Why Does My Black Car Still Look Dirty After Washing?


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A number of people have been asking me this question lately. So I dug a little deeper to learn how they actually wash their car. And that’s where I found the problem.

How you wash a black car is key to getting good results. Black car paint is easy to scratch. These scratches occur during the washing and drying process.

Your black car still looks dirty after washing because of the washing & drying methods you are using. You can first learn the correct way to wash a car. Then you can correct the problems by using polish and compound.

So What Am I Doing Wrong?

Automobile paint is very delicate. It’s super easy to cause microscopic scratches. These tiny scratches will build up and look worse over time.

There are a number of car wash mistakes that can cause damage to car paint. These mistakes are easy to avoid once you know what’s happening.

Taking a black car to a car wash is usually a mistake. Even expensive hand washes can use improper washing and drying methods.

The best way to keep a black car looking good is to do the washing and drying yourself at home. If you understand the secrets, you can keep a new car looking new for years.

I Take My Car To A Car Wash

Depending on the type of car wash used, your car can still look dirty. Maybe the mud is gone but you still have imperfect paint.

Scratches look worse on black cars than any other color. And car washes create millions of scratches every time you use them. They do this by grinding dirt into the paint.

The brushes used in a car wash can be extremely dirty depending on what used the car wash before you. So it’s not a good idea to take a black car through a car wash.

If you take your car to a car wash and it still looks dirty there are a few things you can do.

  1. Dont take it to a car wash anymore.
  2. Learn how to wash it yourself using the two-bucket method.
  3. Decontaminate your paint with a deep clean, iron remover and clay bar.
  4. Polish your car either by hand or with a machine polisher.
  5. Wax your car or use a ceramic coating to add protection.

Tip: Instead of polishing and waxing you can try an all-in-one product like Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax.

If you don’t want to do this yourself you could consider taking it to a professional auto detailer in your area.

I Hand Wash My Car

If your car looks dirty after you wash it at home here are a few tips that could help you.

  1. Use the two-bucket method. The second bucket of clean rinse water will help clean your car.
  2. Use multiple microfibre wash mitts. When you wash mitt starts to look dirty, grab another clean one.
  3. Rinse your car when you are done. Dont let the soapy water dry on your car. Rinse it off.
  4. Dont wash your car in the sun. It causes the car to dry much too quickly.
  5. Dont let your car dry naturarly. Once rinced, use a car dryer or a microfibre towel.
  6. Dont use dish soap. It can dry too quickly and wont protect from scratches.

I Wash My Car Properly and It Still Looks Dirty.

Your paint might need some more work if it still looks dirty after using proper washing and drying techniques.

Using something like a polishing compound could clean your paint and help restore its shine. You can apply compound by hand – no need for an expensive polishing machine.

A product like Meguiars Ultimate Compound is perfect for most black cars. Simply apply it in circular motions using a clean applicator sponge. Only do this on a freshly washed and dried car.

It could also be a good idea to use an iron remover and a clay bar to decontaminate the paint before polishing. A clay bar can cause scratches if you are not careful.

If your paint has a hazy appearance this could be caused by oxidation. Ultimate Compound can help a lot with this too. Compound is designed to clean paint remove light scratches. You don’t need to let it dry as you do with wax. But you do need to spend more time rubbing it in. That’s why a polishing machine can be useful.

Don’t forget to keep polish and compound away from plastic and rubber trim as it can cause stains.

After the application of Meguiars Ultimate Compound, you can boost the look of your car even further by using Meguiars Ultimate Polish. This will add shine and protection. It’s a pre-wax glaze that will boost shine. You can then apply your favorite wax on top.

Once all that work is done you should make sure you practice the safe car washing methods to prevent your paint from fading again.

Here is a list of my favorite polishing compounds for black cars.

My Plastic Tim Looks Faded

Plastic trim can look faded in older cars. It’s usually caused by the sun.

Wax and polish can stain plastic trim on newer cars. These stains can be partially removed with an All-Purpose Cleaner or an IPA solution. Also, a pencil eraser can help remove the stains caused by wax.

Plastic trim can be restored by using a product like CarPro Pearl. It can restore the look of black plastic in seconds. It’s quick and easy to apply too.

For really faded plastic a stronger product to use is Solution Finish. It’s an excellent product that can last a long time and is popular among auto detailers.

Finishing Touches

For me, a car doesn’t look clean until the tires are clean looking too. To use a tire shine product after every wash. These products don’t last very long but they can be reapplied as needed and it only takes a few seconds.

If you are a pro detailer you will be surprised how many customers notice the tire shine.

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