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July 4, 2024

Car Wash Do’s and Don’ts

Experienced, trusted local auto mechanic shops such as Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive in Tyler, East Texas, have seen a lot when it comes to the “Do’s and Don’ts” of washing your car.

Most people have a story about a friend or a child who “helped” wash the car at some point and ruined a paint job for several reasons. While those stories are usually pretty humorous in hindsight, the reality is that it’s important to protect the outside of your car, truck, or SUV (not to mention that the cost of repairs for a ruined paint job doesn’t come cheap).

While it might seem like washing your car is washing your car, the fact is there are a lot of things that can make a big difference when it comes to washing your car properly.

Why wash the car? It will just get dirty again.

While it’s true that your vehicle will inevitably get dirty again, and probably soon, depending on where you live, keeping the outside (and inside) of your car clean is as important as other maintenance, such as an oil change or replacing a filter when needed.

Leaving dust, dirt, bird poop, salt, or other mess on your vehicle weakens your paint job over time. This is a cosmetic issue and can also mean your car loses value. If you want to sell your car at any point, you’ll want everything in the best possible working order. This includes the condition of your car’s exterior.

Regularly washing your car keeps the outside in top condition.

Use the right type of cloth to wash the car.

It’s easy to grab an old towel or household rag to clean your car with, but it’s not necessarily what’s best for your car. Some clothes are more abrasive than others, and they could easily scratch your vehicle’s finish.

It’s worth investing in a microfiber towel or mitt specifically made to gently wash the outside of your car without leaving scratches.

…And the right car washing soap.

While it might be the easiest thing to grab, dish soap isn’t the best cleaner for the outside of your car and causes damage to your paint job over time. While you’re getting the correct cleaning cloth, investing in a soap specifically made for washing car finish is also a good idea.

Don’t scrub a dry car!

It’s very important that you pre-rinse your vehicle before you begin washing it. If you immediately start scrubbing, even if you’re using a microfiber cloth, you’ll be grinding the dirt right into the finish and causing scratches. Thoroughly wet the vehicle first, and then start soaping.

Cleaning your Tires!

Remember to wash your tires and around them. However, don’t use the same cloth to wash your tires that you use to wash the exterior of your car or truck. Your tires have dirt and even small stones caught in them that will also get stuck in the cleaning cloth. If you then use the cloth to clean the vehicle’s exterior, the stones and dirt could cause a lot of damage to your paint.

It’s a good idea to have a separate brush just for your tires. A brush is more abrasive than a cloth and will do a better job getting the dirt and other debris out of your tire treads, hub caps, etc.

Top-down cleaning.

As with most things, it makes sense to clean your vehicle from the top down. Mud, dust, and dirt are more likely to be thicker on the bottom of your vehicle than higher up.

It’s also a good idea to have a two-bucket system for cleaning and rinsing your cloth well between scrubbings.

Don’t forget to clean the interior!

It’s important to keep up on cleaning the interior of your vehicle. Make sure you’re using products that are designed for car interiors—especially if you’re cleaning details like your leather seats. And definitely keep your leather seats clean and oiled; otherwise, they’re prone to cracking.

When you clean your vehicle’s interior, remember to vacuum the vents. Dust can easily accumulate in the vents and compromise the air quality of the inside of your car when you turn on the heat or air conditioning.

Don’t let your car air dry.

After cleaning your vehicle, it might be tempting to skip the extra step of drying it at the end. However, skipping this step will make your car look almost like it hasn’t been washed at all because of watermarks.

Make sure you use a soft cloth, such as microfiber, and make sure it’s clean when you dry your car.

Car maintenance is about more than taking care of your vehicle’s engine—it’s also about keeping your car clean and using the correct products to do it. Talk to your trusted auto mechanic about how you can keep your car in the best condition.

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