In this article, you will learn:
If you stop to think about it, the brand-new cars at your dealership aren’t actually new. Regardless of what the odometers say, many new cars have thousands of miles on them before they arrive on the lot. Some have even traveled around the world. They’ve been transported by boat, by truck and by truck. Once they arrive, they sit on the dealer’s lot, exposed to the elements, until you or someone else buys them. To top it off, a paint job takes 90 days to completely cure, so the clear coat of your new car is actually at its most vulnerable while it’s still fresh from the factory.
Considering all these factors, “brand-new” car paint could likely look even better, and be better protected, with a little TLC. That’s why we say the first day you own your car is the best time to start detailing and protecting it.
The easiest way to keep your car looking great is to start preventative maintenance when the car is new. The dealership where you bought it might’ve had a car detailer give it a once over, but you’ll make it look even better with a full detailing inside and out. If it’s a preowned, new-to-you car, you’ll likely need to do a little more to create a like-new finish throughout. That’s okay. We’ll help you learn how to make an old car look new. Caring for your car right from the start, regardless of whether it’s new or preowned, is important for maintaining its beauty in the long run. After the first detailing, you should keep practicing your regimen of cleaning and protecting the finish every few weeks.
Our previous blog post, The Complete Car Detailing Guide, includes a great, step-by-step guide for detailing a car from start to finish. We recommend following those steps for comprehensive, professional-quality cleaning and protection, but, for the purposes of this article, we’ll just hit the high notes here.
Start by cleaning the interior, so carpets and seats have more time to dry as you work on the rest of your car. Vacuum and shampoo the carpets and clean all the upholstery. Use an interior detailer like Oxy Interior 1 to clean and protect all interior surfaces.
Move on to the exterior, starting with your tires and wheels. Use a tire and wheel cleaner like All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, scrubbing the rubber and metal surfaces with a brush or Wheel Woolie. Rinse your wheels and tires clean, then move on to the rest of your car exterior. Rinse your car from the top down, washing away all loose dirt and grime. Using a bucket (or two) of car wash soap and water, wash your car with a microfiber wash mitt. Start with the roof and then the hood and trunk before moving down and around the rest of your car. Clean one small, 2’ x 2’ section at a time until the car is clean. Rinse all the suds and soils away.
Check for bonded contaminants. Even new cars may have tiny particles embedded in their clear coats. Removing them not only gets your car cleaner but it also helps your wax or sealant layer adhere directly to the finish. You can read all about testing for and removing bonded contaminants in this article about using a clay bar.
If you see any scratches or swirls in your clear coat, now is the time to fix those also. For a comprehensive how-to on polishing your car, check out our step-by-step guide to paint correction.
Finally, apply a layer of high-performance wax or a ceramic coating. Using a good protectant is critical to keeping your car looking new. In fact, we recommend waxing your car every time you wash it. Spraying on a little Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax takes only 5 minutes, and that’s time well spent.
All cleaning products are not created equal. When it comes to your car, you should never use products that were developed for household use. Not only are they often ineffective at cleaning your car, but, sometimes, they can even damage or compromise the surfaces of your car. That’s because your car is made of different materials than those in your home.
For example, dishwashing detergents should be off-limits for washing your car. They’ll strip the wax off the paint, leaving it exposed to damaging conditions. Household glass cleaners can leave your automotive windows cloudy and full of streaks, potentially compromising your safety. Cleaning products with alcohol, ammonia or bleach can dry surfaces like plastic and leather. Routine use over the long-term can cause these surfaces to age prematurely and even crack.
That’s it, a basic overview of how to keep your car looking new, using cleaners and protectants. Of course, there are countless other common-sense measures you can take to keep your car looking great. Park in a garage whenever possible. Wash away road salts as early as you can. Clean up spills and stains quickly. Always drive and park defensively.
The list goes on and on, but we’ll do our part to make it easy for you. Your car – and its resale value – will thank you for it.
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