by Pat Goss
The difference between having a car that looks like the left side of this image and one that looks like the right is proper preventive maintenance on the paint. Well, that’s going to require a little input on your part. You have to take care of the paint, preventive maintenance. And if you go out and start looking at products, well, it can be pretty daunting because there are literally thousands of products on the market. Now, the thing that you want to do is you want to look for a name brand, something that you’re comfortable with. And if that brand uses a system to maintain your paint, then you want to employ the entire system and use their brand for everything.
Now the first step of course is to wash the car, and that means that you need a good, high quality car wash soap. Never use laundry or dishwashing detergent because they can actually strip oils out of the finish and they can dull the paint and shorten its life. Also, be careful about what you wash the car with. A wash mitt is absolutely the best thing you can use, and the reason for that is that it allows the dirt that it picks up to migrate up away from the paint into the pile of the material. Sponges don’t do that. They may hold the dirt right against the surface of the paint.
But now there are three steps to the actual, what most people call waxing of the car. Number one is a cleaner. That gets rid of embedded particles that the washing didn’t. Number two is a polish. The polish is what gives your paint the shine. And number three is the wax. The wax is what protects the paint against the elements. Now there are a couple of things that you need to be careful of here. Number one, a lot of people like to buff their paint. Well, the old- fashioned rotating buffer, the conventional type, if you’re not really 100 percent competent in its use, you could damage your paint. So what do you want? Well, you want an orbital buffer, one that does not turn in an absolute circle. That will prevent burning the paint. It will also help prevent swirl marks.
Of course there are a lot of other things that go along with doing the car properly. Various brushes and swabs to detail the air conditioning ducts and things like that. But one thing that you really need to be careful of, and that is the black plastic trim around the various components on your car. Before you wax, tape those off with masking tape. The masking tape will keep the wax from getting on them and that will prevent that dulling grey effect that it gets if you do get wax on them, and it doesn’t come off. But make sure you take the masking tape off. Don’t let it sit in the sun.