Regular details will help you maintain the life and appearance of your vehicle all year long. But it’s important to find products (or a detailer) you can trust to ensure that your car is properly cleaned and protected without undergoing paint scratches, carpet damage, or unsightly water spots.
Whether you’re detailing your own car or bringing it to a professional, here are six detailing mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Even if car cleaners look and smell the same to you, their intended use and chemical makeup are different. The soap you use to wash your car’s body is mild enough to leave the surface’s paint intact. But tire soaps are more potent, since tires encounter more dirt and higher temperatures than a car’s body. You’d never want to use tire soap on the surface of your vehicle, as this could damage the paint.
And unfortunately, you can’t just use any cleaner or soap you have at home. For example, dish soap won’t differentiate between stubborn grease on plates and the protective wax on your car’s paint, so it will strip away your vehicle’s finish. The same goes for your car’s windows; don’t use Windex or another household glass cleaner that contains ammonia, which can discolor and damage your window tint. You can play it safe by simply using car window- and car paint-specific cleaner.
Many people think you should wash your car outside on a sunny day, but this isn’t true. Because of the sun’s intense rays, any products you apply to the car will dry too quickly. Then you won’t be able to wipe away excess product before it dries unevenly, causing unattractive marks on the vehicle.
Instead, try washing and detailing your car in the shade, on a cloudy or cooler day, or in a well-lit covered area. And if you’ve been driving at all that day (whether around town or to your detailer’s), make sure you let the vehicle cool down completely before starting the job, simply to protect you and your car.
One of the most common detailing mistakes is using the same cloth to wash the car’s wheels and body. But if you start with the wheels, rocks and dirt from the tires can end up in the cloth — and seriously mess up your car’s paint. The same could be true for spreading dirt from your car’s body to the tires; while you’re less likely to cause damage, you’re still making more work for yourself with the cross-contamination. So once you’ve washed or dried one part of the vehicle, start on another area with a fresh microfiber cloth.
And even though you might be tempted to use a drying cloth to scrub a dirty spot you’d missed while washing, you might drag the grime across your car’s paint and scratch it. Instead, you can remove embedded debris with a detailing clay bar. This tool simply glides over the surface and removes stubborn dirt without damaging your car’s paint.
It’s easy to let your vehicle air dry after washing it to save yourself time, but you’ll probably end up with a bigger mess in the long run. If you don’t dry the car’s surface with a towel (and especially if you let it dry in the sun), you’ll be left with watermarks and streaks. That’s because water contains natural minerals that don’t evaporate with the liquid as it air dries. Over time, those calcium deposits and other minerals can even ruin your car’s paint.
That’s why you should always use a clean microfiber cloth to dry your vehicle after washing it. Try to blot as much as you can instead of wiping the car dry, since there might still be small particles of dirt leftover from your car wash. And remember to use separate cloths to dry your vehicle’s body and tires!
Some drivers think that applying several layers of wax will give their car added protection and make it look better, but two coats are really all you need. Excess layers of wax probably won’t bind to anything and will likely just get buffed away. Plus, too much wax could dilute your paint’s appearance.
When you’re detailing your vehicle, apply one layer of wax to protect your car’s body from scratches and debris. The second coat fills in any areas that the first layer might have missed. After two coats of wax, you can buff your car for a beautiful, long-lasting shine.
A common misconception is that you have to attack your car’s carpets with as many chemicals as possible. After all, you want to get rid of unsightly stains and dirt! But when you coat carpets in chemicals and just let them sit without washing them out, you might damage your carpet and expose it to even more debris.
The best place to start is vacuuming your interior, which will probably remove more dirt than you expected. For any leftover grime, use interior cleaning products sparingly and thoroughly rinse out any soap, then let the carpet dry completely before trying to treat it again. You’ll also want to avoid using chemical cleaners on your steering wheel, parking brake, gear shift, and dashboard buttons. This will prevent these surfaces from being slippery or getting harmful chemicals on your hands.
By avoiding these common detailing mistakes, your car will last longer, look better, and have a higher trade-in or resale value. Plus, it’ll make you happier!
DIY detailing is a great option for some drivers, but others don’t have the time to take care of that on their own (or just don’t want to). A detailing professional can take the work off your hands so you can drop off your car, go to work or run errands, and come back to be amazed at how great your vehicle looks.
Premier’s mission is to create happiness through professional detailing, and our purpose is to exhibit a philosophy of servanthood! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or visit our website. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well!