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Top Tips for Keeping your Car Looking Good This Summer

With the three-day holiday weekend awaiting and decent weather expected for most of the U.S., many motorists will be heading out in their cars whether it’s for a family road trip or to show off at a neighborhood car show. With that in mind, we talked with Mike Pennington, Meguiar’s product specialist, who gave us some quick and easy tips for summer car care.
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Although the paint on modern cars is far better than it was 10 years ago, Pennington says that care is still required to preserve the quality of the paint. The most important thing he says to help preserve the finish is to wash your car at least once a week if it’s a daily driver; less frequently if it’s garage kept and rarely driven. If bird droppings or bug guts get on your paint, he says to spray it off as soon as possible (even if you can’t wash the entire car) in order to prevent the paint from being etched. The longer contaminants sit on paint, the faster it can damage paint, so even carrying around a quick detailing spray and a microfiber cloth can help remove contaminants quickly

The best process to wash your car is to make sure you start when the body has a low surface temperature – early in the morning or early evening. Also, use a clean wash mitt and the proper car wash liquid. While there are plenty of products on the market, Pennington says that you should absolutely never use dishwasher detergent. Harsh chemicals also cause headlights and exterior trim to deteriorate faster. If you’re going to use a pressure washer, Pennington says “be respectful” of the paint and not get the head of the nozzle too close. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the soap off and dry the water to prevent water stains, which again can etch the paint if left to sit out in the sun.

Just like you don’t want to wear a nice outfit with dirty shoes, he says to make sure you give the tires and wheels a good cleaning, too. Cleaning your wheels will ensure that road dirt and brake dust (which contains metallic particles) won’t damage your wheels. Be sure to clean brake dust off as often as possible with the right product for your particular wheels. Using the wrong product can severely damage your wheel’s finish. For the tires, use an appropriate all-purpose cleaner, and after the tires dry, you can apply a tire dressing. The proper amount of dressing shouldn’t be tacky or greasy.

Like humans, cars need protection from the sun, and the wax acts as a sun screen for your car. He recommends waxing your car seasonally – at least three times per year (going into spring, summer and winter). Ideally, Pennington says you should clay and apply compound to your paint after you wash it, but if you’re paint is in good shape and you’re just looking for a quick wash and wax (rather than a daylong detail), then you can proceed to applying wax.

Unless you’re a professional, he says you should avoid using a rotary buffer to apply the wax. These buffers require training and can ruin the paint quickly if used incorrectly. Instead, many companies now offer oscillating, dual action buffers that won’t cause swirl marks and make damaging your paint “virtually impossible.” A corded drill is recommended since it has a consistent power source, but most cordless drills will work on smaller vehicles.

Again, he says you’ll ideally want to wax the paint when it has a low surface temperature, and do one body panel at a time as you work your way around the car. When you’re finished, wipe the wax off with a microfiber cloth. Going back to the wash earlier, using dishwasher detergent breaks down this protection faster, which removes your paint’s sun screen.

A proper wash and wax shouldn’t take that long, and it will help protect the paint of your car making it look newer for longer. Plus, the more often you care for your car’s paint, the easier it is to care for down the road.

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