Fall Clean Up: How To Sparkle Through The Change Of Season
October is a good time to rid your car of contaminants – traces of oil, dirt, dead leaves, sap, bird filth, radiator fluid and tar – that have collected on your vehicle during the summer.
Contaminants continue to damage surfaces of your car as well as coat wheels and windows with grime once autumn rains arrive. Moisture also causes mold or unwanted odors if the vehicle isn’t cleaned.
The problems are especially true for drivers who live in moisture rich areas–New England, Canada as well as mountainous regions of the Western or Eastern U.S.
“Autumn is a perfect time to clean off all the summer grime and protect your vehicle from harsher weather as the season’s change,” said Jim Dvorak of Mothers car care products. “Those first rains of autumn splash a lot of grime accumulated during summer months.”
Summer roads gather up a lot of oil, radiator fluid, dirt, tar, pollen and sap. All of those contaminants leach out of roads and adhere to vehicle surfaces–making a mess of your ride, from wheels to windows.
“The first thing to do is remove all of the contaminants that are on the vehicle now,” Dovorak says. “The job might require using a synthetic clay bar for vehicles.
“Then, a layer of wax or ceramic protection can help prevent contaminants from adhering to vehicle surfaces during autumn storms.”
Dvorak had the following suggestions for cleaning auto exteriors and interiors this autumn.
- Clean the windshield and windows. Clean windows allow better visibility, especially now that the sun is setting earlier. Give the windshield and the back window of an SUV or truck a coat of a product that is a water repellant to help your visibility when it is raining.
- Clean and wax headlights, taillights and brake lights. Reduced brightness makes it harder for other vehicles to notice when you are slowing down, Dvorak said.
- Use a headlight restoration product to help remove yellowing that also reduces visibility.
- Clean both inside and outside of window surfaces. A thin layer of haze builds up over summer on the inside and causes glare and reduced visibility.
- Wipers need cleaning too. Use a wet lint-free cloth with rubbing alcohol to clean the wipers, to prevent streaking and smears on your windshield. Check wipers to make sure they don’t have cracks or chips in them.
Other Autumn Car Care Tips
- Get the right tools. Before you start to wash and wax, stock up on any special hose nozzles, grit guards, special washing mitts, wheel brushes, special tire cleaners, microfiber towels, car dash restorers and car vacuums that you might need.
- Look for multi surface products. The latest interior cleaning solutions that may be used on multiple surfaces including vinyl, leather, plastic and rubber. This simplifies the job of keeping your vehicle looking great inside.
- Don’t use household cleaners. Dish soap can remove wax and damage painted surfaces. Household cleaners can cause permanent damage to rubber, paint and wheels.
- Use wash solutions intended for vehicles. Some may double as a light wax coating as well. Note: Dvorak recommends a separate wax or ceramic coating at least once a quarter to provide lasting protection.
- Carry a “quick detailing” in your vehicle on the road to remove bird droppings, sap and other splotches encountered while driving. The sooner you remove environmental contaminants, the less chance it damages the surface of your vehicle.
- Give your vehicle the “bead test.” Check if water beads up and rolls off the surface of the vehicle. If not, apply a coat of wax after washing your vehicle. Dry the vehicle with a microfiber towel to prevent streaking and spots. Dvorak prefers using carnauba wax or synthetic wax such as ceramic-based solutions to protect his vehicles.
- Clay isn’t just for kids anymore–use it to remove embedded contaminants. Clay bars are synthetic, sticky material designed to smooth out rough surfaces on your vehicle. Anyone who washes their vehicle should have one to prevent contaminants from damaging painted surfaces, Dvorak said.
- Take a few minutes to vacuum carpeted areas thoroughly including under seats and behind child car seats. Crumbs, dirt and pollen find their way between fibers and can cause odor or mold during wet weather.
- Apply a protective spray to carpet and invest rubber floor mats. The goal is to prevent wet and dirty shoes from creating mold underneath carpeted surfaces, Dvorak said.
- Clean dust and pollen from vents. Accumulation of grime in vents during summer can get sticky and hard to remove with arrival of moist autumn air.
- Don’t neglect the trim on your car. You might not see it, but dirt and grime get under the trim.
- Wash away dirt on the undercarriage, wheel wells and wheels. Take your vehicle to a coin operated car wash and use a power washer or wand to make sure these areas are clear of dirt and other contaminants. The film you see on your wheels can eventually damage the rims.
- Pet hair is not a decoration – remove it. The vacuum will probably not remove all pet hair, but using the proper cleanser for leather or cloth along with a vacuum with a soft brush will help get the seats clean. Another option for autumn: consider investing in pet seat covers to keep all that hair from embedding in your nice upholstery.