Vehicle Finish Care

Vehicle Finish Care

Vehicle Finish Care is about the 2nd most expensive items that you’re going to have inside or around your house: cars & trucks, and how to care for the finish of them.

This isn’t about architecture this time.  Although, this architectural firm travels to many Client properties to perform reconnaissance.  This mandates a powerful 4×4, as some of these locations are off the beaten trail.  Just a month ago, they found themselves in 4WD low, crawling up a rough mountain trail in northern Tennessee to evaluate a Client’s site.
However, many of this firm’s Clients do make new vehicle purchases (whether garaged or not in their custom house projects) and they all seem to have similar questions about caring for the finish of them, and having recently gone through this,  Home Architects thought they would share this useful information.

vehicle finish care


Mr. Danny Washburn, Body Shop Manager at Andy Shaw Ford in Sylva, NC provided information about this and the other aspects in this article, as an authoritative professional source.  This firm has had vehicles repaired and serviced at this dealership and through this qualified vehicular finish expert and know that they are one of the best vehicle body shops for over a 100 mile radius.  Their work is outstanding, including on all vehicles manufactured by any automotive company; not just Ford.



Here’s a Meguiar’s video about how to properly wash your vehicle: wash.

Most people do this totally wrong.  Danny Washburn agreed with the LA Chemical Guys, who suggest using the “2-bucket method”, in which you have a soap bucket and a rinse bucket.  The LA detailing firm (and Mr. Washburn’s company) suggest using a:

“GRIT GUARD” inside each bucket and near the bottom of each bucket. 
This is a plastic round strainer, designed to fit into a 5-gallon bucket and stands about 2″ above the bottom.  What happens: grit from your washing mitt can be successfully sloughed off inside the buckets and drain down past the grit guard to the bottom of the pails.  This reduces the likelihood of your scratching your car & truck finish due to grit on the washing mitt.  You can find plastic round bucket grit guards online, such at 
Current Cost: around $16 for a 2-pack.  All costs are as of today and you should verify current costs of all items.  Also, grit guards tend to be about 10.5 inches in diameter.  Verify the diameter of the buckets you’re going to be using so that the grit guards fit properly into them, near the bottom. Take a measuring tape when you buy the buckets and measure the bottom of them to make sure they are at least the diameter of the grit guards.  Verify the diameter of the grit guards you buy before doing this.










vehicle finish care

Try to locate your vehicle in a shady spot, out of direct sun.  That will give you more time to dry it properly before the sun does, which will eliminate streaks.

First, like all of our fathers told us: rinse the vehicle with a garden hose and float off as much of the surface grime as possible, starting at the top of the car/truck.  We went to a local Lowes and spent about $4.98 on a new hose nozzle, which allows us to dial various spray patterns and pressures.  Works great!















No: absolutely, positively, do NOT use dishwashing liquid.  It has degreasers that will remove the wax from your car/truck, which is Not what you want to do.  Yes: dishwashing liquid is much cheaper than a professional automotive car wash fluid.  There’s a reason why: it can damage your car/truck finish.  Spend the cash to obtain a proper carwash fluid.  Danny and his crew at the Ford Body Shop use:
Current Cost: $9.50 to $11.35 for 48 to 64 ounces through Walmart or


WASHING MITT: first, you should use a lamb’s wool or microfiber washing mitt, not a normal household sponge.  Danny agrees with the Chemical Guys on this point.  The microfiber washing mitt will be much less likely to retain grit and therefore, less likely to scratch the finish of your vehicle.  You can find a:
MICROFIBER WASHING MITT in many locations, including 
Current Cost: around $8.
Using your washing mitt, dip it into the soap bucket and starting at the top of the car or truck, make back and forth motions to clean the vehicle’s surfaces. 

















vehicle finish care


Rinse your washing mitt OFTEN in the clean water bucket, to remove grit.  Scrub the mitt around the grit guard strainer near the bottom of the bucket to remove more grit, which will fall harmlessly down under the strainer.  Buckets do Not normally come with a grit guard.  You will have to obtain these separately. 
Then, dip the cleansed washing mitt into the soap bucket and reapply more soap onto new places on the vehicle.  Rinse the soap off the vehicle each time you cleanse your mitt, so you don’t have dried soap building up on your finish.
You can buy 5 GALLON BUCKETS (plastic) from a home improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot for between $2 to $5 each.

5 gallons of water can weigh over 41 pounds.  While you probably won’t need that much water in each bucket, that’s still a lot of weight to haul around a truck or car while washing.  Spend a little more cash and for around $36 each (, buy a:
BUCKET DOLLY (plastic) for each of your 5 gallon buckets. 
That’s going to allow you to easily push them around your vehicles as you wash them.  Unless you like lifting weights. 


Meguiar’s instructional video about car washing indicates that you should remove the hose sprayer nozzle when you are nearly done and simply let the water spill out of the hose to sheet over the vehicle, starting at the top.  This sheeting action literally “pulls” much of the water off of the car/truck, leaving less water on the surfaces to dry off.


Old school professional body shops are going to say to use a:
Other new-age detailers might say a microfiber drying towel is okay.  This architectural firm’s new 4×4 will be dried using the natural leather chamois.  Hard to scratch much of anything with that.  
UPDATE: we tried to do this, but some particles that looked like sawdust came off the chamois and were deposited onto the vehicle with the first swipe.  We believe they were actually particles of leather from the chamois. 
So: we set aside the chamois and used the microfiber towels.  They worked great.  a pack of microfiber towels was purchased, to have available.  12 Pack from the Chemical Guys on Amazon: about $20.
However: you should know that you may want to consider wearing latex gloves before using the microfiber towels.
Why: after we finished, we noticed that the skin on our hands looked like they’d been scraped through a cheese grater.  The skin was chaffed, rough and “picked-up” all over.  After 2 days later of applying Curel Ultra-Healing hand lotion, the skin went back to normal.  Evidently the microfibers are very rough on exposed skin.  So: protect yourself before using.

Mr. Washburn cautions to keep rinsing your chamois/drying towels in a new clean water bucket with no soap residue, to clean any grit off of it to minimize or prevent any scratching of the car/truck finish.  Also caution to NOT use ordinary cotton or polyester towels, as they can scratch the vehicle’s finish, microscopically, which adds up over time to dull your body.   So, once again, our historic use of old ordinary “human-use” towels was all wrong. 

However, we found that it is hard to completely dry the vehicle with a wet towel (even microfiber), so we ended up using clean, dry microfiber towels, each about 16″ square, which took about 4 or 5 per vehicle. 

For especially dirty locations around the truck that perhaps weren’t totally cleaned as well as hoped (like the door jambs and thresholds after you open the doors), you could used already wet microfiber towels, or microfiber coated “applicator” sponges (a 12 pack was very economical through 

vehicle finish care 


Danny Washburn of Andy Shaw Ford says he uses:
MEGUIAR’S ULTIMATE LIQUID WAX and also their paste wax. 
However, he indicated that the liquid is about the easiest type of wax to use.
On, this is currently $19.25 per 16 ounce container. 
Here’s an instructional video on using this right from: Megquiar’s

Note: according to Danny (Ford Body Shop): do NOT wax a new car or truck for at least 6 months.  All new vehicles come with a clear coat from the manufacturer.  Aggressive procedures right off the bat will only dull that new car shine.  Danny suggests waxing twice a year: Spring (before tree sap starts to spit) and Fall.
Keep it simple: use Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax.  Danny says its going to be the simplest, easiest to use for most people.  Even their body shop uses this most of time. 


Especially during spring, it would be best Not to park under or near trees.  They spit out sap during this season, and into summer, which results in tiny black dots on your vehicle finish.  They’re just about impossible to clean off with anything other than your thumbnail or a clay bar.  And remember what Danny said about clay bars: yes they will remove contaminants from your car or truck finish, right along with the clear coat.  So: it would be best to avoid getting tree sap on them in the first place.  Also, at any time during the year, a rotten twig or branch can fall from a tree, hitting your vehicle, scratching or denting it.  You may want to consider having a licensed Arborist (or other insured tree trimming professional who can do this safely and without liability to you) trim the trees in the area where you intend to park, if you’re going to keep them outside.  Garaging them would be best, if you have that option.


Okay to wash in your washing machine, but Not with other towels.  No, that’s not because of contamination of your regular towels with car and truck soil, but rather, so that lint from your normal towels doesn’t contaminate the nice vehicular microfiber towels and other items, which could scratch your car/truck.  So: we did wash all of our used microfiber towels and applicator sponges in our laundry machines, after first rinsing well with our hose.


Vehicle Cleaning Note: Some people talk about using clay bars to clean their finish while washing.  Danny suggests that most people do Not use clay bars.  He said that completely removes the clear coat.  And: only wash and wax by hand.  An amateur using a machine buffer can seriously damage a car’s finish and even burn through to the bare metal if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Keep it simple.


You’re going to spend about $170+/- to obtain the various specialized car washing and waxing items indicated on this list above.  Well worth it, to keep your $40k+ expense into each of your new vehicles in new condition.  If an average family has at least 2 vehicles, that could be more than $80,000 sitting in your driveway.  So spending a little on the right equipment to keep them in great shape seems a worthwhile minimal expense.



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