Autumn Prep Guide: 11 Steps To A Clean, Healthy Ride
Oil, dirt, sand, sap, chemicals, tar, radiator fluid–summer travels accumulate a lot of contaminants. Come the first rains for autumn, those chemicals slosh against your vehicle, damaging its finish as well as coating wheels and windows with grime.
By applying some preventative care, your vehicle can shine through all the early season weather. A bit of interior maintenance also can help improve cabin health for you and your passengers.
For drivers who live or drive to places where autumn arrives early–Canada, New England, mountainous regions–problems with grime surface in early September. By taking early preventative steps, drivers can protect the exterior and interior of their vehicles.
Same is true for other regions as well, especially places which experienced frequent summer rains. All of the accumulated grime can damage exterior finishes. Moisture can lead to mold and odors if left unattended.
Keep your vehicle shining throughout fall and improve the health of your vehicle cabin with some simple car care steps this September:
1. Remove accumulated grit on the undercarriage, wheel wells and wheels. Contaminants readily cling to metal and cause corrosion.
- Use a power washer or wand at a coin operated vehicle wash to attack the problem.
2. Give your vehicle a thorough washing, either by hand or taking it through an automated vehicle wash. The initial wash eliminates most contaminants so you can focus on detail later.
3. Clean wheels separately. Automated car washes tend to pass lightly over wheels and leave grime in the rim barrels.
- That sooty-looking film is corrosive and can permanently damage your expensive rims. Look for products designed specifically for wheels since household chemicals can harm clear coat, painted and chrome surfaces. The latest products do not require a hose and bucket.
4. Did you drive through a swarm of insects recently? Insects can cake on all surfaces of your vehicle during autumn harvest no matter where you live and especially while traveling through agricultural areas.
- Bug goo is acidic and can readily stain surfaces. Treat areas with an insect solution designed for automobile surfaces.
- Then, as with wheels and undercarriage, use a power washer or con op wash to spray away the problem
5. Run your hand over the vehicle surface and look for rough patches. Do some areas feel like sandpaper? Consider using a “clay bar,” a synthetic material designed for vehicles that feels like putty.
- Those rough spots are contaminants which have bonded to the vehicle surface. Left unattended, embedded contaminants can cause permanent damage to your vehicle’s painted surfaces. A clay bar gently breaks the bonds and leaves the surface smooth.
6. Apply a coat of wax and give your vehicle the “bead test.”
- That is, does water bead up and roll off the vehicle surface? If not, then it’s time for another cleaning and coat of wax.
- You have a lot of easy-to-apply choices. One of the most recent technologies is called “ceramic coating” labeled “SIO2 technology” or “ceramic-infused.”
- Read the product label thoroughly. Some ceramic coatings are applied right after the wash cycle before the vehicle dries. It wipes off readily and leaves a glass-like shine that can last through fall even in tough environments.
7. Treat yourself to a healthy cabin. Dirt, dust, fur and spills from summer road trips fill your vehicle cabin with allergens and mold spores.
- Vacuum the cabin and dry out areas of moisture on and under carpeted areas. Wipe up those coffee or sugary drinks spills before they cause stain or mold growth.
- Also, remove soiled sports gear promptly to eliminate moisture in the cabin. Don’t forget to vacuum dirt and remove damp sports gear from the trunk area.
8. Apply a protective spray to carpeted areas. Autumn adventures can turn into wet hikes or bike rides.
9. Use upholstery cleaner and protectant for seats and other interior surfaces. Moisture from wet clothes can seep into the seat cushions and creates a petri dish for mold growth.
10. Keep a clear view of the world while driving. Use window cleaner designed for automobile glass to prevent streaks. Clean both sides of the glass. Hazy film accumulates on interior glass surfaces during summer months and can turn the windshield into a sheet of glare.
11. Avoid rainwater spotting by wiping down your vehicle after autumn storms. Beads of water can leave pale stains on vehicle surfaces and tend to attract contaminants.