How to keep your car looking new

At Motorway, we get to see a lot of cars come and go. The first thing our online car buyers notice? Whether a car has been loved or un-loved. What your car looks like on the outside suggests whether the car has been looked after or neglected on the inside. A shiny car can get you everywhere…

How to wash and wax your car explained: 

  1. How often should I wax my car?
  2. How often should I wash my car?
  3. How to clean your car and equipment you’ll need

When protecting your car’s value, looks can be everything. Scratches, marks and general grubbiness will not maximise your chances of getting the best price possible for your car.

Are YOU waxing and washing your car regularly enough? It could mean a better price when you sell your car.

Wash and wax your car
Keep your car squeaky clean with our top tips!

Your car is an investment and you’ll spend quite a large amount of time and money to own it and then potentially even more maintaining it over the years. Your car’s value can fall fast, but keeping it looking good can protect its value. It makes sense to keep it in tip top condition and looking great.

This is especially true when it comes to selling to a car dealerselling cars online or part exchanging your car. Washing and waxing are essential for keeping your car looking brand spanking new, and in this article we’ll guide you through how to put some TLC into your motor.

Don’t fear – It’s not hard. With a bit of elbow grease and care, you can keep your car closer to the shiny model you first met in the showroom. For a better drive now, and a marvellous re-sale later, here are our top tips for keeping your car in good shape…

How often should I wax my car?

Waxing is a sure fire way to protect against the long-term deterioration of paintwork, it makes your car easier to clean and prevents scratches – the kind of damage that reduces your car’s value.

Wax will add a layer of protection for your car protecting the clearcoat and paint. A car without regular waxing will loose the ‘new’ look, the paint can slowly fade, potentially lowering the value of your motor.

Using a cloth, sponge or scrubber (the type you might use in the kitchen) can potentially cause visible damage to the paintwork by creating scratches and swirls (especially on a black car), so make sure you use a wash mitt that either came with the wax you purchase before using a dedicated waxing sponge.

Remember, before waxing you should make sure you thoroughly wash your car using mild soap and water to remove any lingering dirt and wait until your car is completely dry. You’ll also want to apply the wax in cool conditions, ideally in a garage away from direct sunlight.

But how often should you wax your car? Well, on average, you should wax your car every three months. A good quality polymer sealant or car wax will do the trick.

If your car is new, it won’t require as much waxing.

Top Tip: Spray your car with water. If it beads, you can put the wax away.

Adding Wax to your car will make it bead when it rains allowing the water to just drip off when you drive.
Clean, bright and shiny vehicles are attractive to buyers.

How often should I wash my car?

Unless you take it to a professional car wash (machine washes will actually damage your car less than a side of the road hand car wash), washing your car is manual labour of the most mundane kind and it can leave you cold, wet and flustered. But, like a jog on a grey morning, you’ll usually feel better afterwards.

To stop dirt and grime building up on the bodywork, we recommend washing your car at least once a fortnight.  

Useful equipment to have handy: 

  • Car shampoo
  • Bucket (one for shampoo and a separate one for rinsing with water)
  • Wash mitt
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hose or pressure washer
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Microfibre drying towel
  • Alloy wheel cleaner

It sounds like a lot of kit, but elbow grease is no match for the elements conspiring against your vehicle.

There could also be more to work against…

If your car is parked under a tree it’s likely to be covered in sap and bird droppings. Dust, pollution and insects encountered on the road can also make the bodywork sticky.

It’s a simple case of man vs. nature and you want man to win.

Firstly, you’ll want to rinse the car down with a hose or high pressure jet washer. Don’t get stuck in with a sponge straight away, you need to remove all that dirt first.

Next get out the sponge and shampoo, start from the top of the car. Work your way down with a side to side motion, do the bumpers last as they are usually the most filthy and gritty – you don’t want to risk scratching the paintwork with ‘bumper grit’!

For the wheels and tyres you’ll want to spray on some alloy wheel cleaner (as per instructions). Use the soft bristled brush to remove any tough, stuck-on dirt. To go the extra mile, get a smaller sponge with wash solution and get into all the small crevasses of the wheel.

How frequently should I clean my car?

Does it rattle with rubbish every time you turn a corner? Do you regularly eat in there? Have you just driven your family halfway across the country? It’s time to get out a bin bag and a hoover.

Even if the above questions make you shudder, you should still clean your car’s interior every month. It’s important to remind yourself – a clear car makes for a top resale price. Don’t just make it look good when it comes to your first viewing, keep it clean and tidy throughout the sales process.

Dust is your enemy, even in the city, tiny dust particles will make their way into your car and settle on the dashboard, seats and carpet. So get the vacuum out at least once a month.

First hoover throughout, then hit the seats with a tennis racket or similar and repeat. Believe us when we say there will be plenty of dust embedded in there.

clean your car's interiors
Get the interior looking brand new with our top tips

The best way to tackle dirt and dust on any vinyl and plastic surfaces such as the dashboard is to simply use a slightly wet cloth, any detergent soap will be able to help with any light stains.

Apply protective solution to any wood and vinyl for good measure.

The scent of cleanliness will be your reward. Much better than a little tree hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Top Tip: Take out the car mats and hoover them on the floor, use a paint brush to dust out the vents, and see if you can locate and clean your cabin’s air filter.

So, to preserve your car’s value, keep your passengers happy and yourself proud of your shiny vehicle, simply follow these 3 steps:

  1. Every Fortnight: wash
  2. Every Month: clean inside
  3. Every Three Months: wax

Is your car ready for selling?

Enter your reg here to see how much cash you could get for your car.

Looking for more advice on how to sell your car? Still not sure what a V5C is? We’ve got you covered with our handy guides: