There is no one cure-all that retains a vehicle's value. Regular maintenance is a huge factor, but one other simple, and yet often over-looked item to protect your investment is maintaining surfaces - glass, trim, paint and wheels - to keep them consistently clean.
A vehicle's appearance has many enemies, some visible, and others that are not so much. Industrial fallout released from factories / plants into the environment, can transform into nitric or sulfuric acid. When deposited onto your car these contaminants can eat paint and, in extreme cases, metal. Higher temperature can also accelerate exterior appearance issues. Acid from bugs, bird droppings, tree sap and even leaves becomes more active when heated. Time is the worst culprit. The longer offensive substances are left on your vehicle, the greater the probability and extent of damage.
Exterior blemishes, especially ones that appear as though they could have been remedied, tell potential buyers, either through the resale market or on a trade, that you didn't maintain the vehicle properly. People often value material things based on appearance and esthetics is one of the top considerations. It's important to keep your car looking its best so it's worth more when you are ready to upgrade to a newer one.
If you currently don't clean your car regularly, it's not too late to change your ways.
A best practive is to wash your car once per week. But, before you break out the cleaning products there are a few things to consider:
- If possible, park in the shade. Washing your car in the sun can cause some surfaces to dry faster than you may want, leaving residue and unwanted streaks.
- You'll need a steady supply of water
- Make sure you have the right tools: bucket, wash mitt, drying cloth, and proper soap (Don't use dish soap or a household cleaner on your car)
Practices and Procedures:
Pre-Treat - If your car has bird droppings, bugs, sap, or other hard-to-clean stains on it, apply a mild automotive paint-friendly cleaner directly to the spots to help loosen them. This is also a good time to spray the tires/rims with a cleaning product.
Initial Rinse - Never start washing a vehicle without first rinsing it. Starting with the roof and working your way downward, rinse the entire car with water to remove loose dirt and debris. **Be sure to rinse inside the wheel wells, especially if you live in an area where sand and salt is used on road surfaces.
Wash - Unless the temperature is mild or cooler, to prevent sections from drying and leaving deposits/streaks, only wash and rinse a couple of sections at a time, working from top to bottom. Don't press too hard on the wash mitt - you want to avoid grinding and swirling around dirt that could scratch the paint. Don't ignore small cracks and crevices, as these are places where dirt loves to collect. Be sure to rinse the wash mitt or sponge often to prevent from accumulating dirt in your wash mitt. **Pay special attention to the lower part of the fender, where salt and sand may have accumulated.
Final Rinse - Once each section of the vehicle has been washed, do one final rinse. Work your way from the top down, using a gentle stream of water to flood the surface of the car and allow any remaining suds or dirt to cascade off the vehicle.
Initial Dry - After the final rinse, using a slightly dampened chamois or terry-cloth towel (wringing them out periodically), wipe excess water from the vehicle surface to prevent water spotting. Ensure the towel or chamois are clean to help prevent scratching, and wipe the vehicle lightly to soak up water without marking the vehicle's surface.
Detail Dry - Open the trunk, hood and doors, and use an old chamois or microfiber towel to wipe out the doorjambs and other areas where water collects.