But we also know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Everybody’s got a brother in law or Uncle Louie who swears you don’t need special soap to wash your car and his car looks fine. Or the buddy who gets his cheap, generic car wax at the discount place because, hey, wax is wax, right? Well, no Sparky, wax is not just wax, and neither should you use just any old soap on the old family Truckster.
And that brings us to the 12 most common myths and misunderstandings when it comes to keeping your ride clean, shiny, protected, and looking good:
It’s okay to use dishwashing detergent to wash your vehicle!
Nope, it’s not. Dish soap removes everything from the finish of your vehicle including the polymers that are there to protect your paint. Repeated use will dry out the finish and eventually lead to oxidation and permanent damage. There’s a reason that they sell special car wash soap. It’s designed to remove loose dirt without removing the waxes and polymers that protect your paint.
2. There’s no difference between washing and cleaning!
Washing your car with soap and water only removes the loose dirt, cleaning gets down and removes the blemishes, stains, dried bug parts, and other contaminants that are bonding into your paint.
3. A shiny vehicle is a clean vehicle!
Just because a vehicle looks shiny doesn’t make it clean. Run your hand over the surface and if it doesn’t feel smooth as glass, it isn’t really clean. If it feels rough then it needs something like a clay bar treatment to remove all those nasty bumpy things before a good waxing.
4. A clay bar treatment should only be done by a pro!
Actually anybody can “clay bar” their vehicle and there are kits on the market that include everything you need to do the job right. What is a clay bar kit? Well, if you’re old enough to have played with Silly Putty then you should have the idea. In the kit is a small bar of clay and something to lubricate the surface of your vehicle. You simply rub the clay bar over the paint and of those little contaminants that you can’t see get stuck in the clay and are removed from your paint.
5. You can use wax to remove swirl marks!
Swirl marks are really tiny little scratches in the paint and they can only be removed by getting to the bottom of them. How you get rid of them depends on how deep they are. If they are small enough they can be removed with a non-abrasive paint cleaner. Really deep swirl marks may require professional attention.
6. There’s no real difference between polishing and waxing!
Polishing is what creates that beautiful, deep gloss shine that you want. Waxing protects that shine once you’ve got it. Waxing coats the polished surface with polymers, resins, and silicones which, in spite of what you see on those late night infomercials, will not make a dull finish shiny.
7. Machine polishers can damage your vehicle’s finish!
Speed is the key to whether or not a buffer or polisher will damage your paint. The typical household dual action polisher or orbital buffer should not create any problems even for the most inexperienced user. Those high speed rotary buffers however, should only be used by a pro who knows what he or she is doing.
8. Old T-shirts and diapers make the best waxing cloths!
That used to be true but not anymore. A modern, good quality micro-fiber towel is the best thing to use. Those old diapers and t-shirts hold the contaminants on their surface where they remain to scratch your paint. The deep-pile surface of a micro-fiber towel can actually capture and hold those tiny particles away from the surface of your vehicle.
9. Most waxes are guaranteed to last for one full year!
It all depends on a lot of varying conditions. The weather, road salts, if your vehicle is garaged or sits outside all year, and how well you maintain that waxed finish all contribute to how long the wax job will last. Regularly checking the condition of your wax by running your hand over it and feeling for its condition will tell you when it needs to be redone. It should feel smooth, slick, and glassy or its time to reapply the wax.
11. Lighting a hood on fire, without damaging the paint finish, proves the protective qualities of a car wax.
Well, that’s a great trick for the guy in the booth at the car show to use but it really proves nothing. That little bit of alcohol that he uses will only produce a small amount of heat and it burns out in just seconds. It’s a little bit of carnival and it’s fun to see, but don’t be fooled.
12. Once a vehicle is waxed, you’re done and shouldn’t worry!
Just because you’ve got a nice coat of wax on your vehicle’s finish doesn’t mean it still doesn’t need care. Tree sap, bird droppings, dead bugs, and other contaminants can still do a lot of damage if left on that finish. Even normal everyday dust and dirt should be washed off regularly. And in between washings you should use a detailing spray to keep up with spot cleaning and maintaining that quality shine you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
So there you have it, twelve things you should know about keeping your vehicle clean and looking good no matter what sort of conditions you put it through. And if Uncle Louie or your buddy down the street doesn’t agree with us, try out some of these methods on their vehicle and prove it to them!
When in doubt, call our experts at Chux Trux to get help on how to properly protect your car!
By: Chris Ripper