There was a time when a car wash used to be a weekly ritual: You’d crank up the radio, enjoy a cool drink and spend the morning getting your car into top shape again. Alas, no more. For very good reasons, allowing poisonous cleansing fluids to simply wash down the drain is no longer allowed. This hasn’t only incisively changed the routine of millions during the Summer months, but also meant that washing your car by hand has mostly been replaced by taking it for a drive to an automatic drive-through washing service.
Unfortunately, this has made a car wash a lot more expensive. Still, reducing the frequency of your car washes is hardly a sensible solution. After all, keeping your car clean is not just a question of good looks.
Car Wash: Preventing damage
A car wash may seem to be mainly about making your vehicle shine again. In reality, however, it is also about preserving it and preventing damage:
- Exposure to sun rays can blemish the paint.
- Leaf stains can gradually cause damage to the paint of your car.
- Bird droppings, pollen and various insects may cause chemical reactions and may even eat through the paint.
- Salt can cause erosive reactions and therefore lead to rust.
The longer you postpone the next car wash, the more time these substances and external influences have to do their damage. A car wash is one way of making sure it doesn’t get this far.
Car Wash: How often?
Admittedly, the weekly car wash routine was not just environmentally unsound. It was also excessive. Especially with the support of some of the latest car wash products, your car can keep its healthy glow at least for a few weeks. However, especially with regards to the dangers mentioned above, you should nonetheless aim at a regular washing schedule. Generally speaking, most experts consider a car wash a month sufficient, especially if you manage to squeeze in a seasonal waxing. Bird droppings and other threats should obviously be dealt with without delay and on the spot.
Car wash by hand versus automatic car wash
Automatic car washing services have developed into futuristic locations which would not seem out of place in a science fiction flic. Still, most experts reckon that a hand wash is still best. The reason for this is that you have far more direct control over the stains, you can apply as much or as little pressure as you need and take your time for particularly difficult surface areas. Car wash products for home use have significantly improved and there are even semi-professional devices at a reasonable price promising a truly spotless and streakless car wash.
A hand wash is usually also the cheapest option at your disposal. The only disadvantage is that it takes up a lot more time than automated drive throughs and requires a bit of insight and experience. You’ll also need to use designated car wash areas, so fluids can be properly disposed of.
Car wash recommendations
With the right car wash recommendations, however, you can take things into your own hands again and save some money to boot. Here are some of the most efficient tips, many of which were offered by website Popular Mechanics, to make your car shine from outside and clean from the inside:
- Whatever you have planned for your car wash, start with vacuuming. As long as the dirt is still dry, it is easier to remove it from door-jambs, for example.
- Avoid acid-based tire-cleaners and dish soaps, which can cause considerable damage to your vehicle unless applied by professionals with intimate knowledge of how much of them to use and how to use them.
- Your eye is not always the best judge of the condition of your car’s exterior. Instead, run your hand across the paint to see if it’s completely smooth – if it isn’t, you should carefully clean any rough patches.
- Waxing is an essential part of a car wash, because it prevents stains and protects your paint from damage. Both paste wax and liquid wax are fine in principle. What matters most is that you use wax not just once a year, but, as mentioned before, at least once every three months.
- Don’t forget about the interior of the car and the vents – in some cases, pollen trapped inside the vents can even reduce the efficiency of your system and increase fuel consumption.
- Reserve cleaning glass surfaces for last, since your windows will probably be stained from previous steps in the car wash process. In terms of the right window cleaner, anything will do, as long as it doesn’t contain ammonium.
Some steps, such as physically grinding off glass, should be left to professionals – asking for expert advice once a year doesn’t cost the world and can contribute to your car’s condition.