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My Ride Needs A Bath; Tips For Washing Your Pickup Truck

We all love how versatile pickup trucks are. Whether it’s a long drive on the highway, working your way through the deep woods on a dirt road, or traversing muddy terrain, our pickup trucks go through abuse every day. It’s essential for owners to learn how to properly wash and maintain their pickup trucks. It’s not just about how dust free and shiny you want them to look when you’re driving down the street, it’s about preserving the paint and your investment in the truck itself.

There is nothing like a detailed hand wash job done on your vehicle. Commercial car washes are good for getting salt off in the winter when it’s too darn cold to get out the hose and sponge in your driveway, so it is a better alternative that time of than letting that road salt eat away at your paint job, and it will.
Regardless of how dirty or dusty your truck is, wet it down, top to bottom first. Using ample amounts of water when washing is advisable to ensure proper cleaning and rinsing, and to avoid leaving any soap residue to dry up and leave spots. Do not use very high pressure from your hose or pressure washers on painted exterior as this may cause tiny scratches that will eventually damage your truck’s painted surface. Always start from the top of the truck and work down to the bottom.
Not only do you save water by not having to clean the bottom repeatedly, washing from the top will cause draining water and soap to soften and start to wash away dirt or mud that’s stuck in the tires even before you reach cleaning the bottom section of the truck.
Washing your truck on a hot mid-day or while the engine and the vehicle has not completely cooled after using can have adverse effects, not just on your truck’s exterior. Washing from your outdoor hose will subject your truck to cold temperatures and exposing it to both extreme hot and cold is very bad for the finish of your vehicle. You should always wash your truck in a shady spot, using a wide sponge. The only part of your truck you can ever safely use a brush is on your tires. Use of an all-purpose mild spray cleaner and a brush on your tires will help clean the white raised letters if yours have that feature. Use the same spray cleaner on your wheels to remove brake dust and clean with a sponge.
The biggest debate of all times is which is the best soap to clean my truck with? The fact is there is NO SINGLE best truck wash soap. The best soap is whatever gives you the best results for the job and is the most cost effective. For instance is the soap a no-brush type that can just be sprayed on and rinsed off? Or could the soap cause an additional step, like having to apply aluminum brightener, to be required for surfaces dulled by the use of the wash soap or a wax applied? Is the soap a safe finish product that won’t harm poly coats, glass or aluminum? There are many products out there, but my personal preference is any mild liquid dish detergent. For me, it gets the job done.
Just because a product is expensive or inexpensive should not be the biggest factor in what you choose. You can buy an expensive product and end up using only a few ounces, spending a dollar or two a gallon, compared to another inexpensive product that you must use at full strength that ends up costing you many dollars a gallon. Once my truck is all clean, I NEVER let it air dry. I use a chamois or a 100% cotton cloth. Skipping this step will cause a spotty appearance when it dries on its own. I’ll do the interior another day. I’ve worked hard enough on the exterior. Right now, I deserve a hammock and a cold beer.
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I am a NYS licensed Auto Damage Appraiser, CSE certified, I-Car Certified, and have worked in the automotive industry for decades. I've had the opportunity to teach auto body repair to misled kids in a classroom setting, giving them a chance to have a trade for a viable income. I found this very rewarding. Previously, I was all about the American muscle cars of the 60's. Now, I find pickup trucks and the way they have evolved to be my fascination and focus.

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