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Myths

This site has loads of information about what you SHOULD do regarding proper car care, but where is that list of what you SHOULDNíT do? Its right here my friend.  I present what could be called:

There are a lot of myths out there about car care. They have been passed down from father to son since automobiles first came into existence. They are myths like ďpaint needs to breatheĒ and ďArmor All will crack your dash.Ē  While these things may have been true at some point in the past, we are dealing with 21st century technology now and the ways of the past are not the ways of the present.  Products and processes are changing all the time. For example, recently many products have undergone reformulation to become VOC compliant.  Products change all the time along with automotive technology.  50 years from now who knows...?  Maybe we wonít even need car wax. (perish the thought!)

I want you to imagine for a second that everything you have ever been told about car care is wrong.  The way you wash is wrong. The products you use are bad.  You are doing everything you possibly can short of breaking out the angle grinder to destroy your paint.  What you are doing may have been fine for paint 30 years ago, but your paint is much too fragile for the tools and products you use.  How does that make you feel when I tell you this? You shouldnít feel too bad since those statements probably donít apply to you, but there may be some truth in it for some people. The point is that many of us treat our cars the way someone else taught us to treat them.  And they learned it from someone else and so on and so on.  It is very possible that the people we learned from didnít really know what they were talking about either.  Some of these techniques and products that you may be using are outdated and potentially harmful for your paint. This guide is meant to debunk some of those myths that have been circulating for years and may be keeping you from obtaining better results.

Using Dish Soap

Its not your fault and its not your dadís fault if you are using dish soap to wash your car. Take a look at your ownerís manual for your car. What does it say to use? My 1999 Acura Integra ownerís manual says specifically to use dish soap to wash the car. This is a suggestion that has been passed down for years through auto manufactures and backyard detailers who donít know any better.

To be honest, dish soap does have a place in proper auto detailing, but it isnít a weekly place. Dish soap can and will strip the protection off your car and leave it vulnerable to oxidation and UV rays. If you just spent all last weekend polishing and waxing your car and then you go and wash it with dish soap then all you will accomplish is stripping the wax off your car and dulling the finish with harsh detergents.

Much better than any dish soap is a car wash that is designed for cars.  Meguiarís NXT is my favorite at the moment because of how long the bubbles last and how much cleaner my car gets after one wash.  It is safe for your waxes and sealants, so you donít need to worry about it stripping anything off. As long as the bottle says that it wonít remove waxes then you are generally ok. Just avoid car washes that contain any wax in them if you plan on using a sealant later. The wax in the wash will affect the bonding.

Washing With a Sponge

Washing with a sponge is something that I see people do all the time. People use them because the label said it was a car washing tool.  If they sell it at Target then it must be ok, right?  Your father used a sponge to wash his car with when you were younger, so it must be a good thing, right? Iím here to tell you that its not necessarily the best tool for the job.

I am a firm believer that the way to maintain a beautiful shine is to start with the right washing tools. Every now and then I meet someone who is really into car care and they want to show off their products. The first thing I look for is what they wash their car with. When I see their washing tools I can generally tell where they learned to wash their car from.  In my experience people with a sponge in their garage are not using it because they feel its the best. Rather they are using it because that is what their father told them to use decades ago and they are just following advice they donít see harm in. Despite what you

may have been told, using a sponge is not the best tool to use if you want to maintain a swirl free shine. Iím not saying that you canít maintain a swirl free shine with one, Iím just saying there are much easier ways to do it that are just as effective at washing your car.  If the results are the same then I will choose the easiest way every time.

A wash mitt is much safer than a sponge for a couple of reasons. First of all a wash mitt will generally be less abrasive. Some sponges can get crusty and that can lead to scratches.  Secondly a sponge has a fatal flaw.  It sucks up dirt and grime deep inside and doesnít always spit it out when you squeeze it in your wash bucket.  What it can do sometimes is spit it back out on your car as you are trying to wash it.  This extra grit from inside of the sponge can add to you chances of creating swirls and scratches on the surface.  You can be as safe as you possible can be with a sponge and still run the chance of squeezing out dirty water back to the surface of your car even after you think the sponge is rinsed out completely.

Wash mitts come in many varieties. Wool, microfiber, terry cloth, and chenille are just a few of the more popular varieties. Personally I use a wool wash mitt just because they were the safest for me at the time I started using them.  Since then some very nice microfiber varieties have emerged.  I have a microfiber mitt that I use on glass and another one that I use to clean dashes.  I havenít had a reason to switch from my wool mitt, so I havenít tested these other mitts on the car. All I can say is that they donít hold the dirt like a sponge will. Even though reputable companies like Meguiarís, Motherís, Turtle Wax, and Viking all sell sponges, they also sell excellent wash mitts.  When faced with the choice of which to buy, I highly recommend you buy a wash mitt. I canít tell you which one you will like more, I can just say that you will ultimately be more satisfied that you are using the right tool for the job if you switch to a mitt.  I do want to note that a synthetic wash mitt will have more chance of trapping dirt particles than a wool mitt, but it is still not as bad as a sponge.

Drying With a Bath Towel

I can already hear you asking yourself, ďWhatís wrong with drying with a bath towel?Ē  The thing most wrong with bath towels for drying is the fact that most of them use polyester fibers in them.  The edge of the towel is polyester. In fact, the material that all that plushness is sewn onto is probably polyester.  Polyester is stronger than steel comparatively and that isnít a good idea to be dragging across your car.  Its great for making bath towels last a really long time, but why would you want to risk damaging the finish of your car.  Those fibers could cause micro scratches that dull your paint and detract from the reflectiveness.  Sooner or later your car will end up looking like this:

That is a car that was dried with a towel on a regular basis.  Obviously other things contributed to the swirls and marks on that hood, but the bath towel didnít help at all. The way you avoid that kind of damage is by using the best drying tools available. I am going to suggest three things and then let you go from there. As long as you arenít using a bath towel then you are on the right road.

  The first product is the California Water Blade.  This may be another myth I have to debunk, but the CWB is not a harmful product by nature.  The reckless use of any tool can cause damage to your car.  This is no different. As long as you swipe your fingers along the blade after every pass then it is a safe drying tool that I have used for years. I primarily use it on my windows now, but it works great for quickly getting a majority of the water off the car in a hurry.

You can purchase this product just about anywhere. WalMart and Target are always good places to look.  Iíve even seen them at Costco before. Just remember, it is only as safe as you are. Make sure the surface is clean before

using it.  Never use this to swipe off rain water. Rain water isnít the cleanest stuff in the world and your car may not be the cleanest either.  Always dry your car with care no matter what you use.

The next product Iíd suggest looking for is The Absorber.  This is probably the most durable and most effective drying tool Iíve ever purchased locally.  The next product is my favorite by far, but The Absorber is one that is amazing and will do the job very very well. The way I found this towel to work best is to just fold it in quarters and blot the water off. No need to drag it across the surface at all.  Its such an absorbent towel that it sucks the water right up.  You can even just spread it out across the car and then pull it toward you. It is an incredibly effective towel. Iíve had my Absorber for 7 years and am using it to dry engine bays now.  Other than being a little stained from engine detailing, it doesnít have any holes and only a couple snags along the edges where I caught it on wiper blades and things over the years. Youíll love it if you get one.

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Waffle Weave Microfiber Towels are my favorite drying tool. They are generally very large and the Ďwaffleí pattern makes them ultra effective at drying the car.  They suck the water in and hold it there. They actually dry better after they get a little damp. I can easily dry a massive Excursion SUV with one towel with a little added help of a California Water Blade to sweep some of the water away.  I was a die hard Absorber fan before I discovered these towels. Now I love my waffle weave towels so much that I bought one for my son to use when he dries his play car. He too appreciates the drying power of a waffle weave towel.

I havenít ever found a waffle weave towel locally at any stores. I order mine from PremiumAutoCare.com and I would suggest you buy there too. They have great service and their microfiber towels are some of the best Iíve ever used.  Waffle weave microfibers are simply one of the best drying tools you can use regardless of where you buy one at.

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