Best Tips for Appearance Maintenance of Your Car

IF YOU maintain the original appearance of your car-inside and out-you can expect to obtain at least several hundred dollars more at trade-in time or when you sell the car to a private individual than you would from a car that has been neglected. So, you would be wise to spend a little time, money, and energy on the appearance of your large investment.

Appearance Maintenance Tips and Process

Aside from the mechanical aspects, most used-car appraisers or buyers are looking for rust, dents, and the condition of upholstery and carpeting. To keep your car looking as new as possible, your main concerns should be regular wash jobs, seasonal waxing, repair of minor or major body damage, interior maintenance, and rustproofing.

Washing the Car

Many drivers claim a clean car runs better. Obviously, it does not have any effect, but it certainly seems to be a psychological benefit. It also is said that drivers of clean cars have fewer accidents. Certainly, there is more satisfaction in owning and driving a clean car.

Regular plan of weekly washing

And a regular plan of weekly washing is the first step, especially in winter if you live in an area where roads are chemically treated. Follow these steps to wash the car.

Park the car in the shade

This will automatically reduce the chances of sunburnt and other dirt issues that can ruin the car. If you park the car in the shade, it will remain in better condition.

Using a garden hose and plenty of cold water, rinse the entire surface of the car. If you do not have access to a hose, use pails of water and a sponge. Be sure to hose or wipe along the edges of trim moldings and the undersides of fenders, wheel wells, and bumpers.

Vinyl Roof Care

If your car has a vinyl-covered roof, proceed to “Vinyl Roof Care” before washing the car. Unless the car is very grimy, do not use a washing compound. Soaps or harsh detergents should not be used. If it is necessary to use anything more than water, use a mild liquid dishwashing detergent or a mild auto washing compound.

Do not mix too much detergent or compound. Often, a capful of detergent in a gallon of water will be sufficient. Note: Chemically treated cloths sold for cleaning cars are not recommended.

Wash the car with the hose or pails of clean water, using large pieces of toweling. Start at the top of the car and work downward; wash the top and then one panel or section at a time.

Rinse the car

If you are using detergent to wash the car, use the hose or pails of clean water and clean towels to rinse each panel or section as you go along. By the time you have finished washing and rinsing all sections of the car, most areas will have dried and will be somewhat water-spotted.

Wet the entire car again. By drying the car while it is still wet, you can avoid water spots. After the proper clean you need to dry the car with a damp, clean chamois or towel.

Vinyl Dressing Process

A scrub brush with nylon bristles does a good job of cleaning this kind of surface. Vinyl dressings can keep the material soft and pliable, and prevent it from drying out and cracking. In addition, such dressings help retain the original color and texture of the vinyl. To clean a vinyl-covered top, follow these steps.

  1. Before washing the car apply a vinyl top cleaner or a suds solution made with a mild dishwashing liquid and water. Apply and remove the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions. Apply the suds with a scrub brush, using a circular motion.
  2. Rinse the suds off using a garden hose or pails of clean, cold water.
  3. Allow the vinyl top to dry.
  4. Apply a dressing formulated for vinyl tops. Such dressings are available at auto supply stores. Apply the dressing in the shade according to the manufacturer’s directions. Usually, a small, clean cloth is saturated with dressing, and a thin, smooth coating is applied, using a smearing, circular motion. Apply only enough vinyl dressing for the treated area to take on a slight luster.
  5. Allow the vinyl dressing to dry for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Buff the surface with a clean cloth.

Note: There also are vinyl top dressings that are formulated to restore the color of vinyl tops. However, they should only be used on tops that have been neglected for a long time. These dressings are designed to be sprayed or brushed on.

If it is necessary for you to apply such a pigmented vinyl dressing, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully, because these dressings penetrate the vinyl material and, once applied, they are impossible to remove.

Polishing the Car for Better Appearance

Regular washing is not enough to keep a car looking new. No matter what kind of finish is on your car, regular polishing is necessary to keep it clean and bright.

The easiest way to polish a car is to use a liquid cream polish or pre-wax cleaner. Liquid polishes contain agents that pick up surface dirt as the polish is applied and hold it suspended as the polish dries. These one-step polishes do not require hard rubbing for a good shine. When the polish has dried, you need only to wipe off the residue with a clean cloth.

Process of Polishing

It is important to wash your car before applying polish. Any dirt particles left on the surface can scratch the paint when you apply the polish.

  1. Park the car in the shade; otherwise, heat from the metal surface will interfere with the cleaning action.
  2. Apply the polish with a dampened cloth. Large flat surfaces should be polished first, using a circular motion with overlapping strokes. The polish will dry rapidly so it is best to do one panel or section at a time.
  3. As each section dries, rub off the dried residue with a clean, dry cloth. A soft-bristled brush is handy for removing dried polish around body trim. Tar remover is useful for removing bits of tar and other gummy substances that will probably be stuck to the lower sides of the car body.
  4. Check to make sure that you have treated all surfaces. Any dried polish in cracks and crevices can be buffed out with the soft-bristled brush. Do not forget to buff the edges of the trunk lid, hood, and doors.

Waxing the Car in Right Way

The best overall protection you can give the finish of your car is a good coat of wax. The products available today will produce a hard finish that will withstand the ravages of weather, air pollution, and strong detergents. And they have been designed to eliminate much of the labor that used to be associated with waxing.

There are two basic types of waxes. One is carnauba, a true vegetable wax, and the other includes various chemical compounds made of silicone polymers. Both types are available in either liquid or paste form, and both will withstand about 6 months of hard punishment. Liquid wax takes less time and effort to apply than paste wax does, but paste wax tends to be more durable.

Wash the car thoroughly just before waxing it. A fairly cool day with a temperature in the low 70s is best for waxing.

To wax your car, follow these steps.

  1. Park the car in the shade.
  2. After washing, apply either a liquid or paste wax according to the manufacturer’s directions. Dampen a soft, clean cloth with water and apply the wax to the cloth. It is important to apply a complete film of wax and to do only one panel at a time.
  3. Also, get the wax into all crevices in the car body. Wax will prevent water from getting under trim pieces and other hidden areas that are subject to rusting. A soft-bristled brush works well.
  4. If the wax is applied too thickly or allowed to sit for too long after drying, this residue will be difficult to remove. If this happens, cornstarch will absorb the dried residue without removing the wax finish. Apply a light dusting of cornstarch to a dry cloth and wipe the residue away.
  5. After you have removed the wax residue, use a soft, clean cloth to buff the surface lightly. Insufficient buffing may leave streaks in the wax.

The proof of a good wax job is when water beads on the surface. Areas that have not been waxed will become unevenly wet and will stay that way until evaporation takes place.

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