Washing A New Car For The First Time

Image Credit: Envato Elements

Image Credit: Envato Elements

Washing A New Car For The First Time


So you just got your new car and you want to ensure that you do your best to keep it clean but also protect its exterior. The best thing you can do for the paint on your car is to do for your finish is not to actually touch it. I mean don’t touch it physically. 

The ideal way to wash a car is called the touchless method. This is the best approach whether your car is new or older. I know this sounds a bit over the top, and well it is a little but small scratches in your paint from rubbing road grime into the clear coat will stand out on an otherwise pristine surface. 

These swirls and scratches will build up over time and lead to a dull finish that looks terrible in direct sunlight. 

In addition to simply washing your car you should consider protecting your investment. 

Once it’s been properly cleaned you have an ideal opportunity to apply protection to not only the paint but the glass, rubber, and more. 

Continue reading to learn about the touchless method and how to capitalize on the opportunity to protect your car.

Safest method to wash your car

The 2 best ways to wash your car are the touchless method and the 2 bucket method. For all the details I recommend reading our article on the “Best Way To Wash A Car Without Scratching The Paint”. 

If you will be washing your car fairly frequently, the touchless method is ideal. The soap and the force of a pressure washer do most of the work. 

If you’ll be washing your car less often then the 2 bucket method is your next best option. It’s a method of minimizing the amount of grit that is picked up in your wash mitt to limit the possibility of swirls and scratches. 

Touchless involves using a foam cannon hooked up to a pressure washer to lather up your car with a proper ph neutral automotive shampoo. You allow the soap to sit and work at breaking down the road grime. Then rinse thoroughly with the power washer and the foam cannon removed.

Best pressure washer for car detailing

Pressure washers are a great accessory to have whether you will be using the touchless method or not. They come in gas powered and electric versions. 

Electric pressure washers are ideal for a few reasons. In short, they run at lower pressures than gas powered washers and are safe for your finish, they’re much less expensive than gas, and they’re much more portable for maneuvering around your car or truck. 

You’ll just want to make sure you buy a quality one that will hold up. Most cheap electric pressure washers are exactly that, cheap. You can learn more about pressure washers in our article “Safe PSI For Car Pressure Washer”. 

If you just want to know what we found to be the best electric pressure washer, it’s the Sun Joe SPX9007-PRO. It’s more expensive than a lot of the competition but its motor is made from metal instead of plastic and can handle reasonable use. Most other cheap options with plastic motors give up after just a couple of uses. It’s tempting to purchase one of the incredibly cheap models available but you’ll regret it in the long run.

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Can you clay bar new paint?

You can but the question is should you? Again, the more you touch your car the more opportunity you have to cause scratches. 

Clay bars are used for removing road grime that has stuck so tenaciously to your paintwork that simply washing can’t remove it. That said, if you’ve done quite a bit of driving prior to your first wash you may want to break out the clay bar and clean up the front bumper area and areas behind the tires. 

You can gently brush your fingertips across these problem areas and if it feels rough at all you know you should consider using clay to remove the embedded road grime. 

You may have tar or bugs in these areas too and you may need to use a quality tar and bug remover. We have a couple of great articles on removing tar and bugs that are worth checking out. 

The TL;DR on them is that Citrol 266 is the best solution for both of these that won’t harm your clear coat.

Should you wax a brand new car?

Modern car and truck paint on new vehicles has been baked in an oven to accelerate the curing process. By the time you receive your vehicle, the paint is fully cured and there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel comfortable waxing it.

If you’ve recently had any paintwork you should wait 90 days to allow it to fully cure unless your body shop has told you that it’s safe to go ahead and wax.

The reason is that the paint will release volatile organic compounds into the air as it cures. As these gasses release, they need to be able to escape. A layer of wax or paint sealant can prevent the VOCs from escaping and can cause problems with the paint curing properly.

Best wax for a new car

Wax itself is good for your car but it can only provide reasonable protection for a short period. Most waxes last only a month or so. 

This gets complicated when we start talking about synthetic waxes. Carnauba wax is a natural wax that was the primary wax applied to cars. 

Today pure carnauba wax is typically limited to show cars because it still gives the best glass-like shine. The better alternative to wax is paint sealant. 

Sealants last much longer than carnauba wax, as much as 2 years. This is obviously preferable to waxing your car once a month to keep it protected. 

We’ve found the best paint sealant for most cars to be Wolfgang’s Deep Gloss Paint Sealant  It can last up to 2 years and has a shine that comes close to that of carnauba wax.


Rain repellent windshield coatings

Most people are familiar with Rain-X and its ability to bead water on windshields, often eliminating the need to use your windshield wipers. 

Applying a water repellent to your glass on a new car will help prevent scratches in your glass and help prevent road grime for sticking and accelerating damage to your wiper blades. 

Rain-X is great but it doesn’t last very long. Depending on how often it rains in your part of the world this short lifespan can be even shorter. It’s not uncommon to have to reapply Rain-X monthly for it to be effective. 

There are some great competing products that are more expensive but significantly longer lasting. We found in a previously published article that Gtechniq G1 is the best competitor in the water repellent glass coatings category and highly recommend it.


How to protect rubber seals on cars

Rubber seals on doors and windows will dry out over time and it’s never too early to get into the habit of apply a good rubber conditioner to help keep them in good health. 

Gummi Pflege Stift is a tried and true product from Germany that still leads the pack after 20 years. I find it’s good to apply it each time I wash my car but I don’t have the time and flexibility to wash my car every couple of weeks. 

Applying once every few months should be more than adequate. Just wipe down your seals with a damp rag and apply a coating and you’re done. Couldn’t be easier.

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Quality tire shine

The last step in the process is addressing your tires. When it comes to tire dressings, Meguair’s Hyper Dressing is the best product we can recommend.

Hyper Dressing is my favorite because I don’t care for the super shiny and sticky looking tire shines. I prefer a more matte look. Hyper Dressing can be diluted with water to adjust the level of shine.

Be sure you scrub your tires well to remove any browning and dirt on the surface of your tires.

Tire browning is a process that happens with tires due to a protective element added to the formula of tire rubber called antiozonant. It’s designed to help rubber prevent from breaking down.



The first time you wash a new car isn’t much different than washing one for the 100th time but there are some advantages to starting off properly. 

Washing properly to prevent swirls and scratches is probably the most critical part to caring for your new car. These small abrasions build up quickly and will really dull the finish. 

Knowing that your paint needs to off gas is also important to allowing it to finish curing properly. Wait 90 days before you apply any paint protection. 

Getting a quality rain repellent applied to your glass will help keep it scratch-free before your wipers get a chance to etch their swipe pattern into the windscreen. 

Getting into the habit of protecting your seals will keep them tip top over the long haul. 

These tips will keep your car looking pristine for far longer.

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