The winter is almost here. And that means lots of grit and ice on the roads to stop them freezing over. Now while this is good for preventing road accidents it isn’t so good for the bodywork of your car!
As you may be aware, salt attacks metal, causing it to rust over time and this includes your car too. It is always a good idea to give your car a good wax before the winter sets in to help protect it from the salt and grit on the roads. If you don’t want to do this yourself get a professional car valeting company to do it for you. If you choose to go down the DIY route though, read on and we’ll tell you how to do it.
Just before we get started though it is worth mentioning the weather. Yes you heard me right! You need the right environmental conditions to properly wax your car. First of all you can’t do it in the rain. It needs to be dry, otherwise when you try to polish the wax off it will leave a smeary mess on your car…not a good look! On the other hand you don’t want to do it in bright sunshine either. The heat will dry the wax out too quickly baking it onto your bodywork before you have had chance to polish it off. Ideally, pick a day that is overcast but not looking like rain. Or even better, if you have a garage that isn’t full of junk or a car port, do it in there instead, then you can wax your car come rain or shine.
1. Wash (You’ll need: bucket, sponge, car shampoo, hosepipe or pressure washer.)
First of all you need to remove any dirt from the bodywork of your car by giving it a good wash. To wash your car follow the proceeding steps.
1a. Pre-Wash – Before you touch your car with a sponge you need to make sure any big bits of muck, dirt or grit are washed off first. Narrow the nozzle on your hosepipe to a powerful stream and wet the whole of the outside of your car, making sure to blast away at any build up of dirt you notice. If you have a pressure washer this step is even easier. If you don’t do a pre-wash it will take longer to wash down with your sponge and if there are any pieces of grit resting on your bodywork they can be dragged across it by the sponge, scratching your paintwork in the process.
1b. Shampoo – Pour a capful of car shampoo into your bucket and then fill it half way with warm water, making sure there are plenty of bubbles. If not just add a little more shampoo and blast it with the hosepipe. Work your way around your car washing all of the bodywork and windows. Use a circular motion and apply firm but gentle pressure. If you come across any areas where there is a build-up of mud or dirt you may have to rub a little harder to remove it. Last of all give your wheels and wheel arches a wash.
1c.Rinse – Your motor should be suitably lathered up now and all the dirt should be washed away. Grab your hose or pressure washer and give it a good old rinse to get rid of all the suds. Have a quick glance over to check you haven’t missed any bits and if you have use your sponge again to remove them.
2. Dry (You’ll need: Chamois leather or microfibre cloth.)
Now your car is squeeky clean but dripping wet. We need it dry, so grab your chamois or microfibre cloth and dry off all of the water on your bodywork and glass, ringing the cloth out when it gets too wet. Top tip; if you have a small squeegee you can use this first to remove the majority of the surplus water before drying with your cloth. You can buy soft silicone squeegee blades made specifically for cars. Run them over the bodywork gently without applying much pressure and wipe the blade between your fingers after every few strokes to check there is no grit or dirt on it.
Putting a good wax on your car before the winter sets in will help to protect it.3. Wax (You’ll need: Wax, applicator pad or terry towel cloth, microfibre cloth.)
Finally, now your car is clean and dry you are ready to wax your car. There are different types of waxes available and I’ll run you through these in a moment but the application of them is generally the same. Follow the next steps and your car will be gleaming in no time.
3a. Apply Wax – First of all moisten your applicator pad or terry towel cloth slightly. This stops it absorbing too much wax and helps to spread it more evenly. Apply a small amount of wax to your pad and work it across the bodywork of your car, using small circular motions. You don’t need to apply much pressure and work on an area about 2′ square at a time. A blob of wax roughly the size of a 50p coin should cover this area but it will vary depending on the individual wax you are using so adjust accordingly. You are aiming to apply a thin layer to the surface of your bodywork. Avoid using too much wax as this can stop it from drying properly and you get left with a gunky build up that is hard to remove.
Work your way around your car in this manner, focusing on one panel at a time. Be very careful not to apply the wax to any plastic trim. The wax will get ingrained into the plastic leaving a messy white residue that is a pain in the backside to remove.
3b. Polish – After a few minutes the wax will dry out and will have formed a hazy layer on your car. Once this has happened grab your microfibre cloth and and give it a good buffing up. Again, use small circular motions and work over the dried wax, using a little more pressure this time. You will find that the panels of the car you waxed first will dry out before you have finished waxing the rest of the car. It is important to polish the wax off before it dries too hard so keep checking back every 2-3 minutes to see if it is ready to be polished.
Once you have removed the haze you should be left with a bright shiny car that you can see your reflection in. The hard clear layer of wax that now sits on top of your paintwork will help to protect it against the elements. When it rains you will notice that the water beads up into blobs and runs off of your car easily. Most importantly, during the winter months, it stops the salt getting into the pores of your paintwork and causing rust to appear.
Hard Wax – These waxes are sold in a small pot or tin. Hard waxes generally give the most durable finish (they last longer) and the best shine but they aren’t quite as easy to work with and take a little more time to apply.
Cream and Paste Wax – Sometimes in a pot but usually in a bottle. These waxes go on much quicker and easier. They give a good finish and protection but they won’t last as long as a hard wax.
Liquid Wax – You will find these in a bottle with a spray attachment. They are a little different in their application in that you normally spray them directly onto the car and then use your applicator pad or cloth to distribute it evenly. Rapid to apply but you wont get the same level of protection. They are best used as a top up in-between your main waxes.