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5 Exterior Car Care Tips

person washing a car with a sponge
Caring for your car’s exterior is important for more than just making it look nice. A pristine appearance also preserves the condition of your vehicle by keeping it free from corrosive substances and protecting it from the elements. To ensure your car’s exterior won’t deteriorate too quickly, make sure you follow these tips to effectively maintain its glossy sheen.
First rinse, then scrub
If you clean your car at a self-serve car wash or in your driveway — which you should — don’t ever jump directly into soaping the surface. Why? “If you hit your dry paint with soapy water, you’ll just grind the surface dust and road grit into your paint finish,” warn Jenny Stanley and Rick Muscoplat of Family Handyman. Hose off your car first — targeting the dirtiest areas — then apply the soap.
Use a mitt, not a sponge
You may assume that it doesn’t matter how you apply the suds to your sedan, but using the right applicator makes a huge difference. More specifically, never use a sponge. “Sponges capture and hold dirt and grit in their large pores. You can wring it out, but the grit will stay put when car cleaning,” explain Stanley and Muscoplat. “Once grit is embedded, you may as well wash your car with sandpaper.”
A better alternative is to use a microfiber wash mitt that you slide over your hand. In addition to being less straining on your hand, a mitt can be rinsed and shaken clean far easier than a sponge can.
Always dry your car by hand
Although it’s tempting to let the water droplets evaporate off your car — especially on a warm, sunny day — it’s better for your car if you absorb any surface moisture with a towel. Letting your car air dry after washing will result in white spots; this is where the water left minerals and trace contaminants behind. In addition to being unsightly blemishes on a newly bathed vehicle, these specks can actually corrode your car’s surface over time.
Instead, take the time to dry your car by hand. “Use microfiber drying towels or chamois,” recommend the experts at True Value. “Chamois, commonly known as shammies, are leather cloths designed to soak up water better than a regular towel and help prevent water spots.”
Add extra protection
After ensuring your car’s exterior is shiny again, keep it that way by protecting it. Your car should receive a thick coat of wax to shield the paint and clear coat, but there are additional protectants you should apply.
According to True Value, you should “pour (or spray) a dab of vinyl and rubber protectant onto a clean rag and wipe it on all vinyl, plastic or rubber parts on the vehicle exterior. These will most likely include door and window moldings, trim, rearview mirrors, and tires.” This will prevent these materials from drying out and cracking.
Remove any corrosive substances
If your car gets tarnished by bird poop, tree sap, road salt, or splatters of mud, don’t wait until the next complete wash to remove those blemishes. They may seem small, but these substances can hold corrosive properties that slowly eat away at your car’s exterior, potentially leading to permanent stains.
There are many ways to take better care of your car, but these are some of the most important tips to know to avoid hastening your car’s deterioration.
This article is presented by Krause Toyota.
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