How to Wash Your Car Like a Pro - Balde Branco

I spent a day with Mike Pen­ning­ton and Rick McDo­nough of Megui­ars, who demons­tra­ted the pro­per way to wash your car and main­tain a cle­an exte­ri­or. I regu­larly hand wash my 1983 Mer­ce­des-Benz 300D using a pres­su­re-washer and mitt with soap and water, whi­ch helps remo­ve the dirt we can see. But as Mike and Rick demons­tra­ted, I have been neglec­ting a few impor­tant steps.Evaluate the Con­di­ti­on of Your Vehicle

Eva­lu­a­ting the con­di­ti­on of your vehi­cle will ste­er you towards how it should be cle­a­ned. A new car or one that alre­ady has a good coat of wax on it, may only need a wash and wax to main­tain it, but a car with an ave­ra­ge to neglec­ted exte­ri­or may need to be cle­an and polished as well.Read the Label

After that expe­ri­en­ce, I unders­to­od the prep work that a fel­low Hell­cat dri­ver had under­ta­ken befo­re hit­ting the strip: his car’s who­le rear end aft of the tires was cove­red in blue pain­ter’s tape. When he was done run­ning, he pee­led off the tape—and the rubber—and dro­ve home. This affir­ming yet again that the best way to cle­an your car is to keep it from get­ting dirty in the first place.—Ezra Dyer


Befo­re using any type of car cle­a­ning che­mi­cal, it is impor­tant to read the label. The appli­ca­ti­on for soap, wax, or detai­ler can vary from brand to brand and vehi­cle to vehi­cle. For exam­ple, using a chro­me whe­el cle­a­ner whi­ch is extre­mely aci­dic on an alu­mi­num whe­el can ruin it. Also invest in pre­mium micro­fi­ber clothes and keep sepa­ra­te piles for tho­se used on your paint, whe­els, and win­dows. Wash your towels and cle­a­ning mitts after every use.Washing Your Car

Washing your car will remo­ve loo­se con­ta­mi­nants such as dust, dirt, and mud from the exte­ri­or of your vehi­cle. Always use a car washing soap and not a liquid deter­gent or dish cle­a­ner, whi­ch can dama­ge the paint and strip away wax. Rin­se your car first to remo­ve lar­ger pie­ces of dirt whi­ch can scrat­ch your car when washing, and use cle­an mitts and drying cloths.  

car wash


After washing you can easily see scrat­ches, swirls, and oxi­da­ti­on in your paint and feel for bon­ded con­ta­mi­nants such as overs­pray or tree sap that washing doesn’t remo­ve. Just run your hand over a washed vehi­cle, and if you can feel lit­tle bumps, then you need to go a step further with cle­a­ning your car.

To remo­ve scrat­ches and etching that are below the sur­fa­ce, you’ll need to use a com­pound. They can be appli­ed by hand using appli­ca­tor pads or by using a dual-acti­on polisher, and wiped away soon after applying. A com­pound paint cle­a­ner needs to be wor­ked into the finish and can some­ti­mes requi­re a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th appli­ca­ti­on. Some scrat­ches are too deep and only a paint tou­ch-up will repair them.Polishing for Extra Gloss


What I fai­led to con­si­der, in the cour­se of doing seve­ral of the­se healthy tire-war­ming exer­ci­ses, is that spin­ning in pla­ce for a second or 10 was cau­sing mol­ten rub­ber to spray onto the rear the quar­ter-panels, whe­re it then coo­led and affi­xed itself to the bodywork like a spray-on bedli­ner on a truck. Tho­se Pirel­lis exact a final act of ven­ge­an­ce as they vapo­ri­ze in the name of glo­ri­ous quar­ter-mile elap­sed times.

This step is opti­o­nal and can be com­pa­red to applying loti­on on your skin. Polish can be appli­ed by hand or with a dual-acti­on polisher, and the con­di­ti­o­ning oils add depth of color and maxi­mum gloss pri­or to waxing, espe­ci­ally on dark colo­red vehicles.Wax to Protect

car wax


Waxing is like suns­cre­en for your car. It adds a layer of pro­tec­ti­on from UV rays to pre­vent fading, as well as anything that may land on the paint. It pre­ser­ves your high gloss finish and is avai­la­ble in a car­nau­ba or poly­mer form. Both types of wax per­form the same, but a poly­mer wax won’t haze as it dri­es and can usu­ally be wiped off soon after applying. The choi­ce betwe­en using car­nau­ba or poly­mer wax is simi­lar to cho­o­sing synthe­tic or regu­lar engi­ne oil. Poly­mer is a bit more expen­si­ve but is easi­er to apply and some say per­forms better. 

Hosing them off isn’t an opti­on. You need something more like a chi­sel. Or, as I found, che­mi­cal assis­tan­ce: Tur­tle Wax Bug and Tar Remo­ver. Fai­ling to remo­ve the rub­ber by other means, I sear­ched my car-cle­a­ning shelf in the gara­ge and deci­ded to give this stuff a try. After all, tar is like rub­ber, right?And you know what? It wor­ked. It took plenty of paper towels and elbow gre­a­se, but the Tur­tle Wax see­med to sof­ten-slash-liquefy the rub­ber and cau­se it to sur­ren­der its grip. Thus I was able to return Dod­ge’s car without bla­tan­tly obvi­ous evi­den­ce of what I’d been up to, minus a few tenths of an inch less tre­ad out back.