IT WON’T MELT
By: Mark Greene
“It won’t melt.”
Her words were drown out by the splashing sound of the rain as it hit the aggregate surface of our driveway. I stood in the garage, staring out in to the dark gray sky wondering why I had left California. Inside the garage sat my pristine Porsche Carrera, spotless after a two weeks and 80 plus hours of detailing and cleaning in preparation for my first concours event since moving to the Pacific Northwest, from Del Mar, a few months before.
“Well, every other entrant is in the same situation so you might as well go.” Quipped Jill.
This would prove to be my first, and last concours entry but guess what? I won and I brought home a first place trophy proving all husbands worst fear, your wife is always right.
I spent 20 plus years building and developing the Griot’s Garage line of car care products. I was the President of the company and was tasked with building the brand, the marketing, and sales, and developing the product line. However my car care experience goes way back to junior high when I started a detailing business that supported my surfing habit and paid for college. So I have 40 plus years of detailing under my belt and know of what I speak. That’s a lot of wax on, wax off!
Given April is Car Care Month here’s some proven experience and wisdom when it comes to caring for your special vehicles.
• The best thing you can do for your vehicles is keep them out of the sun. If you don’t have a garage, use a car cover, both day and night. Shameless plug here for Covercraft brand covers. I’ve tested every brand and Covercraft makes the best and I should know. I have used their covers since I was in high school, way back to 1974.
• Don’t let your wheels go too long between cleanings. That black brake dust starts eating through the paint immediately. The best thing you can do is clean your wheels weekly and apply a paint sealant or wax to the wheel surface. And, clean the inside of the wheels too. There is no such thing as an effective spray-on, hose off wheel cleaner. You have to scrub a bit so use a soft sponge. Most wheels are painted just like your vehicle’s surface so treat wheel like you do your paint.
• Remove bird droppings immediately from the paint and trim. The acids in bird poo starts eating paint the minute Mr. Robin bombs your car. Use a spray-on detailer and wipe very gently with a soft, microfiber cloth. Birds eat seeds and rocks and their poop can scratch your paint if you rub too hard. Be gentle.
• When using a spray-on detailer in between serious cleanings, wipe very, very, gently to avoid inducing swirl marks. Use several premium, soft, micro fiber towels and turn the towels frequently. Keep a clean one handy for the final buff.
• When washing your vehicle, clean from the top down. Keep your mitt or sponge very wet and rinse them often during the process to remove any trapped bits of grit, sand, or grime as these can induce scratches. Clean your wheels last and if it’s sunny out, dry the surfaces before cleaning your wheels to avoid water spots.
• Purchase a quality random orbital; learn how to use it properly using a premium polish, then wax or sealant. Use it to remove light scratches and swirl marks before you apply wax or sealant. Apply wax on smooth plastic parts, lights, chrome, etc. just like on your paint. If you are afraid of using a random orbital, go rent a car and practice on it. The rental company will thank you.
• Use paint cleaning clay after you wash your vehicle and before you polish, wax or apply sealant to remove surface contaminants. If you’ve never used clay, you’re going to be amazed. Use it on the glass as well.
• When polishing and waxing, work in small areas so you can focus and not miss any spots. Work from the top of the vehicle down when washing, polishing, and waxing.
• Keep your engine bay clean. I’ve always cleaned the engine before taking my car in for service. The service tech will take extra special care when he sees how much you care about your car. Plus, keeping your engine bay clean allows you to spot leaks and fix them before you break down on the roadway.
• If you keep your garage floor clean, you’ll easily spot leaks when something is amiss with your car, allowing you to fix them before the car breaks down on the roadway.
• When cleaning your interior, vacuum first. Then wipe down all the surfaces with a damp, lint-free cloth before a thorough cleaning and before applying surface dressings.
• Apply a leather care product to your seats when the interior is warm. The leather will accept the treatment better. Allow it to sit overnight before driving so all the product is absorbed in to the leather.
• If your car smells funny, pour a little interior car scent in to a small bowl and let it sit in your car overnight. You can use any scent you like, even oils from the kitchen, or purchase liquids designed for interiors. Perfume or cologne works too. I prefer leather scent that’s designed to spray on but I don’t spray it, as the mist will attract dust on surfaces.
• With most car care products the “less is more” concept applies. Don’t over use the products. Just like your lawn, too much fertilizer is wasteful and will harm your grass. The same goes for polish, wax, sealants, and dressings. You’ll just make more work for yourself, you’ll waste the product, and your results won’t be as grand.
• Treat your car washing time as therapy. Get your smart phone out, put in your earbuds in, and enjoy a few episodes of the Cars Yeah podcast and be inspired.
After all your fun work, stand back and relish in the fact that you are keeping the value of your special car up. Clean cars make you feel better when you drive. The downside is, if it starts to rain, you’ll be more likely to stay home. So perhaps cars will melt in the rain after all!
The author is Mark Greene, a die-hard automotive enthusiast who produces and hosts the Cars Yeah podcast. Cars Yeah is a five-day-a-week audio show where Mark interviews Inspiring Automotive Enthusiasts™. These are people who have wrapped their passion for cars around their careers and lives. You will find over 740 shows on the Cars Yeah website or on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher using your mobile podcast app. Learn more at www.carsyeah.com