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Vehicle body cleaning and waxing...


Cleaning the body of your vehicle regularly the right way, as well as waxing the paintwork, will go a long way to keeping it in top condition.  The main purpose of vehicle cleaning and waxing is to assist in the prevention of rust and to prevent damage to the paintwork from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.  Here’s a comprehensive list of points to follow so as to get the best result from cleaning and waxing your vehicle:


Don’t use harsh detergents to wash your vehicle…

When washing the vehicle, don’t use ordinary dishwashing liquid soap in a bucket of water.  It’s too harsh and will compromise the protective properties of any wax you have already applied to the paintwork.  A better solution is to add a couple of cap-fulls of kerosene to a bucket of warm water.  Kerosene is a degreaser and, combined with water, is an excellent means of easily cutting through grime on the vehicle without stripping away any of the wax on the paintwork.

Note that it’s important to wear chemical-resistant gloves when washing the vehicle with this mixture of kerosene and warm water.  Kerosene is a hydrocarbon which is hazardous to your health.  It’s best not to allow it onto your skin, because it can then be very easily absorbed into your bloodstream.  It’s a good idea to also use barrier cream on your hands as further protection against the kerosene being absorbed through your skin.


Wax your vehicle every six months…

Use a high-quality wax on the vehicle to seal the paintwork, protecting it from moisture that causes corrosion.  The wax used must also provide the paintwork with UV (ie. ultraviolet) protection against the sun’s harmful rays.  Vehicles that have surface rust on their roofs and bonnets are the victims of the sun which has caused microscopic cracks to open up in the paintwork.  However they are primarily victims of lack of wax to stop this damage from the sun which allows moisture to leech into these microscopic cracks in the paintwork.

When moisture from the morning dew and from rain leeches in to these cracks in the paintwork, the metal panel underneath the compromised paint will corrode unless there is some other rust protection such as electronic rust protection.  Surface rust on the roof, bonnet and other panels caused by neglect like this is not a pretty sight and will result in a very low market value for the vehicle.

As a general rule, a vehicle’s paintwork should be waxed twice a year.  The roof, bonnet and any other panels which face the sky should receive two successive applications of wax because they are more exposed to damage from the sun.  There’s a simple way to know when it’s time to wax a vehicle’s paintwork again.  When water on the paintwork doesn’t ‘bead’ any more (ie. cling together into small beads), you know that the wax is no longer providing your vehicle’s paintwork with adequate protection.


Hose underneath the wheel arches when washing the vehicle…

It’s really important to hose underneath the four wheel arches of the vehicle with the hose on full strength to get rid of the accumulation of dirt and grime there.  If this isn’t done at least twice a year, dirt accumulating inside the wheel arches (particularly the rear wheel arches) absorbs moisture which results in a much higher risk of corrosion of the metal to which the moisture-laden dirt has stuck.

The best time to hose underneath the four wheel arches is when you’re washing the vehicle.  By making it a habit to spend just a few extra minutes doing this each time you wash the vehicle, you’ll greatly reduce the chance or rust forming under the wheel arches which will eventually eat right through the metal and erupt through the paintwork.  As you’re hosing underneath the wheel arches, you can run your fingers along to make sure that the hose is removing all of the dirt.


Hose the entire underbody of the vehicle every six months…

Jack the entire vehicle up every six months, prop it up with four axle stands and hose the underbody of the vehicle with the hose on full strength to get rid of the accumulation of dirt and grime there, in order to reduce the likelihood this dirt and grime absorbing moisture and exacerbating corrosion of the underbody.

It’s very important to hose the underbody of the vehicle only when the vehicle is cold and hasn’t been driven for several hours to avoid damaging the exhaust system, engine, transmission, differential, or any other metal component.  If the above parts of the vehicle are hot or even warm, the cooling effect of the water from the hose can cause the section of the metal component being hosed to cool and contract more quickly than other sections of the same component which can result in the component actually cracking.  This is expensive, debilitating, discouraging damage which is best avoided.  The best time to jack up the vehicle and hose its underbody is in the morning when the vehicle hasn’t been driven since the previous day.

If desired, in order to save time, this procedure of hosing the underbody to remove the accumulation of dirt and grime can be combined with the procedure of inspecting the brake pads and/or brake shoes, as well as the condition of the flexible brake hoses and metal brake lines, as described in the section titled, Inspecting the Braking System.



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Copyright 2016 Andrew Mackinnon.  All rights reserved.