When most people think of auto maintenance, their mind jumps to the inner workings of the car. However, it's also important for drivers to maintain the exterior appearance of the car. There are many washes and waxes on the market that claim to help drivers make their car look good as new, but unfortunately there are a lot of myths surrounding car washes and how best to care for a vehicle.

Some drivers may think spending on the appearance of a car is frivolous, but it can actually be a wise investment, especially if you plan on trading the car in eventually. A dirty car or one with a lot of blemishes can sell for a lot less than a vehicle that looks like it's in pristine condition, regardless of what shape the engine is in. Washing and waxing your car is cheap and adds value to the vehicle, so it pays off to know exactly what works and what doesn't.

Perhaps one of the most prevalent myths is that dishwashing detergent is safe to use for washing a car. It's true that drivers may not see any bad effects from using detergent on their vehicle the first few times they do it. However, detergent is not made to be used on cars and can have negative consequences over a period of time. The fact is that detergent is made to strip everything off of a car, not just the dirt and grime. This includes a wax if you've recently applied one, among other things.

"Dishwashing detergent is meant to remove everything from the surface," car care expert Barry Meguiar told AOL Autos. "That includes stripping the polymers off the paint surface. The effect is similar to what dishwashing soap does to your hands. Too much will dry the skin. On the surface of a car, the same thing occurs; dishwashing soap actually accelerates the oxidation process when used regularly."

On the other hand, some people believe that certain products will damage their paint when they really won't. With more drivers becoming eco-conscious, waterless car washes have become more popular in recent years. The idea behind this practice is to use a lot less water when cleaning the car. To accomplish this, many auto parts stores sell waterless car wash sprays that don't need any water to work well.

It sounds too good to be true, but these products actually do work, and they don't damage the paint on your car as some people claim. The sprays essentially function as a lubricant, lifting the dirt and grime up off of the surface of the car. It then becomes very easy to simply wipe that dirt away with a microfiber towel. This doesn't do a whole lot for a car covered in mud or sand - in those cases, you'll still need to rinse the car down. But for dealing with dirt and other common particles, it's a good way to get the car clean without using gallons of water.

Waxing is another area of car care that has attracted a lot of myths and half-truths. One commonly-held belief is that paste wax is more effective than liquid wax. This is a case of something being true at one time, but not any longer thanks to new technology. The hard natural wax "carnauba" was once considered to be the absolute best car wax, and this is why everyone wanted pastes rather than liquids. However, new polymers, resins and synthetic designs have actually surpassed carnauba in effectivenss, and these can all be found in liquid waxes. It obviously depends on the product, but don't ignore liquid waxes because of something that was true decades ago.