How to Care for the Paint on Your Car | YourMechanic Advice

How to Care for the Paint on Your Car

Caring for the paint job on your car is one of the best ways to keep your car looking great all year round.

Regular washing and cleaning, followed by drying, polishing, and waxing, adds a protective coating over your vehicle's paint to provide extra protection to its exterior.

Knowing when to perform each cleaning and detailing task throughout the year is important, as well, as waxing too often can dullen the finish of your car due to excess wax.

Part 1 of 4: Wash your car

Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Car wash solution
  • Microfiber towel (or mitt)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Water hose

Washing a car on a regular basis helps keep it free of dirt, debris, and gritty residue that can accumulate over time. When washed on a weekly basis, your car's paint should remain relatively free of even the worst dirt caused by regular driving.

  • Tip: If you are getting your car hand washed at a carwash, consider applying a prewash solution to help loosen any dirt or debris before applying the regular soap.

person scrubbing with a microfiber towel

Step 1: Wash your car. Start washing your car from the roof of the vehicle and work your way down to the bottom of the vehicle. Use a soft-bristled brush, in small, circular motions, to remove more stubborn stains and grease. Use a microfiber cloth to clean less dirty areas.

  • Warning: Avoid using normal dish soap, laundry soap, and other household cleaners when washing your car. These substances are designed to remove grease and oil, and they can damage your car's finish, not to mention strip away the vehicle's protective wax coating.

Step 2: Rinse your car. Rinse your car as you go to prevent the soap and water from drying on your car. The ideal car-washing method is to soap up and wash an area, followed by a quick rinse, before moving on. Try not to take too long while washing your car so that the water does not dry, leaving behind mineral deposits in the form of water spots.

Part 2 of 4: Dry your car

Material Needed

  • Microfiber towels (or mitt)

Thoroughly drying your car after washing it keeps water spots from forming on the vehicle's surface. This helps give a vehicle a beautiful finish after you detail and wax the car later on.

Step 1: Dry your car by hand. Start drying your car as soon as you are finished with the basic wash. This keeps the water from drying and leaving water spots.

Use a microfiber towel to absorb and draw in the water and remove any remaining dirt away from the vehicle's surface. Try not to drag the towel across the car, as this can trap remaining dirt and debris underneath it and potentially scratch the paint.

  • Tip: When drying your car after washing it, park in a cool, shaded area to prevent the sun from drying the car too quickly.

Step 2: Allow your car to air-dry. After drying your car to remove the majority of the moisture, allow it to air dry completely before proceeding to the detailing phase. Allow your car to sit in the shade so that the vehicle does not get too hot before you detail it.

Part 3 of 4: Detail your car

Materials Needed

  • Clay bar
  • Compound
  • Glaze
  • Microfiber towels
  • Polish

After washing and drying your vehicle completely, detailing it allows you to really get a vehicle sparkling clean before waxing. Most often, basic washing does not remove smaller particles and substances that might stick to or are worked into the paint job itself. There are many detailing methods available to help further clean your car's surface.

clay bar and lubricant

Step 1: Choose a method to detail your car. Once your car is dry, you can detail the car's outer surface using a variety of items. The items you use depend in large part on what you are attempting to do. Different items you can use to keep your paint clean include the following:

paint job item tabe

  • Warning: Before using any detailing method, make sure you understand how to use it properly. If not, it is better to pay a professional detailer to take care of your car, otherwise you run the risk of damaging your vehicle's surface.

Step 2: Prepare to detail your car. Use a microfiber towel or mitt when working with any detailing compound, glaze, or polish. The surface of the microfiber towel should help it lift dirt away from the surface. Otherwise, the dirt is just swirled around on the vehicle's surface and will probably scratch it while doing so.

  • Tip: Don't forget to clean and shine your tires, which are one of the most overlooked areas of a vehicle. When doing so, clean, wash, and polish one tire at a time to prevent the cleaner from drying on the tires in patches.

Part 4 of 4: Wax your car

Materials Needed

After washing, drying, and detailing the outside of your vehicle, seal it with wax. You only need to wax your car about every three months, so this process is not required every time you wash your car.

If you use a detailing method that removes the wax, then you need to apply wax again. Optionally, you can use a paint conditioner instead of a wax product to protect your vehicle's paint job.

  • Warning: Be cautious when using a buffer to wax your car. Overuse can lead to paint removal. A dual action or random orbital polisher might be the best choice for a beginner.

Step 1: Apply wax. Apply wax using a microfiber towel or a clean buffing pad using the car buffer. If using a buffer, pull the trigger gently, pulsing the wheel. This keeps the wax from caking on the surface of the car.

Step 2: Allow the wax to set. Proceed with applying the wax a section at a time, allowing the wax to set before removal. Check the wax container for directions on use and recommended wax set times.

Step 3: Buff the wax in. Take a microfiber cloth and use circular motions with the buffer to rub in the wax. Repeat this process until you have waxed the entire surface of the vehicle.

When using a buffer to wax your car, use a gentle circular motion that overlaps as you work across each section. Three to five pounds of pressure should be enough to wax your car effectively. As an alternative to waxing, consider applying a ceramic coating for a protective shine that can last years.

Keeping your vehicle's paint job cleaned, detailed, and waxed maintains its shiny look for years. This, in turn, prevents the buildup of oxidation, which eventually leads to damaging rust.

If rust does develop or your vehicle's paint becomes damaged, seek the help of an experienced auto body professional, such as one from YourMechanic, to advise you on what steps you need to take to correct the situation.


Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Oil Change Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

20,616

Rating Summary
19,335
829
172
84
196
19,335
829
172
84
196

Jamie

25 years of experience
12 reviews
Jamie
25 years of experience
Ford Ranger - Oil Change - Charleston, South Carolina
My wife and I broke down on our honeymoon. And thank God, Jamie really came through for us. He did a speedy repair, and did great great work. He made us a priority cause he knew we were on our honeymoon. Being broken down out of town is stressful, and Jamie sorted that out for us no problem. I’d give 100 stars if I could!!!! Super friendly, awesome, people person sort of guy. Don’t hesitate to call Jamie to come to the rescue!! 10/10 recommend!!!
Kia Sorento - Oil Change - Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Absolutely fantastic. On time, accurately quoted, professional service. Nothing not to like. Will definitely be a repeat customer.

John

18 years of experience
50 reviews
John
18 years of experience
Ford Explorer - Oil Change - Memphis, Tennessee
John did an exceptional job. He provided great communication about my appointment, he was friendly, and knowledgeable, finished the job in a timely manner, and left the job site clean and neat. Thanks!
Chrysler 300 - Oil Change - Memphis, Tennessee
Mr. Chapman was professional and courteous. He even reset my "Oil gauge", that made me happy too! I will ask for him on my next auto maintenance job.

Albin

5 years of experience
12 reviews
Albin
5 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 - Oil Change - Woodhaven, New York
Arrived on time did a great job change spark plugs did oil change valve cover gasket washed the valve cover put everything back together started the car check the brakes check for leaks and checked the complete car would recommend this is best mechanic
Chevrolet Aveo - Oil Change - Long Island City, New York
Great person! Fixed my vehicle easily & no hassle at all I truly recommend this person to fix your vehicles! I thought it would be a crazy hard job but he made it super easy!

Daimar

10 years of experience
9 reviews
Daimar
10 years of experience
Toyota Corolla - Oil Change - Raleigh, North Carolina
Dagimar was prompt and professional! He came to my place of employment and took care of my oil change in a swift manner. Wore his mask, kept his distance and was quite polite during our exchange. First time user of Your Mechanic - I would highly recommend this service and Daimar to anyone! Thank you!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How Car Colors Affect Car Insurance Rates
Car paint color doesn’t affect the cost of car insurance or how often car owners are pulled over by the police.
4 Essential Things to Know About Cleaning the Interior of Your Car
Cleaning Cleaning the interior of your car is something that should be done regularly. It will keep the seats, carpeting, and overall condition of your vehicle looking better for longer. If you decide to resell it in the future, your...
How to Keep Your Car’s Acrylic Paint Looking Brand New
Acrylic Acrylic paint was extremely popular in older cars, and can still be found on many cars today. While there are many different reasons for manufacturers, auto body specialists, and car owners alike to use acrylic paint, there is one...

Related questions

Trouble Starting, and sometimes doesn't start at all - Dies at idle from time to time.

Hello. Cleaning the throttle body and idle valve may have been needed, but the intermittent starting and dying symptom can be the camshaft and crankshaft sensors. These are the codes P0335 and P0340. The code P0446 can be from the...

Undercoating the car prior to inclement weather?

Hi there. The undercoating you're father is referring to was a very common factory or aftermarket addition in the Northern United States from the mid-1950's up until the late 1990's. It was essentially a polymer spray that protected exposed steel...

My car needs a throttle body cleaning, but I'm worried about the idle and relearning process

Hi there. This is a very good question that I wish more people would ask. Your 2006 Pathfinder's engine control unit (ECU) does evolve and learn as it goes. Anytime you clean the throttle body or complete major "routine" service,...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com