Written by : Tim Marsh
We all love having a freshly washed and sparkling clean car. Regular cleaning doesn’t just increase the eventual re-sale value of your car; it also protects it against rust, and allows you spot minor maintenance issues before they become problems. But are you doing more harm than good by washing (or allowing others to wash) your car? Here a few tips that can help you avoid a car wash disaster.
How often should you wash your car?
If you’re on the road most of the day, leave your car outdoors frequently, or like to swing your car through mud puddles, then you’ll want to clean your car more regularly than someone who is a weekend driver and keeps their car garaged 90 per cent of the time.
This may seem obvious, but too often car owners stick to standard advice such as ‘once a week’ or ‘once a month’ and neglect to take into consideration their individual circumstances. Pay attention to how regularly your car looks and feels dirty, and take your cue from that. Keep in mind too that seasonal and weather changes will impact how frequently you need to wash your car as well.
What’s your weapon of choice?
Once you have a fair idea of how often you should wash your car, you can then choose how you’re going to keep your car clean. Essentially, you have three options: you can do it yourself at home, check your car into a ‘car spa’ and let someone else do it for you, or take your car to a car wash and use their facilities.
At home, you have the benefit of time (i.e. you don’t have to rush to get it done) and you can ensure that you use soft, high-quality sponges, cloths and brushes that are clean. To prevent a DIY disaster, you should make sure to wash your car in a shady area. If you clean your car in direct sunlight, you risk leaving ‘burn’ spots and marks on your paintwork. You should also make sure you use proper car wash soap, rather than laundry or dishwashing detergent, as this can also damage your paintwork.
When it comes to professional car spas, find one with a good reputation, and facilities. A car spa is probably one of the safer options, if the most expensive. The only thing to watch out for is that on especially busy days, the car spa attendants may ‘double dip’ with their cleaning and drying cloths and use a dirty one on your car, which can cause swirl marks and can even scratch your paint.
Automatic car wash
Look for a drive-through car wash that offers a ‘brushless’ or ‘touch-less’ service. In the same way that dirty cloths can damage your paint, harsh automatic cleaning brushes can do the same thing. Touch-less car washes use high-pressure water jets and proper cleaning products to wash your car, which makes it a safer option. Again, look for a business that is reputable.
Whatever method you choose, the most important thing to remember is that it’s better to protect against future damage to your car than try to treat damage that has already been done.
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