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Five mistakes to avoid when spring cleaning your car, according to experts

We are creeping ever closer to spring time which means many may be looking to give their homes and even their cars a little spring clean.

Car detailing is currently trending on social media platform TikTok with videos showing users the best way to take car on their vehicles receiving nearly six million views.

With professional car washing costs ranging from £4.50 to £250 – according to NimbleFins – no wonder many are opting to carry out the job at home.

However, some tips could actually be damaging your car and its paintwork.

Keith Hawes, Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, explained: “As we all emerge from winter hibernation, there’s never been a better time to start your spring cleaning regime. However, with the cost of living rising in the UK, it is no surprise that drivers are looking for ways to keep their costs down.

“Cleaning your vehicle may seem like a simple task, however, if you use the incorrect tools and techniques you can reduce the effectiveness of your cleaning process. In some extreme cases, it could also cause you to damage your vehicle’s paintwork.”

With this in mind, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts have revealed the common mistakes made by car owners and what to do to avoid any damage…

5 common mistakes to avoid when cleaning your vehicle

  • 1. Do not use washing up liquid or kitchen detergents to wash your vehicle

The strong chemicals in detergents are not made with your vehicle in mind and are made to break down grease and stains.

Using this frequently will wear away the wax and protective coat on your vehicle.

Stick to using car-specific shampoos and don’t forget the headlamps, wing mirrors, windows and windscreens.

  • 2. Do not use a metal scourer or an abrasive sponge to clean your vehicle

The rough surface of kitchen sponges can easily leave your vehicle with lots of scratches.

Instead, you can use a microfiber mitt or sponge.

  • 3. Do not clean your vehicle in direct sunlight

Higher temperatures and direct sunlight can leave your vehicle’s surface with pesky watermarks.

The heat will also speed up the drying process when you apply soap, making it harder to rinse off.

If you can’t avoid washing your vehicle in direct sunlight, you will have to adapt your technique.

Make sure to work quickly, and only do one section of your vehicle at a time.

That said, never wax or polish your car in direct sunlight, always wait for a cooler part of the day or place your vehicle in shade.

Someone washing their car outside.
You shouldn’t wash your car in direct sunlight, according to the experts.

  • 4. Do NOT wait to clean bird poop from your vehicle’s paintwork

Due to the high pH of bird poo, it can stain and cause damage to your vehicle’s paintwork.

Therefore, it is important to remove any dropping as soon as possible – even if it doesn’t fit in with your car washing schedule.

Do not attempt to scrape off dried droppings as this could cause even more damage.

Instead, use your regular car shampoo and hot water to soften the dirt so it can be easily wiped away.

  • 5. Do NOT use automatic car washes

An automatic car wash may seem like a convenient option, however, it can actually cause damage to your vehicle’s paintwork. This is especially true for older machines which are often fitted with stiff nylon brushes.

Stiff brushes, alongside built-up dirt and debris from other vehicles can cause scratches and ‘swirl marks’ on your vehicle.

Over time this can make your vehicle’s paintwork fade and appear dull.

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