Buying a car is an investment. Not only do you have to look at the initial outlay for your car, but there’s all the other things that go with it that need to be considered, such as road tax and insurance. As a result you’ll want your car to look its best whenever possible – with a clean and shiny exterior If you’re a cash rich individual then there’s nothing stopping you from using the huge number of valet and cleaning companies that have cropped up to fulfil this need, but not everyone wants to splash the cash on keeping their vehicle free from dirt and dust. If you’re going to embark on regularly washing your car at home, what are the best, and most cost effective, ways of doing so?
Wheels and Tyres When you’re embarking on the major mission of cleaning your car, the wheels and tyres should be always be the place you start. You’ll want to keep an eye out on what type of cleaner you’re using here, especially if you’ve splashed the money on an expensive set of alloys to set off your car’s look. Many tyre cleaners have a high acid content, which is great for getting dirt out of the grooves in rubber, but can attack the shine and finish on alloy rims. Be sure to use a gentle cleaner to protect your investment here.
Cleaning Tips The experts say there is nothing like cleaning your car with a good old fashioned hand-wash. This allows you to really pay attention to the car, and also treat the paintwork with the gentle touch that comes from someone who’s invested a large amount of their salary and time into their vehicle. There are some quick dos and don’ts however that can make your job a whole lot easier.
1.) It’s best not to wash your car on a hot day as the heat from the sun can rapidly cool any surface water than collects on your car whilst you’re washing it, causing damage to the paintwork. Also, you need to check that all your windows are completely shut before washing – although it might seem obvious, many people are caught out by this rookie mistake when they don’t notice a small gap or crack where the window isn’t totally shut.
2.) Before you wash your car, make sure you hose it down to get rid of any small particles of dust and dirt. Do not try to brush these off with a cloth as they can actually cause abrasion and small scratches, damaging the car’s paint job.
3.) Wash your car from the top to the bottom so that the dirt drains away. Follow the contours of the car with long sweeps of your sponge or cleaning cloth, as circular cleaning motions can erode the paint. You may also want to use two buckets – one bucket for your soapy water and another bucket to rinse your dirty sponge or cloth, so you aren’t in risk of reapplying dirt to your car.
Compressed Air If you want to become a car cleaning master, then you should know that all the pros use compressed air somewhere in their operation. You’re already one step ahead of us if you’re thinking that this could be used to clean out those hard to reach places together with the all little nooks and crannies on a car, but did you also know that you can use it to effectively blast out cobwebs, dust and grime from air conditioning and ventilation systems in a car? This is the ideal way to combat that musty smell that many cars develop over the years, giving you a fresh new driving experience every time you sit down behind the wheel.
Cheap Alternatives If you don’t like spending large amounts of cash on car cleaning products then you can get by on the cheap with a few handy household alternatives. One of the easiest things to do it make your own car cleaner – add about 100g of baking soda and 100ml of washing up liquid to 3 litres of water. Mix this up and store it away in a bottle, somewhere in your garage for later use as you’ll get a number of washes out of this solution. Then, when you want to wash your car add around 1 to 1.5 cups of the solution to a bucket of water for a perfect clean. The only problem with using such a solution is that it will remove any protective wax coatings, which leave your car open to damage from scratches and other damage – however we’ve got all the answers for you, as it’s also possible to make your own water resistant solution by mixing around 250ml of petrol with a large bucket of water – sponge this over your car and you’ll find that rainwater runs off your car quickly and easily.
Wiper Blades It doesn’t take an automobile Albert Einstein to tell you that if your car’s windscreen wipers are dirty then you’re going to get a dirty windscreen. The best way to clean the blades is to get a bucket of warm water and mix in a little bleach to create a strong cleaning solution. Then pull the blades away from the car and clean both sides with the solution. Did you also know that you can add a little bit of alcohol, such as a strong aftershave or even cheap vodka, to your car’s windscreen spray reservoir to help keep your windscreen clean?
Household Cleaners There’s an urban legend that says that coke is a great cleaning product – and guess what? It’s true. This is in no small part down to the fact that the soft drink contains phosphoric acid, which is great for getting grease marks off glass, making it the perfect cheap cleaner for your car’s front windscreen. If you’re thinking of using this, then make sure you make a cloth dam at the bottom of the glass, as you won’t want to get any of the sticky liquid onto your car’s paint, then pour on the coke before wiping it across the surface of the screen and finally rinsing it off with cold, clean water. Also many of the agents that are used in modern hair cleaning products to create shine and lustre are very similar to those that give cars a glowing finish – if you’ve run out of wax then why not try using conditioner with lanolin in it on your paintwork – your car will stand out head and shoulders above other vehicles on the road.
Keep At It Of course, the more often you clean your car, the easier it will get. The first time will probably take a considerable amount of effort and trial and error to get things right, but once you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re doing you’ll be able to clean your car in next to no time every weekend. As with everything in life you’ll need a little determination before you can really master the art, so don’t give up and you’ll become adept at cleaning your car – just don’t tell anyone else how good you’ve got or they’ll want you to do their car too!
This is a post by Justin Smith of BreakerLink – the used car part location service. When he’s not busy selling car parts he’s busy updating the Breakerlink Blog