Five basic steps for paint maintenance
Mike Pennington, Director of Training at Meguiar"s, Inc. summed up car care technique in three words: "Read the label."
Following directions offers a measure of consumer protection. For example, a label may suggest washing in a shaded area or waxing one panel at a time.
No matter what the technique, Pennington advocated the following paint care steps:
Washing (recommended at least once a week).
Remove loose contaminants before they bond with the surface. Otherwise, you could be in for extra duty in Step 2. And refill the pail after washing your wheels; grime from the wheels is corrosive.
Cleaning/Preparing (evaluate each time you clean your car).
Clay bars and cleaners act on the clear coat itself. "Some cars may need both—or neither," Pennington said. "The cleaning step determines the end results."
Polishing (considered an optional step).
Not the same as waxing, polishing creates high gloss. It does not lay down a film of protection.
Protecting (recommended at least three or four times a year).
A protective coat of wax makes future washing and cleaning easier, and protects your surface against the elements
Maintaining (in between washing and waxing).
This area of car care is expanding dramatically. Spray waxes or quick detailers spot treat your car and help enhance appearance until the next wash/wax cycle.
"If you don't clean your car very often, you may go through a lot more steps," Pennington said. "Keep in mind you need a variety of tools and products to do the job correctly."