Washing a vehicle is nothing new for many of us but understanding the proper procedure to maintain the brilliant shine on your vehicle is filled with plenty of smoke and mystery. Mothers Polishes, Wax, and Cleaners of Huntington Beach, Calif., spent an entire day with the staff of Turbo magazine, demonstrating the proper wash and wax procedures on our neglected Suzuki Aerio project car. The poor Aerio has never been waxed since it rolled off the assembly line in January 2003.

Keep in mind there's a big difference between detailing your car and giving it a quick wash job. Plan ahead for your detailing efforts to get an accurate idea of what can be accomplished. First, evaluate the condition of your vehicle: tires, wheels, paint, trim, and interior (headliner, carpet, upholstery, and gauges). From there, you can determine what you'll need for materials, tools, and time allotment.

First off, don't be a fool and wash your car in 100-degree weather. You might be doing your car more harm than good. Before you even think about grabbing that water hose, manage your time wisely by beginning your wash process either in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun doesn't wreak havoc on your washing and detailing process. If time is of the essence and you're determined to get the job done, find a nice shady location to park your prized possession in before you begin the water spray down process on your vehicle.

Washing a vehicle under direct sunlight can cause hard water stains, streaking, and other damaging effects to your paint. Remember those delinquent adolescent years when you took your mom's magnifying glass and decided to harness the sun's rays to burn your backyard into a smoldering mess? The same theory applies to the millions of water droplets cascading over your entire vehicle. These water beads act like a tiny magnifying glasses that can cause permanent etching damage to the paint. "The most damaging element to any paint is neglect," states Mothers chief chemist Craig Burnett. If the exterior of the vehicle continues to be neglected, the unattended droplets cause the paint to recess causing severe damage that only a new paint job can cure.

A common procedure used to remove old wax off a vehicle during the wash stage can be done by using typical run-of-the-mill dishwashing liquid. While many experts in the detailing industry swear by this unorthodox procedure, there's also a fair share of professionals that frown upon taking a soapy chemical used to wash ceramic plates and applying it onto the paint of your car.

Since 1974, Mothers Polish has been providing quality car care products for everyone ranging from the hardcore show enthusiasts to the weekend washers. A top seller among the dozens of cleaners and polishes sold by Mothers is their California Gold car wash. "California Gold is specially formulated with the appropriate pH level that removes contaminants while preventing any stripping of the finish and dulling of the paint," states Burnett. Combined with anti water-spotting agents, California Gold is a good choice when starting your initial cleansing process.

A helpful tip for first timers is to begin washing your car working from the top to the bottom using a soft wool wash mitt. Keep away from using standard bathroom towels or hard-surfaced wash rags that can cause swirl marks and scratches. The main purpose of moving from top to bottom is to ensure all the dirt and contaminants are not worked from the kick panels and rocker boards to the top of the car where it can liberally float within the soap and scratch up the paint. Never use the same mitt or wash rag when cleaning your rims and tires as brake dust and metal deposits from the brake pad itself can harm your paints surface.