Caring for Your Car's Exterior the Right Way
Your car is probably your most valuable possession— besides your home, of course. While buying a vehicle is a substantial investment, taking care of it is another investment on its own. In addition to maintaining your car's vital mechanical parts like the engine and transmission, you should also give the same attention to its bodywork.
Between the continuous use and the constant exposure to the elements, your car takes a beating pretty much all year round. This incessant wear and tear will eventually show on the exterior of your car if you don't take the time to maintain it on a regular basis. Here are a few periodic procedures and simple practices that will help you keep your vehicle looking and running like new for as long as possible.
Clean it Regularly
Washing your car regularly will prevent dirt, debris, and grime from accumulating, preserving its finish, and reducing its chances of rusting. Ideally, you should wash your car once a week, but if you can't do it that often, then you should try to wash it at least once a month. First off, pick a shady spot to work at, and if your vehicle has been sitting in the sun for too long, let it cool down before cleaning it.
Use a garden hose to wet the entire surface. Then, fill a bucket with the recommended amount of concentrated car cleaning solution, dip a sponge into the bucket, and start at the top. It's important to always start with the roof because, otherwise, dirty water and grime will be washed down over the areas that you've already cleaned, and you'll have to start over. Remember to only use a dedicated car-wash product; don't use just any soap or detergent on your car because these are too harsh and can end up stripping off the wax. If tree sap, road tar, or caked on bugs have accumulated on your vehicle, use a bug and tar remover to wipe them away. As for your tires, you should scrub them last with a specialized cleaner and a stiff brush.
Keep It Shiny
After the car is dry, pour a few drops of rubber and vinyl protectant onto a clean rag and wipe all vinyl, rubber, or plastic parts with it. This includes rearview mirrors, tires, door/window seals, and trim. Once the protectant is absorbed, you need to wax the remaining exterior. For the best results, wet the applicator pad either by dipping it into the wax container or by pouring a small amount onto it before applying the wax. When done correctly, waxing your car will seal the paint and protect the finish from UV damage, bird droppings, road salt, and splattered insects.
Car waxes can come as liquids, pastes, or creams. Car enthusiasts disagree about which type of wax to use, but most car owners prefer a carnauba-based wax in any form. It usually lasts around 6 to 8 weeks, and it gives a car a deep, showroom-grade shine.
Be Careful Where you Park
You can't always help where you park your vehicle, but whenever possible, avoid parking in direct sunlight. The UV rays along with the high temperature can damage the paint, dashboard, and windshield, making your car look old and worn out before its time. If you browse through any specialized website, you will see that excessive sunlight exposure is one of the main reasons why car owners in the US are forced to replace their windshield more often than they'd like. You see, glass expands when warm, and although automotive glass is specifically designed to withstand the thermal strain, exposure to extreme temperatures over long periods can reduce the durability of the windshield, making it more likely to crack or break. Additionally, parking your vehicle in direct sunlight after having run the AC, can cause stress cracks and small chips to spread across the windshield.
Only Use Microfiber Towels
Using old rags or regular towels to wash, dry, or wax your car often causes hairline scratches on the finish, so steer away from those. You can use soft towels that are specifically made for cars, or better yet, use microfiber towels. These are even more gentle than their other counterparts as they don't carry dust or dirt that can scratch the finish, which makes them safer to use on both the exterior and interior of your car.
Many car owners are under the impression that taking care of their vehicle's exterior is not as important as maintaining the internal parts. However, maintaining your car's bodywork will help you ensure smooth and safe rides; it's not just for aesthetic purposes. Whether it's cleaning, waxing, or making periodic repairs, exterior car care should be a regular part of your car maintenance routine if you want to keep your vehicle running at an optimum condition.