As long as your car runs, you should be happy to get from point A to point B, but there's something about a gleaming paint job that can make you proud of your ride. Your car might have lost a bit of its luster over the winter, but it's pretty easy to restore the shine you love so much.
You'll need a few items on hand for this project, so head to the auto parts store and grab some car wax, car wash soap, a wax sponge and some rags if you don't already have these things. You'll also need a bucket, a hose and plenty of water. Make sure the fabric of the rags is soft, as rough materials can scratch the paint.
The first step is to give your car a good wash. If it's sunny, park your car in a shady spot so the sun doesn't dry out the soap while you wash the car, as this can leave a filmy residue. This part of the project is an ideal time to enlist your kids' help. Rinse the car off with water to remove any loose dirt and debris. Then combine the soap with water in a bucket and soak the rags in the sudsy mixture. Get the car good and clean and then rinse all the soap off. Grab some dry rags and carefully wipe the excess water from the vehicle. Be gentle to avoid damaging the paint job. Once the car is dry, you can being the wax job.
There are different types of waxes that come in hard, soft and liquid forms. Abrasive waxes can be good for older vehicles and those with light colored paint, but dark colors and glossy finishes can easily be damaged by this type. Carnauba wax, which comes from the leaves of tropical plants, is often the best choice, as it offers the longest-lasting protection. However, the hard wax takes a lot of time to apply properly, so be sure you clear your schedule for the day when you're going to wax your car.
Using the wax sponge, start rubbing the wax across the vehicle's surface. Go slowly and use small circular motions to ensure you are coating the paint evenly - picture the Karate Kid if you are unsure how to do this. After you've applied the wax, you'll need to leave it alone. Take this time to clean up the car washing supplies or just relax. Every wax is different, so check the instruction label to find out how much time you have until you need to get back to work - typically it's just a few minutes. When the time is up, grab another rag and repeat the circular motions across the car to remove the excess wax. Once you're done, a thin layer of wax will remain on the car's surface.
Step back and admire your handiwork, take a few pictures to post on Facebook or call your friends to brag. Your ride should be shining like new, unless it's incredibly old or damaged. In that case, the exterior will certainly look better than it did before you started, but don't expect showroom results on older vehicles.
Not only will the new wax job make your car look better, it will protect it all summer long. You should wax the car regularly to preserve the surface. This stops the sun from fading the paint and protects against the bugs and small bits of debris and that scrape the surface when you're driving.