Cleaning cars for some is a chore for others a pleasure, and here's how we give our filthy Tesla a quick but thorough exterior clean in winter and how we avoid water marks on the body work. The approach can be taken in summer although cars tend to be less dirty. We did this clean in about an hour, so don't both going to the gym, give your Tesla some love
Before we dive into the detail, why do we recommend cleaning the car yourself. Well put simply, you'll take more care of it. When cars are particularly dirty you want to make sure that dirt doesn't scratch the car in cleaning.
The car is absolutely filthy. I live in a rural area where I have little choice but to drive through muddy roads as farmers share them and deposit a lot of mud. We're also had some local flooding which washed the embankment onto the road. It may be hard to believe, but the car was only cleaned 2 weeks ago, this is what happens in a really short period of time.
Snow foam is a great invention. Its essentially a blanket of suds that soften any dirt and lift it away from the surface of the car. Its not perfect but it helps reduce the amount of dirt and is part of what some refer to a 'contact-less cleaning'. We recommend first giving the car a hose down and using a yet wash around the wheel arches and sills to remove any bulky dirt that may have built up.
The Pro-clean snow foam lance attached to a Kärcher K4 Full Control Pressure Washer is a good combination, using Autoglym Polar Blast Snow Foam as the detergent. Mix the snow foam with water and simply spray onto the car and leave to dwell.
While the snow foam is doing its thing, we give the wheels and sills a clean. Wheels are generally a horrible job but a large bucket of hot water, the snow foam already on the wheels to act as the detergent and a few minutes on each wheel and the job is done.
While these aren't cheap, a set of Wheel Woolies really makes the job easier. Cheaper ones tend to bend, metal bits appear over time, and just don't seem to do the job. Use the largest one that fits between the spokes, do the inside of the wheel and the edges using lots of water and a sponge to do the spokes and outer edge. In winter it doesn't need to be perfect, but these make relatively light work of it.
Once the wheels are done, its time to rinse the Tesla with the jet/power wash. You don't need to be perfect with this, just focus on the lower areas of the car where the dirt is the worst. As you can see from the picture, the car is already noticeably cleaner than when we started and we're yet to touch the car with a sponge.
The standard jet wash attachments don't always lend themselves well to car cleaning. We really like the Kärcher Extra Long Angled Spray Lance as this puts out a fan of water and with the angled head allows the yet to be directed into wheel arches, under the car, along the sides etc with ease.
It may seem like a lot of prep before we've even touched a sponge but all that effort will make this stage an absolute doddle. A fresh bucket of hot water, some fresh detergent and a different sponge to the one you used on the wheels and away you go.
We're really liking the Autglym Polar range, its good value for semi premium products and readily available. To wash the car we'd recommend Autoglym Polar Wash with a clean sponge and lots of hot water. If you've done the snow foam and rinse stage well we tend to not bother with the 'two bucket method' where you rinse the sponge before loading it with fresh suds.
Drying a car to avoid water marks can be quite challenging especially in hard ware areas. There are a couple of techniques, some use water filters so even if water is left on the car, when it dries it doesn't leave a residue, others towel dry the car but the more you touch the car to dry it, the greater the risk of adding scratches. Some even use a car dryer. In winter the car never seems to dry, in summer it can dry so quickly you haven't had chance to remove all the water in time.
Our quick and easy tip it so use Autoglym Extra Gloss Protection on a microfibre towel. In winter where the car won't dry quickly on its own. give the car a very quick run over with the microfibre towel to remove any standing water, then apply a liberal amount of the Extra Gloss protection and wipe all over the car including the glass. You will find the water is physically repelled from the car and cloth quickly get very wet. Wring out the cloth, apply a bit more protection and keep going and within only a few minutes the car will be dry but hazing over from the gloss protection.
Once dry, which is only minutes, you can buff off the haze really easily with a fresh microfibre cloth. Not only do you get a great finish, you've also added a little protection to the paint work.
Extra Gloss Protection is not the last work in wax or sealant so don't expect long term miracles, we use it as a top up to the protection and as a great drying aid.
If you want to add protection to the car then getting the car waxed with a quality was such as Autoglym High Definition Wax is an option, but be prepared to some serious elbow grease to remove it once dry. Alternatively you can have a ceramic coating applied to your Tesla although the best version of these need to be done professionally. These activities do not need to be performed that regularly, a good wax will last 3-6 months, and the best ceramic coatings can last years.
You may find when washing that tar spots and other contaminates are left on the body work of the car. This can happen even when wax or a ceramic coating is present although removing them can be easier in those situations. For a quick weekly wash like the one we've described, we suggest you just leave those. When spring is in the air or you want your car to look its absolute best, then look at products such as clay bars and decontamination sprays and use these after the handwash phase, but follow them with a second handwash. If you use anything aggressive sure as a clay bar, the paint must have a better protection applied at the end of the process. In which case we would advise not to dry the car with the gloss protection but to hand dry before applying the wax or sealant of your choice.