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9 Tips for Cleaning the Exterior of Your Vehicle

CarShield Team

Posted in:
Tips & Advice

When the weather turns nice, it’s difficult to resist the urge to go outside. For many that means taking a long drive or even a road trip.

You open the garage and take a look at your car, as you prepare to hit the road, and you wonder what happened to that shiny car you once had. If the winter months have left your car lacking the appeal it once had, don’t worry. With just little effort you can get it shining like new again.

Here are 9 tips to give your car back its shine:

1. Get Out of the Sun

Moving your car out of direct sunlight while you wash it will help prevent the water from drying and leaving spots on your car. On really warm days, this may even cause the soapy water to evaporate leaving behind a residue that dulls the shine you’re after.

Also, the sunlight can cause streaking when you clean the windows, but we’ll get to that later.

2. Pick the Right Soap

Speaking of soap, don’t use the liquid soap from inside your house. They have ingredients that may be harmful to the finish of your car.

Instead, get a specially formulated car washing soap from your local auto parts store. These car washing formulas will make your car look even better, and won’t compromise the clear coat that protects your paint.

3. Use the Best Cloth

Use a microfiber cloth instead of a sponge or old t-shirt. The other materials may not pick up everything you’re trying to remove from the vehicle surface as you wash. Worse yet, the abrasive materials could harm your car’s exterior.

Once you’re done with the washing, dry with a clean, dry micro fiber cloth. This will avoid any water spots appearing on your clean car.

4. Wax On

It is true that your car has a protective clear coat on your paint. It’s also true that your car is exposed to harsh sun light, rain, and road debris. If you live somewhere that experiences snow where roads are treated for ice, your car desperately needs your help protecting it.

With that kind of regular assault, one thin layer of defense is simply not enough to protect your car’s paint. Waxing adds another barrier of defense, and can restore the original shine of your paint’s finish.

You need to wax your car at least twice a year if you live in an area with harsh climate changes.

5. Restore and Shine the Trim

Don’t neglect the dark trim areas of your car. If the trim areas used to be a nice deep black but have faded to a grungy gray, don’t despair. They can be restored.

Return those pieces to glory and shine them up to with a restoration polish.

6. Shine the Headlights

Nothing betrays the age of a car as fast as clouded and discolored head lights. There a lot of reasons why headlights yellow and fog up.

The biggest one is oxidation of the acrylic material. This will happen naturally, but it can be prevented with care. Be sure to wash the headlamp areas with auto soap and a microfiber towel to remove any build-up of chemicals and dust or dirt. Once that is done, apply a coat of polish to help protect from the sun. Doing so will prevent the premature aging of the headlamp and keep your visibility optimal at night.

7. The Space Between

Usually a telltale sign of whether a car was professionally detailed or not is to simply open the car door and look around the hinges. Pros don’t miss these areas. Don’t forget to clean the spaces between the door, hood, and trunk. These areas fill with dust, pollen, and dirt. If you’ve just cleaned your car thoroughly, water may drip down from these areas and deposit the unsightly grime on your otherwise pristine car.

8. Properly Clean Your Windows

When it comes to cleaning glass, let’s be clear: not all glass cleaners are created equal.

While it may be tempting to just grab a bottle of glass cleaner from inside the house, you’re better off using a window cleaner that is developed for auto glass. These products are usually devoid of chemicals that may harm the UV coating that is on your car’s windows.

If you must use a glass cleaner from inside the house, utilize the ammonia-free variety. These types are generally safe to use on your car’s glass surfaces.

9. Treat Your Treads

Use a tire shine, but save it for last to add that finishing touch. Be sure to not overspray onto your freshly cleaned car, though. The silicone base will be visible and may ruin all your hard car-cleaning work.

Now that the outside of your car looks clean, pristine, and showroom-ready, it’s time to make the interior match. Here are 8 Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Car Interior.

CarShield customer, Don, saved over $4,300 in auto repairs.
CarShield customer, Don, saved over $4,300 in auto repairs.

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