Car Care Guide
With regular care, it's fairly easy to keep your car looking good. It doesn't matter if you have a modern sports car or an old classic. To achieve the best possible finish for your car's paintwork, there are essentially four stages involved in giving your car the perfect shine.
The first stage is to wash the car with water and a detergent. This will remove all the most visible dirt and grime, such as mud, bird droppings, salt, tree sap, dead flies, etc. Ideally you should wash your car regularly anyway even if you're not going for a showroom finish, not only to stop it looking dirty but because dirt can hold moisture next to the metalwork which can lead to corrosion. Salt from the roads in winter is especially bad for corroding your bodywork and trim. See our Washing Guide for more information.
After you've washed all the dirt off your car, the next stage is to remove all the microscopic particles which become embedded in your paintwork. These can be from pollution, brake dust, etc. The way to do this is with a clay bar. This is literally a lump of special clay which contains very fine abrasives. When used in combination with a special lubricant, the clay bar hydroplanes over the surface of the paint, so it doesn't actually affect the paintwork, but any contaminants which stick up above the paint's surface get removed. See our Clay Bar Guide for more information.
One common reason why a car's paintwork looks below-par is because of sub-surface damage such as scratches, swirl marks, stone chips, chemical erosion, etc. These are all examples of the car's clear-coat paint layer becoming damaged. Assuming the damage is fairly light, most of these can be corrected with the use of car polish, which contain abrasives to remove a fine layer of the clear-coat down to the level of the damage so that it disappears. Obviously, your car only has so much clear-coat layer, so too much polishing can eventually lead to damaging the paintwork. See our Polishing Guide for more information.
Once you've got the car as clean and shiny as possible, you can use a finishing product such as wax to add a protective layer on top of your paintwork. As well as giving your car a nice shiny finish, this also fills any scratches, protects your paint from damage and corrosion, and makes it easier to clean. See our Waxing Guide for more information.