prove your love for your vehicle (if you don’t love it then you probably should as it is most likely the most or second most expensive thing you own!), but also improve your wallet through maintaining its value (as much as possible) and preventing the need for more serious, more expensive detailing work to be done later on in its life.
1. Stay on top of it – inside and out.
The title of this article should cover this point, next time you get into your car have a look around. “How did it get to this?” you might ask. Well it probably started with an empty water bottle you left on the back seat, then your friends left their rubbish from that trip to McDonald’s, then the family got their hands on it, or maybe you have kids (in which case I do not envy the challenge you face regarding this point!).
Most of the rubbish we find in cars could be prevented with a little due diligence, make it habit when you leave your car to have a look around and take any rubbish with you. Write a post-it note and put it on your dashboard and you will be amazed how quickly you see the difference!
- All contaminants should be remove asap, this includes bird droppings, tree sap, tar. Get all off these off before they get a chance to bond with the paint, over time they only become harder to remove and will actually cause lasting damage.
- Remove your rubbish!
Turn this into a habit and you will be amazed how quickly your car will improve. No need to get the detailers in yet!
2. Know your car cleaning products.
There is a wealth of information on the internet, and also an abundance of overrated products and advice. This is not to scare you, just to suggest that it is a good habit to do further research rather than take one internet forum user’s opinion as gospel.
Here is one point of view from Barry Meguiar (Owner of ‘Meguiars’ one of the world’s largest car care brands) on the most common pieces of internet advice,
- Do NOT use household dish soap on your car! – “Dishwashing detergent is meant to remove everything from the surface. That includes stripping the polymers off the paint surface… The effect is similar to what dishwashing soap does to your hands. Too much will dry the skin. On the surface of a car, the same thing occurs; dishwashing soap actually accelerates the oxidation process when used regularly.” (Source: From 12 car wash myths – autos.aol.com)
You generally just need a good soap, window cleaner, bug & tar remover, wax and carpet/upholstery cleaner. Once you have these, you should be all set to keep your car clean to a good standard. Don’t be afraid to try new products and you’ll soon develop your very own car detailing armoury!
3. Use clean cloths
Throw that old mangy cloth away right now!
As important as your products are when cleaning your car, your equipment plays just as important (if not more important) a role. You MUST be vigilant with your equipment, if you drop a microfiber towel or cloth on the floor do NOT use it, it will have picked up all sorts of tiny stones etc which will scratch your paint should you use it. You wouldn’t take a rock and rub it along your paint, would you? So don’t use a dirty cloth. If you choose to use a car detailing company, make sure they use fresh microfibers.
With cloth being so cheap nowadays (kmart has 6 microfibers for $3.50), there is no excuse for not retiring those dirty ones.
- Use clean, 100% cotton terry towels to apply the majority of your products.
- For polishing and buffing, use clean microfiber towels.
- Use separate cloths for the dirtiest areas of your car (e.g. rim, mudflaps etc).
- For your windows, use a fresh cloth (terry towel and microfiber) for the best results.
4. Let the product do the work!
One of the most common mistakes people make when cleaning their car is to scrub. The products are designed to do the work, imagine you are giving your paintwork an extremely gentle massage that is how it should feel. Any harder then you will end up damaging your paintwork.
If you feel like you need to scrub, find a different way to get it off, don’t be afraid to let the product soak in, although amazing, they are not all instant miracles and give them a few minutes to work their magic.
5. Treat it once in a while with a professional car detail.
Every now and then (we recommend 6 weeks) get the professional car detailers in! There is no substitute for a well-trained, experienced professional to rejuvenate your vehicle, they know how to reach those tricky spots and bring your car back to life. They will also be using the best products which the public tend not to use due to their generally expensive nature.
This is by no means a bible, just a few tips to get you started from an experienced head! I hope this serves to help you maintain your vehicle and get your car to more of a professional detailer’s standard.
Fancy getting the pros in? Make a booking with Timeless Car Cleaning.