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Take a shine to car care

Everyone enjoys a great-looking car, but many car owners are unaware of some habits that can harm a car's paint finish. Keeping your car in shape helps to avoid costly damage down the line. Meguiar's, a surface care company, shares six common ways consumers neglect their cars, plus easy routine changes to help prevent each.

Using dishwashing detergent to clean the exterior. Most household detergents are formulated to strip everything off the surface, including the wax protection on your car. While this might be great for your dishes, your car is now defenseless against the elements. Meguiar's suggests using a pH-balanced car wash product that removes loose surface dirt and debris without damaging the car's surface.

Parking under trees. Although it's tempting to take advantage of parking in the shade, it's actually one of the most damaging things you can do to your paint finish. The damage caused by items falling from above, such as tree sap and bird droppings, is actually greater than the damage caused by leaving your car in the sun because sap and bird droppings, if not removed quickly enough, can permanently damage your paint finish.

Neglecting headlights. Dull, hazy and oxidized headlights are the first giveaway sign of a neglected car. Not only are they unattractive, but they can also be a safety concern because they can make it difficult to see the road ahead and avoid potential hazards. To maximize the brightness of your headlights, try using a headlight restoration kit.

Leaving spilled food and drinks. Neglecting to clean up spills is not only unsightly, but it can also lead to permanent stains and unpleasant odors in the interior of your car. Meguiar's recommends leaving a few terry-cloth towels and a protectant in the trunk in case of emergencies. Cleaning up spilled food right away is the key to getting the entire stain out. To tackle any foul odors, also have a bottle of odor eliminator handy.

Using just one bucket. By using just one bucket when washing your car, you end up transferring dirt back onto the car, which can create swirl marks and defeat the purpose of the wash. Instead, use two buckets: a plain water bucket for rinsing the wash mitt and a wash solution bucket for retrieving fresh suds to continue cleaning. Using a grit guard in each bucket also helps to trap loose dirt particles, preventing them from being transferred back onto your car.

Using too much product on your vehicle. When applying wax to protect the surface of a vehicle, a common mistake is to use too much product in one application. Not only is this wasteful, but it also creates extra work when removing the product. To get the most out of your wax, Meguiar's suggests a single uniform, thin layer of wax. If you are worried about coverage or protection during tough winter months, a second uniform, thin layer may be applied.

Take a shine to car care 03/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 5:30am]

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