Wind, heat, snow, dust, smoke, too much sunlight, and abrupt changes in weather cause the demise of a car’s exterior luster. Other causes are abrasions from tree branches or twigs if you are fond of parking your car under a tree. Birds, insects, and other animal droppings can affect your car paint once heated, for they contain substances that react with the paint. Your car can also get paint scratches from nosy kids playing near your car. All these threats to your car's exterior paint job can be handled with a little cleaning and waxing.
- Use car exterior cleaning and conditioning materials. These can be easily found in auto mechanical shops or big hardware stores. Don’t be shy to ask the salesman what car cleaner you need; they often know what they are selling. The prices may be a bit high, but these cleaning substances have elements that are intended to make your car shine. If and only if you have a very tight budget, you can wash your car exterior with water and regular soap or shampoo that has a balanced pH level. These will not give the original shine you really desire for your car.
- Dispense liberal amounts of car shampoo on top of your car. It is better to start pouring and lathering from the highest point of the car to let the bubbles and suds flow down to other parts. Use a foam or soft cloth in doing so. Just wipe and work it up to lather. Leave the suds for a couple of minutes.
- Rinse the cleaning substances and dirt with water. It is easier to use a hose in rinsing the car. If you need to conserve water, a pail and ladle would do. For the same reason, remember to start the rinsing process by pouring the water first on top of the car. Rinse it very well to avoid forming dried bubbles, as these will not look good on your car paint.
- Wash your car as often as twice a week. Regular washing protects your car exterior from aging prematurely. To achieve longer lasting shine than your usual washing, apply a car wax. This is also available in local automotive and hardware stores. Car wax cannot protect your car from abrasions, but it can protect the car paint from vulnerability caused by abrupt changes in weather.
- Wax your car only after you have cleaned it. Never waste wax on an unclean car exterior. Applying the wax right away would mean that you have to use a great amount to hide the dirt. That would be costly if you always have to buy new car wax instead of just lathering first with soap and water. The shine won’t last that way anyway, not to mention that your car will still look dirty amid the shine. Apply the wax with a soft cloth. Lather in a parallel manner, starting from the car hood this time. After all the parts have been applied with wax, wipe the car exterior with a fresh dry soft cloth to boost the shine even more.
Waxing can be done once a month or anytime you think it loses the shine. Regular cleaning and waxing of your car will keep you from repainting the whole exterior just to give the car a brand new shiny look.