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Pelican Technical Article:
Washing Your Car

Time: 1 hour
Tab: $20
Bucket and hose, flow-through brushes
Applicable Models:
986 Boxster (1997-04)
987 Boxster (2005-08)
Parts Required:
Car washing soap, four or five cotton terry towels
Hot Tip:
Don't use household detergent, and don't use a chamois
Performance Gain:
Slicker looking Boxster
Complementary Modification:
Buy a car cover

  This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster.  The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads.   With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Check out some other sample projects from the book: 

Need to buy parts for this project? Click here to order!
     One of the most basic maintenance tasks for your car is cleaning it. While this includes the art of washing your Porsche, it also includes the reconditioning and protection of both the exterior paint and chrome, and the interior.

     The first step in washing your car is to determine exactly what it needs. If the car is simply dusty, and has been sitting in the garage, then you probably only need to wash it with plain water (no soap). Wet the car down and use a wash mitt to remove any dust that might have settled on the car inside the garage.

     I don't recommended using a chamois to dry your car. The chamois can trap small particles of dirt in its porous material, and can actually cause scratches in the surface of the paint when it's used to dry off the car. A really good alternative is 100-percent cotton terry towels. Make sure the towels have been washed at least once, and don't use a rinse or softener. The softener is an additive that can cause streaks, and it inhibits the towel's absorbency.

     When washing the car, remember to get the valance panels and the lower rockers. As these panels are closest to the ground, they have a tendency to get the dirtiest. If your car suffers from more than simple dust accumulation, then you will need to use a bit of car wash soap. Make sure that you don't use normal household soap or detergent, as this will remove the wax from the surface of the paint. As the wax is oil-based, normal detergents will attack and remove it. The car wash soaps are very mild, and shouldn't remove the layer of wax that you have on your car.

     Rinse the car completely with water from a hose, taking care not to spray the water in any areas where your seals may be cracking. If your Boxster is a few years old, the overall watertight seal of the interior may not be as solid as desired. If your car does leak water, then toss some towels inside the car near the windows, or under the sunroof to make sure that you catch any water before it reaches the carpet and seats. Also be aware not to get any water into the side snorkel area: water can collect there and then be sucked up into the engine.

     After the car is completely rinsed, start drying it immediately. It's best to dry the car off out of the reach of sunlight. Pull the car into the garage and dry it off in there. Removing the car from the sun helps to keep those ugly water spots from appearing.

     The key to keeping the paint free of scratches is to make sure that the towels are clean and free of any debris. Handle the towels as if they were going to be used for surgery. Don't leave them outside, or if you drop them on the ground, don't use them again until they have been washed. Small particles of dirt trapped within the towels can cause nasty scratches in the paint. If you happen to encounter a water spot, use a section of a damp, clean terrycloth towel to gently rub it out.

     When you are finished cleaning, it's time to tuck the car away. I recommend that you use a good quality cotton car cover if your car is spending most of its life in the garage. The cover will protect it from dust accumulation, and also might help protect against items falling on the car, or cats jumping on it. For cars stored outdoors, covers usually are not a great idea. They have a tendency to trap water, and the wind can make the cloth cover wear against the paint. If your car is not perfectly clean, then dirt particles trapped between the car and the cover will have a tendency to scratch the paint.

     One of the most interesting new products to hit the marketplace in recent years are deionized water washing systems. I have used these on several of my cars, and I've been very pleased with the results. Available in small hand-held units, or semi-permanent installed setups, the systems filter regular tap water through a de-ionizing filter and provide a quick and easy way to wash your car without having to dry it: the deionized water doesn't leave any ugly water spots. These systems work pretty well, although in practice I was not able to eliminate all of the water spots from the car, so I recommend using them with a set of traditional towels as well to help dry the car.
One of the most innovative and time-saving products I've seen in recent years are flow-through brushes from Carrand.
Figure 1
One of the most innovative and time-saving products I've seen in recent years are flow-through brushes from Carrand. These are the perfect car-washing tool for busy people on the go. Simply hook up the brushes to your hose, and water flows through the brush as your cleaning. Add an automatic soap dispenser, and you can clean an absolutely filthy car in about 10 minutes. My personal favorite is the flow-through wheel cleaning brush. It removes wheel dust and grime within about a minute of use. Used weekly, it's a great way to keep hard-to-remove grit and grime from building up on your wheels.
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Comments and Suggestions:
Alex Comments: Any recommendation for washing/cleaning the engine?
November 11, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Wipe clean by hand using warm soapy water. Do not over-wet. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BT Comments: I washed my 97 boxters now I can't drive it took it out park and now it won't go in gear can't remove the key don't know what could be wrong
September 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the key won't come out, check if the shifter is all the way into park. Try moving it back and forth. Assuming it is auto. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

Check out some other sample projects from the book: 


Got more questions?  Join us in our Boxster / Cayman Technical Forum Message Board or our Carrera 996 / 997 Technical Forum Message Board and ask a question to one of our many automotive experts.

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  Applies to: 1997 Boxster, 1998 Boxster, 1999 Boxster, 2000 Boxster, 2001 Boxster, 2002 Boxster, 2003 Boxster, 2004 Boxster, 2005 Boxster, 2006 Boxster, 2007 Boxster, 2008 Boxster, 1999 Carrera, 1999 996, 2000 Carrera, 2000 996, 2001 Carrera, 2001 996, 2002 Carrera, 2002 996, 2003 Carrera, 2003 996, 2004 Carrera, 2004 996, 2005 Carrera, 2005 997, 2006 Carrera, 2006 997, 2007 Carrera, 2007 996, 2008 Carrera, 2008 997
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