Editor’s Note: In this limited series, Under the Hood, we’ll share do-it-yourself tips from drivers who want to dig up their cars, regardless of their skill level.
After extensive mechanical repairs, paint can be one of the most expensive vehicle-related expenses you’ll encounter if you want to keep your ride nice and shiny. Simple jobs – say, repainting a single area or panel – often start in the hundreds, and full paint jobs can cost thousands. If you’re serious about your car’s paint job, you may be familiar with Paint Protection Film (PPF), a clear polyurethane coating that wraps almost invisibly around your car’s exterior, covering and shielding every painted surface. Wrapping PPF around your entire car can also cost upwards of $1,000.
If you plan to invest heavily in your car’s appearance – and especially if you want great paint without spending a lot of time – then you’ll need to know how to keep your paint clean, protect it from chips and scratches and maintain it that. they shine.
Here’s how to protect your car’s paintwork.
Wait for the paint to dry
Detailers recommend waiting at least two weeks after each dye before giving a full car wash. Cleaning any dirt or other debris from your car during this waiting period should be done very carefully, using a non-abrasive cleaning solution and wiping lightly with a cloth. Note that the two-week waiting period only applies to hand washing. If you want to run your car through an automatic car wash, wait about a month. After each wax job, wait at least two months to hit the wash.
After applying any PPF, it is safer to wait about a week before working on the coated surfaces in order for the film to set properly. Definitely don’t wash your car during this time, and avoid putting any kind of pressure on the film during the week-long repair process.
Give it a wash
(Purchase any of the following supplies and tools from eBay Motors or your dealer of choice.)
After waiting the right amount of time for the (hopefully metaphorical) dust to settle, you’re in the clear to wash the car. First, invest in a cleaner that’s gentle on your car’s paint. Household cleaners are not specifically made for this, so avoid using them, lest their chemicals cause corrosive effects on your paint job.
Instead, look for products that are designed to interact with car paint, such as Paint Cleanser by AMMO or Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo. Before applying these products, rinse the car thoroughly with a hose to remove any loose residue that could scratch the paint during the next steps of the process.
Recommended amounts vary by product, but you’ll probably need to grab a clean bucket and mix the cleaning solution with water. To apply the soap mixture, dip a soft car wash sponge (or other product such as a microfiber mitt or similar) into the mixture and apply a generous amount to the paint, gently rubbing it along the length of the car in horizontal movement. Although tempting, it is undesirable to bathe in circles, as you risk creating swirl marks. Rinse the car with fresh water from top to bottom. When there is no more soap left, dry the car, starting from the top, with a soft, very clean towel to prevent watermarks (microfiber works here, too).
Give it a wax
For a bit more shine and protection, wax your car’s paint using specific car wax and a microfiber applicator pad or orbital energy pad. First, gently apply the wax panel from the panel using an up and down motion. As the wax sets, it will create a dull finish. To work the wax well and remove the excess, take a soft cloth such as a terry towel or microfiber (or again the orbital machine, this time with a removal pad) and using a circular motion, remove the wax. Now, take a second to admire the smoother, shinier finish you’ve created. Make another pass with unused rags to make sure you’ve removed all the wax from each panel.
Do everything again, as often as possible
The best thing you can do for your car’s paint job is to do everything described above every two weeks. If this is too frequent, adjust the schedule to suit your lifestyle – the less you do this job, the less protected your paint will be. But any protection is better than none, so be sure to give your car’s paint some TLC as often as possible. If you enjoy driving, there is no way to avoid picking up the dust and debris that is present on every road. So, to keep your car’s paint fresh and clean, make all of these a habit.