Driving through an automatic car wash is the best way to keep your car clean and pristine, but by observing some advice, you can make sure your ride gets the top treatment and also save some money.
Avoid older automatic car washes, which often use abrasive brushes instead of softer cloths. These can scratch the paintwork, since the dirt and grit removed during the pre-wash phase adheres to the brushes and gets rubbed back into the paint surface.
Even better are touchless car washes, which use high-pressure water jets with detergents to hose off the dirt. With no brushes or cloths to touch the paintwork, the risk of cosmetic damage is minimal.
Self-service, coin-operated wash areas are ideal for getting rid of a heavy dirt build-up, especially on the lower half of the car. To get the most from these, it is as well to bring your own chamois leather or towels to dry off the car after a good rinse.
Most automatic car washes offer under-body cleaning, and although this costs extra, the cash is well-invested. Dirt has a way of getting into all the crevices under a car, and when combined with moisture and salt from wet roads, it will not be long before parts like steel brake lines, cables and even panels start to rust.
The jets of water in an automatic wash will cut through the crud on the underside of the car, freeing up important drain holes that may be blocked by mud and dirt.
It’s worth remembering that driving a clean car will make you feel better, and it will also last for longer. It will also fetch a higher resale price.
There is no hard-and-fast rule on how often you should wash your car, but once a month is a good idea if the car is not used too often and is parked in a garage or car port.
If the car wash fee does not include a pre-wash carried out by an attendant, it’s a good idea to hose down the car manually before going through the car wash. If no hand-held high-pressure jet is available, dousing the car with several buckets of warm water should do the trick.
Washing equipment should be carried in the car’s boot, and a standard kit will include sponges and a good leather – chamois is the best – along with items like rubber moisturiser for the door and boot seals, and various lint-free cloths.
When washing by hand, whether in a booth or on the street – where local by-laws allow – make sure you use ample water.
Start with the roof of the car and work downwards to the windows and windscreen before washing the bonnet, the boot lid or tailgate, and then the lower flanks. Leave the wheels until last.
Alloy wheels tend to collect brake dust and will look unsightly if not cleaned regularly. Special cleaners are available, but a regular car cleaning detergent with water will suffice in most cases.
Added protection comes from waxing the bodywork right after a wash.
You can forget the spray-on wax offered in most car washes – it may add a little lustre for a while, but it will not protect the bodywork as effectively as hand-applied waxing.
Door seals should be treated with Vaseline or a rubber maintenance pen after first wiping off excess moisture with a dampened kitchen towel.
After vacuuming the interior and beating the carpets to get rid of dirt and dust, you can clean the windows from the inside and wipe the upholstery. Microfibre cloths are ideal for finishing off the cabin. – dpa
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