It is not only vintage car enthusiasts who spend hours buffing and polishing their “babies” on a weekend. Most people love their cars. Afterall, it is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life after a home, so keeping it in tip-top shape makes good financial sense.
Whatever the reason, you are spending a lot of time keeping your car shiny, so it is important that you are using the correct materials and understand what can damage your car’s paintwork.
Jacques Viljoen, national director of the South African Motor Body Repair Association (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) explains that automotive paint not only plays an integral role from an aesthetic point of view, but also aids in rust prevention. It is fairly easy to damage the paintwork, hence the importance Viljoen places on being aware of what materials you use to clean your car.
“There are several ways common household items and materials can destroy car paint from the surface down to the bare metal, resulting in serious damage,” he warns.
Here are the top 5 DO’S and DON’TS for preserving the paint on your car:
1. DON’T clean your car with dirty cloths. The dirt will stick to the paint and scratch it as you wipe due to the pressure applied. This can cause hairline scratches all over the bodywork.
DO rinse your car to get rid of dirt particles before you start cleaning and always clean with a soft, clean cloth or sponge.
2. DON’T let bird droppings dry on your car as it contains several acidic components which can stain the surface. This is particularly true if you live at the coast near seagulls. Pigeons are also a problem.
DO try to wipe bird droppings off before it dries with a clean, wet cloth and a dedicated carwash product. Also avoid rubbing the spot because seed particles in bird droppings can scratch the surface.
3. DON’T park your car near an area where construction is taking place. The cement, falling rocks and dust can ruin the paint and even cause damage.
DO remove cement when it is still wet. Trying to remove dry cement with a sharp object is just asking for trouble. Rather approach an accredited professional from the South African Motor Body Repairers Association to resolve the problem.
4. DON’T allow any petrol or diesel to be spilt on your car when filling up your tank as it can discolour the paintwork and leave permanent stains.
DO wax your car several times a year after you have had it washed as this makes it easier to clean these types of spills up without damaging your car.
5. DON’T forget the damaging effect the salty air of coastal regions can have on your car’s paintwork. Salt makes your vehicle more susceptible to rust and speeds up corrosion.
DO wash your car often if you live at the coast and wax it several times a year to build up a protective layer for the paintwork.
Viljoen says these are some of the more common ways paintwork is damaged, but there are also some unusual things people do for fun which are not paint friendly.
An item commonly used for cleaning cars is dishwashing liquid, but Viljoen adds this is not a good idea. “If your car is regularly waxed, dishwashing liquid will remove the thin protective wax layer. It is very harsh on paintwork and not very kind to rubber either, so rather avoid.”
He concludes that not all car cleaning products are all-purpose and the wrong product could damage the paint, clear coat or other finishes. Unfortunately, many of the cheaper products on promotion are too aggressive and can actually soften the paintwork and make your car more susceptible to picking up nicks from stones and debris on the road. As much as we like to support small businesses, also be wary of allowing people to polish your car in shopping centres or parking areas. “A wash at a reputable carwash station is perfect but be cautious about a waterless polish when you are not sure of the product being used.”
“If you are in doubt about any substance or material which has caused damage, always seek the advice of an accredited professional from the South African Motor Body Repairers Association to help you restore your vehicle’s paint job to its former glory,” he concludes.