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Keeping your cars bodywork in good condition is vital if you want your car to last, and retain it's re-sell value. 

Bodywork maintenance

Washing your car
It is recommended that you regularly wash your cars bodywork. Do this using a high quality car shampoo, do not simply use washing up liquid. In many cases washing up liquid contains salt and can cause long term damage to your paint finish.

Use a clean soft sponge and start at the bottom of the car to remove the worse of the road dirt from the lower parts of the vehicle. Then start to work your way up making sure you keep the sponge as clean and free of abrasion as possible. Dirt and grime on the sponge can scratch the paint work if not removed.

Chamois down car
Once you have finished sponging the bodywork it is time to rinse off using clean water. I suggest using a hose for this part, although lots of buckets of clean fresh water will do. Continue to rinse the car down until all residue of the detergent has been removed.

You should now chamois down the bodywork using a leather or synthetic chamois. This will dry the bodywork and give it a nice finish. Be sure to check the chamois periodically to make sure it is free of grit and other contamination.

Once the bodywork is dry you should give it an inspection to check for scratches and other minor damage. Small scratches can usually be polished out or if they are still visible you may try a light rubbing compound such a T-Cut. Be sure to fully read and understand any such products instructions before use.

Polishing car bodywork
Once you have finished drying the bodywork you should let the car sit for an hour or so to ensure there is no water remaining in any nooks or crannies. Water that is rubbed out when polishing the bodywork can cause extra work and make it harder to remove the polish. Choose a high quality polish that is suitable for your paint type. Usually metallic paint requires a specialised polish. If in doubt consult your dealer.

The actual polishing procedure varies a lot from product to product so please be sure to read and follow the instructions provided with the polish you purchase. Generally you will use a soft lint free polishing cloth to apply the polish to an area of the bodywork, you will then use a fresh cloth to remove the polish and buff it up to a nice high shine finish. Use one cloth to apply and one to remove for the entire job being sure not to get the two cloths mixed up. Try to work on one panel at a time. Re-do the entire task if you feel the finish is not up to standard.

Do not attempt to polish your car in direct sunlight. This can lead to the wax drying very quickly and it can be very difficult to remove. This can lead to wax staining that is very difficult to remove.

Areas to pay attention to
As well as the obvious areas of the bodywork that you can notice there are many other areas that require attention but are not as visible.

Inside doors: The area around the door on the inside needs to be cleaned also. This can help to prevent corrosion from forming.

Under fuel flap: The inside of the fuel flap and the metal area within the fuel flap area also need attention. On some cars this area can become prone to corrosion if not maintained.

Underside of bonnet: This area can become very dirty due to it's proximity to the engine. This area is not generally prone to corrosion although it does make sense to keep it fairly clean. Simple rubbing down with a damp soapy cloth and then drying will be enough. You can polish if you wish.

Behind number plates: This is an area very often overlooked, but the number plate can adversely effect the bodywork behind it by holding road grime between the plate and bodywork. carefully remove the number plate and clean the area every once in a while. You may want to apply wax in this area and leave it applied without rubbing off. If your number plate is fixed to a plastic area then this will not really be required.

Further bodywork maintenance

You should routinely lubricate your door hinges on all  doors as well as the tailgate or boot. You can use new clean engine oil for this or a suitable grease.

The photo above shows a door latch that should be lubricated. You can use oil from an oil can or grease applied directly to the moving parts of the hinge and latch assembly. The locking mechanism should also be lubricated. (The part that is visible externally).



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