Updated: Mar 12
Sometimes, some of the most obvious and commonly considered car care practices are the most detrimental to your car! Here are some of the common mistakes and recommended solutions.
1. Scrubbing The Car With Plastic Brushes Usually, this is one of the fastest ways to deplete the car’s clear coat. Clear coat is made of polyurethane, synonymous with ‘plastic’, which means that it isn’t impenetrable and prone to scratches and swirls that cause the care to lose its luster. Recommendation: There are several better ways to wash your car, ranging from microfiber wash mitts to lambs wool to sea sponges, which are all safe option to wash your car. The general rule of thumb is – the lesser and softer the touch, the better it is for your car. 2. Using Dish Soap To Wash The Car Dish soap and shampoos are extremely potent to the car’s paint. Furthermore, they also strip down the existing coat of wax or sealant due to their harsh strength. Recommendation: Using a dedicated car shampoo that is pH neutral is essential to keeping the car’s paint and protection intact. 3. Using Fingernails or Paper Towel to Remove Tree Sap or Bird Bombs Fingernails may not visibly scratch the car’s surface on its own but the process of rubbing and scratching away the sap or dirt with the nails will abrade the paint and create deep scratches. Paper towel is even worse since it is texturally abrasive on its own and acts like a sanding paper on the paint. Recommendation: If the sap or bird bomb is fresh, using a quick detailer with a microfiber cloth will work. If not, pre-treat it with a microfiber soaked in diluted car wash shampoo to let it all loosen up. Lastly, if the sap or bomb is lodged in like a hard rock, buffing it with an abrasive compound remains as the only safe option. 4. Using a Duster to Wipe the Car’s Paint It's been seen at car shows and homes. One of the major issues with using a duster is that they may be abrasive and could cause damage to the paint as it is. Another, bigger issue, is that the duster rarely gets washed or cleaned and hence, even if it’s made from plush microfiber or non-abrasive material, the dirt and small chips of rocks lodged into them might cause scratches on the paint. Recommendation: A quick detailer can be sprayed onto the paint along with a clean and quality microfiber cloth to easily remove light dust from the car’s paint without causing scratches. Nowadays, certain Wash-And-Wax car shampoos can be diluted with water to create a quick detailer. 5. Placing Coffee Cups on the Car Coffee cups are abrasive to the car’s paint and this bad habit can cause scratches in the long haul. But that’s not it. Let’s say your car got waxed and the surface is extremely slick. Then you place a cup of hot beverage on top of the car's slanting slippery surface... Recommendation: This one requires a little self-discipline if it’s a habit. Try making a mental note of not putting the cup on your car every time you approach the car with a cup in the hand. Don't you wish they had cup holders for the outside of the car too? 6. Parking the Car Under A Tree It may seem like a safe to park under the shade but it’s far from . The car is prone to bird bombs which can slice through your paint while the tree sap along with other ‘hard’ contaminants can etch onto the paint. Recommendation: Park in the sun if you have to if you don’t have any other option. If you have a nice coat of wax along with interior SPF protection, there isn’t much to worry about. The best place is usually inside a parking lot or in a nicely shaded spot that is free from contaminants falling from above. 7. Applying the Same Product on Leather and Plastic Spraying a protectant on a non-coated leather can damage the leather. Luckily, most modern cars now have coated leather seats. Additionally, anything silicone based that could crack up the interior surfaces is also crucial here. Recommendation: All surfaces are different. Modern cars have various forms of leather as well. Using the correct dedicated cleaner and conditioner for your leather is important. There are products available for protecting fabric as well. For more information, contact a knowledgeable detailer. 8. Eating Food and Drinking Coffee While Driving There is a place between the seat and the center console that we call ‘the black hole’. Once things start falling down into it, it becomes harder and harder to remove while creating bad odor and attracting contagious bacteria. Your children and pets are most vulnerable to such contamination Recommendation: By keeping drinking coffee to a minimum and not eating at all in the car, we can stop feeding the black hole. Having a straw to sip in the beverage cup can be a less prone to spills. Starbucks and most coffee straws don’t melt in hot beverages. 9. Washing Near the Storm Drains This may not be directly something harmful we are doing to our cars but it is a direct consequence of what we do to our cars. It is critical to mention that letting wash water in the storm drains is illegal and causes harm to our environment. Any chemicals that seep into it are drained into a larger water body which supports aquatic wildlife, some of which we may be consuming. Recommendation: Using sand bags or a water recollection system is helpful in this case. Any way to divert the water away from the drains also a solution. With the advent of rinseless and waterless car shampoos, car washes have become more and more eco-friendly. Rinseless washes consume a quarter or less gallon of water per wash and help conserve water. 10. Spraying on Tire Dressing Tire dressings vary in composition and abusing them by over spraying is a safety hazard since they can cause the car's tires to become slippery. Dressings can also leave hard stains on the flooring which can be permanent or take some harsh chemical treatment to remove. Recommendation: Use a tire dressing applicator. These applicators are usually composed of foam or microfiber while also being arced so they make the application process controlled, even and very easy. As a bonus, less product is used as well. Placing old rags around the car's tire can further prevent any stains on the floor.