Keep It Clean!
Keeping your car clean is key to making it the envy of the road. I give all the cars in my collection a regular hosing with water or just a good wipe down with a damp microfiber towel to keep them dust free. Dust and dirt can compromise paint and this five-minute task can easily prevent damage. When my cars need a deeper cleaning, there's a minimum of three steps I take when detailing the exterior. Washing, cutting (aka polishing) and waxing.
The first step is to simply wash the car with automotive engineered soap and water. This will take care of all the easy and loose particles on your car.
The second step is called cutting, which is essentially polishing with a finely abrasive paste. Do this inside a well ventilated and shaded area, as the sun could literally bake on the compounds you are applying causing double trouble to get it removed. This step is critical, really deep cleaning the paint of your car and removing the microscopic abrasives your car endures especially at high speeds on the expressway.
Cutting polish is a formulated application you put on all the painted panels of your car, one at a time. I use a microfiber cloth and if you are new to this, I would definitely use this type of cloth with your own elbow grease. You can use an orbiter (an electric orbital applicator like a sander), but you could damage your paint if you aren't properly trained for its use. This cutting step, not always well known to your newbie collector, polishes your paint and is what gives it its luster and shine.
The third step then is to wax the polish you just applied. It is actually the wax that protects your polish, which protects the paint. I use Turtle Wax but there are many other well known automotive detailing products out there providing great results. This is a great Saturday afternoon activity for you which will take a minimum of three to four hours. So get your favorite tunes going and get ready to put in a little work. A cold drink just adds to your experience!
Jason Paynter is a classic car appraiser, collector and unabashed enthusiast. He is also author of the new book, Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars, available at Amazon! He lives in Louisville, KY with his beautiful wife and three sons who are (heaven help him) almost all of driving age.