Whether you’re the proud owner of a vintage car or you recently bit the bullet and splashed out on the sports’ car of your dreams, keeping your prestige vehicle in top nick is going to be high on your to-do list.
While the thrill of your new purchase will last a while, experienced owners of coveted vehicles know that if you don’t maintain the shine, your car is soon going to fade into the background. Regular paint maintenance rituals not only give you some great bonding time with your car (very important, as all car lovers know), but those little touches will go a long way towards preventing chipping and sun-damage.
While the damage might seem minor, those tiny imperfections can lend an overall appearance of neglect to an otherwise perfectly maintained vehicle. If you apply the right techniques, use the right products and tools for each job, and know when to call in the experts, you’ll be on track to keep your car looking super. These tips will help you get your paint maintenance routine fired up.
A CAR COVER SHOULD BE NON-NEGOTIABLE
When it comes to extending the longevity of your paintwork, protecting your vehicle from the elements is a total no-brainer. And it’s not rocket science, either: park your vehicle in the shade whenever possible to avoid baking the paint and leather in the sun. Remember, UV rays are bad for your skin and they damage your car, too. Your home garage is always best, but what’s the point of owning a beautiful car if not to strike out and drive where you desire takes you?
When parking away from home, always look for shade, and if you park for long periods on the street or somewhere exposed, make sure you have your car cover handy A cover takes little to no effort to fit, and will really pay off dividends in the shine department. And back home, when you’re parked in the garage, if for some reason you don’t plan to take your car out for an extended time, it’s best to throw on the cover. You’ll avoid deterioration by rust as well as dust and other contaminants, all of which work against the strength and shine of your bodywork.
GET ON DOWN TO THE CAR WASH
Would you personally go a whole week without taking a shower? Well, your car needs regular baths, too. And we’re not taking a quick rinse, either. To keep your paint shiny, you’ll want to give her a thorough wash using a decent car shampoo. Make sure you cover all the essential areas, including the exterior work, windshield, tyres, hubs, and of course the interiors as well.
When washing your car, it’s worth noting that each surface will require an appropriate detergent. It goes without saying that inflicting household detergents on your vehicle is an absolute no-no. Acidic household cleaners will erode the delicate lustre of your paintwork. Use good glass cleaner for your windscreen and windows, as there’s nothing more disappointing than shiny paintwork and dull, foggy glass work. And while a weekly bath is recommended, don’t wait if for car wash day if you notice bird-droppings on the paintwork.
You should wipe those away immediately with warm water, as they can do damage if left to sit. A professional car wash and valet is a good idea once in a while, to make sure that any gaps in your regime are being covered by the pros, but don’t just drive up to any outlet and expect a perfect job. Read reviews online or phone around and quiz different car care companies about the service they offer. As always, word of mouth is often the most reliable form of marketing. Your best bet is a recommendation from a friend who really loves their car.
GET YOUR CAR DRY
Motor care experts are often amazed by the number of car enthusiasts who go to the trouble of washing their car every week, only to leave the car to drip-dry afterwards. Do not assume that your car will air-dry naturally and look shiny afterwards. In fact, it’s when your car is wet that is most vulnerable to damage and contaminants. If you fail to dry your vehicle after washing, you also risk the appearance of ugly water spots on the paintwork, which completely undermines the elbow grease you’ve just spent on washing your car. When you’re drying your car, the best fabric to use is microfiber, which is super absorbent but non-scratch. Or you could look for a weave-drying towel that is also highly absorbent.
CLEANSE WITH A CLAY BAR
A clay bar can help you remove those invisible particles that adhere to your paintwork. While it might sound strange to purchase a product in order to remove particles that you can’t even see with the naked eye, if you allow a build up over time, you will notice your car starting to lose its lustre. While there are other ways to combat this problem, grab a clay bar if you want the most effective remover of these particles. And once you’re done, it is recommended that you treat your car to a wax treatment.
WAX HER LIKE A SURFER
To help protect your paint job from scratches, rust and dust, a regular wax is recommended. Your protection will last up to ten months, so almost a year at the outside, which is a great pay-off for so little investment of time and money. However, to be on the safe side, experts recommend that you stick to a regular six-monthly waxing routine for extra piece of mind in terms of shine protection and cleanliness. Another unexpected bonus of waxing your car is reduced spending on fuel. Surprised? This is because your freshly waxed exterior offers less drag, which improves your fuel efficiency.
APPLY A PAINT PROTECTION FILM
Paint protection films are the new kid on the block when it comes to complete car protection, and are a sound investment if you’re looking to keep your ride looking box-new. Having a protective film applied your vehicle’s front and rear bumpers effectively guards the paint against all the usual suspects like contaminants and damaging particles that fly up from the road as you drive. Applying the film is a highly skilled job and requires the attention of an expert, but once applied, the films can remain in place for up to five years, covering a significant portion of your vehicle’s life.
AVOID CONTACT WITH BRAKE FLUID AND FUEL
If using corrosive household chemicals on your car’s exterior can cause potential harm, imagine the effects of substances such as brake fluid, petrol and diesel. While you may think it is unlikely that these substances would come into contact with the paintwork since they are used for the vehicle’s mechanical functioning, you’d be surprised how easily this happens, and when contact does occur, they can cause the pain to peel off.
Take care when filling your fuel tank to ensure that no drips run down the side of your vehicle. If they do, quickly wash them off. (It’s a good idea to keep a microfiber cloth in your glove box for these kinds of situations.) Brake fluid is another prime candidate for peeling paint, so be extra cautious when topping up.
BE AWARE OF YOUR DRIVING SURFACE
When driving, it’s inevitable that tiny pieces of concrete, stone or bits of tar that have come loose from the surface of the road will jump up and hit your paintwork. While each little piece of stone is probably not going to leave a chip, over time, the repetitive collision of sharp objects with those smooth exposed surfaces will cause visible damage to the paint. Leave offroading to the 4X4s and see if you can plan your route to avoid rough surfaces where possible. Pay attention to road signs signalling that road works are ahead, and try to find an alternate route or drive very slowly over the unsurfaced road.
Buying a premium car is a big decision, not unlike getting into a serious long-term relationship. With the promise of amazing adventures comes great responsibility. Mechanical maintenance can take up a lot of headspace because of the urgency of the work, so maintaining the paintwork can easily take a backseat if you’re not careful.
The best way to keep your car looking as good as it’s worth is a two-pronged approach, combining at-home care with that occasional bit of speciality treatment by the experts. If your schedule is already crammed, it can be easy to slip into a complacent attitude to your car’s exterior, as let’s be honest, the gleam-factor of your paint job is not essential for safety.
But if you can keep up a regular maintenance routine, that brilliant shine will continue to give you the joy you experienced when you first drove your baby out of the lot. If you have taken the plunge and brought a hot new car into your life, these expert tips will help you hold up your end of the relationship and maintain that as-new shine.
Photo Credit: Lamborghini