A Money Saving Tip From Auto Trader giving people very bad advice

On the Auto Trader website they give readers some tips on how to save money by washing their car themselves rather than paying a valet to do it for them.  Unfortunately their guide is wrong and is likely to cause more damage to the paint.

The most glaring error is this:

5. Use car wax or polish to create the perfect sheen. Don’t worry if paint residue appears on the cloth – this is just a layer of ‘dead paint’

Whats the problem with this you say? Well:

  1. Wax and polish are not the same.
  2. Wax on a bad paint surface will not give you a perfect sheen.
  3. Hand polishing will not give you a perfect sheet.
  4. Paint residue on the ‘cloth’ shows that the car has no clear coat.  There is no such thing as ‘dead paint’.


The bad bit of advice is the following:

What you’ll need

  • Car shampoo
  • A sponge
  • A bucket or hose
  • A leather chamois
  • Car wax or polish

Car Shampoo

Although correct a good shampoo will remove more dirt and give better lubrication for when washing to prevent the dirt from being rubbed on to the paint.

A Sponge

Unless it is a very high quality sponge, it shouldn’t touch your paintwork.  And when I say high quality I mean something that you won’t be able to get from Halfords for 99p.

The better alternative is to use a Sheepskin Mitt. The sheepskin brings dirt in side, rather than leaving the dirt on the surface of the mitt like a sponge would.

An alternative to the sheepskin mitt is a Wash ShMitt.

A bucket or hose

Take out the or first of all.  It is very helpful to have both.  Secondly, get 2 buckets with grit guards.

The two bucket method

Fill one bucket with water and no shampoo.  Fill the other with water and some shampoo.

Rinse the car with the hose, don’t use high pressure at 90degrees but a light spray at 30degrees over the whole of the car. Put on your mitt and dip in to the bucket with the shampoo, clean a section of thecar, rub the mitt on the grit guard of the water only bucket to get the dirt off the mitt.  Squeeze the mitt to get the excess water in to the water only bucket.  Follow this process emptying out the water only bucket as soon as it gets too dirty and get another fresh bucket. Once finished, rinse off again making sure to use a low pressure on the hose and a shallow angle.

A leather chamois

Leather chamois are not the best when it comes to drying your car.  A high quality drying microfibre towel is the best option.  Also when drying, don’t swipe across the car, lay the cloth out and pat dry it.

Recommended drying microfibre’s:

Car wax or polish

This is wrong like I stated above. It’s good to have both, lets seperate them out.


I am going to focus on hand polishing as most people following the Auto Trader guide won’t want to buy a polisher to their car.

There are 2 types of polish, abrasive and filler.


Abrasive polishes actually remove paint/clearcoat when rubbed to remove scratches and swirls.

Recommended: Meguiars Scratch XCar-Lack 68 - Hand polish kit and Sonus Hand Polish Bundle


Filler polishes fill swirls and scratches with polish to hide scratches and swirls.

Recommended: Autoglym Super Resin Polish and Bilt-Hamber Auto Balm


Putting a layer of wax on the car provides a level of protection to the car, from UV rays and bird shit.

One of the most talked about is Collinite No. 476S - Super Doublecoat Auto Wax. This wax is not only cheap but also very durable and provides a good shine.  Applied thinly using a Foam Wax Applicatorand buffed off using a microfibre towel such as Ultimate Ultra-Plush Buffing Cloth or Eurow - Shag Pile Double Density Towels.

For more information on cleaning your car visit CleanYourCar.