If you’re like us, the Labor Day holiday provides a three-day weekend. If so, what better time to tend to cleaning and detailing your four-wheeled pride and joy? Here are a few tips and tricks to polishing up your automobile during summer’s last hurrah.
A Good Hosing
It sounds simple, but the first step to getting that ride nice and clean is a good, thorough wash. Only use soaps and cleaner products designed for vehicles, and if you can, avoid washing the car while the sheetmetal is extremely warm, or in direct sunlight. Higher surface temperatures may dry the soap quickly and leave deposits on the surfaces.
Rinse the car first to remove debris, and then begin washing with soap from the top down. Make sure to rinse and re-soap your applicator — be it a sponge, wash mitt, etc. — frequently to avoid contamination. And whatever you do, do not — repeat, do not — skip drying the car.
Ah, a nice, clean car. Time for some wax, right? Not so fast. Reach out and touch that surface you’ve just labored over. If it still feels rough, the folks at Meguiars say it’s time to clay the surface. Doing so helps remove crud that’s bonded to the paint surface over time. Likewise, now’s the time to address faint swirl marks or small scratches by carefully — and sparingly — using rubbing compound. When buying wax, ensure you pick one listed as being clear-coat safe, particularly if you’re applying it to a modern vehicle.
Grab The Right Tools
As is the case with any task, having the right tools at hand allows the job to be done properly the first time around. It goes without saying that paper products, especially paper towels, should never be used against any painted surface for risk of scratching. Microfiber or sheepskin mitts are ideal for washing, while a good quality chamois or microfiber towel is key for drying the car. Foam applicators or soft brushes are ideal for removing debris and applying product to the vehicle’s surface. Again, paper products are a big no-no for painted surfaces, and do keep a look-out for leftover lint left from cloths.
Take Your Time
We know you have plenty planned for your weekend holiday, but do make sure to take your time. Rushing often results in missed debris, water spots, or — in some circumstances — new scratches or swirls on your paint surface. Make sure to take time to do the job right.
You’ve heard the “an ounce of prevention” line time and time again, and it certainly applies to your car. You may not have the time to spend a couple hours cleaning your ride from head to toe on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but a regular, 30-minute cleaning will keep the car looking its best.
Wash your car lately? Share some photos of your spiffy ride with us on our Facebook page!