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How Often Should Cars Be Washed?
You might be thinking; how often should I wash my car? In truth, there is no wrong or right answer to this question. It is subjective and everybody would have a different point of view. A serious detailing enthusiast would be working on their car on a weekly basis, maybe 3-4 times a week in extreme cases if they have a show car. An average road user driving daily would take a slightly different view from weekly to monthly and beyond. Good practice would vary depending on road conditions, weather, and time of year.
If you care about the look of your vehicle and would like it to look good for the time you own it, then it is worth having an annual plan to maintain the paintwork at its best. Ideally, when you take ownership of the vehicle, it is advisable to treat as much of the surface as your budget will allow (doing this yourself is the best way to stretch your budget) with coatings to help protect and maintain the shine for the longest amount of time.
Imagine the surface of the paint to be perfect as per the diagram above. A perfect finish reflects light the best producing the ultimate shine.
If the surface gets scratched or scuffed then the light reflects randomly as in this diagram offering a poor level of shine.
Harsh cleaning chemicals, a poor wash process, automatic car washes, road salt, UV rays and bird lime (poo) will ultimately affect the look of your paintwork.
By applying any coating you are adding an invisible layer of protection to the paint, with added gloss if applied correctly. Apply the coatings when you get the car, or if using an annual process of treating the car, apply in the Spring ready for the Summer as UV rays are amongst the most damaging to paintwork. Maybe you can then apply again in the Autumn ready for Winter when road salt and grime is our biggest enemy.
A paintwork coating can be as simple as a spray wax or paste wax. This layer will defend against road salt, UV rays, and bird lime and will enhance the vehicle's shine but will need to be reapplied regularly. You may choose to use a premium coating like CARPRO CQUARTZ (as pictured) which will have added longevity and more resistance to daily wear lasting for two years and beyond. Rain and water will slip off the paintwork and the coating will extend the shine between cleans significantly.
Applying a coating is a great defence but, if you choose to wash the car using a poor process or an automatic car wash, this layer will be removed in time. Eventually, when the protective layer is gone, the damage to the paintwork will dull the surface. Maintaining a good wash process is so important as per our blog, How Can I Take Better Care of My Car?
Coatings can be applied to paint, glass, plastics, leather, and fabric. Once applied, the wash process is made easier as dirt and grime will not adhere to the surfaces as easily since the coatings resist them - much like a non-stick cooking pan. A good coating repels dirt and makes it easier to clean the car using the wash process, this in turn can affect how often you then need to wash your car. Weather conditions play a big part but the ultimate answer to the question is, “when does your car look so bad that you know you have to clean it?”
This brings us back full circle to the answer being ultimately different for all of us, only you can answer the question for yourself. In most cases, a car is the second largest investment we all make after our homes and if you haven’t invested in a home then it is likely the most expensive item you own. So why wouldn’t you look after it? If you have gone through the process of applying coatings to your car, then it is a good assumption that you care how it looks. Cleaning the car weekly is an easy and quick process allowing you to remove the week's road grime safely. Plus, if you make sure you have all the items you need to hand, it can take under an hour of your weekend as a maintenance wash!
For some, a maintenance wash is not enough and extra layers of ‘detail’ can be added. We are all different and some find the process therapeutic and a chance to have quality time away on their own with their thoughts. Ultimately, it all starts again Monday morning when you get in your car and, if it is clean and looking great - who knows the sun may even be shining - what better way to start the week?