SAN ANTONIO – Just like your teeth need regular cleaning, your car requires maintenance with a wash and polish.
That's especially true as the summer ends and many parts of the country prepare for fall and winter weather.
Consumer Reports car experts said it's the perfect time to protect your car's finish.
"Waxing your car on a regular basis helps protect the pain form scratches, tree sap and bird droppings," said Consumer Reports auto editor Mike Monticello, who also suggests hand waxing your car with every season.
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Before you apply the wax, Consumer Reports said you should wash your car, dry it to get rid of any watermarks and then apply a coat of wax to a cool surface.
"Don't work in direct sunlight, because heat can make the wax clump and spread unevenly," he said. "Apply the wax in a circular motion, then let it dry and remove it with a microfiber cloth, also in a circular motion."
If you plan to go to a drive-through car wash, he recommends a brushless service, because the brushes in an automatic wash can actually strip off some of your wax job.
And, if you're tempted to skip using all that elbow grease and go for a spray-on wax treatment at the car wash, Consumer Reports advised that those spray-on treatments give more of a cosmetic gloss, while hand-waxing puts on a protective coat that can last for months.
Consumer Reports said that even the best car waxes it has tested will last only a few months, so it's best to plan on hand-waxing your car three to four times a year.