Prevent Summer Sun From Damaging Your Car’s Factory Finish

A sunset drive is as much a part of summer as cookouts and camping trips. But insects come out in the evening and their splatter leaves a vehicle looking rotten.

Fortunately, all it takes to restore that showroom shine is the right cleaners and a little time.

“Sap, sun, sand, bugs and bird droppings threaten your car’s finish all summer long,” said Mike Pennington, director of training at Meguiar’s. “If you don’t get that stuff off your vehicle, it could bond and in some cases scratch or etch the surface.”

Over time, summer contaminants can cause oxidation, dulling and rough surfaces. Frequent car care and wax protection helps prevent contaminants from bonding to paint.

Use products specifically intended for cleaning vehicles, Pennington said. Cheap towels, t-shirts and diaper cloths can cause swirls or micro scratches.

Pennington offered the following recommendations:

  • Begin with wash products designed specifically for autos. They gently remove the sap, oils, bug goo and other summer contaminants. Never use dish soap, which has degreasing agents that strip wax, damage paint finish and degrade rubber.
  • Get sheepskin or microfiber wash mitts that gently remove summer grime and trap it into tightly woven filaments.
  • Use two buckets for one great shine. Use one bucket for your wash solution. Use a separate rinse bucket for towels and mitts. That way you're not swooshing summer contaminants around wash solution and re-applying them to your vehicle.
  • Wax, wax and more wax. It will not only make your vehicle look great for fall but it will help prevent harvest dust and insects from destroying vehicle paint. Carnauba formulas offer excellent protection but typically do not last as long as a synthetic product.
  • Dry with a chamois, terry cloth towel or microfiber drying cloth. They won't scratch the surface of your vehicle.
  • Remove grime from wheels and wheel wells with specially formulated wheel cleaner solution. Warning: Do not clean with the same washcloth or mitts used on the vehicle surface. Never, ever use brake wash solution on your vehicle surface.
  • Apply tire cleaner and scrub with a tire brush. You'll be impressed how tires look new after removing "browning" haze built up over summer.