Shine On: Summer Car Care

Just like we exfoliate our faces and bodies for bikini season, it’s time to get our rides ready for summer. Driving in a clean, shiny car just feels good. Here’s what you need to do.

By Kim Phipps

Common Summer Car Care Mistakes Can Dull Your Ride

Your car’s paint exterior is a little bit like your hair. You want it to look clean and shiny, and aren’t afraid to put a little time and effort into making it look its best. However, some of the little things you do for short term beauty can add up to dulling damage in the long run, as any veteran of the keratin-straightening, curling iron crimping, silicone gel and foil highlighting wars can tell you.

Everyone enjoys a great looking car, but many drivers are unaware of some everyday habits that can harm your paint finish. Keeping your car in shape helps to avoid costly damage down the line. Because like your tresses, a little knowledge and the right product can work wonders for your car’s finish. But unlike your hair, once it’s damaged, you can’t console your car with a pat on the fender and a sympathetic “Don’t worry honey…it will grow out.”

Here are six common car finish faux pas, and what you can do to to avoid them:

Don’t Use Dish Detergent

You wouldn’t use it on your hair, so don’t use it on your car! Most household detergents are formulated to strip everything off the surface, including burnt-on pizza cheese and the wax protection on your car. While this might be great for your dishes, your car is now defenseless against the elements. Look for a pH balanced car wash product. And just as with shampoo, you can even find one with a built-in conditioner, like this one from Meguilar’s. This one, Maxi Suds, is cherry-scented.

Don’t Park Under Trees

Although it’s tempting to take advantage of parking in the shade, it’s actually one of the most damaging things you can do to your paint finish. The damage caused by items falling from above, like tree sap and bird droppings, is actually greater than leaving your car in the sun. Sap and droppings, if not removed promptly, can permanently damage your car’s paint and finish. So whenever possible, aim for that lucky parking spot that’s covered by a structure, keeping your car cool and bird drop free.

Help For Your Headlamps

Dull, hazy, and cloudy headlights are the first giveaway sign of a neglected car. Not only are they unattractive, they can also be a safety concern as they make it difficult to see the road ahead and avoid potential hazards. If your car was built after 1990, chances are the headlights are made out of polycarbonate instead of glass, which is resistant to breakage but prone to yellowing and haze due to UV exposure. Look for headlight restoration products made specifically for clear plastic, and your beams will be flashy again in no time. Try using Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit. You can even buy protectant while you’re at it–it’s like sunscreen for your headlights.

Why Cry Over Spilled Smoothies?

It happens to everyone sooner or later. A full latte in the cup holder, an unexpected quick stop, and your floorboard is a milky, soggy mess. Forgetting to clean up spills is not only unsightly, it can also lead to permanent stains and unpleasant odors in the interior of your car. Keep a few terrycloth towels and a car interior cleaner in the trunk in case of emergencies. You don’t need an expensive specialty product–a non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaner like Simple Green will do the trick in most situations. A pack of moist wipes within easy reach in the glove box can help wipe down surfaces, too. And just as with laundry, cleaning up spilled food right away is key to getting the entire stain out. For lingering odors, try sprinkling with baking soda, letting rest overnight, and vacuuming.

Two Buckets Are Better Than One

By using just one bucket when washing, you end up transferring dirt back onto the car, which can create swirl marks and defeats the purpose of your wash. Try using two buckets: a plain water bucket for rinsing the wash mitt and a wash solution bucket for retrieving fresh suds to continue cleaning. Using a grit guard in each bucket also helps to trap loose dirt particles, preventing them from transferring back onto your car. And of course, use a soft sponge or mitt, never a bristle brush. Keep Dr. Beasley’s wash bucket with grit guard in your garage for a hot summer day when a dousing with the water hose sounds like a great idea.

Less Is More

When applying wax to protect the surface of your vehicle, a common mistake is to use too much product in one application. (Remember your high school bangs?) Not only is this wasteful of the product, but it also creates extra work when removing the product. To get the most out of your wax, keep it to single uniform thin layer. If you are worried about coverage or protection during tough winter months, a second even layer can be applied. Just as with haircare products, car waxes range from the economical, all-purpose kind to the super-pricey-premium and color-specific. For a good basic wax, there’s Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax For some extra car spa day pampering, there’s Dodo Juice Orange Crush Soft Car Wax, which is specifically designed with orange oil to accentuate warm highlights on red, orange, or gold colored cars, and smells yummy.

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One Response to “Shine On: Summer Car Care”

  1. Nice article, cute and informative at the same time. Good information to have, especially about the car spills, I’m good at doing that. Thanks for the tips.

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