It’s a beautiful Saturday morning so you grab a few buckets and some towels, head on out to the driveway, hook up the hose and wash the car. Feeling good about life, you inspect the car a few minutes later only to discover it’s not quite as nice looking as you envisioned. Looks like it’s time to do a little auto detailing. The folks at Popular Mechanics offer the following suggestions.
Clean the carpet. Although it’s nice for the car’s exterior to look great, detailing the interior will help you feel good as you drive, while looking good to outsiders. Start by removing the floor mats and vacuuming the mats and the floor. Vacuum the dash and the back window ledge, as well. Be sure to adjust the front seats and vacuum under them. Remove stains with a foam cleaner. Be careful not to soak the floor too much. It could produce mildew. Wash rubber mats.
Clean hard surfaces. Use a mild cleaner and a non-disintegrating towel to clean hard surfaces. Use canned air to remove hard-to-reach dirt from dashboard crevices. Cotton swabs and small brushes work well, too. You can also use cotton swabs to clean air vents. Use glass cleaners on the windows. If you have window tint, use a cleaner that does not contain ammonia or vinegar.
Wash the car. In order to evaluate what needs to be detailed on the exterior, the vehicle should be clean. If you haven’t already washed the car, now is the time to do it. Wash the vehicle in the shade using car wash soap. Start with the wheels. Use high pressure and wheel cleaner for best results. Remove hard-to-reach crud with an old toothbrush. Then hose down the car, starting with the top. Wipe it with a sudsy mitt. Finish it with a gentle rinse. Dry with a chamois or car-drying towel.
Inspect the paint. After the car is washed and dry, inspect the paint for cracks or scratches. Minor scratches can be polished over. Check for stains. Start with the least abrasive stain cleaner you think might work. Gradually move to more abrasive cleaners if the stain remains. Once the stain is removed, machine buff the area.
Polish and wax it. Polish gives your car exterior its gloss and helps preserve the paint. When waxing or polishing, be sure to include door jambs and the areas beneath hinges and behind bumpers. Avoid getting wax on rubber areas.
Don’t forget the tires. Clean tires with tire cleaner. Whitewall cleaner works well, even if your tires aren’t whitewalls. Apply tire dressing. For best results, let the product soak in. Wait for the tires to dry before you drive.