3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Photo of a toy car with a man’s hands cupped around it to protect it.

You just got your vehicle washed and waxed, and it looks awesome; waxing does amazing things for a vehicle’s appearance. It also protects auto paint from the elements, but this protection only goes so far. Unless you wax frequently, your paint is once again exposed to water, bugs, bird droppings and atmospheric chemicals within two to four weeks. In this article, we’ll share a couple of ways you can protect the exterior of your car or truck that assure a beautiful paint finish for years to come.

The 4 worst things to leave (uncleaned) on vehicle paint

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Photo of a naughty pigeon flying over a car hood with a poopie look in its eye.

Dead bugs, tree sap, bird droppings and atmospheric contaminants are four of the most corrosive materials that typically find their way onto car paint.

  1. Dead bugs – Yes, bug guts are gross, but they’re also chemically destructive to auto paint. When a bug meets its end on the front of your vehicle, the carcass starts secreting enzymes as part of the decomposition process, and these enzymes eat paint. If you leave bug smears on your car for too long, it’s not enough to clean them off; they literally carve tiny pits into the paint, which can only be corrected with polishing. Fortunately, polishing is a part of APR’s detailing services, which we’ll discuss below.
  2. Bird droppings – Probably everyone’s least favorite stain to find on their vehicle, bird droppings are also extremely corrosive to clear coat and paint finishes. This should be cleaned immediately because the uric acid they contain quickly eats through wax, clear coat and paint alike.Once the droppings dry, you may need to soak them with WD-40 for a few minutes before gently cleaning with soap and water.You can also purchase commercial bug and sap removers to get the job done.
  3. Tree sap – If you park under trees, you’ve seen what tree sap can do to a windshield. Only slightly less visible is the dulling effect it has on auto paint. Sap isn’t as corrosive as bird droppings and bug carcasses, but in time, it can damage you’re your paint just as badly. It’s also easier to remove than bugs an bird droppings; just scrub gently with soapy water. If the sap is particularly hard, it can help to park the car in warm sunlight for a few minutes to soften it up. Never use alcohol, as this can dissolve the surface of the paint and mar the finish.
  4. Atmospheric contaminants can also damage automotive paint, working their way into the surface molecules of the finish. These include industrial fallout (particles in the air around industrial facilities) and all the various, nasty chemicals in the air that we call “smog.” Because these contaminants are so fine, they’re difficult to wash away with soap and water once they get into the grain of the paint, but they definitely dull it. The best solution is a clay bar, which is included in APR’s detailing services.

Exterior detailing goes beyond washing and waxing

Professional exterior detailing is more than a wash and wax, although these are included in the service. Detailing not only lifts atmospheric contaminants from the paint, it also includes minor paint buffing to polish out light scratches and the etching that can result from leaving bug carcasses and bird droppings on the vehicle for too long. Professional detailing also does a better job of removing road tar and chemicals than most of us can accomplish at home. Once the vehicle is clean, professional auto detailers apply sealants to selected areas of the interior and exterior that protect against ultraviolet radiation, which fades paint over time.

There’s another advantage of letting a pro detail your car every few months. They clean places most of us miss (or don’t have the right tools to reach).

Urethanefilm is the ultimate paint protection

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Graphic showing the areas of a vehicle that can be protected with urethane rock chip protection film.

Urethane rock chip protection film is like a thin force field around your paint finish. It provides protection from all the corrosive chemicals mentioned above, as well as ultraviolet radiation, gravel and road debris. Urethane film is the single best protection you can give automotive paint. Also known as a car bra, rock chip protection film is cut and stretched to conform to your vehicle’s body surface to protect from any stray material that might fly your way while driving. Urethane film can be washed and waxed just like paint, and it can be removed later without damaging the vehicle’s finish.

Protect it with frequent washing and waxing

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Photo of a man washing a vehicle.

Fact: most owners don’t wash and wax often enough—or they don’t do it well enough—to provide adequate, long-lasting paint protection. You can even damage you car’s paint with improper tools or techniques. If you noticefaint swirl marks blemishing your paint, this could indicate poor washing techniques that have allowed dirt to abrade the surface. Here are three tips to run with next time you wash your car.

1. Wash regularly

Cars and trucks need to be cleaned regularly because they come in contact with chemical hazards every time they’re driven. A weekly washing is advisable to remove all the bird droppings, bug remains, tar and environmental elements before they can cause damage. Make sure you’re using pads and cloths that are gentle on the paint, and be sure to rinse frequently.

It’s also smart to use two wash buckets; one with soapy water and the other for rinsing the wash pad or cloth to remove dust that’s been picked up from the vehicle. Specialized car wash kits are available that take this a step further with dirt-trap inserts for the buckets.

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Photo of a 2-bucket car wash kit, including soaps, wash pad, drying cloth, buckets and dirt traps.Commercial, 2-bucket car wash kits use dirt traps that keep abrasive grime away from the wash pad after rinsing.

2. Never wash in warm, direct sunlight

Avoid sunlight and hot temperatures when you wash. Find a shady spot, or wash in the early morning because the soap can leave a residue that dries quicklyin higher temperatures.Even water alone can spot and streak if it’s allowed to air dry, which brings us to …

3. Don’t skip the drying

To prevent water spots, it’s important to dry your vehicle quickly. Even clean tap water contains minerals, and when the water evaporates, some of the minerals stay on the surface.

3 Ways to Protect Your Vehicle - Close up photo of water spots on dark car hood.Water spots can be prevented by prompt drying after you wash your vehicle.

Take it up a notch

If you really love your car, look into rock chip protection film. And give us a call at (316) 262-8888 when you’re ready to have it professionally detailed. You’ll be amazed at how good it looks, and how good you’ll feel driving it.

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