How To Not F#@k Up Your Car’s Paint – Maintenance Tips From a Pro

This weekend I was fortunate enough to get a quick tutorial from John Perdue, the co-owner/operator of TLC Auto Detail in Sterling, Virginia. John went over what goes into a paint correction on a car as well as some basic tips to share with everyone when it comes to keeping your own car looking its best.

Washing Your Car

Photo courtesy of TLC Auto Detail Sterling, VA.

When you are dealing with keeping your car’s paint in pristine condition, you want to have it touched as little as possible. Things like hands, cloths, brushes, and other materials can not only have dirt or particulates in them but they can also rub material that is already on the car across its surface. This can create defects in the paint.

Two Bucket Method

Always use two buckets when you are washing your car. One bucket is to rinse off the sponge you are using to remove any debris that was on your car from its surface. The second bucket is the ‘clean’ water with soap that you use to wash the car. It is recommended to have a dirt trap at the bottom of the dirty bucket to keep it away from the sponge as you wash it.

Apply as Little Pressure as Possible

We all want to make washing our car as quick a process as we can but don’t let your impatience get the better of you. Putting pressure on the sponge to get out something that has attached itself to your surface may do more damage by scraping it along the paint’s surface. Come back to that area later and use other methods to remove the offending piece. Wash top to bottom and make sure to wash out the mitt often via the Two Bucket Method.

Window Washing

Wash the inside and outside of your windows in different directions. One you want to wipe horizontally and the other vertically. The reason for this is that, if you happen to have a smudge afterwards, you can tell which side of the window it is on. Use two towels and spray the cleaner directly onto the first towel and not onto the window surface. Use the second towel to buff away any residue.

Air Dries Best

The best thing you can use to dry your car and touch it as little as possible is by using pressurized air. Not only will it take you less time but it will also get the water out of the pesky areas inside of your side mirrors and the trunk lid. Make sure to find something that has a filter so you aren’t blasting particulates onto your car’s surface.

Avoid Using Clay Bars

Unless you are going to use a real polisher on your paint afterwards, try to avoid using a clay bar to clean your paint. As you wipe the clay over the surface of your car, it is going to pickup contaminants off of your paint’s surface. Those contaminants can then potentially be scraped along the rest of the paint’s surface. It is preferable to use a chemical decontamination if you do not plan on polishing the paint.

Maintaining Your Paint

Maintaining your paint is a constant process. Taking care of your car early in your ownership will mean you have to deal with less work and less expenditures later down the line.

After a wash. Paint contamination on a trunk lid after years of street parking in Brooklyn, NY.

Don’t Let Contaminants Sit

Bug splatter, tree sap, road tar, and other stuff that can attach itself to your car on a daily basis can do serious damage to your paint if left on too long. Have you ever accidentally put your hands on the paint of your car during a hot summer day? Hotter than you expected it to be right? Your paint absorbs heat and it can get quite hot when its left outside during the day. That heat can bake those contaminants into your paint and do long term damage. While you don’t have to get them off right away, its important that you wash your car regularly to get them off the surface. John recommends at least once every two weeks.

Don’t Wipe Your Car

We have all been in a situation where we just want to tidy up our car. Whether it’s a last-minute touch up before heading out to a nice dinner or making it looks perfect for a show or C&C. The car looks pretty clean so why not just use a quick detailer to give it some luster? DON’T! Resist the urge! Even though you can’t see it, particulates have been attaching themselves to your car’s paint since you last washed it. When you wipe it down, you are scraping all of those along the finish of your car. Over time, that can leave tiny little scratches all over the surface and dull your finish.

Avoid Drive-Thru Car Washes

Any drive thru car wash that has something other than water that comes in contact with your car can potentially damage it. There is no guarantee to how clean those flaps and brushes are and they could be beating your car with dirt that was just removed from the car before you. If you absolutely must take your car to somewhere to have it washed, look for washes that advertise themselves as ‘touchless’.


What Happens If Your Paint Needs Extra Help?

Photo courtesy of TLC Auto Detail Sterling, VA. What a professional can do to bring back your paint.

If you find that you have followed the steps above and you can’t get your finish to the point where you find it acceptable, dont fret. Detailing has come a long way over the past 5-10 years. It is no longer someone just meticulously cleaning your car. Professional detailing shops can use a vast array of products to remove defects from the surface of your paint and restore its luster. There are a lot of companies that are selling detail kits online or at your local auto parts store but they are no where near close to what you can get from a professional. A professional paint correction is not going to be for everyone but, if your car is a keeper, it can save you thousands compared to needing a new paint job down the road.

With just one pass you can see the difference between the front and rear door.


Special Thanks To:

John Perdue @ TLC Auto Detail

106 Oakgrove Rd Suite L
Dulles, Virginia 20166

(703) 962-7106 –


Let Us Know What You Think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post

The All New Cullinan Took Rolls Royce Way Too Long to Build

Next Post

The Numbers Don’t Lie: The Lamborghini Urus Has Gone Full Lamborghini

Related Posts