The Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Your Car

Washing your own car doesn’t just make you feel great because your ride looks great. Keeping the exterior clean maintains the new-car finish that could translate into a higher resale value. That extra value can’t be realized if you only pull out the bucket and sponge when mud and grime accumulate. Weekly car washes will remove the dust, dirt, pollen, pollutants, bird droppings and other contaminants that chip away at your car’s finish.

Do’s and don’ts of car washing

Washing a car isn’t too complicated, but there are definitely a few best practices to take into consideration. Some traditional ways of cleaning cars – perhaps even what mom and dad taught you (No, it’s not ok to use dish soap! Ever!) – can actually damage your car’s exterior. Follow this list to clean your car and help boost its value:

  1. Don’t wait until your car is visibly dirty.
    Bugs, bird droppings, acid rain and pollutants can dull your car’s finish and, in extreme cases, strip the paint. Don’t think of the weekly car wash advice as all or nothing. Monthly washes are likely sufficient to maintain your car’s appearance. The exception is in areas where there is acid rain. Always rinse your car after acid rain or the paint could be permanently scarred.
  2. Don’t wash a hot car.
    High temperatures can make cleaning more difficult and cause deposits that eventually damage paint. Park your car in the shade or wait until the heat of the day passes before getting started.
  3. Do invest in the proper supplies.
    A cleaning product created specifically for cars, a large sponge or wash mitt and a hose with running water are must-have items for car washing. Cleaners designated for cars are essential. They are gentle enough for paint, though you may need a specialty product, such as tar remover, for trouble spots. And a clean sponge or wash mitt is important to help avoid scratches. But, most importantly, you need water. If you don’t have access to a hose with running water, Ed Kriston, a longtime industry expert of Westminster, Maryland, recommends against washing the car yourself. If you rely on water in a bucket for rinsing, you may work grit into the surface and scratch the paint. Working with only a bucket of water also makes it impossible to properly rinse grit from the car.
  4. Do wash the car in sections.
    Work on one area at a time: washing, rinsing and drying. But don’t move the sponge or mitt in circles; circular motions can create swirl marks. Instead, move the sponge in straight lines.
  5. Do wax your car twice a year.
    Although some people believe waxing damages a car’s finish, Kriston disagrees. He believes it preserves the finish and proves to be a beneficial maintenance effort, particularly if you own your vehicle and want to sell it or trade it in someday. The best times to wax your car include: in the fall, before the first snow falls and in the spring before hot weather moves in.

Taking a closer look at your car’s finish

Proper car washing is important, and following a car washing regimen could go a long way toward maintaining the value of your vehicle. But don’t stop there.

“You also need to make sure that you find any rock chips that go to the primer or below and spot fix them according to directions,” Kriston says. “If not, that is a rust spot looking to happen.”

By being proactive about car washing, you’ll have a vehicle you can be proud to drive for years to come.

What Is A Solenoid?

Your vehicle’s starter motor has the important job of starting the engine. But something also has to start the starter. And that something is the solenoid. In most automotive applications today, the solenoid is attached to the starter, with the two of them getting removed as a unit when necessary.

How a solenoid works

When running properly, and as long as it has a supply of fuel, the internal combustion engine continues to run by itself in an ongoing process from the inertia of the engine’s moving parts. But starting the engine is a separate process to get that inertia moving in the first place. This is the job of the starting system, whose main components include the:

  • Battery
  • Starter motor
  • Solenoid
  • Starter switch

Starting an engine: The first action

The process involves not one, but two separate electric currents – a stronger one and a weaker one. When activated, usually by turning a key in the ignition switch, the weaker current passes through the switch and to the solenoid. At that point, the current forces two large contacts to come together in the solenoid, which allows the stronger electric current to pass through the solenoid’s contacts. These contacts carry a current that requires heavy wiring cables directly from the battery. This current is heavy enough that it would be unwise to send it through a hand-operated switching mechanism. Hence, the need for the weaker current through the ignition switch.

The stronger current passes to the starter motor where it initiates two separate actions. The starter motor is designed so that the electric current activates a lever, forcing a small gear outward on a spring shaft. When extended, this gear, called a pinion, comes in contact with a toothed gear on the outer rim of a large flywheel on the end of the engine’s drive shaft. This large gear is called the starter ring gear.

Starting an engine: The second action

The second action in a direct current electric motor is the rotation of its central shaft, caused by the larger current passing through the motor. A motor transforms electric energy into the mechanical energy of the central shaft’s rotation. It does this because the electric current interacts with the magnetic field in the starter motor and results in the rotor on the shaft beginning to turn. By the time this turning action reaches the motor’s designed top speed, the pinion at the end of this shaft has already engaged the ring gear on the flywheel. The engine then starts running on its own and the starter’s safety features automatically disengage the pinion from the ring gear. The spring brings the pinion safely back to its resting position and the job of the starting mechanism is done.

When starting, if you hold the ignition key in the “start” position a little too long, you will encounter a problem. Here, too, is a spring that brings the switch back to the “on” position from “start” as soon as you release the key. If you fail to do so, you will hear the evidence of your mistake pretty quickly. The good news is that your mistake is not as bad as it sounds. The safety mechanism in the starter has already released the pinion from the ring gear. The bad news is if you do this often or for any extended period, you may drastically shorten the life of the starter motor.

How To Save Gas

1. Slow Down

This is simple and will do wonders for your fuel economy. Many people drive 5 to 10 miles above the posted speed limit, especially on the highway. While this will get you to your destination a little faster, it can really decrease your gas mileage. Driving the speed limit will help you to conserve fuel. It may get you to your destination a few minutes later but you can plan for this by leaving a few minutes earlier.

2. Keep your tires properly inflated

The phrase “rolling resistance” refers to the friction created when the tires of your car roll along the road. When it comes to saving gas, you want your tires’ rolling resistance to be as low as possible. Lower resistance = less friction = less fuel consumption. You can keep your rolling resistance low by regularly checking your tire pressure and filling your tires with air when the air pressure is low. The tire pressure should especially be checked when the temperature has dropped because tires can lose 1 to 2 lbs. of air pressure for every 10°F the temperature drops outside.

3. Clean out your car

Having a dirty car may not seem like a recipe for more repeat trips to the pump but getting all the excess weight out of your car will let you squeeze every last bit of fuel economy from your vehicle. Also, all the little things you keep in your car that may not weigh much on their own – a bag of golf clubs or a stroller, for example – can add up to significant unnecessary weight if they are sitting in your car together all the time.


When was the last time you exclaimed that you simply can’t wait to crunch some numbers? If you’re like other drivers we serve from Reno, Sparks, Spanish Springs and Carson City, chances are the answer is never. As for our team of car loan and lease experts, here at Reno Tahoe Auto Group? They embrace adding, subtracting, dividing their way to unique financing solutions, perfectly tailored for your new car and, of course, your individual needs as well.

Interested in seeing what our team can do for you? Simply fill out our online contact form today. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible in order to discuss specific details. Or, if you’d rather talk to us in person, you’ll find Reno Tahoe Auto Group located conveniently at 3355 Kietzke Lane.

Our Parts Center

Nothing help you get more out of every mile than proper auto service for your vehicle. Of course, we realize more than a few drivers from Reno, Sparks, Spanish Springs and Carson City strongly prefer to perform such work themselves. That’s why Reno Tahoe Auto Group keeps a healthy stock of genuine Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and GMC parts for sale.

Of course, it’s not quite enough that we simply sell the parts your car needs; we also help you find them. That means understanding which component works with which model in, so we can make the ordering process a breeze for you. No more headaches from ordering the wrong part for your car. When you work with Reno Tahoe Auto Group, you get matched with the right part the first time.

Want to order a part from us? Simply fill out our online order form. But before you do, be sure to consider our auto parts specials. You just might find what you need at a price you love.

Our Service Center

Our skilled and detail-oriented team loves serving your automotive needs. That means when you visit our Reno, Nevada showroom, you can count on a positive auto service experience, which includes only genuine Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and GMC parts. Whether you’re interested in a simple oil change or tire rotation or you’ve come across a problem that needs to be repaired, our team will work to get you back on the road with a focus on safety, quality and efficiency – because we know nothing is more important to you.

If you’re interested in seeing what we can do for your Ford F-150, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Silverado, Chrysler 200 or GMC Sierra 1500, be sure to fill out our online appointment form today. We’ll quickly confirm your appointment’s details, such as time, date and the specific work that needs to be completed. With Reno Tahoe Auto Group by your side, you can count on a worry-free driving experience.