First New Car - Upkeep Advice?



I just bought a 2008 Mazda3, and now I’m absolutely paranoid about cleaning and upkeep. Looking for advice on the following: Are express car washes bad news?

How often should one apply wax or sealant?

What’s the best way to keep the interior smelling fresh long-term? Thanks!


Washing/waxing I personally do 2 times per year(fall/spring) given the time involved. Black magic wax works well and easy application.

Express washes are okay for looks if and only if touchless type. The touch type can be very rough on your vehicle and can damage the finish if some dirt caught in the brushes.

Keep your interior clean and free of trash and animals etc and it will smell fine.

The other very important tip is read your owners manual with regards to maintenance of car.


Congratulation on your new car. The Mazda3 is an excellent choice, especially for those bored with the Civic or Corolla.

Andrew has given you sound advice, maybe all you really need. Use touch-up paint from the dealer for small paint chips. Do it before waxing.

I too wax my (garaged) car twice a year. Try three times per year if yours is not garaged. I use Turtle Wax but they all do pretty much the same thing. Touchless car washes are fine.


If you do your own washes, wash it a couple of times a month with some decent car soap and a clean wash mit. Keep your wash mitt clean, don’t leave it on the ground where it can pick up debris, etc. I think like andrew_j said, a wax twice a year would do you well, but you might even step that up to once every month or two. If you’re going to wax it frequently, consider washing it with a dish soap before you wax, that will strip off the old layer of wax and dirt, and make a nice, clean surface for the new wax application.

Here’s the big thing: if you really, really want your car’s finish and interior to look nice, you need to wash it when it gets dirty, and keep it out of the sun and weather. UV exposure and outdoor elements (acidic rain, cats, little kids’ fingers, bird droppings, etc.) are the big threats to your car. If you can keep in in a garage, by all means, that’s great. If you can’t do that, simply covering it up with a decent car cover will go a long way toward keeping it looking nice. My mom and dad have an '00 Mustang which my dad has babied since new. The finish on that car looks almost brand new because it’s garage-kept, washed frequently, and waxed once a month.


I appreciate the feedback. The car is not garaged, but I covered parking at work and at my apartment. I’ll probably try to wax a little more often than twice a year. And, of course, dive for the wash mitt any time I see bird droppings. Well, thanks!


Good advice so far. A friend of mine from Texas just bought a new Chevy pickup, and since he’s semi-retired, wants it to last a very long time. Asking my advice, I suggested:

  1. Keep the car out of the sun whenver you can.

  2. Don’t put it through a car wash the first 4-6 weeks, if the car was newly built.

  3. Cars with clearcoat do not need to be waxed for at least 6 months; my “new” Toyota has been washed 4 times because of road dirt and bird droppings, but I’m not going to wax it till a few months later.

  4. Soft cloth car washes and brushless ones are OK; don’t go into the old style ones with nylon brushes.

  5. Get dirt and road salt (where applicable) off the car as quicly as possible; removing bugs & tar is easy with the new compounds available.

  6. When you buy cleaners and wax make sure it says “for clearcoat finishes”

  7. The ideal place to park a car is in a carport or a cold garage. A heated garage, such as in apartment buildings will speed up corrosion, especially in the Northern states and around the Great Lakes. Cars in Michigan rust 26 times faster than in the South West!

Mazdas have very good paint jobs; a friend of my wife had a Mazda 323 for 10 years. She washed it as needed, and always parked inside. When she finally gave the car to her son, it still had a great shine and no rust spots.

Happy car ownership!!


You’re getting sound advice. There are 3 major things you must do to keep your new ride looking new: (1) keep it covered (garaged is best, of course) and out of the elements as much as possible, (2) keep it clean, and (3) treat it like you care for it, rather than beat it up. Any new car, no matter how expensive, can quickly be trashed if treated like it’s a farm pickup or Nascar racer. The single most important (and inexpensive) step you can take to prolong the cosmetic appearance of your car is to give it regular, frequent washes. Weekly washing. Car washing is to the exterior finish what regular oil changes are to the engine; the least expensive, most effective insurance policy. And if you’re really serious about that, you’ll do it yourself, and stay away from mechanical car washes.
Keeping a good coat of wax on the finish is the next most important thing to do. I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but it’s a good bet that waxing twice a year is not often enough. Harsh climates (icy northern/midwest or baking southeast/southwest US are very hard on your car, both exterior and interior). With a high grade carnauba wax (at least 30% carnauba content), you’re getting good protection for only 8-10 weeks. With good quality synthetic sealants, that gets stretched to maybe 12-14 weeks. Plan on refreshing the wax or sealant 3-4 times a year. BTW, by definition, a good quality wax contains no silicone, because silicone prevents the wax from bonding with the painted surface, and so robs the finish of any protection.
Here’s a photo of a nearly 20-year old car that I regularly detail for its owner. This is a daily driver in original, not restored, condition. Treat it like you love it; yours will be sparkling for a good long time.