Like all of us, you want to keep your car in top shape. Regular cleaning, polishing and waxing can help your car look showroom perfect for longer (and help get the best resale price), but professional detailing can get expensive. Invest in the right products and take the time to learn the basics of detailing though, and you can do it yourself. Here’s how.
Wash by hand – with the right product
It can be tempting to simply give your car a hose down now and again (or even leave it for the rain) but a thorough wash is essential. And the best wash is a hand wash. Do it by hand and you can be extra thorough, and check for any nicks, scratches or other issues. Believe it or not, once you start hand washing your car, there’s a good chance you’ll learn to love it. The biggest mistake you can make however is to use dishwashing liquid. Yes, it will remove dirt, but it’ll also strip off the protective wax. The salt in dishwashing liquid can also leave residue on the car which leads to rust. Stick with a professional cleaner to make sure you clean – and protect. When you’re done rinsing, remove excess water with a rubber-bladed squeegee.
Waxing is one of those areas that people tend to leave until the car goes in for a service. A regular wax however is not just about good looks. Waxing wears off over a few months, but during that time it helps prevent stains and small scratches from reaching the paint. If you’re going to have trouble remembering the wax, time it to the first weekend of each change of season.
Buffing and polishing
The perfect buff and polish requires a clean surface. Hose your car down to remove dust and dirt, and if there are any insects or bird droppings, get rid of them before buffing. While you can buff a damp surface, a polish requires your paint to be completely dry. Opt for the best quality polish you can afford as it will provide better protection and last much longer. Never go for silicone-based polishes as these can wash off in rain.
Cleaning the interior
The dashboard and plastic trims inside the vehicle are best cleaned with a sponge and multi-purpose cleaner. Use a sponge to apply and a microfiber cloth to remove the residue. While a vacuum or brush may remove dirt and lint from the upholstery, stains are best treated with a specialist upholstery product. Never use an all-purpose cleaner on the upholstery, as it’s not likely to remove marks and it may damage some materials.
Don’t forget windscreens and windows
Just as a hose down isn’t enough for the paintwork, it’s not enough for windscreens and windows.
Use a glass cleaner, and pick one without ammonia as this can cause damage to the interiors if spilt (it also smells terrible and you don’t want to be inhaling it). Always remember to clean the glass outside and in, and buff with a microfiber cloth for smooth results.
Remove droppings immediately
Bird droppings, tree sap, bugs and other errant substances that end up on your paintwork don’t just look unsightly, they may be corrosive. The worst offenders are bat droppings, which have the potential to literally eat through your paintwork. If there’s something on your car that shouldn’t be there, spend five or 10 minutes to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Wipe away any excess residue, spray an alkaline-based cleaner onto the affected area, and wash. It’s another reason why a wax and polish makes good sense, as it provides a protective layer on your car to helps ward off damage from these sorts of acidic substances.
A final tip
The best overall tip we can give you is to treat your car with the attention it deserves. A car is made up from multiple materials and surfaces, and each of those areas needs a specialist clean. Never opt for a one-size-fits-all product as it’s unlikely to do anything more than give a superficial clean, and it could lead to damage further down the track. Just as you wouldn’t use shampoo on your face or detergent on your floor, use the right product for the right surface and you can help keep your car in tip top shape.
Need some help?
At Autosmart Retail, we love a good clean. We always want to protect your vehicle so we’ve developed a range of safe, effective and affordable cleaners, polishes and waxes. Browse our range to see what’s on offer, or if you need advice about which one to choose, simply give us a call or drive by, and we’ll give you the best advice to help your car shine!