There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting a new car, it would be really nice if your car could be new the whole time you own it, not least because a few years down the line when you come to sell it you will sell it quicker, easier and get more money for it.You are probably agreeing with me, yet so few people do anything much to keep the car in it’s current condition. You will probably run it through a car wash once in a while, maybe get it detailed/valeted once a year but that’s it… what else is there you can do? Investing for your new car paint protection is good because if you want to sell you car someday the resale value is high.
The first thing you should always do is look at your old car with a critical eye, work out what is wrong with it. The chances are that unless you change your habits then your new car will end up looking much like your old one. For example, are there scratches down the sides? What caused this? Was it the kids trying to squeeze past with their bikes? Was it caused by overhanging bushes on your driveway?
What about scuffs and wear on the seats? Kerb marks on the wheels? Stone chips on the front? Now is your chance to play at CSI. If you can figure out the cause of the wear or damage, there is a fair chance you can change your ways and prevent it happening again to your new car.
You can now get protective coatings for just about every part of a car. You wouldn’t think about running your engine without oil because you know that the moving parts need the oil’s protective qualities to prevent wear, so it makes sense to apply a protective sacrificial barrier to the parts of a car which make up its general appearance. These days cars are very reliable so when buying a used car the expectation is that it will be mechanically sound, this means that the value will be judged mainly on cosmetic appearance.
I’ll start off with the wheels (not bodywork) because no other singe factor can make or break a car’s overall appearance. Tatty wheels add years to a car. There are now a number of wheel protectors on the market that are really effective. They are much like a car wax but especially designed to protect alloy, painted and chrome wheels which are closer to the road and take more punishment than any other part of the car. These wheel protection products will make your wheels easier to clean and prevent stains (but they aren’t bullet proof, so don’t bump your car up and down kerbs. Scuffs and kerb marks are to be avoided at all costs). Ensure that you clean your wheels often to prevent a build-up of brake dust which harbours corrosive contaminants, re-applying your wheel protector each time. One final word on wheels. If your dealership offers you an alternative to chrome wheels – take it! This ‘bling’ may look good on a new car but chrome wheels are murder to keep clean and free of stains. And should you kerb your wheels they are very expensive to refurbish.
Paint protection technology has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. Not only does this mean that your paintwork can stay fresh looking, but you have to put in less work! You no longer have to wax and polish your car every couple of weeks, the 3, 5, and 7 year paint protection packages offered at the dealerships are very effective. The market leaders in the UK are Supagard and Diamondbrite and although they can be quite a lot of money, they are worth every penny — not only will you gain this money back when you sell, but you will spend far less of your precious free time cleaning, waxing and polishing your car.
As good as they are, you still have to clean your car, and this is where most people hit problems. Don’t use an automated car wash if you value your paintwork. The brushes used are far too harsh and scratch your paintwork, the touchless washes are not as bad but don’t get your car very clean. All-in-all just stay clear of them.
The next option is the one most people seem to be going for these days, and that is the hand car wash. It seems the going rate is around £5. I can only tell you that there is a huge danger that you will get what you pay for… which is somebody who is over-worked-and-under-paid, scrubbing their car down with dirty water and a manky old sponge! They don’t care about your car, they don’t even care about getting it clean, they only care about getting it done and moving on to the next one. The results can be horrific and often I have seen paintwork damaged beyond repair.They aren’t all bad but choose wisely, watch these people working before you buy. Stay well clear of the supermarket washes and only go to a proper company with a fixed location.
If you really want the job done properly, the only way is to clean the car yourself. I cannot recommend this enough, besides being good exercise (and lets face it, I need it!) it also allows you to thoroughly inspect your car meaning you can keep on top of any problems and get them fixed as soon as possible, which is the best way.
Stone chips are almost impossible to avoid but there are two ways to reduce them. The first is to reduce your speed and keep your distance from the car in-front. The second is to have a stone-chip film fitted to your car. This is a thing rubbery clear film which absorbs the impact of flying objects (including bugs which can cause more damage than you might think!). The a good quality and properly fitted film is virtually invisible but will make a huge difference.Depending on the size and style of your car it costs around
£300 to £600 which may seem a lot, until you consider the cost of a respray and the effect this can have on your car’s residual value.
Many cars these days come with leather as an enticement to buy. keep in mind that if you are the kind of person who likes to wear blue jeans, your upholstery will end up stained blue and scored by rivets in no time at all. Leather just doesn’t suit everybody, such as people with dogs! There are a number of companies producing seat covers including ones especially for protecting your car from pets. Leather wears less when it is supple so condition it twice a year and maybe 3 times a year for convertibles.
Fabric can be treated with chemicals which are a bit like Scotchgard which is provided on household carpets. It doesn’t stop them getting dirty but it does prevent permanent stains and makes them much easier to clean. Maintain them by wiping them over with a damp microfibre cloth every couple of weeks.
Little and often
Dirt is abrasive, it is what causes much of the wear to your car. On the exterior it can also harbour corrosive contaminants which eat away at paintwork. So clean regularly, this will also make your life easier because it’s easy to clean a car which is already fairly clean.
Resources — [http://www.valetshop.co.uk/] – Products to help you keep your car in tip-top condition. Carefully selected by the author of this article, all of the products listed are actually used in the day-to-day running of our auto detailing business. [http://www.carcareadvice.co.uk/] – A website full of practical car care advice. About the author — Danny Argent director of training and business developmentfor a UK based car valeting and smart repair company.
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