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Outside of your home, your car is probably your most important investment. Through the highs and lows, your car’s exterior is the first, and only, line of defense against the elements – which is why routine washing is a must. To help, our experts have put together a few simple tips that’ll help your ride weather the weather year-round.

The Standard Wash

As simple as it sounds, nothing beats a traditional hand-wash. When the weather’s nice, grab two buckets (to separate the clean and dirty water) and get to scrubbing. After a short wash session, you’ll see how much difference even the lightest layer of dust makes on your car’s exterior. While it may seem like the job’s done, we’ve only just taken off the “easy” dirt, and a truly perfect finish is only a few steps away.

Tip-top Trim

Unpainted vinyl and rubber trim unfortunately goes unnoticed all too often in the wash process. These pieces can oxidize, becoming brittle and stained over time without proper care, and it only takes a few small blemishes to offset even the cleanest cars. To clean, try using a toothbrush to gently lift stubborn residue and dry with a microfiber towel. There are also several cleaning solutions you can apply that will condition the surface and restore your trim to top shape.

Clean it with Clay

This next step seems counterintuitive – especially since we just spent the last few minutes removing dirt – but clay can conquer even the toughest residue without damaging a car’s finish. Start by spraying the area with a detailing product to help lubricate the surface, then slide the clay bar back and forth over the paint, periodically folding the clay to expose a clean surface. Consider spreading a towel under the area, because dropping the bar will cause it to pick up dirt and debris that could scratch the surface.

Wax On

Since clay removes practically everything on the surface but paint, we recommend saving the wax for last. Providing both shine and protection, waxing your car is one of the most beneficial things you can do in the washing process. Apply wax to the applicator (not the car surface), and work in one small area at a time, making sure not to get it on the black trim, which causes staining. The application should look hazy after drying, then buff gently with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the process every three months to protect the surface and keep your ride safe and sparkling.

Shine Brighter Plastic headlight covers can oxidize and get cloudy over time, leading to less visibility at night when you need it most. If your beams aren’t shining like they used to, try using toothpaste to brighten them up. Just like tooth enamel, your headlights pick up microscopic particles that collectively dull their shine. Try applying toothpaste to a cloth and rubbing the lens in small circles, adding water as needed. After just five minutes and a little scrubbing, your car’s headlights will shine pearly white.

When it comes to cars, what’s on the outside counts just as much as the inside. From first impressions to resale value, maintaining your car’s surface is a simple investment that makes a significant impact. However, if you come across a few scratches that can’t be buffed out, our collision repair experts are always ready to restore the rhythm of your life and get your ride back to shining.