Maintaining your car is key in upholding its resale value, as well as extending its life so that you don't need to replace it too soon. Usually, though, when we think about car maintenance, we think about internal things, like oil changes and engine checks. To be sure, the guts of the car are what make it go, so it's sensible to assume that these parts take priority. However, maintaining the exterior of your car is important for the same reason that skincare in humans is important: the outside is what holds together the inside and protects it from damage. Additionally, looks do matter; assuming two cars are matched in every area of auto performance, a potential buyer will be more interested in the one that looks better.
Of course, visiting a professional for a detailing job is a reliable way to go, but if you've squeezed your budget to the point where it's not feasible for you to do that regularly, don't despair...you have options!
If DIYing doesn't hold much appeal for you, and you feel you can't budget a trip to the pros, consider the next best thing: pros in the making. Remember your friend who teaches high school? Chances are the school he or she teaches at has an auto department. Usually, schools with an auto department offer basic services to teachers at a fraction of the cost of a professional job, and they are supervised by a professional (auto teachers have typically been in the industry for literally decades before they decide to teach). Ask your friend to make an appointment for you...or even get in touch with an auto teacher at a local high school directly yourself.
If DIYing does appeal to you, here are five tips we've gathered along that way that will help restore the sparkle to your car.
- When it comes to cleaning, always work your way out from in. Start by dusting an vaccuming the interior, so that you're not simply transferring that dust to an already clean exterior.
- When it comes to cleaning glass, try this old wartime trick: use newspaper...just plain old, dry, untreated newspaper. You'll be amazed at how effective it is at making your windows crystal clear. Talk about an economical, low-impact cleaner!
- Removing stickers and decals should be done before you wash the car, ideally. The adhesive on these stickers becomes softer in the heat, so sunlight is your friend here. If you live in the heart of Mordor where the sun never shines, a hairdryer will do. An alternative is to saturate the sticker in oil (vegetable oil works just fine). If you leave it for several hours (even a full day), you'll find that sticker slides right off. Once you have removed the sticker, clean up any adhesive it has left behind.
- When you reach the exterior, begin with the wheels and the surrounding area. This way, you lessen the chances of dirt from the wheels splashing all over the parts you've already cleaned.
- For drying, choose microfiber cloths over cotton. They are super absorbent, and won't cause very fine scratches to your car the way that cotton might.