Like any routine vehicle maintenance such as engine oil change and tyre replacement, maintaining a car's paint should be of equal priority.
Those swirl marks on a car's hood or micro scratches on the door panel do not pose any safety hazards but detailing any vehicle or at least keeping it like it came out of the factory can ensure longevity while upholding its value in the years to come.
The most basic part of keeping a vehicle clean is giving it a wash. Although there is no such gospel that suggests the number of times a car should be washed in a week, it would be wise to wash your vehicle once every two weeks during the dry season and much more frequently during the rainy season.
In Bangladesh, private vehicles are bathed once or twice a week all throughout the year, however, owners will be shocked to know that sometimes, a simple wash can lead to more harm than good!
Most cars are washed with water and hair shampoo solution and later dried with a thin piece of cotton. This can severely damage a vehicle's clear coat and a closer inspection can reveal thousands of tiny hairline scratches on the body.
So, what can be done to prevent it?
First thing first, in order to avoid damaging the paint, use a pressure washer, if available, and set the pressure level to low or moderate. A regular garden pipe can also get the job done temporarily. Make sure you remove the dirt and mud from underneath the car and the mud guards as well.
Following through, take a microfiber towel or a foam, soak it in the water and shampoo solution and start cleaning the car from top to bottom. You should use a proper shampoo made specifically for cars.
After that, wash the vehicle again with water and use a separate piece of microfiber towel to dry the car.
The next step - waxing
Although this is not a must after every wash, applying wax to the vehicle's body once every two months is deemed ideal to retain its factory shine and keep the paint layer intact.
You can do this easily at home by watching countless "do it yourself" videos online.
However, before waxing any vehicle, one should definitely go for a clay bar treatment.
Tiny metal particles and road debris such as tar particles can stick to the paint any vehicle's paint and cannot be removed with just a simple car wash or a pressure wash.
In this situation, a clay bar treatment can work like magic in removing such particles from the paint and give it a dramatically smoother surface for the wax to be applied on.
Never listen to the local garage owners and apply kerosine on the paint surface to remove these debris and particles. Though it gets the job done at a lower cost, it can seriously damage the paint coat and the results eventually show up in the long run.
The next best alternative
If the process seems too complicated, you can always take your car to a proper detailer.
A professional detailer will always do a better job at waxing and clay bar treatment and can offer multiple other services such as interior vacuum cleaning and polish as well as paint correction and engine bay cleaning.
These services start from as low as Tk3,000 for regular foam wash and polish and can go all the way up to Tk35,000 - 40,000 for premium quality ceramic coating which can last for years.
There are many differences between regular car polish and ceramic coating but let us keep that story for another day!
Exterior care will improve the paint's longevity and make the car look good as new even after decades of usage.
Sometimes, a proper detailing job by a good detailer can even make a car look better than how it originally came out of the factory. This can also help to increase the resale value of the car as a pristine looking car can surely hold a higher market value compared to car with rusts and paint fade.
Detailing can even eliminate any kind of fetid odour that comes out of the car or even kill germs such as bacteria and virus. So, here is another reason why detailing should be a must given the increased attention towards hygiene amid the global pandemic.
It is worth noting that not every vehicle requires the same level of paint protection and it mainly depends on the type of car.
If the car is a luxury car or a sports car that is rarely driven and can go up in value, then a proper top of the line detailing job is almost mandatory.
However, if it is the daily driven grocery getter Corolla then investing Tk35,000 on a ceramic coating job would not be the best decision financially.