We’re from Connecticut, so in the middle of winter when every car is covered in salt and grime, we wrote an article about car washes. We still stand by that advice, and I wash my car 3 times a week using a monthly membership ($17/month).
But as we are coming to a close on the summer, getting your car protected now for the harsh winter months (if you live in a place that has winter) will keep the exterior from taking to rust, and damage from the salt and road treatments. Even if you live in a fortunate area that doesn’t get snow or winter, detailing your car will protect it from whatever hazards you do experience.
What you need:
Car soap (we like Meguiers)
Wheel Cleaner (foam or spray)
Wheel and tire scrub brushes
Microfiber towels (Costco)
3 Step Cleaner and Wax (any brand)
Buffing pads (for each step)
Commit 2-3 hours to do it right, and then regular maintenance will keep it looking great all winter.
Get your car washed (or wash it yourself). If you have a power washer, you can use that with the delicate tip to speed up the process and clean it better.
Spray your rims/hubcaps with the wheel cleaner. Follow the directions on the bottle. Typically you will then scrub your ties with the brushes and then rinse it off. This gets all the brake dust off and any tar and grime stuck to the rims.
Now is the time to start the deep cleaning and polishing. Use step one, and squirt the lotion on the pad and scrub it on the car. Step 1 is usually abrasive and continues to remove dirt from the car. Great for getting off tar and other things really stuck to the paint. Then buff it off with the microfiber towel. Wax on, wax off Daniel-san. Use small circular motions, and only do a small area at a time.
Continue with step 2, using the appropriate pad.
Finish with step 3, which is usually pure wax. Feel free to repeat step three several times if you want to do several coats of wax.
This is a very basic and general approach to detailing, but as you can see, fairly simple. It is mostly hard work and elbow grease, so plan to be sore the next day. Doing just this minimal detailing will help protect your car. The exterior of your car is the first thing your customer sees. Make a good impression.