Motoring Editorial published in the July 2016 edition of The Billboard:
It’s an amazing psychological fact that a clean car seems to perform better than a dirty one. Many workshops believe this, because they often clean your car a lot better than the way they service it.
Doing it at home is still the best, but you have to make sure the person doing the cleaning uses the correct materials and knows what to do as well as what not to do. Taking your car to an automatic roller cleaning machine has the disadvantage that those brushes tend to damage the paintwork, unless they’re replaced regularly.
Cleaning the exterior:
- Only wash the car when it’s cool, or else at least when it’s in the shade. Modern paints tend to develop spots from the interaction of water and sunlight.
- Do not use soap or even dishwashing fluid, because it may cause the paint to deteriorate quicker. Use a detergent specially formulated for modern car paint. Various brands are available from service station shops.
- Start at the top and work downwards, otherwise dirty water will flow over newly-cleaned areas.
- Finally, apply a good quality car polish, followed by a wax or silicone protection, to act as a barrier against the damage caused by dirt and sunshine.
A car that has been cleaned and polished will stay that way a lot longer if it is looked after. In fact, if the above procedure has been followed, your car may only need a good polish once a year, with perhaps a wax application every three months.
To achieve this, you should inspect the paintwork frequently, and remove bird droppings, tree sap and other contaminants as soon as possible. Park it under cover whenever possible, because harsh sunlight affects the colour as well as the protective properties of paint.
Surfaces that are more exposed to road dirt, such as lower parts of the body, should get an extra layer of wax. Steel wheels are not a problem, but aluminium wheels are very difficult to keep clean or even to clean. They’re usually coated with a clear varnish, so care has to taken not to break down the coating. This means that scouring pads or wire brushes should not be used, and even special wheel cleaning fluids should be tested on a small patch on the inside of the wheel to make sure that it’s safe to use.
Cleaning the interior:
Most of the interior surfaces, such as plastic, vinyl, leather, wood or carpeting, should be wiped with wet cloth, and then treated with a cleaning and conditioning fluid specially suited to the particular material. Visit a car-care shop and read the labels on the various products in detail to find out what is suitable.
The best way is to clean a windscreen is with a good windscreen washing fluid, but a 50:50 mixture of water and methylated spirits will also do the job. Windscreens mark very easily, so that care must be taken to avoid scratches from dirty wipers or road dirt and small stones.
Text supplied by Jake Venter