Do it yourself car maintenance - Exterior care and upkeep

Taking regular care of your car will ensure that your car looks showroom fresh even after it is five years old or more. Check out these useful tips to keep your car looking new and enjoy envy from neighbours and friends

Firstly, while regular care can help in keeping the car looking brand new, metallic colours are more durable than non-metallic colours over time, so choose that colour carefully. 

The car should be washed every day. Always remember accumulated dirt causes more damage as it makes it harder to remove the muck and if unattended for long can sink into the paint of the car. The biggest enemy of car paint happens to be bird droppings which are acidic in nature and can become part of you paint job if left unattended to. In which case, the car will look like a Dalmatian with a funny colour combination. Always make sure that bird poop is cleaned from your car as soon as possible.

Daily Care

If you are thinking of hiring someone to wash your car every morning hold your horses. There are proper ways of washing a car. Merely taking a wet cloth to a car will damage the paint and result in light circular scratches on the paint and windows. Do not use a random piece of cloth like torn shirt to wash a car, use a soft cloth to wash a car. Always use a high pressure water hose to wash off the dirt and muck from the car after which gently use a cloth along with running water to clean the car. Wash the car working from top to bottom. Do not forget to hose down dirt in the wheel wells, especially during summers. Be careful and take care that the pipe does not touch the body of the car, as it can scratch the paintjob of the car.

After washing the car clean, use a soft cloth to wipe off the water from the car or there will be white marks where the water dries off. Also, accumulated water can result in rust formation in panel gaps. Make sure the bonnet, boot or tailgate, and doors are opened and any water if present in the closing area is wiped dry.

Exterior upkeep

There are a variety of elements that can damage the paint on a car. Dead insects, fresh tarmac from road constructions, etc if left unattended will damage the paint on a car. To protect against all of that it is always wise to have a Teflon coating put on the car from the manufacturer. A Teflon coating protects the paint by preventing different things like marks of bird droppings, tree sap, dead insects, etc from sinking into the paint of the car. It will also prevent minor scratches on the paint while wiping the car dry. 

It is also very important to polish the car at regular intervals, ideally, twice a year. Polish protects the paint by preventing marks on the paint. Also, the paint does not scratch as easily when the car has a Teflon coating and polish on it. Does not use polish over plastic bits on a car such as lights, door handles, rear view mirrors, rubber bits on doors and bumpers as the case maybe. There is different plastic polish available in the market for those parts. Do not use any sort of polish on the lights and rubber strips on the windows, they are not meant to be polished, just wash the car regularly and that should be enough. Use chrome polish to polish any chrome bits on the car. Once the car is polished do not use any form of soapy car wash as it is not needed.

However, all these efforts will be null and void if there are dents and scratches on a car. Dents and scratches cause cracks in the paint which expose the body of the car to rust and corrosion, which can prove to be an expensive affair to restore. It is always smarter to have dents and scratches touched up as soon as possible. Make sure that the touch up is done in a manufacturer’s shop. Do not go for a cheaper after market option. Manufacturer’s body shops have the exact shade of paint on your car. Also, the quality of the paint is much better than that of cheaper options, and does not fade overtime like that of the latter. 

Use rubbing compound to remove fresh tarmac that gets stuck on the car from road construction as soon as possible. Be careful not to use too much of it as rubbing compound can go through polish, Teflon coating, etc and damage the paint on the car. The sooner the tarmac is cleaned off the less rubbing compound has to be used. 

It’s not uncommon on highways to have stones chipped off the wheels of taller cars in front to cause scratches on the front of the car. Get these touched up as well to protect the body and paint of the car. Also get the chassis painted while buying the car to protect it from rust over time. Have the underbody inspected for dents and scratches in case the underbody of the car has hit rocks or bumps underneath while driving.

There might be hidden rust spots on cars older than five years or so, get them treated as soon as possible to stop them from spreading. Only get the job done at manufacturer’s body shop.

Make sure wiper blades are changed as soon as they start to slip on the windshield as they will scratch the windshield. Only use the washer to wash and wipe the windshield when the windshield is wet otherwise the wipers will scratch the windshield.  Following these tips on a regular basis will ensure that your car looks showroom fresh year after year.

Here is a quick recap of the dos and don’ts of exterior maintenance on a car.


Wash the car regularly.

High pressure water to hose off dirt

Soft Cloth to clean and wipe the car

Different types of car polish for different bits

Teflon Coating

Change wiper blades when necessary

Denting and painting as and when needed

Chassis Paint


Do not use soapy water to wash the car

Do not use wipe and wash on the windshield when it is dry

Denting and painting in road side shops

Do not use the wrong polish on the wrong bit

Do not leave dents and scratches unattended for long

Do not leave bird droppings, tarmac, etc unwashed on the car for long

Do not leave rust spots unattended.

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