5 Steps for Washing and Waxing Your Car like a Pro

5 Steps for Washing and Waxing Your Car like a Pro

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Your vehicle is your pride and joy. Not only does the particular make and model suit your needs, but the color and options also express your personal style.

Because of that, you take care to stick to recommended automotive intervals for things like changing the oil, rotating the tires, and replacing the spark plugs to ensure optimum performance.

But what about your car's finish? 

Maybe you run your vehicle through a carwash from time to time, so the dirt and dust don't build up too much. Or perhaps you detail your car yourself and add a coat of wax now and then to protect the paint finish.

If you want to hold onto your vehicle for years to come, regularly washing and waxing the paint job provides protection and keeps it looking like new.

What are the steps to washing and waxing a car? Which is the best wax for cars?

Let's look at how you can wash and wax like a pro in five simple steps.

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How to wash and wax like a pro

1. Select products

You wouldn't wash your dishes with floor cleaner or do the laundry with hand soap, right? 

The same holds true when detailing your car. Unique products made by specialized companies contain formulas designed to be gentle on the paint surface and provide protection.

Auto-specific car wash soaps are pH-balanced and remove surface grime without wearing away any previous waxing. This is important because other cleaners like dish soap or laundry detergent target oil and grease and may lift away wax or damage the paint.

It's also a good idea to have microfiber towels on hand for washing, drying, car waxing, and buffing.

A microfiber cloth has an extra degree of softness compared to other fabrics like cotton or chamois, which can create tiny scratches in the finish that accumulate over time. 

You'll have a variety of waxes to choose from, and picking one from a reputable manufacturer like Meguiar's or 3M assures you of a showroom shine and excellent protection. 

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2. Pick a location

Though where you park your vehicle before washing may seem unimportant, it can significantly affect the end result.

Finding an area away from direct sunlight with a moderate temperature guards your finish against hard water spots. It can also make the washing process less laborious by keeping the soap from drying. A good practice is washing only when your vehicle's paint is cool to the touch (like just after sunrise or before sunset).

3. Washing

Washing your vehicle may seem as simple as hosing it down, covering it in suds, going over it with a sponge, and then rinsing it all away. But for a like-new shine, you have to follow specific steps.

Starting with the roof and gradually moving toward the wheels, use a wool or microfiber wash mitt to work the auto-specific soap along the body panels. After each pass, resoak the mitt in the bucket of soapy water for the most effective dirt removal. 

After you've thoroughly worked over the paint, it's time to rinse away the excess suds. Like when you washed, start at the top of the car and work your way toward the pavement, ensuring dirt continually moves downward. 

Now it's time to dry the finish with a microfiber drying towel. Microfiber towels with a waffle-weave are a great option because of their excellent absorbency and the spotless finish they produce.

Car care specialists advise washing your vehicle once per week using this method. 

4. Refine the finish

Even after a thorough wash, your car's paint may contain minor imperfections, like tree sap or bird droppings.

One way to find left behind grime is by running your hand over the finish. If it isn't as smooth as a countertop, you can use a clay bar to remove leftover contaminants gently.

A clay bar is about the size of a soap bar and is soft and moldable. First, spray an area on your vehicle with something to help the bar glide, like a specialized lubricant or other auto-specific liquid. Then, using short passes, lightly work the clay bar along the paint. It may not feel like it's doing much, but when you take a look, you'll notice the micro contaminants it picks up.

5. Wax on!

With your finish carefully cleaned and showing a nice shine, it's time to take it one step further.

Car waxing every three months not only makes your paint deep and lustrous, but it also provides a safeguard against the elements. 

You have many different types to choose from, ranging from traditional carnauba wax to today's polymer blends that give long-lasting protection and are easier to apply and remove. 

Whichever type of wax you choose, the application works the same way. Using a foam or microfiber applicator pad, circularly apply the wax, working from one area of the vehicle to the next. Once you've massaged a complete coat into the paint, let it dry for the period recommended by the manufacturer. 

Grab a microfiber towel and fold it into quarters to remove the wax. Use some towel areas to wipe away the rough, dried wax and use the others to buff and polish the surface. 

If you'd like to save time and don't need the ultimate in weather protection, you may want to try a liquid spray-on wax. Spray-on wax gives your paint a nice sheen, but if you want a proper shield from the elements, traditional waxing is the way to go. Authorities on auto care recommend using spray-on wax as a touch-up in between regular waxing. 

Washing and waxing are just some of the tasks related to owning a car. You also have to pay for things like insurance, fuel, and routine maintenance. Finding ways to save on auto-related costs helps keep extra money in your bank account for other essential obligations. One way to do this is by securing a good auto loan. Shift works with a network of trusted lenders who compete for your business, so you get the best deal on financing. Applying for financing with Shift requires no cost or obligation, and may applicants receive an offer within minutes instead of days. If you have poor credit, don't worry because we welcome co-signers.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team