5 car wash tips to make your car really shine

How do they do it? You know who: those people with cars so clean they look like they just rolled off the dealer lot.

We’re happy to tell you it isn’t magic. The important first step to keeping that new-car look is to wash your car regularly. Doing this prevents dirt from building up, which can happen quickly in Canada’s temperamental climate.

There are five more tricks of the trade that will help you elevate your car cleaning game. Read on for the whole list:

1. Identifying the type of dirt

Not all dirt is created equally. Before you take sponge to paint, you’ll want to identify what specific types of grunge you’re dealing with. Road cars tend to get dirtiest up front, since that’s the part of the car splatting bugs or unintentionally running over other objects. On the other hand, vehicles that spend a lot of time off-road can build up thick, hard-to-remove mud very quickly.

2. The right hand-washing steps

Believe it or not, doing the washing yourself helps protect your car’s bodywork more. A clean surface also deflects dirt better, since it doesn’t have any other dirt to cling to.

First up when washing, you’ll want to soften the existing dirt as much as possible. For this, use a neutral cleaner. Once the dirt has loosened up, wipe it away from the car with a clean sponge—always start at the top and work your way down, rinsing the sponge often.

All done? Use a liberal amount of water (preferably purified) to remove any leftover shampoo from the bodywork. You don’t want any streaking!

While cleaning the exterior, don’t forget your windows. Use a dedicated automotive glass cleaner paired with a microfiber cloth for the best results. You’ll want to experiment with different motions to see which works best on your car. Your wipers shouldn’t be ignored either, especially after a rough winter: Use a cloth with hot, soapy water first, then wipe the blade with rubbing alcohol.

3. Polishing is practical

When the pros polish a car, they protect every unpainted plastic part or seal of the car with tape to avoid staining them. You don’t necessarily have to go that far: it really depends on how much time you want to invest.

The act of polishing itself can be done two ways: by hand, or an automatic polisher, which comes fitted with a soft rubber pad. No matter which method you choose, the first step is using an abrasive paste to remove any surface-level scratches. Next is the proper polishing, where you’ll apply a polishing was to all painted surfaces, with either the polisher or cotton wool. Shortly after, the polish will dry, after which you’ll have to remove it manually.

4. Cleaning your headlights is important, too

Nothing detracts from a freshly polished car like ageing plastic headlights. You’ve seen them: the slightly yellowed, slightly foggy look. Not only are they bad to look at, but they’re also bad to look at things with. A worn-out plastic headlight won’t be able to cast as much bright, clear light. But don’t worry—you won’t have to replace the entire headlight.

Just like paintwork, it’s possible to polish a dulled headlight. To really get one looking new again, use a coarse abrasive paste with a fine paste for the finish. Cool the surface often with a sponge and plenty of water.

There’s also a rather surprising alternative: toothpaste. Using a regular toothbrush, apply liberal toothpaste and scrub in small circles. Once you’ve covered the whole headlight, spray it down with water. Success!

5. Getting stuck-on tree sap off

Tree sap or other sticky bits require a straightforward solution. Use very hot water to break down the sap, and a sponge to (slowly) remove it. You may need to repeat the process multiple times to dissolve the sap.

 

Feeling like a car wash pro now? Next up, read our guide on car detailing to learn more advanced moves to make your car look even better. Though, if you have car problems beyond scraping off dirt, it might be time to start looking for a more reliable vehicle. Start the journey at Kijiji Autos.

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