How to properly care for your car’s paint

Editor’s Note: In this limited series, Under the Hood, we’ll share do-it-yourself tips from drivers who want to wrench on their own cars, regardless of their skill level.

After extensive mechanical maintenance, paint jobs can be one of the most expensive vehicle-related expenses you’ll face if you want to keep your vehicle looking nice and shiny. Simple jobs — say, repainting a single area or panel — often start in the low hundreds, and full paint jobs can run well into the thousands. If you’re serious about your car’s paint job, you may be familiar with paint protection film (PPF), a clear layer of polyurethane that wraps invisibly around the exterior of your car, covering and armoring every painted surface. Even wrapping a PPF around your entire car can cost more than $1,000.

If you plan to invest a lot in how your car looks—and especially if you want great paint without spending a lot of time—you’re going to want to know how to keep your paint clean, protect it from chips and dings, and maintain it. shine

Here’s how to protect your car’s paint job.

Wait for the paint to dry

Detailers recommend waiting at least two weeks after any paint job before giving the car a thorough wash. During this waiting period cleaning of any dirt or other debris from your car should be done very carefully, using a non-abrasive cleaning solution and wiping lightly with a cloth. Keep in mind that the two-week waiting period only applies to hand washing. If you want to drive your car through an automatic car wash, wait about a month. After any wax job, wait at least two months to hit the car wash.

After applying any PPF, it is safest to wait about a week before working on coated surfaces so that the film can properly set. Definitely don’t wash your car during this time, and don’t put any kind of pressure on the film during the week-long settling process.

Wash it off

(Purchase any of the following supplies and equipment from eBay Motors or retailer of your choice.)

eBay Parts & Auto under the hood painting preserves the paint job

(Hopefully metaphorical) After waiting the appropriate amount of time for the dust to settle, you’re clear to wash the car. First, invest in a cleaner that’s gentle on car paint. Household cleaners are not specifically manufactured for this, so avoid using them, lest their chemicals have corrosive effects on your paint job.

Instead, look for products designed to interact with car paint, such as Paint Cleanser from AMMO or Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo. Before applying these products, rinse the car thoroughly with a hose to remove any loose debris that could scratch the paint during the next steps of the process.

Recommended amounts vary by product, but you should probably grab a clean bucket and mix the cleaning solution with water. To apply the soap mixture, dip a soft car wash sponge (or other product, such as a microfiber mitt or similar) into the mixture and apply a generous amount to the paint, gently rubbing across the length of the car in a horizontal motion. Although it’s tempting, it’s not advisable to wash in circles, as you risk creating swirl marks. Rinse the car from top to bottom with clean water. When there is no soap left, dry the car starting from the top with a soft and very clean towel to prevent watermarks (microfiber works here too).

Give it a wax

eBay Parts & Auto under the hood painting preserves the paint job

For added shine and protection, wax your car’s paint using an automotive-specific wax and microfiber applicator pad or Orbital Power Buffer. First, apply the wax panel by panel using gentle up and down motions. After the wax sets, it will create a dull finish. To work the wax properly and remove more, take a soft cloth such as a chamois or microfiber towel (or the orbital machine again, this time with a removal pad) and using circular motions, remove the wax. Now, take a second to admire the smooth, shiny finish you’ve created. Make another pass with the unused cloths to make sure you remove all the wax from each panel.

Do it all again, as often as possible

The best thing you can do for your car’s paint job is to do everything described above every two weeks. If it’s too frequent, adjust the schedule to fit your lifestyle – the less you do this, the less protected your color will be. But any protection is better than none, so make sure to give your car’s paint TLC as often as possible. If you love driving, there’s no way to avoid picking up dust and dirt on every road. So to keep your car paint fresh and clear, make all these habits.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.