Orinda Auto Repair

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Proper Car Washing

You’ve spent plenty of money on the purchase of your car or truck, now the question arises, “How do I take care of it?” Proper washing is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood areas of auto care, and sadly improper washing damages and dulls your vehicle’s finish over time.

If you take a second and look at the cars around you in a parking lot, or even at a car show, in the direct sunlight you will notice many of the cars have a scratched surface. These microscopic scratches seem to radiate outward in a “cob-web” effect from a central light source like the reflection of the sun. Many of the swirl marks are the result of improper washing and drying techniques. They are caused when grit is abraded against the paint’s surface.

Much has been written on how to properly maintain a vehicles appearance and while most of the tips in this article certainly aren’t new, perhaps they may help you think about things in a different light.

Vehicle enthusiasts range from those who religiously wash or quick detail their vehicles daily, to those who love caring for their vehicle but only get the chance to wash them weekly or bi-weekly. Both categories of enthusiasts cringe at the very thought of taking their car or truck to a car wash, otherwise known as “automatic swirl factories”. In this article we hope to give you some ideas and tips that will help you maintain your vehicles appearance and teach you ways to avoid, or at least minimize creating swirl marks.

Car wash shampoos have come a long way since their introduction to the automotive detailing market. There was a time when we all just grabbed dish soap and went to work but those days are long gone. Dish soap is designed to eat away grease and food and while it works great for dishes but we need to keep it in the kitchen! The same attributes that break down the grease on dishes will strip your car wax and dry out your plastic moldings and rubber seals!

Wash mitts can be micro fiber style (both short nap and the longer fuzzy monster looking type), sponges, synthetic and genuine sheepskin. The sheepskin wash mitt is a great choice: They are soft, hold lots of water and car wash shampoo and they rinse cleanly.

When it comes to swirl free washing, one of the greatest ideas to come along is the two-bucket method of car washing. As the name implies you use two separate buckets to wash your car. One bucket holds the soapy car wash solution and the other holds clean clear rinse water so you can rinse your mitt after each pass over your car. This keeps those dirt particles you just picked up on the surface from going back into the clean car wash solution and being picked up again by the wash mitt. At Orinda Auto Detail we even go the extra step and use 2 grit guards in both the soap and rinse bucket to keep all the dirt at the bottom of the bucket.

When you’re actually washing the car you always want to go top down. Wash in straight, overlapping lines as opposed to circles and remember to be gentle with the wash mitt on the first pass. This first pass will pick up the majority of the dirt, and loosens the remaining dirt for pick up on the second pass.

When you dry your car, use only high quality micro fiber waffle weave drying towels and wring out often. Gently dry the surface without much pressure. You don’t need to rub the surface…you’re just picking up the bulk of the water! Once you have picked up the bulk of the water, and the first towel is saturated, use the second towel to lightly pick up any remaining streaks or droplets.

That’s the basics of proper car washing and the only way we wash anything at Orinda Auto Detail. If you have any question feel free to contact me.

Joseph Torbati 
Manager Orinda Auto Detail

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Car Talk