Simple car wash tips brighten light-coloured vehicles

Reds, blues, greens and greys may catch your eye but the most popular vehicle colour on the planet is white. And that means frequent care to keep it looking good.

“White and light-coloured vehicles require extensive exfoliating,” according to Mike Pennington, Director of Training and Consumer Relations at Meguiar’s Car Care products.  “If you don’t keep your vehicle washed, you won’t see that it’s dirty until you clean it.”

Dirt becomes embedded in the paint surface and accumulates on the surface. Environmental contaminants collect on the surface much like dust on a table does.

White vehicles lose their brilliance, creating a dingy or dull look. Regular washing and applying a coating of wax help prevent buildup.

“If you don’t have the sacrificial barrier,” Pennington said about using wax, “dirt collects in the paint’s pores.”

Pennington compared vehicle paint to skin. Drivers need to select the appropriate product for their vehicles. What about “white waxes”?

Colour of wax makes no difference, Pennington said. That’s because the clear coat on vehicles covers the actual paint layer.

Also, clear coat looks white when it gets scratched, which is why those marks are more apparent on darker vehicles. On light-colored vehicles, however, swirls and minor scratches are harder to notice.

Washing and waxing your vehicle may be done in one or two steps. If choosing a one-step wash/wax product, Pennington suggests using a product that contains a higher percentage cleaning product than wax.  

The basic rules of cleaning—rinsing, washing, rinsing, drying and waxing—don’t change because you have a light-coloured vehicle. For light-coloured vehicles, wax is not needed to create the “wet” look so desirable on dark-coloured vehicles. You may need to clean more often, however.

A wash and wax product can help save time.  Pennington made the following suggestions for keeping your light-coloured vehicle looking sharp:

  • Wash the vehicle one section at a time with a clean microfiber wash mitt and clean microfiber towels for drying.
  • Rinse off any contaminants to avoid picking them up in the wash mitt or sponge.
  • Choose a ph-balanced, non-detergent car wash solution for best results. Harsher detergents, including dish soap, can strip wax on the vehicle.
  • Work on a surface that is cool to the touch. Avoid working in direct sunlight to keep the product from adhering to your vehicle’s paint.
  • Wash the vehicle one section at a time, working from top to bottom.
  • Use the two bucket method to prevent putting debris back on the vehicle. One for plain water to rinse the wash mitt. One for the solution.
  • Use a clean microfibre wash mitt for washing to prevent scratches and a clean, dry microfiber towel to prevent water spots.