Just bought a new Civic LX and want to take good care of its paint
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
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. (??)
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
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
-hose it with a fine spray to soften the dirt. Also hose inside the
-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
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.
Use Turtle (or equivalent) wax wash soap.
Soak the car first to losen dirt, then wash lightly and hose off with a
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.
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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