According to distractify, the average American spends 4.3 years driving a car (in that time, you’ll cover enough distance to go to the moon and back 3 times). That is a long time your car is on the road, so unless your only driving inside a showroom that whole time, chances are, your car is going to get dirty. In Wyoming, we trudge through dirty snow in the winter and get blasted with sandstorms in the summer, not to mention dodging the tumbleweed and flying horse manure in between times. Ok, I exaggerated just a little, but the fact remains our vehicles still get dirty. Luckily we don’t have salt on the roads to deal with, which inherently leads to vehicle corrosion and whilst most modern day vehicle paintwork is fairly durable and resistant, it’s always good to take care of the bodywork to avoid environmental damage making sure you get the best trade-in value when the time comes.
What are swirl marks?Are you doing more damage than good though? How do you know?
“Swirls or spider webs on the surface of the car are thousands of micro-scratches that have a negative impact on the overall appearance. They are more noticeable on darker colored vehicles, and can easily be seen in direct sunlight or under the lights at night while in a parking lot.
While there are many causes of swirls, the biggest culprit is improper washing and drying techniques. They can be avoided for the most part once you learn how to properly wash and dry a vehicle, as well as which materials to use. One trip to the automatic car wash (also referred to as swirl-o-matics), or a quick wipe down with the wrong kind of towel can quickly destroy 15 hours of machine polishing.” 
To get started on your car wash, you’ll need;
- 3 Buckets (1 x clean hot water, 1 x car soap, 1 x clean water)
- Wheel Cleaner
- Wheel Brush
- Car Soap (Do not use dish soap!! It’s abrasive)
Use your wheel cleaner first as the wheels are usually the most dirty. Never spray wheel cleaner on paintwork as it may damage it due to the chemicals used to get rid of the brake dust. Follow the manufacturers guidelines. Most of the time this will involve spraying the wheel with the cleaner, leave it for a couple minutes, then use your wheel cleaner brush to agitate and remove dirt and dust from those tough areas. Rinse your wheels and wheel arches when done.
For best results, make sure the vehicle surface is cool to touch and in the shade. Rinse the whole vehicle with a hose starting at the roof and work your way down so you bring the dirt down and off the car. A hose with medium pressure is great, too much pressure can cause damage pushing the dirt further into the paintwork.
Get your sponge and bucket filled with the car soap and clean water and a separate bucket of just water.
Follow manufacturers guidelines as to ratios they may vary between manufacturers, usually you only need a very small amount of soap. Starting from the roof, the the sides, and leave either the front or back to last (whichever is dirtiest). Be gentle with sponge as to not push dirt into the paint, the object is to try and ‘float’ it away. Do small sections at a time and after each section rinse out your sponge in the clean water bucket. If it becomes too soapy or dirty, refill as needed.
AVOID GOING IN CIRCLES! Use a straight line back and forwards approach. This is particularly important on darker colored vehicles. Before the soap dries onto the surface, rinse the soap off with the hose.
Dip your chamois in the bucket of clean hot water, squeeze the water off the chamois. Pull it out to full size and gently drag it along small sections at a time. This will remove the water from rinsing and will avoids getting water marks. When the chamois gets to soaked with water from the vehicle, dip again in the hot water and repeat until your vehicle is gleaming. No one ever said this was going to be easy but look at this way, you’ll be burning calories and getting a great looking car, so everybody wins. Did I mention, AVOID GOING IN CIRCLES? If you have a compressor and air hose, lucky you, you can use that too to remove excess water by allowing the air to push the water off the panels. Remember to get in the crevasses and joints, door jams and sills.
Grit Guards are available to put in the bottom of your buckets to further help contamination of dirt/water/soap.
You can use a Microfiber towel instead of a Leather Chamois and here’s a link to some wheel cleaner brushes.
There will be a future blog on polishing and making your car show-worthy!
Do you have any tips or questions on washing/cleaning vehicle, please leave a comment below?
Which products have you found to work really well? Any products you have tried that don’t work?
detailedimage, Todd Cooperider