Why do brand new cars lose their shine so quickly?

I hope you love the products I recommend! Just so you know, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. There is no cost to you. Thank you if you use my links, I really appreciate it!

An arm chair expert might tell you that a new car looks old the minute you drive it out of the showroom.  And he could be right.  But now we know why this happens.  Read on so that you can prevent this happening to you.  

Does this sound familiar?

  • Your car looks stunning in the showroom.  
  • After a week, you decide to give it a wash. Again it seems to look great.  
  • Another week passes, another wash.  
  • And before you know it, it has completely lost it’s natural new car shine and gloss!

Why do new cars lose their shine so quickly?

The reason new cars lose their shine quickly is because of improper washing and drying techniques.  

What’s the biggest mistake new car owners make?

  • Wiping down your car with a dry rag is the biggest mistake new car owners make.  That’s the quickest way to dull your shine.  Even if you are just cleaning off some light dust you can scratch your paint and create swirls very easily.
  • Other mistakes include washing with a brush or sponge or using kitchen products.
  • Drying your car the wrong way also adds to scratches.
  • Please my tips on how to wash a new car without scratching it.

Why does a new car scratch so easily?

  • Your paint is made up of a base coat which is the actual color of the car and a clear coat.  The clear coat goes on top and when it’s first sprayed on to your car it looks super shiny because it’s so smooth.
  • But the smooth clear coat is delicate and can easily be scratched.
  • Over time tiny scratches build up and result in the loss of your precious shine.
  • When you shine a bright light on your car the scratches look like cobwebs.  These are called swirl marks by detailers.

Why does dry wiping a car scratch it?

  • A dry rag doesn’t collect the dust and dirt.  It just pushes it along the surface of the car.  You need to get that dirt off as safely as possible. 
  • Using a dry rag is like using sandpaper.  It will scuff your paint.
  • To remove light dust, you should use a detailer spray and microfiber towels at the very least.

I have swirls and scratches, what can I do?

The easy way the quickly hide swirls and scratches is to use a filler polish or a glaze.  This will temporarily fill in the little scratches and restore a lot of shine.

To fully remove the scratches you will need go to a pro detailer or learn how to do compounding and polishing.

Will a car wash scratch my new car?

If you want your car to look it’s best for as long as possible, you’re going to have to wash it yourself by hand.  A ceramic coating might increase the protection, but eventually a car wash will scratch your paint.

You will then need to polish out the scratches to get the car to look good again.  This is something you can learn to do yourself or something you can get a professional detailer to do for you.

How can I prevent my new car from getting scratches?

  1. Learn safe hand washing techniques.  When it comes to washing, you need to get that dirt off your car without dragging it along the surface.  I use a pressure washer to get any heavy dirt off. And microfiber wash mitts are much safer than a brush.  The most common method is the famous two-bucket method.  But there are other safe methods out there too. 
  2. Learn safe drying techniques.  An old bathroom towel will scratch your paint.  Use a good quality car drying towel and try to pat dry your car or use a detailer spray.
  3. Learn about paint protection products.  A proper car shampoo and a spray wax will help a lot.  As will pressure washer and grit guards.  Read my list of Great Shampoos.
  4. Keep up to date and learn about new products and techniques.  The detailing industry is growing as people care more and more about their cars.  Ceramic spray waxes and graphine coatings and rinsless washes are an example.

How does washing with a brush damage car paint

Why not use a simple car wash brush?  Because a brush pushes dirt along your paint and scratches it.  A microfiber wash mitt is much much better because it helps to capture the dirt and doesn’t let you scrub the paint.  Never ever scrub!

Does a pressure washer cause scratches?

In my experience a pressure washer is a fantastic tool to help reduce scratching.  You might think that the high pressure can damage paint.  But that doesn’t happen.

That’s because a pressure washer doesn’t drag dirt along your paint.  It simply gets blasted off.

A pressure can be used to generate thick foam.

And it helps a lot if you can loosen dirt first with a foam pre wash.  The foam will dissolve grease and oil which bonds dirt to your car like glue.

But too much pressure can damage plastic trim and paint protect film so reduce the pressure if you can.  Many pressure washers have variable pressure these days.

A pressure washer wont get all the dirt off though.  But if you use one first it will get rid of a lot of the dirt that could scratch your paint during the contact wash.

You can scratch your car when you dry it too.

If you use a water squeegee or a bathroom towel to dry your car you’re going to scratch it.  Instead, use a proper car drying towel.

Another great way is with a leaf blower or a proper car air dryer.

Waxing can scratch a new car.

If your paint isn’t completely clean and contaminant free when you apply wax or polish you can cause swirls and scratches.

Scratching can happen when you rub the wax in to your paint and when you buff it off

Thats another reason I love spray and rinse waxes.  No rubbing or buffing.

A clay bar can scratch a new car.

A clay bar doesn’t remove scratches, it actually causes them.  Especially if your car isn’t completely clean.  You also need to use plenty of lubrication.

The purpose of a clay bar is to remove dirt that doesn’t come off during a wash.  Like tar and bugs.

If your car feels rough to the touch after you wash it a clay bar can be used to remove the stuck on contamination.

But in many cases you will also scratch your car so only consider claying if you are either going to be very careful or if you plan on polishing afterwords. 

Will a ceramic coating reduce the number of scratches?

Yes, ceramic coatings offer a lot of protection to new cars.  But they also need to be taken care of properly or they can get scratched too.

Can a new car be washed without touching it?

I sometimes do this in the winter when the weather isn’t great and I dont want to get my hands cold.  A pressure washer is needed.  Here is what I do.

  1. Spray wheels with iron remover.
  2. Allow it to work for 10 minutes
  3. Foam the car with a dedicated pre wash foam.
  4. After 10 minutes spray it off with my pressure washer.
  5. Mist on a spray and rinse wax.
  6. Rinse off.
  7. Dry the car with a leaf blower.

But it doesn’t get all of the dirt off and you might still see some dirt when it’s dry.  But it looks a lot better.

If your car is protected with wax or sealant or a ceramic coating this works much better.  Because the dirt can’t bond to your paint so much.

The spray and rinse wax is on my list it doesn’t need buffing and will add a little shine.  But the main reason for this is to protect the car to make the next wash easier.

Don’t be tempted to dry your car with a towel at this point.  Because the paint is just not clean enough.  You will end up scratching your car.  That’s why I use a leaf blower.

Recent Posts