Without regular maintenance, your car's paint can wear, chip, scratch, become dull and loose its sex appeal. Your car's paint is like your skin, and if you washed your skin as infinitely as you wash your car you would be pretty dirty too! Do you have bugs, tar smears or gum you picked up somewhere stuck to your car? Why do you leave it there? Most people today are moving too fast to care what is on the outside of their car. They are busy at work, running to and fro trying to get ahead, and may have too much on their plate to take the time to do the basics like cleaning their car. If you can not see or feel what's on the surface of your paint you ca do "The Plastic Baggie Test" to determine surface imperfections or contaminants on the surface. To do this, you place your hand inside a plastic baggie like a zip lock or sandwich baggie and then feel your car's paint. The film of plastic over your hand increases your sense of touch and enables you to feel contaminants on the paint that you otherwise could not feel with just your hand.
Car wash supplies:
• Soft microfiber towels
• A cotton cloth or old shirt
• Bucket for soap and water
• Hose or pressure washer
Waxing your car is necessary to maintain a protective surface like sunscreen is to your skins life and longevity. Your paint can become dull or oxidized which happens from exposure to sunlight. Removing paint oxidation and restoring that shiny surface can be done by the do it yourselfer and can be done in a couple of hours. Oxidation occurs when the paint is not properly protected, and it can leave your vehicle looking years older than it actually is, with an unsightly white or chalky film. You do not have to repaint your car to get rid of the oxidized areas, and you will not have to remove any of your cars paint. You will need a few supplies from the store and with some towels and some elbow grease will have your paint job looking as good as new in no time.
You'll need the following tools and materials:
• Auto polish
• Rubbing compound
• Polishing compound, paint protectant or car wax
• Buffer (optional but recommended)
Start out with the least abrasive polish or cleaner possible. Choose a high quality polish or cleaner made by a well-known manufacturer such as Klasse, Meguires or Zymol. For really bad cases of oxidation, you may need to use more powerful cleaners or even a rubbing compound to clean up oxidized finishes. Regardless of the type of polish, cleaner or compound, apply it in small areas and use a dry soft cloth to wipe away the polish. This requires a lot of elbow grease and you'll have to apply a lot of pressure to rub out the oxidization from your car's surface. It can also take quite a bit of time, depending how much residual from the oxidization is present. After you begin rubbing out the oxidization with the appropriate type of polish or compound, often change to a new towel and continue buffing the vehicle and until no trace of the white chalky film is left over. A buffer machine will make this task much easier, but one is not necessary to complete the job.
Product tips; always use the least aggressive products that can get the job done. Using too harsh a polish, compound or solution can damage your paint further. Some products contain abrasive material or harsh chemicals which will penetrate deeper into the surface of your paint removing the protective layers.
Restoring antique surfaces is a different story. Paints retain different characteristics depending on brand, age, and condition. Be aware of the condition to your paint before you begin restoring the surface. When working with antique cars with old paint, be careful not to use water based cleaners, when you introduce water your car it can get into the cracks and crevices which if not removed (dried) it can begin to rust. Use non water cleaners or in other words "dry cleaning for your car". Then begin the polishing procedures recommended in our article "restoring antique surfaces."