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Old 07-20-2009, 09:42 PM   #5
Car Guy
RAdams's Avatar
Drives: '08 Mustang GT, '01 Isuzu VehiCROSS
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 441
I'll say, get a good coat of wax on it, but don't expect it to last too long until you have your own garage and driveway.

It's been my experience that the instant you take your car to even the do-it-yourself car wash, the first thing that happens is the heavy-duty soap they have instantly removes your wax. Sometimes, in a pinch (winter, etc.), I'll take my car to a stall and use the high-pressure wand in the rinse cycle (no soap!) then gently dry it off with terrycloth towels.

(Yeah, a lot of this will seem obsessive compulsive when taken in all at once, but itís not that bad. I only spend about 20 minutes a week on my upkeep.)

NEVER use dishwashing or laundry soap. Those items could be labeled as Instant Wax Strippers. You can easily find soaps that are formulated to NOT strip wax at Autozone, Walmart, etc.

No matter what - ALWAYS dry off your car after you wash. Not only does it look 1000% better, you won't get ugly / damaging spots from hard water drying on the paint. Open the doors, hood and trunk and dry off jambs and wherever you see water. After drying I take a damp towel and run it across the exposed areas in the engine compartment. It's surprising how doing that after every wash (or every other wash) will keep the engine looking showroom new YEARS later!

Start buying stuff now. You know you need leather cleaner/protectant - it's cheap and you can apply it in just a few minutes.

Watch the ads and buy terry cloth towels and rags whenever you see them on sale. Don't be afraid to throw them away when they're dirty. It's not worth messing up your new washing machine (or your dress shirts) trying to wash wax, polish, Armour-all, etc out of your "Car Towels." Buy 'em cheap, dump 'em in the trash.

Electric buffers are GREAT and you shouldn't be afraid of them Ė just use care.
#1: You don't have to spend a fortune.
#2: SLOWER speeds are better. Even the slowest is "fast enough" and less likely to cause damage.
#3: Don't press down. Just the weight of the buffer is plenty of pressure.
#4: Always start with a perfectly clean surface.
#5: If your car has lots of curves, buy a buffer with a small head (5", 6", 7") so you can easily get into more nook & crannies.

When waxing, use a very slightly damp towel / sponge / soft rag / buffer bonnet and a TINY bit of wax. Globbing it on doesn't help at all - it just wastes wax (or polish) and causes a hard-to-remove mess.

Do EVERYTHING out of direct sunlight and on cool surfaces. Instead of washing at home at noon, wait until dusk .

NEVER use anything other than soft CLOTH on paint. No paper towels.

You DONíT have to spend a fortune on polishes and waxes. Donít believe the hype you hear from uber-fans. You can get an equal or superior result from $20 worth as you get from $100+.

Whenever you have a good wax coating AND can keep your car out of the morning dew (which makes dust into mudÖ..) If itís dusty, gently use a California Duster to, uh, dust off the dust. Spots from driving though clean water, bird pookies, etc., can be easily removed using a detailing spray. (Youíll want to keep the duster, spray and a few towels in your trunk. Just know up front Ė these items quickly lose their effectiveness without a slick wax surface.

Rain-X? Maybe. It works best when there is heavy rain, your windshield has a very aerodynamic rake and youíre over 35 MPH. Upright windshield (like an old pickup) Ė doesnít work very well. Light rain (even with a sports car rake) doesnít work that well.

Holy carp Ė still awake? These are my experiences Ė donít be surprised if someone tells you Iím all wet.

Ask lots of questions!
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