Driving a new car off the lot for the very first time is an experience you’ll never forget. The joy of getting behind the wheel of a brand-new vehicle and taking it out onto the road for the very first time is almost as exciting as getting behind the wheel after passing your operator’s test. Maybe it’s something about the freedom of being able to go where you want, when you want, without worrying about breaking down along the way.
However, as the days and weeks roll by, you notice that there’s a speck of dirt here and there and white spots on the window from the rain last night. That won’t do at all! It’s a brand-new car after all. Actually, there are some things you can do to keep that beautiful dream vehicle looking as new as the day you drove it off the lot.
Regular Car Wash
There is nothing like a car wash to keep that paint job fresh and new, especially if you live in an area where there is salt in the air or on the ground. In fact, any kind of corrosive can quickly eat through the clear coat to the paint and from there through to the frame. Even if you have a fiberglass frame, the damage will still be done.
The real beauty is that you can now take advantage of smart technology for a fast and easy DIY car wash that rivals all those expensive hand washes we’ve paid dearly for over the years. One example would be the smart cleaning Sundance self-service car wash in Lancaster, PA. Perhaps the hardest part about the whole process is figuring out all the buttons, but even that is a piece of cake compared to getting out the garden hose and buckets!
In-Between Touch Ups
For this, you may want to get out those buckets and a mild soap recommended by car manufacturers. You don’t need to do a complete wash and buff, but at least get any dirt, salt, and bird droppings (yes, we said that!) off the vehicle. Did you know that even bird poo can eat away at a vehicle’s finish? Well, it can! These are just a few of the reasons why you need to touch it up in between those amazing DIY smart cleaning washes.
Professional Clay Bar Treatment
Now, this is something we wouldn’t recommend you do unless you have been well trained. It involves, just like the name implies, the use of a certain kind of clay that is mildly abrasive. No, it isn’t like a bar or brick but rather a malleable glob (for lack of a better word!) of clay.
It’s a special clay that will not scratch or mar the finish, but it will take off all that tree sap and other sticky substances that will eat through the clear coat if left on. If you can get the right product and watch a YouTube video showing you how to do it, then you might have a go at it. However, if you are not able to find the right product, don’t second guess it. Let a pro do the clay bar treatment.
A Good Quality Wax and Buffing
There are various products on the market, so it isn’t really necessary to suggest any one particular kind. With that said, you might want to stick with brands that have been around a while and have earned the respect of industry professionals and consumers alike. Sometimes even those off-brand generics that say “Compare to…” are not actually as good as the brands they profess to compete with. Bear in mind that you are driving a new car and they don’t come cheaply. If you have to spend a couple of dollars more for a high-quality wax, then that’s what it will take to protect your finish.
If you’ve ever used a floor machine that waxes hardwood, you know that it also buffs after the wax is applied. That is the same principle with your vehicle except, obviously, the technique is different. You can use any old towel or t-shirt, if necessary, but they do have special buffing cloths if you’d rather invest in them.
Park Under Cover If at All Possible
If you don’t have a garage, an awning or carport would help protect your vehicle. While a heavy wind could blow things laterally into the sides of the car, the most common threat is sap from trees, bird droppings, and even leaves and debris falling from the roof and gutters. Never park under a tree because of sap and again, bird droppings, but if it is unavoidable, invest in a car cover that you can quickly put on the car for protection.
Park Far Away from Other Cars in a Commercial Lot
Even if you are in a hurry or don’t really relish walking through the rain to reach the store you are going to shop in, park as far away from other parked cars as possible. In fact, even the very rear of the parking lot looks good about now. It’s impossible to count all the cars that have been dinged and scratched by adjacent vehicles opening their doors, not to count those wayward rolling shopping carts. Most people won’t walk farther than they have to, so you are fairly safe at the back of the lot.
No Food in the Vehicle!
For heaven’s sake, don’t eat in the vehicle! Not only will all those crumbs work their way into the upholstery, even if it’s leather, but the smell of food is hard to mask, even with all those hanging air fresheners. You want your car to look as good as the day you drove it off the lot and that means keeping it free from stains and crumbs.
Speaking of crumbs, you should also vacuum your car regularly ‘just in case.’ Even if you don’t eat in the vehicle, you can always carry pet hair on your clothing or a bit of dust you’ve brushed up against at some point in the day. What about the dirt that’s collected in the grips of your tennis shoes? Vacuum the seats and floors at the car wash and in between as well.
Protective Floor Mats
Your new car probably came with front and back seat floor mats but those are made of the same carpeting as installed on the floor. Protective rubber mats are not all that expensive and if all else fails, get a few carpet samples at your local home improvement store which you can pick up for a couple of dollars each. While you will still need to vacuum your car regularly, at least you can keep mud and slush from ruining your car’s original carpets and mats.
Finally, the one thing many people forget about is keeping that dashboard detailed. There are even protective finishing products that have UV protection and keep that dash shiny and new even in the sunniest of locations. Without naming a brand, remember those high-quality protective waxes mentioned above? That same company manufactures an interior wax that will give you all the protection and shine you need.
There you have 10 ways to keep your car looking like the day you drove it off the lot. You will be so pleased that you took the time to care for your new baby. Why not enjoy it the same next year as you do today?