Sap, sun, sand, and bugs — not to mention bird droppings — threaten your car’s finish all summer long. Even if you’ve been less than diligent keeping up appearances, an end of summer detail can set things right.
“If you don’t get that stuff off your vehicle, it could bond and in some cases scratch or etch the surface,” said Mike Pennington, director of training at Meguiar’s, Inc.
Neglecting the accumulation of summer contaminants can cause oxidation, dulling, and rough surfaces. Frequent car care and wax protection helps prevent contaminants from bonding to paint. Yet, simply wiping it down with a towel is not recommended as the contaminants can become trapped in the fiber and scratch painted surfaces.
Use products specifically intended for cleaning vehicles, Pennington said. Cheap towels, t-shirts and diaper cloths can cause swirls or microscratches. Dirt particles trapped by fibers can act like sandpaper across the surface.
Pennington offered the following autumn recommendations:
- Begin with wash products designed specifically for autos. They gently remove the sap, oils, bug goo and other summer contaminants. Never use dish soap, which has degreasing agents that strip wax, damage paint finish and degrade rubber.
- Get sheepskin or microfiber wash mitts that gently remove summer grime and trap it into tightly woven filaments.
- Use two buckets for one great shine. Use one bucket for your wash solution. Use a separate rinse bucket for towels and mitts. That way you’re not swooshing summer contaminants around wash solution and re-applying them to your vehicle.
- Wax, wax and more wax. It will not only make your vehicle look great for fall but it will help prevent harvest dust and insects from destroying vehicle paint. September also is a perfect time to apply wax for protection against contaminants from early rains and road grime. Carnauba formulas offer excellent protection but typically do not last as long as a synthetic product.
- Dry with a chamois, terry cloth towel or microfiber drying cloth. They won’t scratch the surface of your vehicle.
- Remove grime from wheels and wheel wells with specially formulated wheel cleaner solution. Warning: Do not clean with the same wash cloth or mitts used on the vehicle surface. Never, ever use brake wash solution on your vehicle surface. Contaminants in brake dusk can destroy paint.
- Apply tire cleaner and scrub with a tire brush. You’ll be impressed how tires look new after removing “browning” haze built up over summer.