5 Steps to Keep Your Car Shining Like New

5 Steps to Keep Your Car Shining Like New

Updated on June 12 2024

Everybody loves the deep color and shine of a brand new car. However, most people don’t realize it takes a lot of work to keep it looking that way, and it goes beyond washing your vehicle using clean water and high-quality car shampoo.

Here are the 5 steps you need to remember to maintain your car’s brand new finish, all without spending a ton of cash.

Disclaimer: The 5 steps on how to keep your car shiny will work on moderately new paint. If your car’s paint is faded, dull, or cracking, the steps below might not produce the desired results. We will address the steps on how to restore faded, scratched, or worn-out paint in the coming installments of Automart’s Mekanik Mo DIY maintenance series.

The 5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Car Shining Like New

Step 1: Wash your vehicle at least twice a month or once a week.

Admittedly, not everyone has time to wash their vehicles. But if you want to keep your car shiny, it’s a good idea to clean it with water and car shampoo at least once a week or twice a month, most especially if your vehicle is parked outdoors.

Keep the following tips in mind when washing your vehicle. Better yet, you can read our helpful guide on how to wash a car in 9 easy steps.

Tip A: Do not wash a hot vehicle. Better yet, avoid washing your car under the hot sun to prevent water streaks on the glass and paint.

Tip B: Always rinse the car with clean water before using wash mitts and car shampoo. As you wash the car, keep in mind your goal is also to prevent scratching or marring the pain. You can avoid this by giving the vehicle body a good rinse before washing with shampoo.

Tip C: Always wash your car from top to bottom. Again, this universal procedure is not only recommended by detailing experts, but washing from top to bottom prevents scratches and swirl marks as you wash the car.

Tip D: Have a separate wash mitt, sponge, or towel for cleaning the tires. The wheels and tires are among the dirtiest parts of your vehicle, and you don’t want that dirt to leave permanent scratches or swirl marks in the paint.

Step 2: Use a clay bar.

If you haven’t used a clay bar before, you’re missing a lot. If you want to keep your car’s paint shiny, reducing the number of scratches, swirl marks, dirt, and debris from the paint is the top priority. And while a clay bar will NOT remove existing scratches, it can remove deep-seated dirt like asphalt, tar, and other contaminants from the paint WITHOUT scratching the finish.

All you need is a clay bar and some lubricant, both of which you can order online. You can use a clay bar after washing the vehicle with shampoo. It would be best if you NEVER use a clay bar on a dirty, unwashed car.

Keep the following tips in mind if you plan on using a clay bar after washing your car.

Tip A: You don’t need a lot of clay to clean your vehicle. In most cases, you only need to use half of the clay bar for a single session. Start by kneading the clay flat, divide it in two, and keep the other half.

Tip B: The lubricant can be anything from clean water to a fresh bucket of soapy water. Using lubricant ensures the clay glides smoothly over the finish as the clay picks up or pulls out the contaminants from the paint.

Tip C: Spray or apply a copious amount of lubricant or soapy water over the intended area before rubbing the clay. Start claying the roof, hood, and trunk before working on the fenders, bumpers, doors, and lower vehicle parts.

Tip D: After applying lubricant, wipe the clay gently in a back and forth motion. Work with a tiny area at a time. After wiping the clay, turn it over. If you see any dirt and black contaminants, knead the clay and turn it over, ensuring a clean part of the clay is touching your paint every time. Again, don’t forget to lubricate before claying the surface.

Reminder: You can use a clay bar weekly after washing, provided you wax the finish after using a clay bar.

Step 3: Polish the paint.

The golden rule is to polish and wax the paint after using a clay bar. The reasoning behind this is to seal and level the paint surface to ensure maximum shine. You see, dirt removed by the clay bar has left microscopic voids or cracks on the paint. Those cracks will reflect on the paint surface and affect the shine.

Tip A: Waxing and polishing is an entirely different ballgame. Polish will remove or shave off a minuscule portion of the clear coat on your car’s paint. If you want to remove light scratches and swirl marks, you need polish and not wax. On the other hand, waxing will leave a layer of protection over the paint. You can wax without polishing first, but you need to wax after polishing to seal the paint.

Tip B: You can use polish in liquid or paste form. But the trick is to apply it correctly. Apply a few drops of polish to an applicator pad, rub it gently on the paint using small circular motions, and wipe off immediately using a clean microfiber towel. Turn the towel over and buff lightly. Never allow polish to dry on the paint.

Tip C: When polishing, start with the upper portions of the vehicle before moving to the lower parts. Again, this method prevents scratching the paint.

Tip D: You should polish once every six months or at least once a year to keep your car’s paint shiny.

Tip E: You can polish by hand or you can use an orbital polisher.

Step 4: Apply wax regularly.

The easiest way to keep your car shiny is to wax the paint at least once a month. However, it would help if you never wax a dirty finish. Before waxing, make sure the paint is clean or freshly polished.

Tip A: There many types of waxes in the market, but nothing beats pure carnauba wax in creating the deepest shine. Waxes come in liquid or paste form, and you can use both to achieve stellar results.

Tip B: Less is more. Apply a small amount of wax in a separate applicator pad and wipe on the paint using small, circular motions. Start by waxing the roof, hood, and trunk and work your way downwards.

Tip C: Allow the wax to dry for five to 10 minutes before buffing out the residue. You can use the swipe test for this. After waxing, wipe your finger over a waxed potion of the paint. If the residue wipes away and leaves a shiny finish, the wax is ready for buffing. If not, allow the wax to dry for a few more minutes.

Tip D: Grab a clean, dry microfiber towel and remove the excess wax residue from the paint. Start on the top portion of the vehicle to avoid scratches. Turn the towel over and buff lightly. At this point, your car’s paint will be shining like new.

Step 5: Avoid wiping dirty paint with a dry towel.

Another essential step in keeping your car shiny is to avoid the habit of wiping the paint with a dry towel. Many car owners don’t realize they are damaging the clear coat every time they wipe a dry and dirty paint surface.

In doing so, wiping dirty paint with a dry towel is similar to rubbing your face with sandpaper. If you constantly do this, you will leave permanent scratches and swirl marks on the paint, severely reducing the color and shine of the finish.

If you need to clean your car quickly without using car shampoo, grab a hose and wipe the vehicle from top to bottom while the surface is wet. In this way, you can prevent new scratches and swirl marks from appearing on the paint.


And there you have it. Remember that periodic washing, polishing, and waxing are essential to keep your car’s paint shiny and looking new.