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I'll be acquiring my new MCS later this year, and there seems to be only one thing I'm concerned about - keeping my new baby clean!

I've been driving around an '83 Honda for the last eight years, and keeping the outside clean has never been a priority. And when it does get washed, I just take it through the drive-thru at the gas station.

Needless to say, I shudder at the prospect of keeping those same standards for a bright, shiny new MINI. Unfortunately, I know NOTHING about washing and waxing a car. The concept is really foreign to me. I've been thinking about taking it to one of those upscale car wash/detail joints (there's a Lenny Dykstra's Car Wash in Simi Valley).. what do you all think of those places? Are there any car wash/detail facilities you can trust to use the right wax for the paint-type, and to not leave the dreaded swirls, and to treat the car as carefully as their own newborn child??

Or do I need to do it myself? I'm worried about that, too. I'm a chick, I don't wash cars with the best of them - ask me how to wax and I'll think you're talking about my eyebrows!!
 

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I had the best of intentions to hand-wash my MCS when I got it (2 weeks ago today!), but gave up because (a) I live in an apartment without hose access and (b) the self-serve place doesn't allow hand-washing! I've taken her instead to a touchless car wash - I watched her go all the way through and nothing touched her! Rinse - soap - rinse - (skipped the "sealant wax" because I'll be the only one waxing my baby's eyebrows) - rinse again - blow dry - hand dry by there army of experts. Not the best thing in the world because I'm sure their army of expert dryers aren't using the latest in microfibre towel technology, but I think it's okay. I then take her home to do the wheels, door sills and anything they missed. Even better would be the mobile detailers who come to my office every Friday, but I can't afford $20 for a car wash.

To hand-wash, get yourself some good car wash soap like Meguiar's NXT - do not use dishwashing soap! Put car wash soap in a bucket and add water. Get another bucket and fill it with just water. Hose off your car thoroughly (but gently) to loosen the dirt. Start at the roof with a lot of soapy water - applied with a cotton-chenille towel or mit. Rinse your washing device in the clean bucket before putting back in the soapy bucket to keep from putting the dirt back on your MINI. Rinse the part you washed. Work your way down the car - soap and rinse, soap and rinse. If you rinse the whole car each time, you won't have problems with water drying and spotting. After you're done, dry with a waffle-weave microfibre towel because they are very soft and MINI's deserve nothing but the best, of course. Do your wheels last of all, since they are filthy with brake dust. I wouldn't use the cotton-chenille or your microfibre on them, just an old rag.

Clean your glass with Stoner's Invisible Glass. Keep your black trim black and interior plastics lovely with 303 Aerospace Protectant, available in the paddling section of your nearest R.E.I. store. Touch-up between washes with Meguiar's Quick Detailer applied with a microfibre polishing cloth.

Some fanatics use Zymol and other hard-to-find-and-pronounce washes and waxes, but they are fanatics so I would leave that to them. Meguiar's is generally held in high regard, and you can buy it at Pep Boys.

I'm sure others will have more to add to my novel, and probably contradict everything I say. Or point you to some car-wash FAQ on this or another site. To them I say - Bring it on!
 

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You can make it simple if needed. Keep it clean with regular washing - once a week generally unless it gets especially dirty somehow - and it'll look good without too much waxing. With hand washing you'll see the little dirt spots and take care of them before they eat into your paint.

That way, you could get away with a good clean and wax only once or twice a year.

Beware, those brushes in the spray off car washes can leave tiny scratches that you may see in sunlight.

And keep the wheels clean and waxed or the black crud will bake in and may never come off. To avoid pulling out the hose, I sometimes use a bucket and sponge to clean the wheels and then rinse them with a plant watering can. Even wiping with a damp cloth is better than nothing.
 

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pezhead444 said:
Check out this web site. They recommend washing the wheels first. http://store.yahoo.com/minicarcare/how-to.html :)
That is exactly what should be done.I use detailing brushes to get the brake dust off the alloy wheels first and then rinse with water.Afterwards,I apply Meguiars hot rims alloy cleaner and hose it off the wheel.It's important to do one wheel at a time.After the wheels are done, I focus on the rest of the car.
 

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pezhead444 said:
Check out this web site. They recommend washing the wheels first. http://store.yahoo.com/minicarcare/how-to.html :)
This seems countertintuitive to me - why would you wash the dirtiest part of your car first?

Their recommendation is to wash them first because if you leave your car wet and wash your wheels last, you risk the water drying on the rest of the car as you clean your wheels. I think the more logical approach would be to wash the car, rinse it and dry it, then move on to the wheels. Your wheels won't care if the rest of your MINI is wet or dry.

I suppose if you use a spray-on/hose-off wheel cleaner, this would result in getting water on your clean car. I don't have any trouble getting brake dust off my wheels with just a rag and plain water, so I don't have a spray problem. Whatever floats your boat!
 

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Use Mr. Clean Auto Dry Car Washing System. I can do my car, start to finish, in 12 minutes. It takes me a little longer if I have to do the wheels. Oh, and I have always cleaned the wheels first. That way, I do not have to worry about getting the fenders near the wheels wet after I have cleaned them,
 
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