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You might have heard somewhere that you shouldn’t take a car to a car wash, especially a black car. I did some research to find out what kind of damage can be done. And what are the options available to black car owners.
Car paint has an outer layer called the clear coat. On a new car this coat is perfectly smooth and gives you a high gloss reflection. But anything that touches this layer can create microscopic scratches. The more scratches you get the more your shine will fade and your paint will become dull. The shine can be restored by polishing which you can do yourself or you can use a professional car detailer.
Washing your car by hand ensures the amount of touching with minimum pressure using quality products that I recommend on this blog.
I like to prevent these scratches from happening so I always wash my car myself by hand. This is all well and good if you have the space and time to do this. But what if you live in an apartment or you don’t have access to a hose and buckets?
What damage can a car wash do?
The worst that can happen is that your paint will lose it’s gloss and shine. It might develop some deeper scratches too but that seems to be rare. Also your black plastic trim can start to turn grey.
Many people report that the automatic machines don’t remove all the dirt very well and that they leave water spots behind. Water spots are especially noticeable on black cars.
What type of car wash is best for black cars?
Touchless car washes are better but still not as good as doing a hand wash yourself. Many of them use recycled filtered water to reduce costs and as a condition of their operating licence. This water is not very clean and when it’s shot at your car at high pressure it can cause the shine to fade.
If you really care about your shine you should hand wash it yourself using good quality products and the correct techniques.
If it’s not that big a deal to you (or you don’t have a choice), use a touchless car wash but think about getting a professional detail from time to time.
If you do take your car to an automatic car wash with brushes then there are some precautions you can take that might reduce scratching.
Some black car owners will use a pressure washer from a self service coin wash first and then wash their car by hand with a waterless wash. The pressure washer removes the larger pieces of dirt that could scratch your paint while using the waterless wash.
Tips for washing a black car in an automatic car wash.
The good news is a touchless car wash won’t scratch your paint as much as a car wash with brushes. However most people say that it doesn’t clean perfectly. Black cars can be left with a hazy, dull look. That’s the dirt and chemicals bonded to your paint.
To restore the deep shine after a car wash you can give your car a once over with a detailer spray. These can be used on paint, glass, plastic and rubber. Apply with a microfibre towel and wipe in straight lines with very little pressure to avoid scratching.
The detailer spray will help to safely remove dirt left behind by the car wash. Using plenty of the product will help minimise scratching and will add a layer of gloss.
Many black car owners prefer to take the time to use a waterless wash like Meguiars Waterless Wash and Wax after using a touchless car wash. This can take longer to use than a detailer spray because it’s a thicker liquid and needs to be buffed off.
A waterless wash will offer more protection against scratching as it contains more conditioners and lubrication to protect paint..
Any time you touch a black car you risk scratching it. So buying the right products and using the correct techniques will keep your black car looking newer for much longer. And many fine products don’t cost the earth.
A good quality microfibre towel is extremely important. The fibers in the towel will trap dirt and keep it away from your paint. Other towels like terry towels can’t do this. Use microfiber towels for applying detailer sprays, waterless washes and spray waxes.
Tips for safer washing using a car wash with bristles.
If you use an automatic car wash with bristles or brushes that touch your paint usually does a pretty good job of getting most of the dirt off. But you are going to end up with swirl marks over time. Your shine will fade and your car won’t look as good.
But is there anything you can do that will make it a little safer and reduce the scratching?
Using a spray wax after you have used a car wash will offer protection before the next wash. Modern spray waxes are super easy to apply to a clean car. They offer long lasting polymer protection the bonds to your paint, plastic and glass.
This spray wax can last for months and protects your paint from getting scratched in the next wash.
I have also read about black car owners who mist on some spray wax before driving in to the car wash. They mist the wax on to their dirty car but don’t work it into the paint or buff it off.
The theory is that the wax will offer more protection during the car wash. Also the wax will be dispersed evenly by the washers. Some spray waxes are designed to be applied to a wet car so this makes a lot of sense.
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