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Behind the wheel: April 18


Attention to detail: why washing by hand is best

Finally, spring seems to have decided to stick around for a while. That means it is finally warm enough to treat your car to a thorough hand wash.

Why wash it by hand? The best reason is because it forces the washer, presumably the car’s owner, to become very aware of what’s going on with the car’s many surface areas – from tires to roof and everywhere in between.

Are there dents, scratches or rust that need attention? Are the tires showing signs of wear? Is there any damage to the car’s interior, particularly its upholstery? These are just a few of the questions that a hands-on car washing can answer. But before putting car mitt to car, there are a few dos and don’ts that should be noted.

Do use a cleaning agent that is specifically made for cars. That means don’t use dish detergent or a household cleaner like Lysol or even your favorite body wash or shampoo. Car cleaners are made to be gentler on automotive paint and wax. When applying the soapy water, use a soft cloth, sponge or a car mitt that has been well cleaned and rinsed frequently in clean water to remove any hidden particles.

Do rinse the car thoroughly with a medium spray of water before washing to loosen and remove debris that could cause scratches.

Do keep the car out of direct sunlight and well wetted when washing. Allowing the cleanser to dry on the car can dull the car’s finish.

Do work from the top down and wash one section at a time, rinsing  thoroughly before moving onto the next section. When rinsing, use a hose without a nozzle and let the water flow over the car, creating a sheeting action that will result in less water pooling on the car’s surface.

Do use a soft dry cloth, such as a chamois to dry the car after its final rinse. Blotting rather than dragging is the best method for towel drying.

Do rinse off the undercarriage of the car to remove salt residue and other road debris that can damage and corrode the underside of the vehicle.

Do give just as much love to the car’s interior as its exterior, being careful to use products specifically formulated for whichever materials make up its seats, dash and door panels.

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