Is cleaning a brand new car a complete waste of time or is there more to it than meets the untrained eye?
Granted, at a cursory glance most new cars look just that but upon closer inspection I can almost guarantee you’ll uncover a mainstream multitude of surface contaminants and imperfections that have either been overlooked or inflicted by the factory or dealer, ranging from tar spots and transport wax to stubborn polish residue and swirl marks, none of which should be defiling the fresh finish of a brand new motor.
And it’s not just everyday makes and models these freshly inflicted imperfections are confined to as prestige dealerships routinely turn out brand new cars worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds that once properly scrutinised are in a shocking state for something that should technically be flawless.
To truly appreciate the level of contamination new cars can suffer with you need to understand the journey from their place of production to your front door.
Once assembled at the factory new cars are then transported to the dealerships they’ll be sold at (often many hundreds of miles away) by rail, sea, road or a combination of all three.
Travelling by train exposes the vulnerable surfaces to harmful rail dust and iron filings which can quickly bond to the paintwork and be difficult to dissolve without the correct chemicals. If being shipped, time spent sitting on the docks can bring them into contact with all manner of environmental contamination and industrial fallout which calls for far more than a gritty once over to safely remove. And we’ve all seen car transporters carrying new vehicles to the dealer, subjecting them to everything a car would normally see on the road before the new owner even gets the chance to put the pedal to the metal.
What all this means is that by the time a new car is ready for collection by the customer, even though it may only display a few delivery miles on the clock it’s actually travelled many more and in the process likely been exposed to a greater variation and volume of contamination than it usually would be on the road.
And it’s this I think certain people fail to comprehend as they perhaps naively envisage cars miraculously just appearing in the windows of showrooms whereas in reality they’ve been hauled hundreds of miles cross country to get there and so a good few hours spent ensuring anything that may have come into contact with them during that time is removed really isn’t that big of a deal.
Unless strictly instructed not to once at the dealership most new cars will be cleaned at some point prior to collection, yet aside from the odd clue here and there like the stubborn polish residue embedded along the edges of the paint protection film on this M4, you have no idea of knowing exactly what’s been carried out so it’s logical to treat it to a proper multi-stage detail to ensure all surfaces have been adequately attended to.
Even if your new car was to arrive perfectly clean and contaminant free another good reason to give it a thorough seeing to is to protect your investment. For most people a car is the second biggest purchase of their lives and so it makes perfect sense to thoroughly shield it from harmful contaminants from day one and whether the car appears dirty or not, the process of preserving and protecting still includes a fair amount of cleaning.
Detailing a new car will also ensure it’s much easier for you to maintain in the future. A routine detail wash following an initial thorough new car clean will basically be all that’s required to bring it back up to a better than new standard and it’s so much more satisfying cleaning a fully detailed car as there’s no ingrained dirt to deal with, a deep, quality shine just waiting to be revealed plus plenty of slick protection to ensure rinsing and drying is a breeze. So although it’s an investment of time energy and money up front, in the long run it should actually save you more of it.
Attending to your brand new car also helps you get to know it properly. It’s all well and good admiring it from the comfort your living room window but actually running your hands over the panels and detailing it’s various design features give’s you a greater appreciation for the car. It’s also an effective way to inspect your newly acquired pride and joy for any damage the factory or dealer may have accidentally inflicted that can’t be rectified by detailing alone. If you leave the cleaning it until months after collection, by the time you come across any cosmetic issues it may be too late to get the dealer to accept responsibility and cover the cost of repair or replacement parts.
And while we’re on the subject of denouncing dealerships, having a new car properly detailed by a professional prevents unscrupulous one’s profiting from subpar protective products they boldly claim will last forever. A generic sealant slapped onto a damp car after a quick sponge down simply isn’t worth the £350 plus they have the audacity to charge for it, so instructing them not to touch the car because it’s to be tended to by somebody who actually cares not only helps keep commission-driven salesmen in check but can also save you the cost of having your car properly protected if you bargain a new car detail into the deal.
Finally, in regards to any environmental impact detailing a brand new car may have, I think ensuring something that has already had a considerable impact just to get here doesn’t then go on to unnecessarily have any more shows a greater respect for the environment overall, as premature repair due to a lack of detailing will have more severe long-term effects on Mother Nature than some suds routinely soaking into the ground.
And while I could go on, I think five or six solid reasons are more than enough to appreciate there’s definite method behind the madness when it comes to cleaning and detailing brand new cars.
If you like to take good care of your possessions (especially the one’s you depend on to ferry you around day in, day out) then decontaminating, enhancing and protecting a new car you’ve just spent thousands on really isn’t all that crazy.
I guess you could liken it to calibrating a new TV to display the crispest picture or properly equalising a Hi-Fi to achieve the clearest audio, it’s not absolutely critical but it will provide a more pleasurable user experience and give a greater sense of satisfaction, just as fine tuning the various surfaces of a new car with a thorough detail will!
So next time someone condescendingly asks why your cleaning “an already” clean or brand new car feel free to refer them to this video and let me do the tedious talking for you!