Husband Prefers a Hands-off Approach

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 20, 2020

Dear Car Talk:

My husband and I agree on most things, but there are a few disagreements. For one, he is a conservative and I am a liberal. Big disagreement there.

Our other major disagreement is how to take care of the exterior of our new, 2019 Toyota Corolla.

I am a hands-on person and prefer to hand-wash our vehicles. He is a fan of those brushes and slappy things at the local car wash. I think they are a bit rough on the finish.

We are in our 70s and this will most likely be our last major vehicle purchase. This is especially so since we were lucky enough to get one of the last Toyotas with a CD player. We're not selling it!

So, which of us is going to win this argument? Do I get to hand-wash it, or does he get to go watch those slappy things hit our car?

Also, any car washing tips you'd like to share? And while you're at it, is there any way to get him to drop this conservative thing and adopt my liberal views? --Virginia



So, let me see if I got this straight. You're liberal, and he thinks you want to hand-wash the car with rags sewn by indigenous, fair trade rag makers, and a free-range, non-GMO, vegan car wash. And since your husband is conservative, you think he prefers a coal-fired, faceless corporate concrete box with brushes and slappy things that exploits its workers for the benefit of the 1%?

I'm going to suggest we focus just on the car because that's the only thing we're qualified to address. And even then, only barely so.

There's little doubt that hand-washing a car is gentler on the car's finish than a machine wash that uses brushes and slappy things. There's also an argument to be made that, if you're doing it yourself, you'll do a better job and pay more attention to the details.

I also like it because it gives you some exercise, Virginia. It takes a surprising amount of bending, twisting and polishing, and it's probably pretty good for you. Especially if you're in your 70's and aren't playing a lot of one-on-one hoops anymore.

The only downside is that it uses more water than a commercial car wash. How can that be? Well, these days, commercial car washes are required to capture and recycle the water they use. So even though your car drives through a virtual rainstorm, the overall use of water is not that great.

If you live in an area where wasting water is looked down upon, Virginia, you can combat that with some newer products called "waterless car washes."

A "waterless car wash" is essentially a spray that you apply to one section of the car at a time, and then use a clean rag to wipe off the dirt. In terms of how to wash the car, you'll find lots of how-to videos on YouTube these days. In general, it's best to wash a car in the shade, so the car's finish isn't hot. Use a bunch of clean, microfiber towels. And make sure you change or rinse them frequently, so you're not scratching the car's surface with dirt that you wiped off another section of the car.

We've also had some good luck with a product called Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Spray Wax. It's a spray on, rinse off wax that's very easy to use and leaves the car with a really nice shine, not to mention a layer of wax protection.

In terms of getting your husband to let you have your way with the car, frankly, if you're willing to do the work of washing the car, I don't see why your husband should object. He's getting a clean car, you're getting some exercise and fresh air, and you're both saving some money.

The only exception I would make is if you live in a part of the country where it snows. In that case, a week or so after a snowstorm, you might want to let him take the car through a commercial car wash to clean any road salt off the undercarriage.

To make that more palatable for yourself, you can force him to listen to MSNBC on the satellite radio while the car is getting brushed and slapped. Enjoy your clean, new car, Virginia.


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