How do I care for my car's exterior?

Just bought a new Civic LX and want to take good care of its paint job.
Problem is, I live in an apartment and don't have any place to take it to wash it by hand with a bucket and hose like I used to when I lived
in a house. Nor do I know anyone who has a house where I can take it to wash and wax it.
So I am left with taking it to a self wash place or a drive through place. The one drive through place I have used in the past with my old car seems relatively gentle, it doesnt' have the big brushes, just long mop-like things that hang down, it is assisted by hand-washing guys, and then a big dryer then the rest is dried and detailed by hand.
So those are really my two choices. I could take it and wash it myself with the soap wand and rinse wand, or take it to the drive through partial machine/ partial hand place.
What's the opinion?
I was thinking that if I hand wax it, with a good wax (which one??) then the methods of wash probably won't be that destructive. (??)
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On Sun, 11 Feb 2007 18:40:40 -0800, JS wrote:

In the winter, I take my car to the local Delta Sonic, which is similar to the drive-through place you are talking about. No spinning brushes. The point in the winter, around here, is to take off the road salt, ice and sludge.
In the summer, I hand wash it every week or two, and put on a good coat of wax at the beginning and end of the season.
As far as which wax is a good one, opinions will vary widely. For normal personal cars, your standard Turtle Wax, McGuires or Mother's will likely be fine. For show, there are much better products out there. I would just use the standard stuff if all you're trying to do is keep the water from pooling and the sun from destroying the finish...
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congrats!
I would not let anyone/thing touch my new car: neither machine nor hand washing guys.

I would go to the self-wash place. Only use wax that is pure carnauba wax. Do not use any "polish" waxes on a new car (they have abrasives). The reason is that you are only cleaning/waxing the clear coat, you are not cleaning/waxing actual paint.
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JS wrote:

Especially if you have alloy wheels:
At least once a month, get the bucket w/ soapy water & terry cloth, and get out there and scrub the brake dust from the wheels. Be sure to get any part of the wheel that is visible. (On my EX Civic, the inner band of the rim is finished & visible between the spokes, so I have to reach back in there & scrub). Then visit your car wash; that should be adequate to rinse the wheels.
If you neglect this, the brake dust will permanently discolor your alloys and the car will never look as good.
In the winter here in Chicago, I take advantage of any break in the weather, so I was able to scrub my wheels just before New Year's.
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Don't have alloy wheels. But I'm still torn between using a self-service wash which has those brushes which are sometimes dirty and don't look very soft, verses taking it to the "car wash" where they have those big mop like things, but no brushes, and finished by hand). Since I can't wash it at home with a bucket and hose (have no hose or faucet available for this), it's a tough choice. What a dilemma! With my old car, I just took it to the car wash.
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Just think about how many cars that big mop-like thing has cleaned. All the dirt, debris, bird poop, that's in there.
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Right, this is a minor albeit hard to resolve dilemma! Do I go with the brush at the car wash, which has been used on all that same gunk, or the mop at the car wash? The one thing I am thinking, though, is that I do see a lot more nice newer cars being cleaned at the car wash than at the self-service wash.
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Oh, I was thinking that if you went to the self-car wash, you would bring your own clean sponge. I would not use anyone else's mop/sponge/ brush on my brand new car.

I think that is irrelevant. IMO, the reason for that is that people with nice new cars are willing to pay more to have their car washed and waxed (and more frequently).
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I think I have solved my dilemma. I took my old car to the automatic car wash and they just installed a brand new system. Basically it has no brushes or mops, it's just water to rinse it, then the guys hand wash it, then it is rinsed again, then the blower blow-dries it (more or less) then a guy finishes drying it, washes the windows and "details" it. It's a pretty gentle system of doing it, it seems. Maybe not as good as me doing it myself, but the next best thing. I just can't do it where I live. I could take a bucket to the self-service wash and do it there, and I still might do that, but that is a lot more hassle. I'll probably do one one time and one the next, or two and one, something like that.
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Nothing beats washing your car yourself, because:
It's your baby, you care about it. As you wash and dry it, you will find the scratches and deal with them. If you run it through and automated system, the system will not find this stuff. And If you hire someone to do it, they will do a lackluster job by comparison.
You're the only person will go the extra distance, getting the brake dust out all the way to the corner of you mags, or whatever. You're the only person who's going to unscrew and pull off the mudflaps or pull out those plastic inner fender liners occasionally, to deal with what's lurking behind.
See if you can work something out with someone you know, or even a coworker associate, to get the use of a driveway and a hose once in a while?
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wrote:

I'm sure I'll be roasted for saying this, but I've never been nor never will be one to unscrew mudflaps or pull out those plastic inner fender liners, etc... To me, that's a little "over the top" but that's just me; to each his own.
I do agree with you, though, that no one will wash it or take care of it as well as I would, and I wish I did have a place to do it myself. I'll see what I can come up with, especially this summer, I might be able to find a way and place to do it.
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With most cars we've had, I'll pull off those plastic fender liners once or twice in the car's "lifetime" with us, say every 4~5 years. An amazing amount of silt and debris can accumulate, and turn into a nice salty poltice in the spring. It depends on the design. The mud flaps I try to remove for each waxing. A very short screw driver or something similar you can rig-up will help, so you can accomplish the removal without having to take the wheels off.
Take a look at older Hondas on the road: where they're rusting. The top edge of the rear wheel well is common, especially on the fuel cap side on which a lot of years have plastic liner over the gas tank filler/sensor tubes. The rust starts on the inside, behind the plastic liner.
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-hose it with a fine spray to soften the dirt. Also hose inside the wheel wells. -hand wash with a soft wash mitt, using a bucket of warm water containing a wash and wax soap, such as Turtle Wash & Wax. -Rinse it off with a light spray and chamois the windows. -Let it dry or for an occasional treat dry it lightly with a very clean soft towel. I keep my cars 10+ years and they still look great when I sell them. BTW I ski so occasionally drive in the worst winter conditions, of snow, salt and grit on the roads. Lastly if you drive on salted roads, don't park in a heated garage. Heat will accelerate corrosion.
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Use Turtle (or equivalent) wax wash soap. Soak the car first to losen dirt, then wash lightly and hose off with a fine spray. Dry with a clean damp towel rubbing very lightly. Do windows with warm water and chamois.
Don't wax clear coat, you'll scratch it. This has worked for me for years.
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On Sun, 18 Feb 2007 01:18:47 +0000, who wrote:

So, you decided to not read any part of his premise, and just post irrelevant information? I am sure he thanks you for the help...
In case you were wondering, he cannot wash at home. No access to an outdoor water supply...
And waxing clear coat is fine. AAMOF, it is recommended by Honda. Just don't POLISH clear-coat. Car polish has abrasives. Carnauba does not.
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