Editor’s Note: In this limited series, Under the Hood, we’ll be sharing do-it-yourself tips from drivers who want to tear in 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 low hundreds, and full paint jobs can cost thousands. If you’re serious about your car’s paint job, you may be familiar with Paint Protection Film (PPF), a clear layer of polyurethane that wraps almost invisibly around your car’s exterior , which covers and shields all painted surfaces. Having PPF wrapped around the entire car can also cost upwards of $1,000.
If you plan to invest heavily in your car’s appearance, and especially if you want a great paint job without spending a lot of time, you need to know how to keep your paint clean, protect it from chips and bumps, and maintain it. to shine.
Here’s how to protect your car’s paint job.
Wait for the paint to dry
Retailers recommend waiting at least two weeks after any paint job before giving a car a deep wash. Cleaning dirt or other debris from the car during this waiting period should be done very carefully, using a non-abrasive cleaning solution and wiping lightly with a cloth. Please note that the two week waiting period only applies to hand washing. If you want to take your car through a car wash, wait about a month. After any wax job, wait at least two months to get to the car wash.
After applying any PPF, it is safest to wait a week before working on coated surfaces for the film to set properly. Definitely don’t wash your car during this time, and avoid putting any kind of pressure on the film during the week-long setting process.
Give it a wash
(Purchase any of the following supplies and tools at eBay Motors or retailer of your choice.)
After waiting for the right moment for the (hopefully metaphorical) dust to dry, you’re out and about to wash your car. First, invest in a cleaner that is easy on car paint. Household cleaners aren’t specifically made for this, so avoid using them, so their chemicals don’t have a corrosive effect on your paint job.
Instead, look for products designed to interact with your car’s paint, such as AMMO’s Paint Cleaner or Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo. Before applying these products, rinse the car thoroughly with a hose to remove any loose residue that could scratch the paint during the next steps of the process.
Recommended amounts vary by product, but you should probably grab a clean bucket and mix the cleaning solution with water. To apply the soap mixture, dip a soft car wash sponge (or other product, such as a microfiber mitt or similar) into the mixture and apply a generous amount to the paintwork, gently rubbing it across the car in circular motions. horizontal Although tempting, it is inadvisable to wash in circles as you run the risk of creating swirl marks. Rinse the car with fresh water from top to bottom. When there is no more soap left, dry the car, starting from the top, with soft, very clean towels to avoid watermarks (microfibre works here too).
Give him a wax
For a little extra shine and protection, wax your car’s paint with specific automotive wax and a microfiber applicator pad or orbital power pad. First, gently apply the wax panel by panel in an up and down motion. As the wax sets, it will create a matte finish. To work the wax in and remove the excess, take a soft cloth such as a chamois or microfiber towel (or the orbital machine again, this time with a removal pad), and in a circular motion, remove the wax . Now, take a second to admire the smoother, shinier finish you’ve created. Make another pass with unused cloths to make sure you’ve removed all the wax from each panel.
Do it all over again, as often as possible
The best thing you can do for your car’s paint is to do everything described above every two weeks. If this is too frequent, adjust the schedule to fit your lifestyle; the less you work, the less protected 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 to drive, there’s no way you can avoid picking up the dust and debris on every road. So to keep your car paint fresh and clear, make this a habit.