Vehicle care

How do you wash your vehicle if you have a roof rack on top? Do you use brushless or contactless car washes? With my old rusty vehicle I am not so concerned but want to have my newer vehicle last for a while.

If you put boats in your vehicle, do you have something that you use to protect the interior?

good not to have mud and sand in bed:
when I slide boats in my camper van- across my bed and into the center aisle, I put a large tarp down that covers everything

Touchess laser wash
is what I’ve been using for my new vehicle, just to get the salt, snow and winter crud off.

No rack on it yet; that will be installed next Sunday. I’ll continue using the touchless wash until the snow melts and my hose thaws out. Then I’ll wash it myself.

When I carried my boat inside my previous vehicle, I had an old blanket inside and slid the boat in using several large pool noodles. Going to miss that setup; took me less than five minutes to load, strap down, and go.


– Last Updated: Mar-06-16 7:56 PM EST –

go to the best car wash

bring a sackful of quarters

a thick Walmart towel cut into pieces n one piece duct taped to a 3' broom handle or ? make 3-4 towel sticks...wrapped around. If you are short.

The $4 black Wal towel with one narrow scrub band when cut into hand sized polishing squares is cheaper n more effective than rags. Rags are expensive. Wal tends to hide these towels so look look.

When filled with polish toss into can. No washing.

a stepladder or stool

blow the potential wax out of the gun with a long soapy water run aimed at the wheel covers, underside rear wheel wells, back of wheels underbody, bring a piece of cardboard box cut open for the knees.

never spray a radiator close up.4-5-6 feet away

when the wax is out sweep spray roof at a very glancing angle

do both sides n front n back.

test the roof with bare hand for dirt

more dirt ? mix meguiar's red bottle car wash 3x what the bottle sez. spread over roof n let soak maybe 10 minutes.

wipe roof with hand or lightly sweep with soap soaked towel broom handle. The deal with the handle is not scrubbing roof with a dirt fouled towel....keep the towel clean by replacing that one with a clean one.

brush around fittings with a suitable brush n straight 1 to 1 soap mix see Walmart for brush. Wal sells small wire brushes in paint. Try one of these on the fittings rust line. Scratching adjacent paint is OK as urgonna paint there some point.

( brush out dirt in body/door gasket creases )

when the roof feels clean with hand, rinse.

dry roof

inspect for damage.

buy 2 sharp nosed carbide grinding bits for an electric drill from McMaster Carr or hardware. Buy a bag from Carr if there are other projects ahead. Bits are used by hand or drill.

grind the rust out of pits with the bit n paint with Rustoleum clean metal primer then a Ruto topcoat using an artists paint brush see Walmart artist supplies for a bag full.

tho no one will see the Rusto n the paint does age, carefully dapping in paint with a brush or a nail, a needle, a screwdriver depending on a slight dome shape of fluid....makes the repair invisible.

If you see rust around the fittings then disassembly is necessary or if putting that off, painting what you see will stop the corrosion for a month or 2.

Then polish to remove oxidation if not beauty n wax. A good wax on a clean surface should last a year.

In conslucion...the idea is not rubbing the dirt in but washing the dirt off.

no rush. take your time on a nice day.

My E250 takes 2-3 5 hour days once a year. With an electric polisher $35 n pads. Wal often sells pads. I buy the chemicals from Wal and Summit Racing where the polisher is. Meguire and Mothers have on line forums where you may ask n get a response.

Megs polish has more solvent than Mothers. Mothers is more new finish chemicals. More solvent than Meg's polish is desirable for an oxidized finish. Like Dupont 7 ? that was for enamel. Mother's is polyurethane coated acrylics.

There is a substance called ScratchX. SX removes scratches n is a more abrasive compound. Polish removes dirt after grit is washed off. If the polish of Megs or Mothers isn't getting the dirt off even with a nylon bonnet or cheesecloth hand scrub then add 1" 2" bead of SX to the Meg's or Mother's mix per one hand scrub or one pad fill. That will increase the bite removing more dirt.

Turtle Wax has a green canister for removing stickers. The can contains some deodorized acetone so be carefully upwind with a mask on. Do not spray mouldings or lenses. Mask all with masking tape. After the paint thinner does'nt remove the chips seal use the green can with Performance gloves also for polishing.

I know folk who after washing the vehicle will spray the entire masked off rig with the TW then proceed to polish n wax.

These items are available at Walmart. Summit sells polish in small jugs for the van or truck people. From Summit, usually buy 2 years worth at one order. saves 20/100.

All the paint chip holes and the rocker panels are repaintable with Rusto by brush needle/nail with a factory look alike spray for the rockers from NAPA et al. Chip repaints are invisible. Doahn sweat it

Another way…
I just leave the boat(s) (canoe in my case) on the rack and go to a “you-srpitz-it” car wash. Wash the car and boat together, top down. My pick up is always cleaner during paddling season because I’m much more inclined to wash the waterlines off my boats than I am to try and make my rust bucket truck look impressive.

In salt water…
The salt will rust out anything it touches especially the lift gate hinges on SUVs and wagons… Ask me how I know… wash off as soon as possible.

New vehicle owner here
We paddle daily in salt water.

Every morning prior to heading to the launch I fill nine gallons of milk jugs with fresh water.

At the end of the day we use a couple to rinse off the kayaks before loading.

After loading while I am strapping down the yaks, my wife goes all around the truck with the rest of the water to wash off the residue of salt water.

In between, I just take the racks off the roof. I have Yakima “landing pads” which makes it a few second job. Then I either wash it and wax it by hand or take it through a car wash and wax.

jack L

Wash the undercarriage
When you compare topside saltwater dribbles to what comes up from the roads. No comparison.

The trouble is the salt is on the road six months of the year and there are few car washes that are undercarriage rinsing. And you have to watch when you go. It sucks for water to get in the door franes and freeze solid so you can’t.get into the car

So for winter paddling basically nothing. It’s 12 degrees tonight

Touchless car washes and other stuff
With just the racks on the car (no boats up) -

Touchless car washes for garden variety cleaning, like after snowfall or muddy days

For better detailing, same as Jack. The Yakima landing pads come off the car easily. This may change if I go to something like a Hullivator for the next car though.

With the boats up - if the boats have been in muddy or green crap water - hand wash car wash. Get the car and the sides and undercarriage of the boats.

With cockpit covers on, water from the sprayer does not get into the boats.

When paddling in salt water, all undrunk water goes over boats after they are on their respective supports on the beach.

rings under the wax ?

Yak salt in Fla weather would dry from wet in a few minutes. At dry, salt is mostly fixed to hull n not rain on the truck more blowing off while driving but not much . Dry salt on waxed yak is plenty sticky.

Let the salt be until dismounting n enjoy the view.

needs soap! When I come home with my boat or kayak and thoroughly rinse it after it dries the is still salt residue after it dries. My kayaks are usually dry by the time they hit the roof. Wash roof and wax it with a quality wax every few months minimum. UV rays on roof makes wax life last a lot less than sides. Wax 3M on my Boston Whaler will bead 2 years on sides and maybe 2-3 months on deck depending on angle of the sun / time of year.


– Last Updated: Mar-07-16 10:54 AM EST – a long ways from the ocean, so you're probably not too worried about aggressive electrolyte-induced aqueous (salt water) rusting, just cleaning.

But if you DO frequently paddle salt water, heed Grayhawk's warning (I saw whereof he speaks, and it wasn't pretty!) and Jack's simple after-paddle preventative measures.

Otherwise, just take the racks off and wash as usual!

We ran our factory roof rack and crossbars-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee thru commercial brushless (but with the big, floppy rag rollers) car wash every so often when I didn't feel like doing it myself, and it worked just fine. And ditto for our old station wagon with side rails, and our new small SUV with side rails -it worked just fine.

If you're paddling ALL the time, and you want to keep the racks on, follow the advice of others here, but it makes more sense to take the racks off for a full-blown car wash.

It's a lot easier to then have someplace else do the 'dirty work' to wash the car, while you save your energy for the rack work.

And, of course, for when you


Frank in Miami

no worries

– Last Updated: Mar-07-16 10:08 AM EST –

When I remove my rack in fall, I notice how clean the area around the mounts is. I just use a touchless wash but it looks like it does the job. I'd third the comment about washing salt water off immediately though.

I have a dog so my car interior is already trashed. ;)