Did you know that you should change your car washing habits when temperatures are at their highest at the height of summer?
Well, now you do. It might seem a little strange, but washing your car when the weather is at its best is actually harder than it is on a cold, dull, even rainy day.
Why? Well it’s all to do with evaporation. When the sun shines directly onto a car’s bodywork, it heats up very quickly. Apply water to a hot car body and it will evaporate in no time at all. If that water happens to have soap and/or other cleaning products in it, the residue will be left behind on the surface of your car, along with the dirt you were meant to be washing away.
Rapid evaporation in hot conditions means you have a job on washing and rinsing dirt and cleaning agents away before they start to become visible on your car. At best, it looks like you haven’t washed your car and you’ve wasted your time and effort. At worst, the sun can start to react with some of those chemicals and cause physical damage to your paintwork.
If the time you’ve got spare to wash your car happens to fall on a bright, hot sunny day, follow these pro car valeting tips to make sure you get the right results.
Find a shady spot – preferably early in the morning or later in the evening
Any pro car valet will tell you that you should never wash your car in direct sunlight – certainly not at the hottest time of day, at any rate. If you do, you are just asking for problems. As mentioned, the temperature of your bodywork will rise so high that the soapy water you slop on will evaporate before you have time to rinse it off. All the dirt you’re trying to wash off will appear again, along with unattractive powdery substrate from your cleaners.
If left long enough to bake in the sun, these chemicals could burn through the upper layers of your paintwork, causing lasting damage.
The best way to avoid this is to wash your car in the shade, where it’s likely the temperature of the bodywork won’t get so high. That will give you time to soap your whole vehicle thoroughly and then rinse before it starts evaporating. To be on the safe side, it’s also advisable to try to wash your car either in the morning or evening when temperatures are not so high.
Rinse your car down thoroughly before you start
In truth, you should always start washing your car with a thorough rinse to get rid of any excess dirt and debris before you have a go with shampoo. But in the summer, this is even more important. The summer months are a very dusty time of year, and you want to be getting rid of as much of this loose stuff as possible before you go at your car with a wash cloth – otherwise you are just rubbing a dusty slurry into your paintwork.
Choose a good quality shampoo
Going back to the point about chemicals from your car shampoo being left on the surface of your car if your wash water dries out too quickly, another precaution you can take is to invest in a better quality shampoo. The best products available on the market are formulated not to leave marks and smears all over your car, and also will contain fewer substances that could potentially damage your paintwork.
Dry thoroughly after every stage
This is one that really catches people out in the summer. When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, why bother drying your car after a wash? Just let things take care of themselves, surely?
But this is another reason people end up returning to their car after giving it a wash and are horrified to see ugly powdery marks all over it. It’s because, no matter how well they thought they rinsed, residue from shampoo (not to mention microscopic particles of dirt) were still left in the water on the surface. When the water evaporates, you see these substances as marks on the paintwork.
The professional advice is to dry your vehicle thoroughly with a microfibre cloth after every stage of a wash – initial rinse, shampoo, and then the final rinse (if you use a pre-wash phase such as applying snow foam, then yes, you should dry after that, too). If that sounds laborious, the aim is to wipe off as much dirt and residue after every phase as possible, so that by the end there is nothing left and your car looks pristine.