The pandemic has thrown a wrench into our daily lives. So much so, that the very basics of our day-to-day routines can be out of sync. Your car, for one, may just be among the primary casualties of this. Consecutive months have lockdown and quarantines have seen our beloved automobiles remain idle. That said, it's still prudent of us to take good care of it. After all, just because it's not moving, doesn't mean your car doesn't deserve some much-needed love.
It's important then that we pay good attention to our car's every need, as us humans do with food, water, a good wash, and some exercise. So, now that lockdowns are slowly disappearing, here are some of the car care tips that you may have been neglecting, both inside and out. Just before you head out for that long road trip, be sure you tick these boxes first...
1. Give Your Car A Good Wash
There's nothing like letting your car sit for a while to let all the dust, dirt, and grime make its way onto your bodywork. Especially so after the winter months, where muck and salt are detrimental to your car's exterior. Leaving them be, even for a few days, can have leave a nasty mark on your paint. Even rainwater can collect pollutants and contaminants from the air.
A wash will keep your car looking fresh. It would be better to have a high-pressure washer and some specialised cleaning shampoo around. But even a bucket, water, soap, and sponge will do the trick. The most important thing here is your thoroughness. Leave no nook or cranny unwashed, and get into those panel gaps. Once that's done, have a microfibre cloth handy to dry it off, not just a towel.
2. Mind What's Under The Body
While the exterior is what you should be most concerned about, it's crucial to give every surface a healthy dose of cleaning. Remember those nooks and crannies we've just mentioned? The wheel arches are one example. This is where a lot of the mud and dirt from your driving will collect. Other than that, mind the areas around and under your grille, front skirts, exhausts, or rear diffuser.
Debris might slowly build up. For example, the void by your wipers might host dead leaves or branches. Driving through a leafy fall might see foliage collect around your grille. It might even get stuck on the brakes, or in tough to reach places like the exhaust. This could prove hazardous, as it impacts your car's function like cooling. Remember, that one GT-R that caught fire?
3. Remember To Dry Your Car Properly
While we're on the subject of washing, remember that adage of never wipe something off when your car is bone dry? If ever you find bits of dirt stuck on your paint, always wash it off with water and soap first. If you're just using your fingers to brush it away, you're basically rubbing all those abrasive particles on your paint. Then, you'll need to understand how to dry your car out, too.
Once you're all done with washing your car, dry it out with a microfibre cloth. Those tiny fibres should aid in catching every single tiny piece of dirt. Try to avoid air-drying your car. If you let it air dry naturally, there are still some particles left in the water. Once it evaporates, contaminants remain. Over time, they could start eating away your car's paint.
4. Clean Those Wheels
The wheels are among the most underlooked when it comes to cleaning. So, grab a cloth and some special cleaning solutions. Wheels can get dirty and dull all the time. Be it water, dirt, mud, and other things that you have to drive through. Or, it might've come from brake dust. As you brake, it naturally releases a fine mist of metallic or iron dust, as you keep grinding down on the brake pads.
This is normal, but leftover brake dust can do horrid things to the finishing of your wheels. In that case, a special wheel cleaning concentrate can help. Ordinarily, brake dust is insoluble with water and could stick to your wheels stubbornly even during regular washing. With a wheel cleaner, it helps to dissolve the dust, and thus remove it from your wheels without any abrasion or corrosion.
5. Clear Up Your Windshields (And The Lights)
Throwing a bucket of soapy water and wiping it down will get your windshield cleaning job done. But what if you could take it up a notch? There's a load of unique window washing solutions out there that have water repellent properties. It might not sound like much, but being able to keep droplets from forming up on your windshield would be a big bonus for visibility.
It can prevent excessive glare, and could be formulated so that its chemical compounds can slowly recondition the wiper blades. While you're at it, it's worthwhile spending some time to clean your headlights. They can yellow and get hazy over time, which would be dangerous. If they're not too badly fogged up, abrasives like toothpaste would do the trick.
6. Touch Up Your Car's Paint
While the paint finishing in a modern vehicle is highly complex, it's still vulnerable to a lot of loose debris, grit, stone chips, and the countless little objects that fly into you while you're driving. As such, your paint chipping or damaging is a very common theme amongst many car owners. That, as well as people scratching and scuffing their shopping trolleys or doors onto your car's lovely body.
Normally, this would require a specialty paint job or a full respray. Both are very expensive and time-consuming. However, more affordable DIY kits and at-home repair solutions are becoming very good nowadays. The solutions that you'd find on Chipex, for instance, can be colour coded to match your exact car. A quick paint touch-up can make your car look showroom fresh.
7. Give Your Interior A Good Vacuuming
You'd be surprised as to how many people don't keep their interior clean. This is despite the fact that most of your time around your car will be spent in it. Yet, there are always large deposits of dirt or sand from your shoe that may very well be buried into your carpets. That's not to mention all the other rubbish that you haven't thrown out... Tissues, parking tickets, paper cups, bags, as so on.
Your car isn't a landfill, so why treat it like one? Have a vacuum handy to clean out your floor mats. But do so from the top down. Your headliner, for example, can do with some vacuuming from all the loose hairs that can get stuck up there. The seats, as well, will have hairs, dead skins, or dust. Mind you, there's plenty of hard-to-reach areas like the endless pit between and under the seats.
8. Wipe Down Everything
Now that we're inside, it's a good time to wipe everything down with some disinfectant wipes. Alternatively, a good interior cleaning solution and a cloth would do even better. There's a lot of areas in your car's cabin that could host an entire ecosystem of bacteria, not just from the dust and dirt in it. Saliva, is one example, from all times you were having a chat while you're driving.
Or, it might be leftover sweat from those hot summer days. The most important places to start wiping clean are the high-touch areas. These include places like your steering wheel, dashboard, centre console, gear lever, handbrake, door panels, windows, and all the switchgear. For those tiny groupings of dust that refuse to depart your cabin, a tiny brush would come in handy.
9. Restore Your Seats
Speaking of nasty deposits, grime is a disgusting thing to come across. A lot of the time, they appear along the places where our bodies would rest for long periods. Think of zones like the headrests, seats, lumbar, or armrests. They'll get sticky over time. Thankfully, there are cleaning solutions to help solve this.
Though you should bear in mind that material your seats are made from. Leather seats and interior trim, especially, need to be cared for properly. You can't simply use dishwashing soap and a sponge here. Some interior cleaning solutions even work across different types of material, from leather and vinyl seats or padding, and across to rubber and plastic trim pieces altogether.
10. De-Odourise The Cabin
Another aspect of routine cosmetic care that we don't think about that much - apart from sight and touch - is the smell. Your car's cabin can start smelling very musty and mouldy over time, as different types of odours mix into one. You might be one to keep their groceries and fresh produce inside the passenger cabin. Or, you might have pets running around.
And let's not talk about car sickness spewing everywhere. Leaving your car's windows open won't be enough to evacuate much of the smell. That's why there are formulated odour neutralisers on the market. Most importantly, they don't just mask the smell. Using safe and non-toxic chemicals, they can effectively degrade organic matters that cause unpleasant odours in the first place.
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