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Auto Alert: Tips For Treating Your Car To A Wash

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

I am always amazed; no matter how careful I am, and as neat as I am, my care always, somehow accumulates dust and dirt…you’d think I never cleaned it. Yet, quite the opposite is true. And, between the winter rain and snow, and all the spring and summer sand and pollen, there’s always a new, but good reason, why I simply can’t keep the vehicle pristine. And, what that translates into is recurring visits to the car wash, since I no longer have the time to do the job at home.

But, according to experts, frequent clean ups can be doing your vehicle more harm than good. They suggest that how often you spruce up your set of wheels depends on how quickly it gets dirty and dingy and just how dirty it gets. They add, that while for some vehicles, washing once a month or so may be sufficient, other cars need to be sponged down more often, especially those we use more often and tend to store outdoors, exposing them to the elements.

Still, they note, that frequent washing and waxing can actually leave your car dull and lifeless rather than sharp and dazzling. Here’s what they say you need to know.

Beware of abrasives: Experts note, that while uncommon, some older car washes may still use abrasive brushes rather than cloth. And, that may mean small scratches on your car’s finish. While on older vehicles, with what’s known as, “single stage” paint jobs, these surface scratches can typically be buffed out, newer vehicles usually feature a “base/clear” system including a thin, transparent layer of clear coat over an underlying color coat, which is what gives the shine. Once the thin clear coat is damaged, it’s pretty much damaged, and the only way to get the shine back is to repaint the damaged area.

Another option is “touchless” car washes the clean card via high-pressure water jets and detergents to geared at cleaning the car without actually coming in contact with it. And, experts suggest that there is little to no chance of your car getting “damaged” (at least cosmetically) in the process.

Still, other areas offer “self-service”, coin-operated hand washes, ideal for getting at heavy dirt buildup. But, it’s not uncommon to have to bring your own washcloth, sponge, and towels (for drying)


Be weary of after-wash wipe down: I simply hate the streaks it leaves. But, according to the pros while having your are hand dried by attendants is fine as long as they are using fresh, clean, soft cloths each time, the reality is that they are not. In fact, what winds up happening is that they use a standard cloth that has most likely been “dirtied” by the cars before you. And, experts not that dirt and abrasives on the rag can harm your cars finish, whereas driving away and letting your car air day, won’t. But, what about the streaks? Clean them up at home using a store-bought spray cleaner developed specifically for this purpose. And, it likely also offers you UV protection and safely and easily cleans off bugs, tar, road grime, etc, and all without water.

Avoid (Un-necessary) Extras: A car wash with all the extras is not only more costly, but you may not be getting your money’s worth. For instance, there in little if any value t undercarriage rust-proofing. Experts note that effective rust-proofing is applied to brand-new metal as a means of sealing it from contact with external elements that are corrosive, such as salt. Experts add that most new vehicles are sufficiently rust-proofed at the factory making additional treatment “useless’ and un-necessary.

However, they note that an undercarriage bath pay be worth a few extra dollars. This treatment features jets of water sprayed directly under your car releasing the built up dirt and crime, also clearing any underbody drainage holes that may otherwise result in rust or lead to the formation of moth in the system.

And, contrary to popular belief, you’ll also want to reconsider spray-on wax. While it doesn’t do any damage to your vehicle, experts note that it pales in comparison to hand-applied polish, and it does little to protect against UV damage. And, the same holds true for spray Armor All for your tires. While it does make them shiny, the added cost could mean buying a whole bottle of the stuff on your own.

The “exception”, they say, is wheel and tire cleaning. Experts note that these heavy-duty cleaners are an ideal way to rid your wheels of caked on crud. And, they add that it’s especially important to keep aluminum alloy wheels clean, especially since brake dust can permanently stain them over time.

One last note: Experts suggest that while most car washes “do” have a disclaimer absolving them of any responsibility for any damages, experts suggest you give your car a once over, noting that damages caused by equipment or personnel are or should not be part of the disclaimer.

They suggest speaking directly to the manager if you “do,” notice something, adding that even if they are not legally liable, they may offer some compensation, including offering to fix it.

If the manager is indifferent about pursuing the road to successful customer relations don’t just assume “defeat”. Instead, you may consider taking it to higher ups. Also, if you have a camera, you can use it to take a picture of the damage supporting your claim.

However, a word of caution against leaving any valuables in your vehicle; especially at a wash where attendants will be tending to the interior.

Long Island Technology Articles > Auto Alert: Tips For Treating Your Car To A Wash

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