Every Saturday, legions of motorists flock to the car wash or foam their vehicle in the driveway. But you can do a lot wrong. What should one pay attention to if the varnish should not suffer?
It is like a sacred ritual: Saturday is washing day for the car. Every two or three weeks, the four-wheeled family member is watered and polished to a shine. But a lot can go wrong. And not only has the environment got in danger, but also the paint and thus the value of the vehicle.
“Anyone who has sensitive paints or a convertible should prefer hand washing,” advises Christian Petzoldt, a textbook author on vehicle care in Hagen. Even with heavily jagged bodies of classics, manual work is an advantage. In addition, the rags of the car wash are not everywhere: behind mirrors, under windshield wipers or heavily sloping tail, with the sponge in his hand you could work more thoroughly.
Not everywhere, there are suitable wash programs for convertibles. “Excessive water or contact pressure on the rollers damages the roofs,” says Petzoldt. With colors like black uni, one drives with a careful hand wash better, because it leaves less traces. “Because the darker a paint is, the more traces you can see in the sun.”
Usually a simple washing program is enough. Because “the wax programs offered cannot replace a seal by hand,” says Herrmann. If you want to polish the car afterwards and grow, you could save it anyway. Alternatives to the car wash are wash stands, self-service boxes or your own property.
But there is no nationwide regulation. “Car washing is not generally prohibited on private land. The accumulated wastewater must under no circumstances seep into unfortified soil and endanger the groundwater, “says RüdigerWolter from the Federal Environment Agency.”The details often regulate the municipalities. Car owners should inquire with local regulatory agencies or water authorities in their community about local regulations, “says Wolter.”Some communities allow or tolerate private car washing, and others impose fines.”
“The dirtier a car is, the more water you should use in pre-washing,” says Petzoldt. Otherwise there is a risk that remaining dirt leaves mechanical traces. With the high-pressure cleaner you should pay attention to a distance of 30 to 40 centimeters. If you approach a few centimeters, you risk damage. If cracks exist, paint might peel off, for example. In addition, the talcum protection of rubber seals flushed out, causing them to age faster.
On the foam brushes waived in case of doubt. “Because I cannot know if my predecessor cleaned the wheel arches of his SUV after an off-road tour,” says Herrmann. Sand particles can cause damage to the paint or attachments.
When hand washing Petzoldt swears by his two-bucket technique, which he has been using for many years. One bucket is filled with shampoo water, the other is used with clear water to clean sponge or microfiber washing glove. “This prevents dirt and sand from getting rubbed on the paint again and again.”
Shampoo or rim cleaner should not be overdosed. This wears off the preservative, can stain and damage plastic and rubber parts. “In conventional insect solvers, a wax layer is usually gone after a single use. Tip: Soak the areas with wet newsprint or towels. If it is very warm outside, you should wash in sections. This prevents the mixture of cleaner and dirt from burning in. You always work from top to bottom and from the roof and the hoods to the side panels.
The washer dries without contact with blower. Anyone who dries manually with a leather cloth should first wash the cloth well, so that it is supple and free of foreign bodies, says Herrmann.
Distinguishable deposits are removed with cleaning dough from the specialized trade. Otherwise, as a dissolved dirt particles, they ensure striking marks – holograms – in the paint during polishing. The clay from clay cleans without paint removal. It is passed over the slightly moistened with a little shampoo-water paint and picks up the particles. “Thereafter, the surface should feel smooth as a glass,” says Petzoldt.
If the gloss of the paint decreases and looks dull, or you want to erase traces such as scratches, you polish. “Gloss is created by polishing the damaged surface and creating a fresh paint finish underneath,” Petzoldt says, “but modern paint is only a tenth of a millimeter thick, less than the thickness of a fingernail.” The more mistakes one makes here and ever the more one removes, the less remains. The better you protect the paint with hard wax, the less likely it is to polish, says Herrmann.
You always start with the mildest means, especially with older paints. Paint cleaner already has sanding and no polishing grains and thus comes only with deeper traces and weathered paints in question. When polishing, it depends on how the traces appear in the paint and works against it: The polish is applied with a polishing sponge and then uses two microfiber cloths. “With a coarser cloth you take off most of the polish in one stroke, and with the second, fluffy you rub once,” advises Petzoldt. You polish in straight, overlapping motions. And: do not let it dry. Otherwise, the polish can only be removed with a lot of pressure, leaving traces again.
The polish keeps you a finger’s width away from unpainted rubber parts and the door slits, working in parallel and not wiping over it. Plastic parts often have porous surfaces. “If the polish dries on them, you can hardly get them out,” says Hermann. With a masking tape from the painter you protect them or wear plastic care. As a result, the polish does not settle there so easily.
A taboo is Polierwatte: It quickly bonds by absorbing the wet polish. “You need more funds, and the removal remains on the cotton surface. This can cause scratches, “says Herrmann. Although it was decades on all packs, one should work with cotton wool and circular movements, says Petzoldt, but “that was true for the old synthetic resin and acrylic paints.” In today’s worry usually after the first application for spoiled surfaces.
“Gloss is created only by a good polish and not by a wax,” says Petzoldt. Wax fills only the finest traces and preserves the car. “Solid waxes offer longer life and therefore longer preservation than liquid products, which are stretched by solvents and produce a thinner film after drying.” Liquid are better for dark paints: they are easier to apply, which reduces the risk of mechanical damage. The wax comes with a cloth thinly on the paint, after a short drying take on the leftovers, advises Herrmann.
Weathering and washing gradually wears off the preservation. Depending on the mileage, you can grow five to seven times a year, advises Petzoldt. Well-preserved paint allows motorists to notice the very fine droplet formation on the surface in the rain.
For polishing with machines, especially with high-speed rotating, the expert’s advice only experienced users on heavily weathered paints. “If I polish over edges and hoods, it may be that where the paint film is anyway thinner, I polish quickly to the primer,” says Petzoldt. And that is then an experience that could tarnish the beloved ritual of car wash sustainable.