Protecting Your Car's Finish Is as Simple as Washing Your Car—The Proper Way
Maaco Owner Geoff Coombes Offers Advice to Keep Your Paint Job Looking New Longer
Derek Coombes and his son Geoff opened Maaco Fairfield California in 2009. Geoff started by working in the production area, so that he could learn every aspect of the repair inside and out to better inform and advise customers. After mastering the repair process, he worked his way up to manager of all the upfront customer interaction. Here he helps to educate about what Maaco can do to make their vehicle look brand new--and how they can help to keep it looking that way for a long time.
"The average age of vehicles on the road today is 13 years. With the recent shortages of new vehicles, and the rising price of used vehicles, we are seeing more customers decide to keep their current vehicle a bit longer," said Geoff Coombes. "They will invest in an overall paint job with the hope of keeping the car for another four to six years or until the supply chain is back up and running and they can buy the vehicle they want."
Based between San Francisco and Sacramento, 50% of the Coombes business is overall paint jobs, so they have seen cars come in with many different paint conditions. Based on that experience, they offer a few tips to car owners on keeping their car's paint in tip-top shape.
Protecting your car's finish from the elements
Today's paint systems consist of a base or color coat, which is then covered by a clear coat of paint that is intended to protect the base and provide a deep luster to the paint job. With proper care, the clear coat will do just that; however, there are things to watch out for that can damage the clear coat over time and affect the appearance of your car's finish.
Washing your car often to remove organic material that can stain the paint finish is a good idea, but washing it properly is key. While the easiest way to wash the car may be to drive it through the local car wash, the car wash could be doing more damage than you think. Some brushes used in touch car wash tunnels can create friction and the repeated contact with the paint surface can create, over time, small micro-scratches in your car's clear coat. This has the effect of slowly sanding off the top clear coat. Those micro-scratches can let contaminants in, and if you happen to get tree sap, bird droppings, or some other substance into those micro-scratches, the acidity can eventually degrade your clearcoat.
Even touch-free car washes have their drawbacks. The high pressure and hot water used can be very aggressive on gaskets, seals and plastics. The pressure, combined with sun damage, can deteriorate the seal around a sunroof over time, causing it to not seal as well as it should and eventually create a leak.
How about good old hand washing in the driveway? Coombes recommends that to be the best solution —provided you use the right products.
"Dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent should not be used, as they could cause premature corrosion," said Coombes. "Dishwashing liquid is designed to break down fats and can dry out your plastics and rubber, such as the weatherstrip around your doors and windows. A good car wash soap is worth the investment as it is designed to be strong enough to remove the dirt and grime from a car's surface but gentle on a car's components."
Coombes also recommends using hot water, not cold water, and never washing a car in the afternoon sun. To ensure the car's surface is cool, wash the vehicle in the early morning or in the shade. This will also keep water spots from forming which take more effort to remove. After the wash is complete, dry with a chamois and follow with good carnauba wax. Depending on how often you wash your car, and the weather, a good rule of thumb is to reapply wax every two to three months to keep your car protected and looking great!
Wildfires can pose a specific hazard to your paint surface. The ash from a wildfire can spread for miles landing on any outdoor surface. When it sits on the flat surfaces of the car, and then gets damp with morning dew, it can damage the clear coat. This is true for leaves and other organic debris that can potentially sit on the surface of a car for too long as well. A good practice is to try to remove it before it gets damp by using a leaf blower. Then wash the vehicle and apply a carnauba wax to protect it from future episodes.
"Another tip for how to protect your vehicle is after a wildfire, consider replacing your cabin air filter, which filters the air that you breathe inside the car, and your engine air filter, which filters the air that your engine needs to operate efficiently, as they may be clogged with ash and dust," recommends Coombes.
Additionally, the summer sun alone can damage a car's finish, especially when the car sits out in the constant sun. If you don't have the option of parking under cover, regularly applying carnauba wax can provide the protection that you need to protect your car's finish from harsh summer sunshine.
A lot of knowledge goes into painting a vehicle and with a little care, you can maximize the life of that paint job and keep it looking shiny and new for years to come.
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