Your vehicle represents a huge investment of both money and the time you spend driving your car, truck, or SUV. Whether you want to resell one later at a good price or keep your current car and keep it looking beautiful – and spiffy – for years to come, it’s smart for you to maintain your car exterior from the very day you buy it.
The first place to go to learn how to do this is your vehicle owner manual. This manual specifies the best means to clean, wax, and otherwise shine your car, truck, or SUV.
Understand there is not always a one solution fits all scenario. The car detergent or wax you use on your Toyota pickup may not be right for your Mitsubishi Mirage.
Different manufacturers may use different types of enamel and sealants that may require slightly different solvents to clean the pain or work best with very specific types of car wax. It also may be necessary to do something after a year or two to protect the seal on the paint itself so your car paint does not fade or chip as quickly.
Should you use wax or sealers? It depends again on what your manual recommends. Both car wax and car sealer act to filter out the harmful effects of sun rays including ultraviolet, ozone, and moisture. In the past, wax and sealers used to be quite different on an ingredient level because sealers contained silicone while waxes did not. This often meant a sealer would last longer than a car wax.
Yet that line has blurred because many car wax products now contain silicone and sometimes other properties that were once the exclusive domain of car sealers. Check your manual and your product packages carefully.
Some experts suggest that you can actually deep clean and wax too often. For example, deep scrubbing can wear down the sealant used to protect the paint. Sometimes, you can even damage the car enamel as well.
So how often is too often? That is a good question and one that hopefully is addressed through your vehicle owner manual. If not, you have to weigh the amount of surface dirt your car, truck, or SUV accumulates in the space of a week or two against the methods you use to clean it. Doing a hard and heavy cleanup yourself without the right materials may damage the top coat sooner than taking your car to a professional car wash shop.
Yet if you go too far in the other direction by not cleaning and waxing frequently enough, you can have other problems. Tree sap, decaying bugs, and the other types of unwanted extras that make it onto the car paint can etch through sealant and destroy the uniform appearance of the top coat. This situation can be exacerbated by harsh sunlight.
One issue experts are consistent about. Always thoroughly clean a car, truck, or SUV before you wax. If you don’t, you may simply seal in the dirt and make it become one with your top coat.
Consider too that if you later have your car, truck, or SUV repainted, you may have to reevaluate what types of sealant, car cleaner, and car wax you need because you no longer have the original paint and seal. Always ask at the time you have your vehicle painted or retouched to be sure that you follow the exact guidelines for exterior care.
But what if your auto painter suggests very expensive third party products to do the job when you don’t have that kind of budget? While you don’t always have to buy the specific brand name products they recommend, you should match the qualities of those products are closely as possible for your best results. This means you need to determine what is in the recommended car care cleaner and wax and then try to find a less expensive option that does the same job.
Here are some tips:
Where possible, garage your car, truck, or SUV rather than leave it in direct sunlight or exposed to the elements. When you do so, you can protect the exterior finish much longer than you can otherwise.
Whenever you see that road salt, mud, sand, bugs, and other unwanted elements are beginning to build up on the car exterior, get a thorough wash. Follow it, when possible, with a complete wax job which can keep some debris from immediately reattaching itself.
When not using your vehicle for a period of time, throw a waterproof cover over it. While you can pay a lot for special car covers, a good tarp that you can carefully weight at each of the four corners may do just about as fine a job for much less cost.