Editor’s Note: In this limited series, Under the Hood, we share DIY tips from drivers who want to tinker their own cars, regardless of their skill level.
After extensive mechanical repairs, paint jobs can be one of the most expensive vehicle-related expenses you’ll encounter if you want to keep your ride nice and shiny. Simple jobs, such as repainting a single area or panel, often start in the hundreds, and full paint jobs can run into the thousands. If you’re serious about your car’s paintwork, you might be familiar with Paint Protection Film (PPF), a clear layer of polyurethane that wraps almost invisibly around the exterior of your car, covering and arming any painted surface. Wrapping PPF around your entire car can also cost upwards of $1,000.
If you’re planning to invest heavily in the look of your car – and especially if you want great paint without spending a lot of time – you’ll need to know how to keep your paint clean, protect it from chips and dents, and how to maintain the paint. to shine.
Here’s how to protect your car’s paint.
Wait for the paint to dry
Detailers recommend waiting at least two weeks after any paint job before thoroughly washing a car. Removing dirt or other debris from your car during this waiting time should be done with extreme care, using a non-abrasive cleaning solution and lightly wiping with a cloth. Please note that the two week waiting period only applies to hand washing. If you want to run your car through an automatic car wash, wait about a month. Wait at least two months after each waxing before going to the car wash.
After applying a PPF, it is safest to wait about a week before working on the coated surfaces to allow the film to settle. Be sure not to wash your car during this time and avoid any kind of pressure on the film during the weeks-long settling process.
Give it a wash
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After you’ve waited the right amount of time for the (hopefully metaphorical) dust to settle, you’re ready to wash the car. First, invest in a cleaner that is easy on car paint. Household cleaners are not specifically made for this, so avoid using them or their chemicals can have corrosive effects on your paint job.
Instead, look for products designed to work with car paint, such as AMMO’s Paint Cleanser or Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo. Before applying these products, rinse the car thoroughly with a hose to remove loose dirt that could scratch the paint during the next steps of the process.
The recommended amounts vary by product, but you will probably need to grab a clean bucket and mix the cleaning solution with water. To apply the soap mixture, dip a soft car-washing sponge (or other product, such as a microfibre glove or similar) into the mixture and apply a generous amount to the paintwork, gently tilting it horizontally. movements along the length of the car. While it’s tempting, it’s not recommended to wash in circles as you run the risk of getting swirls. Rinse the car from top to bottom with clean water. When the soap runs out, dry the car, starting at the top, with soft and very clean towels to avoid watermarks (microfiber works here too).
Give it a wax
For an extra bit of shine and protection, wax your car’s paint with car-specific wax and a microfibre applicator pad or orbital power buffer. First, carefully apply the wax panel by panel using up and down movements. As the wax hardens, it will create a dull finish. To soak in the wax and remove excess wax, take a soft cloth such as a chamois or microfiber cloth (or the orbital machine again, this time with a removal pad) and remove the wax in circular motions. Now take a moment to admire the smoother, glossier finish you’ve created. Make another pass with unused rags to make sure you’ve removed all the wax from each panel.
Do it all again, as often as possible
The best thing you can do for your car’s paintwork is to do everything described above every two weeks. If that happens too often, adjust the schedule to suit your lifestyle – the less of this work you do, the less protection your paint will be. But any protection is better than none, so be sure to give your car’s paint some TLC as often as possible. If you love driving, there is no way to avoid sucking up the dust and grime that is present on every road. So make it a habit to keep your car’s paintwork fresh and clear.