The short answer to the a rather complicated question is: Do not take your vehicle through any sort of 'production wash facility'.
All it takes is one poor car wash to cause an incredible amount of damage to your paint.
I have an article pending publication on the Detailed Image Ask-A-Pro blog
about a Lexus that was washed by a dealership (although the owner demanded it was not washed because he knows what could happen)... the paint was nearly flawless beforehand, and here is how it looked after ONE WASH by the dealership.
Pretty insane, right? I'll be sure to post a link to the full article once they get around to publishing it.
A trusted detailing professional will be your best bet if you are looking for someone to help maintain your vehicle... if you'd like a recommendation of someone in your area, let me know what city you are in and I will get you in touch with someone.
If you'd like to learn about how to maintain your vehicles on your own, CLICK HERE
to read about the proper way to hand wash your vehicle. (or look up the Garry Dean wash method for rinseless washing technique as Syd suggested)
Here are some recommended supplies to get you started:
Wheels & Tires
- A Bucket and Grit Guar
d used ONLY for wheels
- Wheel Cleaner
- Soft Wheel Brush
for wheel faces
- EZ Detail Brush
for cleaning barrels of wheels and in between spokes
- Tuf Shine Tire Cleaner
- Wheel Sealant
to protect your wheels and make them easier to clean
- Premium Tire Dressing
- a water based dressing to help nourish your rubber and keep it looking good
Washing & Drying
- Two Buckets and Two Grit Guards
(money saving package!)
- Sheepskin Wash Mitt
- Optimum Car Wash
(High Quality Shampoo)
- Two (or more) Waffle Weave Microfiber Drying Towels
- Optimum Instant Detailer and Gloss Enhancer
(Quick Detail Spray)
- 5 or more Plush Microfiber Towels
for use with Quick Detail Spray (high quality microfiber makes all the difference! do not purchase cheap towels from your local auto parts store. If you have them, use them for wheels and exhausts... don't use them on your paint!)
- Iron X Iron/Fallout Cleanser
- Fine Grade Clay Bar
- NanoSkin Glide
Clay Lubricant (dilute in separate bottle)
- Two Waffle Weave Drying Towels
to dry clay lube
Sealant: Menzerna Power Lock
Wax: Menzerna Color Lock
Misc. Other Tasks
- Glass Cleaner: Stoner Invisible Glass
- Metal Polish/Protection: Chemical Guys Metal Wax
(Metal Polish + Metal Sealant in one step!)
- Engine Bay Cleaning: Optimum Power Clean
- Engine Bay Dressing: 303 Aerospace Protectant
for engine covers/plastic panels and Chemical Guys Black on Black spray
for hoses, harnesses, and hard to reach areas.
- Exterior Trim Protectant/Coating: 22ple VR1 Plastic and Trim Restorer
(up to 1 year of durable, fantastic looking trim protection.
- Light Interior Cleaning/UV Protection: 303 Aerospace Protectant
for a slightly glossy appearance or Einszett Cockpit Premium
for a 'like new' matte finish
You will find a full, comprehensive detailing guide by CLICKING HERE
. It will help to walk you through basics of the full detailing process.
Please let me know if you've got any other specific questions regarding processes, products, technique, etc.