Archive for Car Waxing

Long-Term Effects of Skipping the Car Wash

There’s no denying that in this day and age, no one seems to have quite enough time to get everything on their to-do list done. We get it—we really do. With kids to chauffer around, meals to plan and cook, and a job to get to, the last thing you want to worry about is washing your car.

However, like taking your children to the dentist or getting your oil changed every six months, there’s more to washing your car than just keeping it looking good. In fact, regular washing can help you pay less on automotive repairs over the life of your car (and keep you from having to spend hours at the shop). Although skipping the car wash once or twice won’t damage your vehicle, ignoring build-up over the long-term could find you saddled with these common problems.

Exterior Car Problems

  • Dirt build-up can act like sandpaper, rubbing away at your paint and exposing the metal underneath.
  • Dirt that builds up and then washes off in the rain can etch away at your paint job.
  • Bird droppings, sap, and pollen act negatively on your paint job even faster.
  • Once the paint is scraped away, even in micro patches, rust can form. This can cause rust bubbles to form under the paint and will eventually eat away at the metal, causing holes and other major body damages.
  • Corrosion build-up underneath the car and in the engine (which happens in areas where salt and chemicals are used to clear the road) can destroy expensive parts.
  • Not washing your car means you might miss things like cracked headlights or other minor broken parts that will grow worse over time.

Interior Car Problems

  • A dirty interior can become a breeding ground for germs, mold, mildew, and other disease-causing agents.
  • Clogged air vents and smoke damages can negatively impact your breathing health.
  • Dirt and rocks on the floor mats can get ground in underfoot, forcing you to eventually replace the carpets rather than clean them.

Remember, the health hazards of a dirty interior are especially important to remember when you have small kids, pets, and other people who routinely ride in your vehicle. The exterior paint- and body-damaging hazards have more to do with the longevity and resale value of your car, but breathing bad air could damage your long-term health. Both inside and out, a quick weekly wash will go a long way in ensuring that your vehicle runs well and safely for as long as you need it to.

How to Tell When Your Car Needs to be Waxed

There are many reasons to regularly wax your car. It looks good, it repels water, and it increases your car value over time. It also protects your paint job and clear coat against environmental damages caused by UV rays, chemicals from the road, dirt/debris, bird droppings, tree sap, and mineral deposits in your local water source, just to name a few. In fact, if you never wax your car, you’ll eventually see the damages in the form of dulled paint and areas where the paint is peeling or chipping away. Read More

DIY Car Detailing for Beginners

Car detailing can be an overwhelming task if you’ve never done it before. Not only are cars are full of all kinds of mysterious nooks and crannies you don’t want to overlook, but there are so many different products on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.

Ideally, you should have a professional detail done at least twice a year. This will give your car a good foundation to start from, and ensure that any areas you overlook are tended to. From there, you can DIY your detailing once a month or so depending on your needs.

Car Detailing Essentials

For your first few detailing attempts, don’t go all out spending a fortune on specialty cleaners and detailing tools. You might not get as deep of a clean as a professional detailer, but you can get a feel for the process and what is involved. Most of the time, you can get away with some combination of the following:

  • Vacuum
  • Soft Brush
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Air Canister
  • Wheel Cleaner/Wheel Brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Paint Clay
  • Wax

You’ll also want to have traditional car wash supplies on hand, including things like buckets and soap. Although this list might seem overwhelming, you’ll probably find many of these items in your usual cleaning supplies.

Detailing the Interior

You don’t have to start on the inside of the car, but it tends to be easier to move from the inside-out when detailing. (This is especially true if you have kids or pets who leave lots of junk behind.)

  1. Start by doing a thorough inside clean with a vacuum.
  2. Use the air canister to clean out vents and clear dust away from the dashboard and console.
  3. Where possible, remove parts that are easily lifted out (including floor mats and cup holders) so they can be washed separately.
  4. Use any necessary cleaners for the dashboard and other surfaces. (Note: if you have leather interiors, you’ll want to use special care and products.)
  5. Wash the carpets.
  6. Clean the inside of the windows.
  7. Don’t forget to include the trunk and areas like the glovebox or seat pouches.

Detailing the Exterior

When you detail the outside of the car, it’s best to start with the wheels, as they tend to require the most work. These will probably be the most work, as you’ll need lots of scrubbing and elbow grease, but the results are almost always worth it. From there, you can work on the rest of the car from bottom to top.

  1. Apply a cleaner to loosen grit and grime from the wheels.
  2. Scrub the wheels using a toothbrush or other small implement.
  3. Wash and dry the entire car according to your usual custom.
  4. Use paint clay to remove any lingering spots on the car’s surface (click here for a quick and easy YouTube tutorial on using clay).
  5. Focus on all seams and areas where the car’s exterior meets the interior.
  6. Clean any plastic parts and/or moving parts like windshield wipers.
  7. Deep clean the windows.
  8. Deep clean the lights.
  9. Apply a final wax and/or sealant.

Don’t forget that the first few times you detail, it’s likely to take you some time to complete everything on this checklist. The good news is, the more often you detail your car, the easier it will be to maintain a perfect clean.

Why DIY Car Washes are the Best

 Do it yourself  car wash dryingThere’s nothing like good, old-fashioned elbow grease when it comes to getting the most out of your car wash. Although there’s something to be said for automatic car washes, which allow you to get in and out without even exiting your car, nothing will get your vehicle in better condition—and for less money—than a self-serve car wash. Here’s why.

  • Full Cycle on Your Terms: Self-service car washes are like automated car washes in that your automobile goes through a carefully tested cycle of soaking, washing, rinsing, and waxing. However, unlike an automated wash, you get to decide how long each cycle lasts. Do you have lots of caked on mud and windshield splatter? You should soak for a few extra minutes. Has it been a while since you put a coat of wax on your car? Spend a little extra time making sure you wax all the nooks and crannies. Because you control how long each cleaning step takes, you can customize your wash to your ride.
  • Personalized Inspection: Chances are you don’t do a walk-around of your car each night when you get home from work. A car wash is a great opportunity to perform a careful inspection of your vehicle without taking extra time out of your day to do it. When you’re up close and personal doing the scrubbing, spraying, and wiping for yourself, you can keep an eye out for any dings or dents that might need your attention. You can also use this time to check the pressure of your tires, assess your windshield wipers, or even peek under the hood to ensure your fluid levels are good.
  • Clean Inside and Out: If you’re like most car owners, the inside of your car gets just as dirty as the outside. With a DIY car wash, you can pay equal attention to both the interior and exterior. Before you pull into the stall, stop at the vacuums to clear out the garbage, clean the upholstery, and run a window cleaner over the inside of the windshield.
  • Provide Your Own Detailing: There are certain parts of a car that require a more detailed focus than you get from an automated wash. For example, your headlights should be regularly polished, and you may need to work double duty to clean off a bug shield or get the chrome on your wheels shining. During a DIY car wash, you can do as much (or as little) detail work as you like. Many people find it handy to carry their own supplies for the details, while others take advantage of the materials available at the car wash itself.
  • Less Water Waste: One of the rarely discussed benefits of a self-service car wash is the positive impact it has on the environment. Because you control the amount of time spent washing the car, you determine how much water is being used or not. And because you’re at a professional wash instead of at home, the drained water isn’t being put directly into the ground. In fact, this type of car wash is considered the most eco-friendly.

DIY car washes are also great for providing you with exercise, a long-lasting appreciation for your vehicle, and, in some cases, a chance to have some fun with your kids. Here in Salt Lake City, we find that lots of families stop by to work together to clean their cars, staying active and healthy while they do it!

The Difference Car Wax Makes

Benefits of car wax shine, paint and finish protectionYou already take the time to wash and rinse your car on a regular basis. You stop by the car wash every week to keep your exterior looking great. And you never park out in the sun or elements, so you aren’t too worried about the damages of the environment.

Do you really need to worry about car wax, too?

The short answer is yes. Car wax is a lot like a clear coat of nail polish or that final sealant on top of your deck—it’s the last layer of protection against the outside. Not only does it provide protection against the elements, but also from daily wear and tear.

For example, when you use a car (or your fingernails or deck, for that matter), you’re putting a strain on the finish. Dropping things on the surface, heavy treads, and even well-intentioned cleaning all contribute to the final condition. With a wax layer in place, you’re never directly impacting the underlying foundation—you’re only interacting with the wax.

Benefits of Car Wax Shine and Protection

While anyone who wants to keep their car’s exterior in good repair should use car wax, there are other benefits, as well.

  • Protect the Paint: The more coats of wax you have, the better protected the paint underneath is. If you’re worried about fading, scratching, or other damages to your car’s paint, then wax should become your best friend.
  • Shiny Finish: Most car waxes offer a reflective shine that looks great under the sparkling Salt Lake sun. If you love that glossy, straight-off-the-lot shine, car wax will help you achieve it.
  • Sun Damage Protection: That glossy shine isn’t just for looks—it’s also helpful in reflecting the sun’s harmful UV rays. Over a long period of time, the UV rays can break down your car’s color. With wax, the damage is much more minimal.
  • Keep Cleaner for Longer: The wax also helps repel dirt and water streaks. We’ve all seen how beads of water run off a waterproof surface as compared to a non-waterproof one—wax offers a water barrier and a dirt barrier so that your car stays cleaner for longer.

Although you should do a deep car wax by hand once or twice a year, most modern cars can get by on a spray-on wax the majority of the time. During your next visit to the car wash, take a few extra minutes to use the spray wax feature such as our Turtle Wax ICE, covering all the nooks and crannies on your vehicle’s exterior. For a small investment of time and money, you’ll get big returns!

How to Speed Up Your Car Wash Experience

Vacuuming your car first can save time at the washLet’s face it—when it comes to regular automotive upkeep like washing your car, faster is better. You already know how important it is to get regular washes and waxes to maintain the integrity of your vehicle, and you love the way it looks as it sparkles under the sun. It’s finding the time to incorporate this experience into your regular routine that’s hard to get a handle on.

Fortunately, a car wash is like most tasks that require regular upkeep. Although the first few visits might take more time than you’d like, over time, you can speed up your car wash so that you’re in, out, and on your way in just ten minutes or less.

  • Weekly/Bi-Weekly Visits: As mentioned above, the most important thing you can do to make your car wash fast is to get them done regularly. That way, instead of deep cleaning each time you visit, you’re simply touching up the work you’ve already done. With regular maintenance, sometimes you can skip the long soaking stage and deep scrubbing to get right to the rinse and wax.
  • Vacuum First: If you’ll be washing the interior as well as the exterior, head inside first. Shake out the mats by hand and run a quick vacuum over the seats and floor. (For an even faster experience, you can ban eating and drinking in the car, as these are the most common interior mess culprits.)
  • Pre-Wash/Tire Soak: The pre-wash and tire soak cycles should come first, and for good reason—the pre-wash can work while you focus on the tires, and the tire soak can work while you hoist the scrub brush. Although you might be tempted to skip the order of the self-serve car wash, we highly recommend you move linearly through the process. They’re put in that order to help you get the most out of your wash.
  • Skip the Drying: Hand-drying your car after a wash is a great way to prevent water streaks and spots, but you can skip it on a time crunch. Allow your car to air dry by taking it on the freeway or other fast roadway instead.
  • Bring a Friend: You know what they say—many hands make light work. Stop by the car wash when your spouse, parent, or child is with you, and put them to work. One of you can scrub while the other rinses; you can both hand-wipe problem areas. By working together, you can significantly cut back on wash times.
  • Keep a Washing Kit on Hand: It’s often best to handle problems as they arise instead of waiting for your weekly car wash visit. Keep a cleaning kit in your glovebox or trunk with window wipes, a dusting cloth, a car-friendly spray, and a buffing cloth. That way, you can take care of bird splatter or bugs while they’re still wet rather than allowing them to dry and cake on.
  • Carry a Garbage: A garbage can or sack in your car isn’t the most appealing interior decoration, but nothing will make your regular clean easier than simply tossing out the trash and putting in a fresh liner. You can save vacuuming and deep upholstery cleans for rarer occasions.

Time is money—especially at a car wash where each quarter buys you a few minutes of clean time. Move quickly and efficiently, stop by every week, and you’ll never spend too long cleaning your car again!

The Best Way to Clean Your Car’s Hard-to-Reach Places

When it comes to washing your car, it’s not the dirt you can see that’s the problem…it’s the dirt you can’t see. Whether you look inside or out, vehicles are filled with hundreds of tiny nooks and crannies, many of which become home to dirt, rocks, food particles, and worse.

Those hard-to-reach places might be a little bit more difficult to clean, but they aren’t impossible. Next time you hit the car wash, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting a deeper clean.

Cleaning the Interior

  • Remove any Removables: The best way to deep clean a car’s interior is to make it accessible. The easily removed parts (like floor mats) should come out every time you vacuum. You can also look into removing the middle console, the door panels, or even the seats, if they’re easily taken out. Nothing will get in and under better than opening up the space.
  • Use Air: Vacuum intake and outake are both your friend when cleaning a car’s interior. You can use traditional intake vacuums to clean up the worst debris, and reverse the air flow (or even use an air compressor or can of compressed air) to blow out the harder to reach places.
  • Clean the Vents: Using a compressor or can of air to blow the dust out of the vent slats is one idea, or you can use a toothbrush, cotton swab, or other item with a long, narrow reach to individually clean each vent hole. This is especially important if you’re trying to eliminate smells that have gathered in the heating/cooling system.
  • Long-Reach Dusters: If you don’t want to invest in heavy-duty detailing equipment, purchase a disposable duster with a long reach. These work best when you just want to wipe away a build-up of dirt rather than provide a deep clean.

Cleaning the Exterior

  • Invest in a Detailing Brush: You can use a toothbrush or cotton swab to get those tricky spots on your car’s exterior, but they aren’t likely to stand up to the harder wear and tear for very long. A small detailing brush that won’t scratch your paint is worth the investment.
  • Focus on the Wheel Wells: The most common place in need of detailed work on a car’s exterior is the wheel well. Most people attack these areas with a toothbrush (or the aforementioned detailing brush) and a specialty wheel cleaner that will break apart the caked on grease and grime.
  • High-Powered Spray: Just as a powerful burst of air can clean your car’s interior, so too can a powerful burst of water take care of the outside.
  • Rotary Tool: When you need a little more power than a brush can provide, a rotary tool (like a Dremel) and a buffing or gentle bit can make a huge difference. Because the tool provides the power instead of your muscles, you can get more work done in a shorter period of time.

In all the cleaning and detailing, don’t forget to pay attention to the undercarriage. A good undercarriage spray will take care of most of the tiny details underneath your vehicle so you don’t have to climb underneath and reach the dirt that way.

Protecting Your Antenna and Exterior Accessories During a Car Wash

You spent a lot of time and money putting in your vehicle’s aftermarket parts. The last thing you want to do as you regularly wash your car and keep in it good condition is subject those parts to potential damages. Here’s a quick and easy guide to protecting everything from your antenna to those great new tail lights you had installed.

  • Car Antennas: Most antennas can either be unscrewed or pushed down so they no longer protrude from the car’s exterior. They’re flexible enough to withstand the occasional automatic car wash, but it’s best if you get in the habit of removing these items before you head in. (If you want to make sure the antenna screws on tightly, be sure and keep a wrench on hand.)
  • Side View Mirrors: If your car has the ability to fold or pull in the side mirrors, always do this before you go through a car wash. If they don’t have the built-in flexibility, you’ll need to inspect them both before and after the wash. Make sure the mirror is secure and firm, and always adjust the mirror afterwards so you have a clear line of vision, as the water sprays may move the angle.
  • Windshield Wipers: By nature of their purpose, windshield wipers are designed to withstand a little moisture and high pressure. However, if you want to protect the wiper blades during a wash to increase their longevity, you can purchase windshield wiper cover bags that easily slip on and remove.
  • Rubber/Plastic Trim: Because the trim on your car’s exterior is made of different materials than the body itself, it requires a different kind of clean. While these items don’t have to be removed prior to a car wash (in fact, because they provide sealing protection, this is a bad idea), it’s best to apply a specialty trim wax every few months. This will prevent the trim from fading in the sun and keep the rubber from cracking over time.
  • Tires and Wheels: Your new tires can go through the car wash just fine, but if you want to make them gleam, you’ll need to perform a deeper clean and even apply a tire shine. Over time, UV damage can crack and fade the rubber, and dirt and grease can build up. Extra scrubbing and tire soaks on the wheels will go a long way in helping you keep the quality up.
  • Taillights: If your taillight has a poor seal or has a tiny crack (possibly even invisible to the naked eye), the high-pressure spray of water in an automatic car wash can push moisture into the light and cause condensation to form inside. You can opt to remove a taillight cover after a wash to dry it out, or simply tighten and seal it so that no moisture can get in the next time.
  • Tinted Windows: The tint on windows is applied on the inside, so you shouldn’t have to worry about protecting them when you visit a car wash and use the regular sprays and chemicals. As you head into the interior, however, you’ll want to avoid traditional glass cleaners, which can damage the tint over time. Avoid all ammonia-based products (which can discolor the tint) and stay away from the edges to avoid peeling.
  • Exhaust Systems: Exhaust upkeep is important to keep rust away and ensure your investment in your vehicle stays sound. Take your car through your usual washing steps, being sure to remember to clean the undercarriage. Then, when the wash is through, you can detail the exhaust pipes. Avoid harsh steel wool and other scrapers that will scratch the metal, and be sure to apply a metal shine or metal wax afterward.

Car washes are designed to make a car shine without damaging the features and products that you’ve installed, but it’s always a good idea to take extra precautions when your car has been considerably upgraded. With a little extra planning and care, you can keep your investment running in perfect form for as long as you want!

What is the Difference between Waxing, Sealing, and Coating?

In the world of car washing, you’ll often hear the words “waxing,” “sealing,” and “coating” used interchangeably. In almost all cases, the person using the terms is referring to applying a waterproofed layer of protection to your car after it has been washed. While there are similarities between these three types of products, they perform different functions—and for different reasons.

What is Car Wax?

A car was is a liquid application (sometimes applied as a wax paste) that seals a car’s exterior against moisture, harmful UV rays, and pollution in the air. It almost always includes carnauba wax as one of the ingredients and make a car look shiny, glossy, and gleaming to the naked eye. It can feel slippery between your fingers, which makes it easy to apply—but also makes it easier to wash off.

A car wax isn’t designed to last longer than a few weeks at a time. Hand applications of car wax (that you rub in yourself) can provide protection for up to a few months, but most of the liquid wax applications you get at the car wash will keep the car protected for a few weeks until you’re ready for the next washing.

What is Car Seal?

A car sealant (also known as a paint sealant) performs the same general function as a wax, meaning it is designed to protect against sun, pollution, and moisture. However, it is typically made from synthetic ingredients that mimic carnauba wax but provide longer-lasting protection. You might not get the same glossy shine that a wax provides, but you won’t need to reapply every week, even if you perform regular washes.

What is Car Coat?

A car coating (or paint coating) is the longest-lasting, most protective, and most expensive of the three options. It’s typically provided by a car detailer or automotive paint business rather than a car wash, and is applied as a kind of secondary clearcoat on top of the existing clearcoat.

Because of the long-term durability of a coating, this isn’t a step for everyone. It’s typically best when you’re worried about scratches and dings, or when you want a solid base that you’ll also continue to wax on a regular basis.

What about a Polish?

You might also hear about car polish, which is another term to add to your general automotive lexicon. Unlike the wax, seal, or coat, a polish is what you use to improve the car’s exterior before you apply the extra protection. The polish removes caked-on grease, dirt, and even scratches, and often includes a solvent that allows you to match the paint as you work.

For most people, the product you’ll use most often is the car wax—especially if you regularly hit the car wash. Because we make it easy for you to apply the wax as the final step before you drive away, you get an extra layer of shine and protection without having to invest in any heavy-duty car sealing products.

Give the Gift of Car Washing

The best gifts are the ones that you can use on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy, in this day and age, to pop online and purchase virtually anything you want—from specialty banana slicers to life-size cutouts of your favorite sports figure, everything under the sun is just a click of the mouse away. What makes a good gift unique is not only that it comes from someone who cares about you, but that it provides a useful service other than cluttering up your home.

This is one reason why gift cards are so popular right now—and why car wash gift cards in particular are such a good fit. With a gift card, you’re not overstepping the tacky boundaries by giving cash, but you’re also making sure you give a gift that will be used and appreciated. And while a gift card to a coffee shop or a chain store is one option, we encourage you to think smaller by checking out your local car wash. Here’s why.

  • A Car Wash Gift Card Lasts: You can give a one-time car wash as a gift, but most people purchase these as a punch card that provides a month’s or year’s supply of car washes. This really is the gift that keeps on giving, as it provides a service multiple times (often when it’s needed most!).
  • A Car Wash Gift Card is Perfect for Car Lovers: Buying a gift for the car lover in your life can be difficult. Unless you know exactly what kind of aftermarket supplies they need or are in a financial position to buy them a brand new Tesla, chances are you aren’t sure what to get them. But one thing all car lovers have in common is good upkeep of their vehicle, including regular washing.
  • A Car Wash Gift Card is Great for Grads: High school and college graduates often need financial assistance, but providing a one-time gift card to a restaurant or store isn’t likely to help their bottom line. With a car wash gift card, you can free up the money they would have spent on car maintenance for all other life necessities.
  • A Car Wash Gift Card is Also Great for Dads: This is also true for mothers, sweet sixteens, and those in need of a stocking suffer. Washing a car is one of those things everyone does (or should be doing), so it just makes sense.
  • A Car Wash Gift Card is Quick and Easy: Need a last minute gift? A car wash gift card couldn’t be easier. Because we cater to those just driving through for a few minutes, you can be in and out the door in no time.
  • A Car Wash Gift Card is Great for “Problem” Shoppers: If you have problems shopping for gifts, or if you’re buying for a notoriously difficult friend or relative, this kind of gift is perfect. Your money stays local, it goes to a good cause, and it also provides a service everyone uses.

Another great reason to buy a car wash gift card is to use it yourself. If you want to pre-purchase a package of car washes to use all year long, don’t forget to include yourself on the recipient list!