Daniel Took, Head of Professional Product Marketing at Kärcher UK, discusses the best products and processes for vehicle body maintenance cleaning.
We all know that vehicle maintenance is necessary; however, cleaning might not always be top of the maintenance list. Whilst the management of commercial vehicles involves numerous considerations, it’s important to remember that cleanliness will actually help to ensure a longer vehicle service life and make other servicing and repair work easier. If you combine the right cleaning technology with the right cleaning processes, vehicles will not only look great, but work more smoothly and reduce wear.
High pressure exterior cleaning
Robust vehicles such as transporters and HGVs may look impervious, but paintwork is always a sensitive surface. The trick when cleaning with high pressure is contactless working to remove dirt without scratching.
Rim cleaners and insect removers should be applied to windscreens and radiators before starting and cleaning agents should not be used in direct sunlight as the necessary activation time may be compromised by drying too fast.
The water hammer effect of the drops impinging the bodywork at high pressure loosens the dirt during the actual cleaning and the water flows off between dirt and surface. The loosened dirt particles are transported away by these shearing forces.
Hot water cleaning
Hot water machines are generally more efficient as, apart from the mechanical effect of the pressurised water, the temperature enhances the performance. Greases and oils are better dissolved and drying is quicker. Water volume is also effective, for example using a 1000-litre machine is 60% quicker than a 500-litre machine.
Cleaning agents to loosen stubborn dirt should be applied to the dry vehicle with a lance working from the bottom upwards, continuously maintaining your spray distance and angle of 25° for the best results.
To ensure the same acting time everywhere, work systematically from the front across one side of the vehicle to the back of the other side to start again at the front with washing off the cleaning agent.
Special cleaning measures are required when it comes to more demanding applications. High-pressure cleaners are ideal for tractors and many agricultural machines. No moisture should be used for machines and units which are used in connection with grains and cereals or fodder, vacuum sweepers and vacuum cleaners are required here.
Construction machines pose special challenges for cleaning technology. Before a construction machine can drive from a construction site onto the road, highpressure cleaning with a cold-water machine with at least 1000 litres is required to remove the dirt load. This cleaning is also a prerequisite for maintenance because, if screws are hidden under mountains of dirt, they can be difficult to retighten.
Three top tips
- When using a wash brush to remove stubborn dirt or for textured surfaces, clean the vehicle first with high pressure, otherwise the brush rubs existing dirt into the paintwork, creating scratches.
- There is cleaning technology available with high-pressure accessories to reduce stress on the workforce. For example, high-pressure guns from Kärcher use the recoil force of the high-pressure jet to eliminate the holding force required from the user. There are also spray lances which can be rotated under pressure, removing the need to bend over when cleaning spoke wheels or mudguards.
- Foam form cleaning agents make cleaning large vehicles, like trucks, much easier. Placement of the foam is easy to control and it stays for longer, increasing the activation time. When applied with a cup foam lance or nozzle, excellent results can be easily achieved.