As the weather finally gets alluring, it’s time to get your ride ready for fair day cruising. We’ve looked at the mechanical factors – oil changes, periodic maintenance, and minor repairs. Now we look at the cosmetics, those things that make your car sparkle. Spring is often a great time to sell a car too, as buyers dream of driving into the beautiful weather. Just as you’d stage your house, you can spruce up your car to show it off at its best with an automotive spring cleaning.
The Detailed Car Wash
A drive-through wash is better than none at all, but to really make the most of a wash, approach it with a plan and get all the tough spots, particularly after a tough winter.
- Aim for the Wheels – Dust from brake pads is sticky and the wheels bear the brunt of winter weather. Use a wheel cleaning solution and a sponge or soft brush. This is a harsh cleaner, so rubber gloves are recommended. For that extra touch, take the wheel right off and clean behind as well. It may not show, but you’ll know.
- Pre-rinse from the top down – The rest of your wash will proceed from the roof to the road. Soak all surfaces to blow away loose dirt and soften up caked on messes.
- Suds it up – Use a soap designed to work on automotive surfaces. Use a new sponge. No sense spreading tire grit all over. Lather up the entire car. On sunny days, work in sections so you can rinse before the soap dries.
- The Final Rinse – Still working top to bottom, flush all surfaces to dilute soap and harsh cleaners. Prevent water marks with a final rub with a chamois. For the extra automotive spring cleaning touch, follow your wash with a clay bar treatment. It’s a putty-like substance that works with its own cleaning solution to remove contaminants and restore your car’s finish.
Beyond the Wash – Exterior
- Polish – to remove minor scratches in your car’s clear coat, as well as to add shine, a car polish is the solution. This is definitely a job to do in small sections or in the shade. Dried polish is not fun to work with.
- Waxing – It’s not the same as polish, despite the similarities between paste wax and polish applications. Spray and liquid waxes are now available too. A good wax coat extends the life of your car’s body, protecting it from the elements.
Interior Automotive Spring Cleaning
- Suck it up – Start with a thorough vacuuming to remove most of the dirt from floor mats and built-in carpeting. Using a wet/dry vac will help later if you shampoo the carpet.
- Stain Relief – use spray-on cleaners for carpet and fabric stains, but use dedicated products for each and test in hidden places to make sure the product won’t harm the surfaces. Be sure to rinse well, since some cleaning products will attract dirt, if not removed completely.
- Wipe it down – microfiber cloths are great for the dust and dirt on dashes and other hard surfaces. Cotton swabs and old toothbrushes are handy for sprucing up nooks and crannies.