Everyone likes the shine and luster of a new car. But as you put on the miles, your car can take on a lot of dirt and grime. It loses more and more sparkle as time passes. It is only natural that your vehicle will not look the same as when you first brought it home.
From dirt, dust, tree sap and bugs, your car’s exterior can suffer and become gross and filthy. Your car’s interior can become just as disheveled with trash and dirt being trailed in.
You can keep your car from losing its gleam with a few preventative care tips and tricks.
THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU PARK
Isolated spots are best, as your car is less likely to get dinged. At night, use a garage or carport if you have one. Or use a car cover. In the daytime, always try to park a little further away from other cars to avoid scratches and dents. Don’t leave it in the street where it can come under attack from tree sap and bird droppings that can damage your paint.
WASH & WAX REGULARLY
Washing once a week will help retain its new-car look longer, and you’ll also find it easier to clean. Avoid commercial car washes or DIY wash spots—they’re convenient—but sometimes their brushes, dirty water or detergents can damage your car’s paint.
Hand wash using a mild detergent to protect the wax and polish surface. Letting your car air dry will leave watermarks. Use a natural or synthetic chamois—or a microfiber cloth—to blot the water up and prevent any abrasions. It sounds crazy, but some people swear that applying hair conditioner will help, too.
The next step is polishing with wax. Car wax seals scratches and stone chips in the paint, preventing exposed metal from rust. It applies a film of protection against pollutants and damage from the sun. Apply wax with a clean sponge applicator and good-quality wax. If you want to use an electric buffer, it can help, if not, a clean soft towel will do the trick. Take your time and don’t rush it. Make sure to reapply at least once a year.
Should you buy paint protection for a new car from the dealer? It depends. If you really want it you might use it as leverage when negotiating the purchase of the car. Paint protection products can be worthwhile if you don’t plan to clean your car regularly.
BESIDES THE PAINT
The sun can do a job eating away at rubber, vinyl and plastic trim on your vehicle. Try a protectant like Armor All or Tire Foam. Better yet, use one of these restoration products. Start using them right after you buy a car to reduce the damage that can occur over time.
Take special care of the lights—they can get foggy over time. Use toothpaste to scrub down the headlights, and then rinse with water and pat dry.
TAKE OUT THE TRASH
To clean the interior of your car, start by removing all the fast food bags, beverage bottles/cans, wrappers—every time you leave your vehicle. Always keep a few plastic bags tucked away so that you will always have a trash bag easily accessible when the time comes that you’ll need it.
UPHOLD THE UPHOLSTERY
Over time, dust, dirt and other small debris can build up around your vehicle’s interior. Vacuum the carpet, floor mats and upholstery; use an attachment to vacuum out cup holders and any other compartments. Clean door jambs.
Be careful when using upholstery cleaners, some brands must be applied directly to the surface while others need to be applied to a cloth first.
If you see stains, clean them immediately as it’s easier to remove them when the stain is fresh. Use a toothbrush to scrub with soda water and alcohol, and get a powerful cleaning agent that will also disinfect. The soda solution doesn’t leave streaks on surfaces like some traditional cleaners do.
PROTECT FROM SUN DAMAGE
Over time, sun will damage your interior. Tests conducted by State Farm Research Facility concluded that, interior vehicle surfaces exposed to direct sunlight can reach 195 degrees. According to Money Talks News, the following steps will help you keep your car’s interior from baking when the sun is out:
• Park in the shade whenever possible.
• Open the windows slightly to lower the interior temperature on warm days.
• Use a windshield sunshade inside your vehicle.
• Use a car cover if you plan to park your car outdoors for extended periods.
CARE FOR YOUR SEATS
A good strategy to protect seats is to buy seat covers when the car is new. However, if you haven’t done that, you can easily clean cloth seats yourself. To clean, vacuum the seats, use a light layer of cleaning solution, use a brush to scrub the stain, and then wipe away the excess water and suds with a towel.
Leather seats are harder to maintain, as they’re more sensitive, requiring regular coating and conditioning to prevent scratches, scuffs and problems with the stitching.
FRESHEN THE AIR
Instead of masking bad odors with fragrance fresheners, contaminants should be cleaned with a baking soda and vinegar mixture, and let to air dry overnight. Sprinkle the carpets with cornstarch to soak up remaining liquids, and then vacuum it up.
For a real funky smell, the best thing to do is let a professional handle it. Don’t try to cover it up or take care of it on your own, as this may only make matters worse.
Start by cleaning the outside glass so you can spot any dirt and streaks. Then, from the inside, follow this 3-step method for streak-free crystal clear front, side and rear glass.
Resources: Money Talks News, Kiplinger, HuffPost News, ChrisFix, Samarins.com, D&E Mitsubishi, RPI Designs