Car Care Tip: Maintaining That "New Car" Look

You've invested time and effort in flawless bodywork and a pristine paint job. With proper care, you can keep that show-room look for a long time. One of the most important efforts you can make is to maintain a good wax job. Of course wax will maintain a glossy look and keep your car looking sharp, but it also makes it easier to wash off the contaminants that collect on the surface over time. Good wax coverage causes water to bead up on the surface and simplifies the task of wiping down the car.

Most paint manufacturers suggest that once the paint on a new car or a repaint job has cured for 30 days it should be waxed. However, new, uncured paint can also be coated with a final glaze rather than wax. This can be done by hand or with a DA sander and a foam pad. The glaze will cover the surface without sealing or interfering with the cure process. Once the cure period has passed, a good automotive wax can be applied.

Once the paint is cured you can use either a liquid automotive wax - which can be applied either by hand or with an orbital polisher - or a hand-applied paste wax. Choose a quality product, and either a liquid or a paste wax will give long-lasting results on new and repainted vehicles and make it easier to wash and dry the vehicle without damaging or scratching.

Waxing can also provide some surface restoration for older paint jobs. There are combination products that remove fine scratches, oxidation, swirl marks and minor stains and leave a durable waxed finish in a single process.

A new material - gloss enhancer - is available to add gloss to your wax job and help it last even longer. This is a Carnauba wax based formulation that adds a little wax to the paint surface with each use. After washing and rinsing your car, simply spray gloss enhancer onto one panel at a time as you dry the surface, using a soft terry cloth towel. The Carnauba component rejuvenates your wax finish slightly as you wipe it.

A proper wax job takes a lot of elbow grease, and you want to preserve wax protection as long as you can. One enemy of a wax job is strong detergent. Never use dishwashing or laundry soap to clean your car because these strong detergents will significantly reduce the life of your wax. Instead use a car wash shampoo, which will clean away road film and contaminants effectively with minimal effect on the life of your wax job.

Before you hit a dry, dirty car with a soapy rag, always rinse it well first to flush off surface sand, dust and road grit that can act like sandpaper under your cloth. Also, if you have a highly polished paint finish, avoid using a course, scratchy rag or mitt to wash your car because these materials can also scratch a paint finish. Instead, wash the vehicle with a soft micro-fiber detailing cloth.

There are a few other things you can do to bring your clean and well-polished car or truck to perfection. One is to clean the windows, inside and out, with a glass cleaner that removes surface film, oils and insect stains. A good cleaner will leave windows sparkling and free of streaks. Some glass cleaners are also effective for cleaning plastic, chrome and metal surfaces.

A leather and vinyl cleaner will deep clean dirt and grime from inside surfaces, and you'll also want to use a tire and wheel cleaner to bring a shine to cast wheels and hub caps, and a deep black look to tires. A rubber and tire dressing will add an even deeper black appearance and a glossy look to the tires.