Washing and Drying F.A.Q:
Washing is the single most important aspect of exterior car maintenance. The difference between a well maintained and vibrant appearance and dull damaged paint is literally the difference between washing and drying properly or doing it the wrong way. This F.A.Q is intended to answer some of the most common questions regarding car washing; the information will remain general for the purpose of applying to the largest audience, however if you have any specific questions please feel free to contact us at any time.
Q: Why should I bother washing my car?A: This question has an obvious answer and a not so obvious one. The straightforward answer is you wash your car to keep it looking good. A clean car almost always looks better than one caked in dirt or covered in road grime. The less obvious answer is to maintain the long term appearance of integrity of your cars finish. Paint that is neglected for long periods of time becomes more difficult to restore later on, and more prone to early failure. Think of your cars exterior finish like the skin on your face – if you didn’t wash it or protect it from the elements it would deteriorate quickly.
Q: I’ve been washing cars my whole life, it’s easy – I’ll just go get my bucket, some dish soap and old t-shirts; nothing wrong with that, right?
A: Not if you like swirls. This is perhaps the most common misconception regarding car care. Many car care enthusiasts have a love/hate relationship with washing. Why? Because while it keeps the car clean it’s also the most common way to damage paint. Washing incorrectly or with the wrong tools is a surefire way to damage paint.
Q: How do I know if I’m doing damage to my car?
A: First, if you’re using dish soap you’re not doing your car any favors. Dish soaps are much more harsh than automotive soaps, and while they may not cause any immediate harm to paint they will almost certainly dry out your rubber and plastic trim, and may dry the paint out if used for long periods of time. Second, and perhaps more importantly are the tools used to wash a car. Like your skin a cars paint is thin, soft, and very prone to irritation (in this case marring). If you’ve ever seen a car with swirls marks (and I’m sure you have), then you’ve seen the side effect of improper washing. If you’re starting to notice fine scratches and swirls in your paint the likely culprit is improper washing.
A: As dirt builds up, it traps moisture. That moisture and dirt on the bottom layers are now in continual contact with the clear coat. As you drive down the freeway, the wind generated by your speed is enough to move that dirt around some, and as it moves, it makes tiny scratches in the clear coat. Over time, those tiny scratches become larger ones, and then the real trouble begins.
Once the clear coat is damaged, the dirt and moisture are able to seep underneath, and begin to lift and destroy the clear from underneath. Once the clear coat is gone, there is nothing to protect the paint, which is the next thing to begin to be abraded by the action of dirt and wind—and clueless, careless people brushing against the car in parking lots, or stupid kids writing stupid sayings in the built-up dust. All of these things continue to scratch the paint.
Once the paint is damaged, you’re down to the bare metal…and now the problems get worse. A scratch in the paint may be minor, but if it goes all the way through the paint, and exposes any metal at all, even if it’s too small to see with your naked eyes, that moisture and dirt now start working their devilment upon the metal.