7 Common Car Detailing Mistakes

Memorial Day marked the start of summer, which can only mean one thing: a full line up of car show and cruise weeks.  Having your car look its best is important, but make sure you are properly detailing your vehicle and not making some of these common  car detailing mistakes.  

Common Car Detailing Mistakes

  1. Washing Your Car in Direct Sunlight

Any detailing professional will tell you not to wash your car in direct sunlight. It’s bad for the paint and finish, but at the very least, it makes the job a lot harder.  In the sun, water and soap dry a lot faster, making it more likely that you’ll have water spots on your car. Keep the surface of your vehicle cool by regularly spraying it down with water.  

  1. Pouring Wax and Polishes Directly on the Surface Of Car

Pouring wax and polishes directly onto the surface of your car can leave dark, uneven streaks and residue on your finish.  To avoid this, pour the wax or polish directly on the applicator, and then apply to your vehicle.

  1. Cleaning the Wheels and Tires Last

You were most likely taught to wash your car from top to bottom – however, this isn’t quite right.  Washing the wheels and tires first will prevent dirt and grime from splashing onto your freshly clean vehicle (and will help prevent scratches).  Since the wheels and tires are the dirtiest part of the car, washing them first and rinsing them off again at the end will keep your car extra clean.

  1. Using Ammonia-Based Window Cleaner

Most household glass cleaners contain ammonia.  Not only does ammonia have a very strong, pungent scent, but if it drips or gets splashed onto your upholstery or dashboard surfaces, it can damage them and stain.  Try one of these ammonia-free window cleaners instead.

  1. Overwaxing

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as overwaxing.  Most cars only need 2 layers of wax in order to be protected. The first layer acts as a foundation and the second coat acts as a protectant and covers the surface.  A third (or even fourth) coating of wax will just come off when buffed out, and could also lead to uneven waxing and streaking.

  1. Using a Chamois for Drying

Instead, you should be using a microfiber towel.  Chamois are too smooth and instead of drying the water off the surface, it can drag water (and even dirt particles) around on the surface of your car and lead to scratching and leave swirl marks on your finish.  Microfiber towels are soft and absorbent, so instead of smearing the water around, it absorbs the water droplets and leaves your car streak-free. When cleaning your drying towels, avoid using a fabric softener that can leave soap residue on the cloth, which can then transfer to your car’s surface.

  1. Using a Drying Towel to Remove Excess Dirt

It can be tempting to use your drying cloth to scratch off small little dirt particles you may have missed when washing.  Those dirt particles can get caught in the drying cloth and then scratch the paint and finish as your dry your vehicle.

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