Q: Car washing/detailing schedule?

asked by on January 19, 2016

How often do I need to wash/clean my car externally/internally? What would happen if I didn't wash it regularly? How often do I need to buff and wax it and what's the advantage of waxing my car?

Hello. Washing and cleaning your car is just as important to the longevity of the vehicle as changing the oil is. There is not a set schedule as to how or when this should be done, but the best way to maintain the look of your vehicle is to wash it regularly. Washing the exterior of your car should be done about once a week. If the car is kept in a garage then every two weeks is typically fine. This should be done with a car wash soap as it is formulated to clean the painted surface and not damage the clear coat. Using soaps such as dishwashing liquid is not a good idea. Washing the outside of your car regularly not only removes dirt, but it removes chemicals and other particles from the ozone that eat away at the pint over time. Even the chemicals in bird dropping can damage the paint.

The interior of the car should be cleaned out at least once a month, but if any liquid is spilled inside of the vehicle that should be cleaned up immediately. Liquids will not only cause some terrible scents, but they can damage electrical components. If you live in an area that uses a lot of road salt in the winter, the undercarriage of the car should be rinsed off at least once a week. As for more detailed work such as waxing and shampooing the interior, this should be done once or twice a year. Shampooing keeps the interior clean and free of stains. Waxing the exterior of the vehicle will protect the paint as it not only removes debris that are stuck to the surface, it also fills in cracks and imperfections that you cannot see visually. Filling these in will keep foreign materials from being able to penetrate the paint and damage it.

About once a year you should also have the engine professionally cleaned. It is important that someone with experience tackles this job as improperly washing an engine compartment can cause serious damage. Keeping the engine clean can help with engine diagnostics in the future as it allows a mechanic to more easily identify leaks and other problems. Regularly cleaning your car is essential to keeping it looking good, smelling good, and having a great resale value.

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

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

Car maintainence

Hi, thanks for writing in. You will need to have a mechanic scan the computer to see what codes are stored and pressure test the oil pressure to see if it is a sensor or internal engine problem. The tire...

I have a Mercedes GL450 with 13000 miles that was due for a B1 service. The dealership charged $750. Is this normal for a Mercedes

Hello. This is a normal charge from the dealer. Though they do a good job on the vehicle they will be quite a bit higher than independent technicians. If you want to have this done outside of the dealer next...

My car makes a very odd beeping noise, what gives?

Hi there. This is most likely a service reminder indicator chiming. Take note of any messages on the display panel. It could also be the seat belt reminder chiming. This could be due to the belt being unfastened or the...

How do you check the engine oil?

Checking the level of oil in the engine is a critical part of general maintenance and something that you should do regularly (with every fill-up, ideally). Here’s how to do it the right way: Park so the car is...

2013 BMW 528i Maintenance Costs

This is a great car that performs well and runs very efficiently. As to the average annual maintenance costs per year, this may be tough to say as everyone's driving habits are different which require different maintenance intervals. As for...

SUV jerks while driving, braking, and accelerating

You may have an issue with your catalytic converter not allowing the flow of exhaust that is necessary to maintain a good running engine. If you had a tune up done recently then your ignition system should be working properly....

How do I check the engine coolant level of a 2012 Nissan Altima?

Checking the coolant level is an important part of general maintenance and should be done roughly once per month or so. It’s not hard to do, and here are the steps to follow: Make sure the engine is cold....

How Often Should my Ignition System Be Inspected?

Periodic ignition system inspections should follow the prescribed maintenance intervals as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Maintenance schedules are published in the owner’s manual of every vehicle. Routine ignition system inspections aren't as frequent as they used to be. With...

What do the Maintenance Minder™ codes mean with the multi-information display?

The Maintenance Minder™ system on your car helps you keep tabs on important services like oil changes, transmission services, air filter changes and more. It can display a number of different messages on the screen of your multi-information system. Here...

Related articles

How to Extend the Life of Your Car
There are many things you can do to extend the life of your car, including regular fluid maintenance, timely vehicle repair, and exterior maintenance.
Understanding the Mazda Oil Life Monitor and Service Indicator Lights
Car symbols, or dashboard lights, are a car service reminder. The Mazda Oil Life Monitor system indicates when and what service your car needs.
Understanding Jeep Oil Change Indicator Lights
Car symbols, or dashboard lights, are a car service reminder. The Jeep Oil Change Indicator lets you know when and what service your car needs.