Tips to Keep in Mind When Washing the Car

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Washing your car

Whether it's in Alberta or some other part of the country, it's not unusual to see someone out in their driveway on a sunny afternoon giving their car a thorough washing in order to maintain its new finish. Car washing is a key component of automotive ownership, as it can give motorists an up close look at their ride to see if there are any nicks or dings significant enough to warrant a car insurance claim.


However, there are a variety of issues to be aware of with each and every wash, as recently detailed by Consumer Reports.

For example, some motorists may be under the impression than virtually any type of cleaning product will do when it comes to ridding the exterior of their vehicle of grease and grime. In reality, though, common household products like dishwashing liquid, hand soap or ammonia can do a number on a car's paint job, potentially stripping it of its brilliance and luster.

All Cleaning Products aren't built the Same

Consumer Reports says it's best to only use products that are exclusively for your vehicles' exterior, which can traditionally be purchased at big box retailers or at a trusted mechanic shop. The application of the product doesn't require anything more than a large, plush sponge that's capable of sudsing up the cleaning gel, liquid or rub in order to remove grease, rubber, salt spots and various other road deposits like sand.

While one sponge may seem like it would be enough, this will rarely be the case. Instead, it's best to use multiple sponges, not only to lengthen the life of them but also so that the elements from one sponge affect another portion of the vehicle that's more vulnerable to damage. For example, if using one to wipe off dirt and grime from wheels and hubcaps, it's best not to use the same one on the actual finish, as small bits of sand and gravel could scratch the paint.

Avoid Circular Hand Motions

The manner in which the cleaning is done should also be taken into account. In other words, instead of applying soap and rubbing it on in a circular motion, spread it out in a straight line, whether that's done vertically or horizontally. This creates a more even distribution of the cleaning product and can also eliminate the swirl marks that can limit its shine.

After the car has been sufficiently sudsed and rinsed, a warm weather day will enable the car to dry off quickly. But in actuality, it's best to dry the car manually rather than let the sun take care of it. That's because watermarks will often form on the car if left to its own devices, which can leave it looking drab and dull. Far better to use a chamois or a dry, terry cloth towel. Chamois towels are particularly effective, thanks to being super absorbent.

It's also best not to wash the car when the sun is at its peak, traditionally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. When the sun is at its brightest, it will speed up the drying process, which is exactly what motorists don't want to have happen. Far better to clean early in the day or in the mid-to-late afternoon hours.

Keeping out of direct sunlight may even bring some long term health benefits when it comes to skin health. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, there will be 81,700 new cases of skin cancer in Canada alone this year, 6,000 of which will be melanoma - the most common and serious form. More specifically, there could be approximately 550 new cases of melanoma in Alberta, or what equates to about 10 skin cancer diagnoses in the province each week.

In short, just as motorists provide protection for their car, they should be sure to cover themselves by applying and reapplying sunscreen.