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How to Keep Your Car Looking New

 (ARA) Our cars reflect our personalities. From a cute lime green bug to a powerful black SUV to a sexy red convertible, what we drive says a lot about who we are.  But this good impression can be quickly ruined by a tarnished finish.
"Your car's exterior is constantly being assaulted by all kinds of potentially hazardous substances -- many of which you can't even see," says Glenn Canady, president of 5 Star Technologies, a company that makes vehicle maintenance products. Canady says that dirt and grime from the road are just the beginning: "The dangers are everywhere, tiny droplets of sticky sap from trees that get on your car and will not only attract dirt and dust, but will bake into the paint surface and leave stains. And what we may think of as innocuous bird droppings are actually highly acidic substances which can erode paint and clear coat finishes," he adds.

Airborne contaminants such as by-products from construction and manufacturing and other floating elements can also threaten your finish. Add to that salt from the sea and from snow trucks and daily exposure to moisture, sometimes from acid rain, and you have a lethal combination. Even the hot sun beating down on your car is problematic: it causes the paint pores to expand and absorb more dirt and moisture.

The most critical step you can take to maintain your finish is frequent washing, yet it is surprising how many people don't take this precaution. A recent survey by found that 52 percent of car owners wash their cars less than once a month and 15 percent never wash their cars. Here are a few suggestions from Canady on how to keep your finish glossy:

* You should wash your car at least once a week. Keeping your exterior consistently clean will lessen the impact of damaging dirt and chemicals that build up on your car's surface. In parts of the country that experience the use of road salt in the winter, frequent washing can reduce the corrosive effects of salt that cause body rust-through.

* Polish your vehicle with a product that provides durable protection as a final step after washing. Car waxes do not provide the long-term protection necessary to keep your paint looking new. They are made from inexpensive carnuba waxes, which melt and get sticky and attract dirt and pollutants.

"People can actually be doing more harm than good," says Canady, whose company makes a two-step polish called 5 Star Shine that uses PTFE (the same substance that makes nonstick cookware so slippery) and durable acrylic elements that create a chemical fusion that seals paint from the elements. "This is not like ordinary waxes and polishes that simply lay on top of your paint and wear off in a few weeks," says Canady. "It actually bonds with the molecules of your paint." The slick coating repels dirt and will remain durable for at least 150 washes.

* If you drive on muddy, messy roads, consider an undercarriage treatment every time you wash your car. This will remove caked-on mud that holds moisture to metal and causes rust and body rot around wheel wells and door sills.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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