You practically live in your car, and it’s that time again to really roll up your sleeves and get rid of the accumulated trash, dust and whatever else may be in hiding in there since last spring. During the colder seasons, we put off giving our vehicles a good cleaning, but there’s no more putting it off now that you’ll probably be spending even more time driving in the warmer weather. Your ride is just as important as your home so make it look and smell nice by spring cleaning your car. A clean car makes for a nice change during a long commute or even a road trip you’ve been dreaming about all year. It’s easy doing your own washing and detailing, too. You just have to dedicate some time and give it some elbow grease. To make it even easier for you, we’ve created a checklist of what you need to do and not do to get that fresh car feel back again.
Take a big garbage bag with you, because there’s more trash in your car than you think. Get under the car and under your back seats, too. Then, start digging into all the crevices in the car and really get beneath the seats. The trunk is always where we put things we think we’ll need in the future. Take a good look and see if you’ve used anything in there since last spring. If you didn’t, chances are that it’s trash and can easily be thrown away and not missed.
Clean out your glove compartment and try to keep it relatively empty of everything other than your registration and insurance cards. Chances are you’ve thrown random things in there you thought may be important. Again, take a look and see if they are useful or not. Chances are most of the items in there can go.
Go through everything in the holding compartments in the doors and the car seats in back to throw out what you no longer need. Having less clutter everywhere in your car alone will make you feel more organized and less chaotic.
Start from the top down, vacuuming the top of the car and around the crevices near the seatbelt conveyors. Don’t forget to take out your mats and vacuum underneath. In fact, use a brush first to loosen up all the dirt, pet hair, and gravel before you vacuum the carpet. You may need a sharp knife or screwdriver to get the grime out of some crevices and creases. Be careful not to cause any tears to the upholstery.
Vacuum the creases in the seats and even the trunk. Take out what needs to remain in the trunk, vacuum and repack.
Vacuum your mat if it’s a carpeted one.
Carpet & Upholstery
There are plenty of upholstery-and-carpet cleaners on the market that will work to get your carpeting nice and clean. They don’t even have to be made specifically for cars. Apply, wipe down and repeat a few times until all stains are gone. Next, move onto the carpet. This area is usually the dirtiest and will take some effort to get clean. You’ll probably end up getting the carpeting quite wet by the time you’re through soaping it up, so pull the drain plugs on the floor of the car when you finish, to let them air dry for a few days. Otherwise, you may grow mold and that wouldn’t be very good at all.
If your carpet is really dirty (and it is always the dirtiest thing in the car), you can power wash it by renting a steam cleaner. This may be a little bit expensive, but it’s well worth it. You won’t believe how much fresher your car will feel afterwards.
Leather upholstery is a whole other story. You’ll need to condition it with leather conditioner regularly to prevent cracking. If you experience lots of sun exposure where you regularly park, you may need to use the conditioner every month. If you have leatherette seats, a leather or vinyl cleanser will work also. Some people, however, swear by Magic Eraser, which removes the toughest stains like pen marks.
Wash the console carefully, so you do not wet the electrical connections. Get deep into the crevices of the cup holders, too. You can just wipe down the dashboard. Be careful not to use harsh detergents which may fade the color.
Clean out the car vents too. You’ll be surprised how dusty they get.
Before the spring showers hit hard, it’s a good time to get new windshield wipers. If they are worn, they could affect visibility during a downpour. Worn wipers also often leave unsightly streaks, even after a good car wash.
Windows are always tricky and prone to leaving irritating streaks no matter how often you use Windex. Try using a good car-window cleaner. There’s just too much ammonia in the products you use on windows and glass at home, which is why you never get a fully clean effect using them. Some people even go as far as wiping down the interior of the windows with an antifogging agent. Another great trick to getting spotless windows is to use newsprint. Crumple it up and use it with the car-window cleaner and you’ll never use cloth again.
Washing the Car & Wheels
Again, wash the car using a gentle detergent and a microfiber mitt, working from top down and rinsing a few times. According to the Car Care Council, never start from the bottom down because you can drag dirt and whatever else may be stuck to the bottom of your car up to the top. This may even cause you to scratch the coat with whatever the mitt picks up along the way. You also never want to wash in a circular motion. It’s always best to use an up-and-down motion in case the paint is scratched. It’s always easier to touch up a straight line than a circle. Also, wash the fenders and bumpers last because they will be the dirtiest and can trap abrasive elements that will scratch your car.
After you’ve thoroughly washed the car, including the rims, it may not be a bad idea to take it to a car wash. At the very least, you need to flush the underbody with a hose. Remember that dirt and grime are the biggest enemies to the paint, so keeping your car clean will allow it to shine and look new longer.
You can remove hubcaps and wash them. Wash your tires and wheel wells, too.
No matter how good a car wash you got, you’ll still have to manually wash the door sills and nooks that may dirty your clothes as you get in the car. Use the same gentle cleanser you used to wash the car.
Cabin Air Filter
You may have never once changed this, but it does get dirty and affect the air quality inside. It is always good to make it a point to change this filter once a year.
Under the Hood
Get those leaves, dirt and other junk that’s gotten into the engine area. You can wipe down the edges, but if the engine looks especially filthy, you may want to have it professionally cleaned.
You’ll want to hose down rubber floor mats but if you have carpeted mats you’ll want to use a power washer at a self-service car wash. Leave them out to dry before putting them back in the car to avoid mold growth.
According to Consumer Reports, liquid waxes are better for your car in protecting the paint than sprays and paste waxes. You should ideally reapply wax every five weeks.
Other Maintenance Checks and Chores:
- Check your fluids. People often overlook these substances that are really the lifeline of a car. You should have them checked and replaced if needed. This includes windshield wiper fluid. Make sure you’re also getting your oil changes as per manufacturer’s recommendations, which is generally about every 5,000 or 6,000 miles.
- Check oil color. If it’s yellowish, it may be you’re having engine trouble and don’t even know it yet.
- Check your tires. Is the tread too worn or cracked? How’s the air pressure?
- Check your ventilation system. Not only should you replace these filters, but you should see if it’s working properly, especially as the weather warms up. Turn up your AC to the highest setting. If your car doesn’t cool relatively fast, schedule maintenance.
We don’t have to tell you that accidents happen, usually when you least expect one. You need to be protected if that day comes. While you want to save as much as possible on your premium, buying cheap, fly-by-night insurance will end up being more costly if you file a claim. Instead, contact a knowledgeable Insurance Specialist (888) 772-4247 for multiple low car insurance quotes from top carriers in just one call. Or, just visit here.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.