9 Car Care Tips to Fight Back Against Winter Grime, Remove Allergens
Temperatures are on the rise, the skies are clearing and it’s time to hit the road. But before you head out.
Give your car the love it deserves with a good spring-cleaning from bumper to bumper. It’s not just about the looks, it’s also about protecting it.
Mark Smith, owner of Custom Auto Refinish, has some advice on not only how to get your car in top condition, but protect it against damage from the dirt and grime it may have collected over the winter months.
Smith suggests your first step is to start with the interior, beginning with a deep clean of your carpets and mats. Remove the floor mats and give them a good vacuuming.
Remove floor mats
Sticky, grimy floor mats are a frequent cause of foul odors and allergens in warm spring days–spilled coffee, food particles, mold spores, pollen.
If you use rubber floor mats, wipe them down with a suitable cleaner and get all the accumulated gunk out of the corners and crevices. Once that’s done, don’t forget about the rest of the carpet in your car.
“You get all the snow and grime and the stuff off your shoes on the carpet,” Smith explains. “The salt will deteriorate your carpet.”
While vacuuming, make sure you get under and in-between the seats and extract anything that might have fallen out of sight. This includes food, which can mold and leave a bad smell in the car.
Spring seat care
Next, turn to your seats. If they’re leather, use a quality leather cleaner followed by a conditioner. Make sure you don’t use products such as wipes containing bleach or harsh chemicals on your seats. They can dry out and damage the leather.
When it comes to fabric seats, we all know how stains can set in to the material. Smith suggests a mix of a dry chemical cleaner with water. Using a brush, scrub the seats until clean, then wipe and dry them off with a towel. It should do the trick on most stains.
“They’ll look really good,” Smith says.
Now it’s time to give the dashboard a good cleaning. Using a damp microfiber cloth is usually enough unless it’s extremely dirty, then use a cleaner intended for automobile surfaces.
“Then you don’t have to worry about the glare,” Smith says.
Applying a protectant will help prevent UV rays of spring from damaging the surface.
Also, don’t forget about other hard surfaces such as the instrument panel, doors, and trim. These can get grimy from getting in and out of the car during rough weather.
With the interior complete, move on to the exterior of the car.
First, your vehicle needs a good, thorough wash. You can always go to a car wash or get the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
But don’t forget to clean underneath, especially if you live in an area with heavy winter snow. Substances such as salt and chemicals used to clear the roads and a buildup of grime on the underside of your car can lead to problems down the road.
“That’s what can cause the rust,” Smith says.
He suggests visiting a car wash that specializes in cleaning underneath your vehicle for the first big wash of the spring.
Once your windshield and windows are good and clean, apply a ceramic wax made specifically for glass.
“It helps keep the glass clean and the windshield wipers work better,” Smith explains.
Make sure to give your headlights a good cleaning. Smith suggests you choose your favorite headlight polish or even a car polish to keep them clean and protected. You can buff the headlights with a polish brush attached to a cordless drill at a low speed.
Sparkling wheels, lustrous tires
Scrub wheels with a brush designed for auto rims to prevent scratching. Get all the road grime off the rims and anything caught up in the wheel wells.
Check for damage from winter driving that you may not have noticed. Any bends or dings or jagged edges on the rim surfaces where tires are mounted? It could cause air leaking.
“Get the back of the wheels if you can,” Smith recommends.
You never know what’s been lodged back there and could come loose and cause damage to the wheels or brakes. After the rims are clean, you can also apply a ceramic coat to protect the metal and make it shine.
Don’t forget the tires. Give them a good cleaning and treat them with a foam or gel tire dressing. This will help keep the rubber from drying out and protect the tire against dry rot.
Finally, after you have finished cleaning the exterior of your car, Smith is a big fan of ceramic waxes.
“Ceramic waxes usually last six months or so,” he says.
However, Smith cautions against frequently going to a car wash after you wax your vehicle. Often they use chemicals in their cleaning agents that will quickly wear away the wax.
You’ll have to wax your vehicle much more often. Sometimes a good self-wash is the best approach. Giving your car a thorough clean will not only remove the old grime and protect it during spring driving, but there’s a pride factor involved as well.
“Having a clean vehicle just makes you feel good,” Smith says.
Smith’s tips for putting the shine on your vehicle this spring:
- Vacuum carpets and clean rubber floor mats. Make sure to get under the seats and remove any food scraps that might cause bad smells or mold issues. Apply carpet cleaner designed for vehicles on rugs areas. Remove and wash rubber floor mats.
- For leather seats, wipe them down with a good leather cleaner. For fabric, use a dry chemical cleaner mix and a brush.
- Wipe down the dash and instrument panels using a damp towel.
- Give the exterior a good wash and don’t forget the underside.
- Clean the wheels and tires then to treat them with foam or tire gel dressing. Add some tire dressing to give the rubber a lustrous black appearance.
- Wipe down the dashboard with a microfiber towel and use a protectant to shield UV rays of spring. Look for products designed specifically for automobile interiors.
- Give your vehicle a thorough exterior washing to remove winter grime. Use a drive-through car wash and then apply a coat of ceramic wax to keep it shining through spring storms.
- Clean off all headlights. Are the lenses yellowed from sun exposure? Consider getting them polished rather than replaced to remove oxidation.
- Check for rim damage from potholes, curbs or other obstructions. Rim damage could cause air leaks and leave you with an untimely flat tire.