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May 16, 2016

Things To Avoid While Washing Your Car

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Many car owners may wish for their car to shine inside and out, but cleaning the wrong parts of your car without proper knowledge can cause permanent damage and serious problems in some systems.

Car Washing Tips

Experts recommend avoiding the pressurized spray at your local car wash if you want or need to clean your engine. While the powerful jet of soapy water might make your engine look shiny and new, you could end up with a very clean car that won’t start.

The engine compartment of most cars isn’t designed to handle lots of pressurized water, and using the standard car wash jet spray may cause soapy water to enter areas from which it cannot properly drain. This can quickly cause corrosion and rust in sensitive areas of the engine and lead to serious failures later on.

Another reason to be careful is that spraying warm or cool water on a hot engine may cause things to cool down too quickly. This stresses the metal and may cause cracks or weakness in the materials of your car and engine.

Water may also enter the engine through the induction systems and cause huge damage to internal systems. It can push dirt and buildup from the engine compartment onto belts and cause extra wear and unpleasant squeaks during operation. In addition, modern electrical systems are not designed to be doused in water.

While a super-clean engine may look really impressive, that’s really the only benefit to cleaning it as it won’t improve the function or efficiency of your engine in any way. Once you use your car, it will only get dirty again!

If you really want to clean under the hood every once in a while, it is possible to take precautions to prevent damage. Skip the car wash entirely and use a rag or old toothbrush instead.

A water-soluble degreaser can also be used, but be sure to follow the instructions to the letter. Do not use solvent based cleaners as they will only attract more dirt to the engine in the long run.

Avoid getting water into the alternator, air filter, and engine compartment. If you are using a hose, cover these inputs with a plastic bag, and never use water on a hot engine.

Before attempting to start your car after washing the engine, give it sufficient time to dry out. You can use a can of compressed air to help small areas dry more quickly if you so desire.

How To Properly Wash Your Car

Here are some additional tips to help you avoid damaging the appearance of your car while washing it.

  1. Avoid Household Cleaners. When washing a car, a lot of people reach for household products like dish detergent or even hand soap. However, these are not formulated for cars and can remove the protective layer of wax on your car. This leaves it vulnerable to scratches and other damage. Instead, use a product that is specifically designed to be used on cars. It will be milder and won’t strip away the wax on your car. The best way to apply the product is with a soft, natural sponge.
  2. Avoid Washing Your Car Before Rinsing It. It might be tempting to skip straight to the washing of your car but this mistake can cost you a lot of unnecessary scratches due to any lingering debris on your car. Always ensure that you rinse your car before setting out to wash it. Similarly, ensure that you rinse the debris from your sponge regularly to avoid any further scratches.
  3. Avoid ‘Circular Motions’ with Your Sponge. This type of motion can create swirl marks on your car, which is going to impede the overall appeal of your newly washed car. Move the sponge lengthwise across the body of your car instead.
  4. Avoid a Wheel Cleaner That’s Not Formulated For Your Wheels. When it comes to your wheels, this is the only time you can get away with using a household cleaner, like a mild soap. However, if your wheels have a lot of grime, it might not be enough to do the job. In that case, you will need to use a cleaner that is specifically formulated for wheels. However, be careful when using these kind of products as they are often specifically designed for certain types of paint. Using a heavy-duty wheel cleaner that is not suited to your particular wheels can ruin the clear-coat. When in doubt, select a wheel cleaner that is safe on all types of wheels.
  5. Avoid Air Drying and Using Abrasive Towels to Dry Your Car. Both of these methods of drying will stop you from getting a visibly nice looking car and can even damage it as well. Air drying can leave a lot of watermarks on your car due to the minerals found in hard water while scratchy or abrasive towels can cause scratches. Instead, use a rubber squeegee to get rid of most of the water and follow up with a natural or synthetic chamois or a soft terry towel in a blotting motion.

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