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A car in a car wash

Washing Your Car Wrong Now Can Hurt Its Resale Value

Keeping your car in good mechanical condition is a great way to reserve it's resale value down the road, but to many buyers, appearances are also important. That's why washing your car correctly and waxing it is an important and controllable way to help maintain your vehicle's resale value.

Keeping our cars clean can sometimes just be another item on our ever-growing to-do list. In fact, keeping up with regular car maintenance like washing, waxing, and detailing can be rather time-consuming, so it is understandable how it can sometimes get pushed to the backburner. But, washing your car properly is just as important to maintenance as washing it regularly, and, if you don’t, it can drastically hurt the resale value of your car down the road.

Washing your car properly

Many car owners never learn how to wash their car properly, and with so many tools out there that look useful, it’s hard to tell what is good for your car and what can damage it. Because our cars exterior is exposed to so much — bad weather, rocks, bugs, and an endless amount of road debris — it’s easy to forget that automotive paint is actually rather susceptible to damage.

According to Endurance Warranty, one major way that people damage their vehicle’s paint is by washing their car incorrectly or forgetting smaller, more important tips — like not letting the wash mitt touch the ground or other dirty surfaces. Many car owners start off washing their cars wrong before they even leave the story, picking incorrect tools, such as brushes and hard surface scrubbers that can create deep scratches in the paint.

A hazy image of a car going through a drive through car wash
A car in a car wash | Arne Dedert, picture alliance, Getty Images

Touch-free or soft-touch car washing

Using microfiber towels or mittens is the most highly recommended way to wash your car if you have to touch the surface to remove dirt, but using a pressure washer and foam cannon for a no-touch wash is also a safe solution.

But why can washing your car incorrectly lower the value with time? The answer is more simple than you might think. Washing and waxing a car regularly removes dirt and debris that can cause micro-scratches and swirls, making the car’s paint lose luster and shine.

How appearance affects resale value

While most used-car buyers won’t expect a used car to be in brand-new condition, a car’s value is relatively dependent on how well it was maintained, and — you guessed it — that includes appearances. Even if your car may not appear scratched, you may have noticed how it looks cloudier and not as vibrant as it once did, and that’s noticeable to buyers, too.

Cars that have been exposed to too much damaging UV rays without a protective coating like wax our ceramic treatments can show signs of age and wear with damaged, ‘sunburnt’ clear coats. The clearcoat can further be damaged by scratches and swirling which can make the car look old and lack-luster.

A Nissan being washed with a pressure washer
Cars being washed at a car wash | Liam McBurney, PA Images, Getty Images)

Of course, this is only one of many factors that affects the resale value of your car, but it is one aspect that you do have control over which can help you maintain your car’s value in the long run.

If you’re only starting to learn about proper automotive paint maintenance and you’re worried that your car’s paint is already damaged by improper washing practices, the world isn’t about to come to an end. Paint correct specialists can work miracles on most damaged clear coats, restoring your car’s paint to a brighter, more vibrant appearance without requiring an entirely new coat of paint.


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