Black Car Maintenance

I bought a black 2013 Mazda 3 iTouring hatchback in June. I know that black cars are a lot more work than other colors, but I didn’t want a red car due to insurance reasons and I really didn’t like the other options available on the lot (that Dolphin Gray color is just awful in my opinion). Also, I figure if I need to take care of the appearance of my vehicle, I will also take better care of everything else internally because it will “mean more” to me.

Anyway, I do have a few questions about how to keep my car looking nice.

I know that I’m going to have to wash my car more often. My friend (yes, from my other post) said that you MUST hand wash a black car. I don’t really have the space to wash it on campus, so I would have to go to an actual car washing facility. I know that the big foamy roller things can cause micro scratches so I should stay away from the touch automatic washes. I’m also confused about how, when, and where to wax my car.

My questions are these:
Is hand washing a must? What products do you use? How difficult is it to do a “good” job without having lots of streaks?
Are touchless car washes also an option?
How often do I need to wash my car? Just when it’s dirty?
Someone recommended that I wax every six weeks. Is that too often or not enough?
What products for waxing do you recommend? Is that difficult? How long does it take? Am I better off taking it in someplace?
Am I missing anything else?

I appreciate your time and consideration.

I’m not sure about t he other questions, but when I “wax”, I use Nu-Finish (the liquid seems as good as the paste). It’s very easy to use and very durable.

I’ve owned black or near-black (dark silver) cars for 30+ years. You do need to wash them often, just because they show dirt quickly. You do NOT have to hand wash them. I have a nearby car wash that has a gentle washing system (not ‘touchless’, but no rotating brushes), followed by a hand dry. I do it just when it’s dirty. Waxing once a year would be fine (I never did, my black 1996 Lexus ES300 still looks great after 17 years of Texas sun).

If you WANT to wash it yourself, get any decent car wash at Walmart, etc (I’m sure there’s a Turtle Wax, Meguires, etc. product), use as directed.

This guy is sounding ‘pickyer’, if not OCD, by the minute…

Your friend, as before, is out to lunch. A black car is basically no different than a car of any other color.

Depending on where you live , hand washing may be illegal in your driveway. There are drive-in washing stations where you can wash the car yourself with one of those wands. A friend of my wife does that and save about 50% over an automatic car wash. Only wash your car when it’s dirty of course. Cars don’t need showers to “freshen up”!

It is very important to RINSE a black car well, since any soap residue will be very apparent.

Some important consideration for washing ANY car; avoid those car washes with stiff brushes, don’t buy the super wax option (you don’t need it and it coats your windshield), don’t wash any car in the hot sun, when hand washing use a chamois to dry, only use approved car wash soap, not household detergent or dishwashing soap. I use either the brushless car wash or the soft cloth type. I no longer wash cars by hand, not for the reasons your friend cites.

Enjoy your new car. I am surprised that you were told that a RED car was more expensive to insure. Not here, my wife’s red Mazda3 gets the best rate. The Sport model with the turbo engine, however, might cost more than the standard version. I do agree that red cars get more tickets.

Washing often not only keeps surface dirt from acting like sandpaper every time you rub up against the car, but it also keeps the windows clean. Visability deteriorates when the windows get dirty, especially at night, and it creates a real safety issue.

Your chosen color requires no more or less care to the finish than other colors. It will, however, tend to get hotter in the sun, so you may want to get a windshield shade to reduce the temperature rise in the interior.

Oh, by the way, waxing every six weeks is only appropriate for retired people like me who are aloways loking for something to keep them occupied. A thorough wash & wax twice a year, spring & fall, is perfect. An added one in the middle of the summer to commpensate for the heat is even better. They key is that you DO the work, and that you never let water stop beading on the finish. Some say “wax it when it stops beading”, but I feel that by that point it’s too late.

I used NuFinsh for years. Lately I’ve tried Maguires, and it seems a bit shinier (could be psychosematic). Any brand name wax is great.

IMHO you’re better doing it yourself. That allows you to notice any new scratches, dings, rust spots, or whatever and address them early.

I think that dirt shows up more on a black car.

as they say black is difficult to keep nice but its worth it

A black car’s kind of like a pot of coffee - nothing looks better (to me) than a freshly washed black car, and nothing smells better than a fresh pot of good coffee. On the other hand, no car looks dirtier than a dirty black car, and few things smell worse than a pot of coffee left on the burner all day…

I have several black cars. I don’t do anything different. I wash when its dirty using Meguires car wash. In the winter I use a touchless but don’t like it. Any car wash will be hard on the wax and finish but not as hard as salt and surface dirt. I wax and polish in the spring and fall using Meguires or Mothers products. My routine is clay the surface to remove particles, machine polish, machine glaze, and hand wax. Also shampoo the interior once a year. Takes about a half day or more per car.

Hopefully, by now the OP has figured out that her new car’s finish will require much less maintenance than her new boyfriend.

My advice:
Keep the car
Dump the guy

Car color doesn’t factor into insurance costs, that’s a myth.

Is hand washing a must?

Not necessarily

What products do you use?

Two buckets
Car wash soap, I use the rain-x stuff, it’s cheap and works fine
A soft wash brush on a pole (you must keep it clean)
A wheel brush
Wheel cleaner, nothing too aggressive. In a pince diluted Greased Lightning will do, but you’ll want to rinse it off quickly
some spray on wax (between proper waxings)
several microfiber towels.

How difficult is it to do a “good” job without having lots of streaks?

About 30-45 minutes

Are touchless car washes also an option?

I’ve never seen a touchless car wash do a good job. IMHO you need some amount of friction to get off stubborn dirt spots off.

How often do I need to wash my car?

When it gets dirty.

Someone recommended that I wax every six weeks. Is that too often or not enough?

I generally wax quarterly, some people do more, some do less

What products for waxing do you recommend?

For the price Nu-Finish isn’t bad, and I’ve had good luck with Black Magic as well

Is that difficult? How long does it take?

I have a buffer, so it only takes around 30-45 minutes in most cases

Am I better off taking it in someplace?


Am I missing anything else?

I think you’re overcomplicating this.

One other thing. I am very careful to never use any products with silicone in them on the car finish. I don’t know about Nufinish and some of these other miracle waxes, but I use only waxes and polishes that say “body shop safe” which is why I stick to the Meguire and 3M products. If you get silicone on the finish and ever have to do any touch up work, the paint will just fisheye like crazy and be impossible to easily do a good job.


If you’re doing touch up work you’re supposed to clean and prep the spot you’re touching up before you paint. If you do the prep work properly, there won’t be any wax on the place you’re touching up.

A black car will show micro scratches (caused by car wash brushes going over a dirty car) very easily…The “Glossy Black” slowly turns into dull black…A good wax job every 6 months will help protect ANY car finish…

@fodaddy Removing wax is easy but removing silicone is something else again. I only ran into it once but made painting nearly impossible.

The myth about red cars getting proportionately more tickets than other colors is untrue. See This short study is not the only one I’ve heard of.
Oddly, snopes mentions that grey cars get more tickets than they should if all other factors are equal.

You might also invest in a “California Car Duster” available at Wal*Mart for about $15. They are a big time saver. I dust my cars three or four times between washings. I’ve had several over the years, and never noticed any scratches or damage done by one.