Consumer Reports' John McAloon says hand washing is best. Brushes used at some car washes can scratch your car's exterior.
You want to start by hosing your car off. That gets rid of any dirt that can scratch the finish.
It's important to use a lamb's wool mitt or soft natural sponge...never rags or brushes...they can scratch the finish.
Wash one section at a time. And be sure not to wash your car when the paint is hot or if it's been sitting in the sun. Heat softens paint, which can lead to scratches.
And heat can dry your car too fast, leaving smudges behind. You want to dry it yourself with a microfiber cloth, soft chamois, or terry cloth towel.
The next best move to preserve your car's finish-regular waxing. You can use soft cotton rags or a microfiber cloth to apply the wax.
Work in small sections. It makes it easier to remove the applied wax and saves time.
Follow these tips and you can keep your car looking good for years to come.
Consumer Reports says there are lots of different kinds of waxes. Sprays work fine on newer cars or ones with a good finish. Consumer Reports recommends Eagle One Wax-As-U-Dry.
And if your car has a dull finish, Consumer Reports says try using a liquid wax like Black Magic Liquid Shine Wax. Both waxes earned top ratings in Consumer Reports tests and cost under $10 per bottle.