How well you take care of your car says a lot about your personality. Do you just do a routine drive-through wash every couple of weeks? How about a by-hand wash job every weekend? Some car enthusiasts make sure to clean the interior once per week and the exterior every other week. Just as there are many different varieties of personalities, there are hundreds of strategies for keeping a car clean. The following suggestions offer a convenient and quick tutorial on how to take better care of your car.
Cleaning the Exterior
Cleaning a car is not rocket science but does call for some basic knowledge about cleansers, washcloths, and techniques for safely removing dirt without harming the paint. In fact, cleaning a car thoroughly without inflicting damage to the original coat of paint is the key concept behind most washing strategies. To go a step beyond washing, consider waxing your car after it’s completely clean. After the wax job is complete, be sure to keep the car out of the sun, wind, and rain in order to maintain long-lasting shine.
Keep it Covered
Keeping your car in a garage protects it from damaging elements that reduce the lifespan and beauty of your vehicle. If you have a garage, use it to store your car. Always avoid parking your car on the street, driveway, or anywhere outside for long periods of time. Even if you don’t have access to a garage, there are ways to keep the sun and other climatic elements away. Either park in a shady area or use a car cover. A high-quality car cover will not only protect the vehicle from the elements but will also help you avoid the hazards of children playing near the vehicle. Baseballs, footballs and curious little hands can muck up your car’s exterior. A strong canvas cover does an effective job of protecting the vehicle.
Use Steam for Optimal Results
A steam device can go a long way toward making your car look its best. You can even rent a small steam cleaner if you don’t want to purchase one. What can steam do for your car’s appearance? Not only can steam remove deep layers of dirt on the vehicle’s upholstery, but it can also do an incredible job on hard-to-remove grime on wheels, tires, and bumpers. A steam cleaner can clean, sanitize, and deodorize pretty much any surface. Don’t use steam on the painted parts of your car. It is okay, however, to steam clean the upholstery, hard plastic interior sections, tires, wheels, and bumpers.
Don’t Forget the Wheels
In many ways, the wheels, bumpers, and windows are the “face” of a car. Those are the three things people generally look at first when buying a new or used vehicle. Keeping the wheels or wheel covers clean is one of the toughest jobs for owners who want their rides to look great. Consider using one of the many acid-containing products available at retail stores. Of course, you never want to use an acid-based cleaner on any other part of the car or you’re likely to ruin the paint job. Wheels can take light acid washing every couple of weeks. Follow directions on the product label because they’re all a bit different in how fast they work, how they need to be applied and whether you’ll need to dilute them with water. Pro tip: always wear gloves when washing your wheels with an acidic product. Don’t forget to completely rinse and dry each wheel as you finish cleaning.
Make Those Windows Shine Like Diamonds
Cleaning car windows is half art and half science. Weighty tomes have been written on the subject but there’s no reason to earn a degree in window-cleaning to do a decent job. You don’t need to spend a fortune on special cleansers or equipment. All you need is warm water, dish soap, sheets of old newspaper and perhaps a few microfiber drying cloths. Wash the entire car before cleaning the windows. This removes the bulkier chunks of dirt and grime so you can do a thorough job on the second step of the process. Place just a drop or two of dish soap into a quart of warm water. Wet the windows and let the soapy water sit for a few minutes to do its work. Hose each pane of glass completely to remove all the soap. Dry with crinkled newspaper or microfiber towels.
Vacuuming is a Necessary Evil
Vacuum the entire inside of your car once per week even if it looks clean. You’ll be preventing dust and grime build-up and will usually find a couple dollars’ worth of change. All kidding aside, a weekly vacuuming job will keep your vehicle looking and smelling great.
Learn a Few Detailing Tricks
You don’t have to be a detailing pro to make your car sparkle. Once per week, use a damp, warm cloth to wipe down all the door handles, light covers, wheel covers, and the rocker panel. Make sure to dry everything afterward. For a shiny finish, buff door handles and plastic light covers with a dry microfiber cloth.
Get Some Washable Seat Covers
For a pretty good price, you can purchase seat covers that look good and will keep your original upholstery in terrific shape. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, visit a custom shop and buy some really snazzy-looking seat covers that really spruce up the overall appearance of your car’s interior.
Do a Visual “Chip-Check” Once Each Week
If you live alone and don’t see all sides of your car every day, it’s easy to miss a chipped piece of paint or a tiny window crack on the rear end of the passenger side of the car. Be sure to walk around your vehicle once per week and examine it for damage. This cursory inspection should include a look at all painted surfaces, glass, bumpers and tires. Pay special attention to chips and cracks on the windshield—if they are too big, sometimes they can expand and cause further damage.
You need not be an obsessive car enthusiast to care about how your ride looks. No one wants to drive around in a dusty, unkempt vehicle. Wash and care for your car as you do your clothing. Clean it regularly and properly. Making your car look amazing takes less than an hour per week. Indeed, your car reflects you in many ways. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep and follow a regular to-do list of cleaning chores to make sure it looks its best and lasts for a long time.