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How Can I Take Better Care of My Car?
A modern car is made to go for many more miles than the cars our parents learned to drive in. Taking good care of your car during the wash process may not make your engine last longer, but it will keep the car looking younger and like new for many more years.
The biggest factor in a vehicle losing its shine is how we treat the car during the wash process. Harsh chemicals and scratchy sponges will dull the paint's natural shine by scuffing away the original glossy surface. This cross-section diagram shows how the surface of the damaged paintwork looks under a magnifying glass with light being reflected inconsistently and therefore not having a gloss finish.
Our aim should be to not introduce these scratches in the first place and to protect the paint surface as much as possible as part of our wash process. This will help maintain the shine level and defend the paint against harmful UV rays and road salt.
Take the time to care for your vehicle yourself, look for chemicals that are pH neutral meaning they are safe for you to use and will not damage your paintwork. If you have historically used a bucket and sponge with a squirt of washing up liquid, ditch the sponge and get a wool or microfibre wash mitt and a big fluffy drying towel to help eradicate scratching when washing the car.
We recommend getting two dedicated wash and rinse buckets with grit guards in the bottom. We have all seen how much dirt is left in the bucket after a wash - you don't want to risk rubbing this dirt back on the car! Grit guards will stop you reaching into the bottom of the bucket to pick up the larger particles of dirt. The reason to use two buckets is to have one with your chosen shampoo and another with clean water to rinse the dirt off the mitt. A third bucket can be introduced to separate wheel cleaning from paint work if you want to go that extra level.
The Wash Process
We recommend you start with the wheels. You can remove the worst of the caked-on dirt which is not just road grime but a product of braking, where the iron filings from the brake discs stick to the alloy. Modern wheel cleaners will literally lift these filings off the wheel.
Try CARPRO Iron X or Koch Chemie Reactive Wheel Cleaner. These cleaners are easy to use, simply spray the wheel working from the bottom up, making sure to coat all surfaces of the alloy with the spray - where it hits it will react. Work one wheel at a time and you will see the chemical reaction of the iron "bleeding" off the rim turning deep red. If you want to agitate with a brush use Wheel Woolies as they are super soft and will not scratch the alloy. Then wash off thoroughly with a pressure washer or even a hose.
Snow Foam and Rinse
The object of the snow foam is to remove the worst of the dirt on the car before applying any pressure with a wash mitt. The snow foam is applied by attaching a lance to your pressure washer. Using Koch Chemie Gentle Snow Foam is a good start as it will not harm any waxes or sealants on the painted surface if you have treated it. Once sprayed all over the vehicle it can be left to dwell for 5-10 minutes to soak and loosen stubborn grime. Completely rinse off the foam before you hand wash.
Wash Using Two/Three Bucket Method
Fill one bucket with a good foaming gloss enhancing shampoo such as CARPRO Reset, Malco Ultra Violet or Koch Chemie Nano Magic. The other bucket should have just water, and if you want to make sure your mitt is cleaned each time a wash board is a great addition to the bucket. The washboard sits on the grit guard and adds a gridded wall angled up the side of the bucket for you to run your mitt over, helping to remove the dirt as you go.
Start by dipping the wash mitt into the soapy water, washing from the roof down. Work one panel at a time cleaning the car in a straight back and forward motion and avoiding round and round actions. After each panel, dip the wash mitt into the rinse bucket and rinse off the dirt then go back into the wash bucket with your foam in and start on the next panel until the whole car has been washed.
Drying the car is important in order to avoid streaking and limescale forming on the surface. A CARPRO Fat Boa is the thickest, fluffiest drying towel around and will easily absorb any remaining water. Work around the car in straight lines to dry the panels. Open all car doors, boot, and bonnet and dry smaller spaces with a soft microfibre cloth if needed.
To finish off, you can apply an All Purpose Cleaner (APC) such as Koch Chemie Green Star diluted as required to areas that may need attention such as door jams and the petrol flap. Spray liberally and wipe clean with a microfibre cloth.
And that's your simple guide to an easy maintenance wash. The end result of this should be a clean car. This is not a “detail” by any means but you can add many more stages which you can read about elsewhere on our blog!