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Feature Article

Wash tips on how to keep your car looking new

Do you want to keep your car looking like new, or maybe you would like to make your old car look new again.  Here are a few tricks that I have used to keep my Oldsmobile's looking good.     Remember your first car and how you pampered it.  Mine was a '67 Cutlass Supreme that my parents bought me in High School.  I was so proud of that car that I used to wash it constantly.   I acquired some habits back then that have served me well for all of these years.  The '79 Oldsmobile that you clicked on to take you here doesn't have custom paint, in fact the paint is some 18 years old now.  The key to making any car stand out from the crowd is in the details.  This Sunday while washing my '79 it dawned on me that it might be nice to share some of these tips, so I pulled out my digital camera and while I washed I snapped a few pictures.

Let me start at the back of the car.    If you have a later model Oldsmobile ('78 or newer) it probably came with stainless exhaust like mine.  My exhaust still uses the original 21 year old muffler and pipes.  Every time I wash my car I pull out some Steel Wool and clean the exhaust pipe.

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As you can see, the pipe looks like new.  In fact the years of scrubbing have actually polished it to some degree.  Even if your exhaust isn't stainless, keeping them clean and periodically painting them silver will give the same effect.

The next area to concentrate on are the wheel wells.   Trust me it really does make a car stand out, and by cleaning them with a tirebrush followed by a sponge each time you wash the car makes the job go easy.  Most of my cars have stainless trim so once again I polish them with steel wool.

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One overlooked area when most people wash are the moldings.  Always take a little extra time to make sure that the sponge is pressed into the creases of the moldings.  While I am on that subject let me also say that I would never recommend using a very large sponge because it is harder to control and get into the tight corners.  Also never, never use a wash mitt.  Mitts have a tendency to collect grit and will scratch your paint and are also more difficult to get into the creases of your car.  The grill below would be impossible to do without a small sponge.

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While on the subject of moldings, sometimes it is necessary to use a soft toothbrush to get into the tight creases.  You must be extremely careful not to let the bristles touch the painted surfaces as it will dull them.

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One other trick that I use is to de-emblem most of my cars.  Obviously I wouldn't remove the 442 emblems, but other than that I remove all emblems that are attached on the paint.  From '76 on up the emblems are glued on and with a little 3M adhesive remover you can gently remove them.  I will cover how to do this and to polish your paint in an upcoming feature article.  By removing the emblems you will not build up road film around them.  Even cleaning with a toothbrush will eventually dull the paint.

Another area often overlooked is around the headlamps.   A lot of road film can build up on the front of the car and by keeping the area clean makes the car stand out.

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Finally, don't forget the window moldings.    Again all you need is a sponge but if you don't do this every time you wash you will need to put a little more muscle into it to get it clean.

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Not only will these tips keep your ride looking new, but they will make waxing your car easier as well.  If you are starting out with a weathered car you will need to get it cleaned first.  For area's like the fender wells you can use a little Ajax or similar cleaner.  For area's around paint I would suggest using a light polishing compound and a soft cotton cloth.  You will need to probably use a toothbrush to get some area's cleaned followed by a hand polish with some polishing compound.  You will want to do this prior to buffing the paint out.   Again, in future articles I will cover some techniques I use to polish a car.

On a final note, be sure to clean the tires and put some tire dressing on them after they have dried.  I just picked up some Maguire's Tire Gel and I am very satisfied with it.  It was easy to apply and didn't leave a wet shiny tire, just a nice black one.  It also didn't discolor the white lettering on the tires.

Good Luck and let me know if any of these tips have helped you.

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