Thursday, November 23, 2017

Maintaining Your Car’s Exterior

Vehicles are simply tools to move from point A to point B which have become a necessity in our lives.
A cheap car would suffice, but… why not travel in style?
Taking care of our cars is actually very important in maintaining their value and allowing us to travel comfortably. Here, I will speak on how to care for the exterior paint of your car and point to some resources in the Silicon Valley. Mind you, I am no expert in the car industry and am only speaking from my experience as a car owner.

Simply put, our car’s exterior is composed of the vehicle's body, paint, windows, mirrors, tires, rims, bumpers, mirrors, exhaust pipes, etc. The most visible of these parts is the paint, especially on black cars. In order to care for the paint, in particular, there are a few key points.

Prevent Damage

Things that can damage the paint include:
  • Physical damage while parked (door dings, vandalism, environmental damage)
    • use covered parking when possible, especially when there is risk for damage (i.e. severe weather like storms)
    • park in safe, well-lit areas
    • avoid parking in locations where young people hang out, as they tend to have more time and impulses to engage in vandalism
    • park in less crowded areas of parking lots
    • park next to expensive, well-kept cars
    • when parking, leave room for the driver’s side door of nearby parked cars to be opened
  • Physical damage while driving (accidents, flying rocks/debris on the road)
    • avoid driving behind vehicles which may drop debris, such as dump trucks, especially near construction and road-work areas
    • avoid driving on roads with many rocks
    • in areas with snow, avoid winter abrasives on the road such as winter salt, which can cause paint and trim damage when kicked up by tires
  • Tree sap/bird/insect droppings
    • do not park near trees, as all kinds kinds of trees may drop sap
    • do not park under places where birds may sit (light poles, trees)
    • avoid parking near areas with many bugs
    • wipe off any contaminants from the car as soon as possible, as they can eat into the paint and clear coat if left alone
  • Acid rain, “hard” water, dust, sunlight
    • park in covered areas
    • avoid driving in the rain or dusty areas

For long-term parking or situations where you must park in a nonideal location, a car cover can be very helpful.

Finally, applying car wax and various coatings (X-protect, hard wax, ceramic) can protect the car's paint.

Wash the car properly

Automatic machine car washes are quite risky. The hard bristled brushes they use may operate on hundreds of cars on any given day and can be covered in dust, which can scratch your car easily. Using touchless machine car washes or cloth-based handwashes are the safest option.

Reversing Paint Damage

There are many levels of damage, which can be addressed in various ways, including clay bar, exterior detailing, waxing, paint restoration, and repainting.
For minor damage, SCRATCH-OUT is good do-it-yourself product.

Resources in the Silicon Valley

Below are some businesses I have used and recommend.

Car Wash

Touchless machine car washes

Touchless washes use high pressure water to clean your car with minimal risk of damage. They are quite convenient if you “pre-wash” your car by gently rubbing off debris, run it through the touchless wash, and hand-dry it yourself afterwards with a clean, microfiber cloth.

The below gas stations offer high quality touchless washes:
  1. Chevron N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA
  2. Chevron, Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA
  3. Chevron, Mowry Avenue, Fremont, CA
  4. Valero, Thornton Avenue, Fremont CA

Hand wash shops

I haven't needed to use any yet.

Self wash

This can be done at your home or at a self-service car wash location which provides vacuums, soap, brushes, and water.
  1. Thrifty Car Wash, 2080 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040, USA

Paint Restoration

For paint restoration, I recommend MAR Quality Protection (http://www.marqp.com/) in Fremont, CA. Their service is exceptional and they only have five star reviews. I had them restore my car's paint after some bad paint damage using RestorFX and it looks like new now!

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