Many people are almost clueless when it comes to taking care of a brand new vehicle. We all know that a used vehicle needs regular washing, waxing and possibly even some polishing every now and then. However, once we’re in a position of purchasing a brand new vehicle, it seems like all common sense goes out the window. While there are many owners who have enough knowledge and experience with proper car care and have no issues maintaining used or new vehicles, I have noticed quite a lot of people who fall into one of two of the following categories.
A new vehicle needs nothing but washing for a long time
These individuals are under the impression that a new vehicle not only comes in perfect condition from the factory, but also that it’s really well protected with a magical wax for at least 8-12 months, if not more. I get quite a few people who call looking for a detail job and when I ask “What’s the reason you are looking for car detail work?” they respond with “Well, the car is now 1 (sometimes they say 2+) years old and it hasn’t been waxed since new, so I figured it was time”. Now don’t get me wrong, some of these individuals get duped by the dealership who sold them on a wax/sealant/coating that will last for a few years and they don’t know how to determine when a protection product fails. However, many of these individuals simply believe that a new paint job should stay in good shape for a while before it needs any work, thus they put off even waxing, let alone polishing, for a year or two.
The issue here is these brand new vehicles don’t get the protection they need and can suffer the consequences when driven daily or often. Waxes, sealants and paint coatings will help protect the paint from the elements, so it’s imperative that a sacrificial layer of something/anything is applied regularly. Even an over the counter spray wax that lasts 2 weeks will help keep the paint cleaner and minimize water spots, etching, etc. So when a person puts off this protection for months or years, there’s a very big chance the paint is getting damaged through embedded dirt, swirl marks and random spotting. That said, some people are even MORE misinformed as to the paint maintenance process, and those are the people who believe …
A new vehicle needs nothing but washing EVER
The difference between these individuals and the ones above is quite simple… These individuals believe that a new car should never need any work unless it’s damaged in some sort of way (bird poop, poor detail work, deep scratches, etc.). They don’t realize that every wash introduces swirl marks (some or all initially invisible to the naked eye) that over time show up and detract from the overall look of the vehicle. They also don’t realize that if a car is driven, it will surely get some form of contamination or spotting over time. The individuals above at least have an understanding that at some point, whether it’s 3-6 months or a year from the purchase date, they will need to take the car in for detailing work. On the other hand, these individuals don’t make any plans for detailing work, rather randomly swing by a car wash for only a hand wash or maybe wax as well, sometimes even the dreaded automatic brush wash! Unfortunately, these are the owners who bring us detailers vehicles that are in very poor condition, but they still expect a quick 2-4 hour job will “bring it back to life”. Whether it’s due to being simply misinformed by the dealer and bad quality wash places, not having the time or knowledge to properly care for the car, or simple ignorance of the facts, these vehicles will usually require a lot of work sooner rather than later after being purchased brand new.
So, what exactly should you do with a new car?
The answer here isn’t always simple, but at the same time it is. Reason being, there’s no strict process to take with a new car in terms of a list of detailing tasks, but it is as simple as saying “do what needs to be done”. With me, it always starts with telling a client to inform the dealership to keep their dirty paws off the car at all costs. Go ahead remove the packaging plastics and make it drive-able, but no washing, detailing, etc. Next is an inspection at my shop and a consultation with the client. When evaluating any new vehicle for a client, I don’t only look at the condition of the vehicle and try to determine how much, if any, work is required to fix defects in the paint before protecting it with a sealant or coating. Rather, I try to learn the client’s driving patterns, storage situation and plans for future maintenance. So, if a brand new BMW M3 comes with some holograms, swirl marks and other defects from the factory, but it’s going to be a daily driven vehicle that will see occasional track use and a few road trips, I will not recommend a $2000 paint correction shooting for absolute perfection. Instead, we’ll focus on cleaning up the majority of the defects and applying durable protection so that the paint dramatically improves visually and stays well protected for a good amount of time. If on the other hand someone brings a garage queen M3 that will get washed maybe 8-10 times per year and only attend shows with an occasional meet here and there, then we may opt for something more involved to try and get the paint where it should be on a brand new vehicle.
All that is leaving out the fact that some vehicles will be in VERY good shape from the factory, while others will require tons of work to make presentable. At LUSTR Auto Detail, we have worked on a black Ford truck that looked pretty much perfect from the factory (metallic black for what it’s worth) and then there were a few F458s and Gallardos that we spend over 25 hours correcting. In my article Do I Need To Polish A Brand New Car, I explain a bit more how and when we decide to utilize paint correction on new or used vehicles.
As I said above, it’s not as simple as recommending a specific process, which is why I don’t offer a “new car detail”. Every car is different and the best answer to “What exactly should I do with my new car?” is “what needs to be done based on the vehicle condition, the way it will be used and the way it will be maintained”.
Well I hope this helps some when trying to figure out an exact process for your brand new pride and joy. All comments are welcome and I’d love to hear how other owners as well as professionals treat this issue. Thanks for reading!