Secrets of a Sparkling Car

Summer is the perfect time to give your car a little TLC.

Summer is the time to polish that ride until it shines like a mirror. That’s why we checked in with experts to find out how to get the best sparkle for your efforts. Here’s what they had to say:

Made in the Shade

Park your vehicle in the shade, instead of in direct sunlight, when it’s ready for a good splash of suds. This helps avoid the quick drying that produces water spots. Dry as soon as you’re finished washing.

“You’ll speed up the process by using a drying squeegee and chamois cloth,” says Daniel Gray, who writes about vehicle care at “Also, keep a supply of clean quality microfiber towels on hand. They make quick work of cleaning tasks from wipe-downs to windows.”

Evade the Fade

If your vehicle is more than three years old, it likely has faded paint. You might not even notice it. Open any door and compare the body paint to the doorjamb. “If paint on the body is a few shades brighter, apply a clay polish by hand,” says Tim Miller, owner of Surf City Garage, an automotive detailing products company.

Waterless Works

You don’t always have to pull out the hose or invest in a heavy-duty wax job to get your vehicle nice and shiny. There are many waterless and spray wax products on the shelves that work nicely with microfiber towels. “These products can save a boatload of time,” Gray says. “Spray the product liberally and use two microfiber towels: one wet, one dry.”

Tire TLC

Because tires are manufactured from petroleum, you should use a petroleum-based product to clean them. “For maximum effect, be sure to apply a tire cleaner sparingly with a cloth,” Miller says. “This is one of the easiest detailing procedures around, and it will add much-needed protection and shine to your car’s rubber components.”

If You’re Short on Time

The classic drive-through car wash comes in handy. You may prefer one that minimizes brush contact. Also, don’t trust the automated dryer. “Make sure the car is dry before you take it out on the street,” Gray says. “Keep chamois or towels ready in the trunk, and make sure they’re dry before you head to the local car wash.”