By tradition, middle class suburbanites would wash the car on Sunday morning before going for a drive with the family in the afternoon. Some people took this chore earnestly, but for most it was twenty or thirty minutes washing and polishing the outside and five minutes with the vacuum cleaner inside. These days a lot more drivers expect a good cleaning that in those days was reserved for the well-healed.
However, having your car detailed or valeted is still not inexpensive, typically costing $75 for an average job on an average sized car in average condition. When you start talking about a grimy SUV that has recently been used to transport the school football team, detailing in the right manner at a good firm can cost $300-$400.
Not a great deal of drivers can afford to pay that out frequently, particularly with the price of petrol being what it is, so here are a couple of car detailing pointers to help you do it yourself (or get the kids to do it for you).
- Take out everything that can be removed and vacuum the carpets. Then wash the windows on the inside and clean the seats, upholstery and dash with an apposite cleaner, particularly if the seats are covered in leather upholstery. Wash the things you removed, dry them and replace. Put a stick of slow-acting air freshener in the glove compartment and close all the doors.
- Hose your car down, particularly in the wheel arches and under the bonnet to remove the worst of the dirt and soften up anything that has gone rock-solid. Do not use a really strong power washer, ie one that is attached to a powerful pump. These power washers can blast grit away so hard that it scratches the paintwork. A regular hose attached directly to the mains is good enough
- Check the dirt under the wheel arch and blast it off with a slightly stronger jet if yu have to. Do the wheels too, if they are bad. Once you can no longer see any build up of mud, you can move on to the next stage.
- Either mix a bucket of lukewarm soapy water or fix a soap dispenser to your hose pipe. It is worth investing in proper car cleaner, because kitchen detergent could be too harsh for your car’s paintwork.
Do not try to save money on the amount of detergent you use, follow the manufacturer’s directions and apply it with a sponge or mitten. If you are using a bucket, be ready to renew the water several times – you do not want to be rubbing grit into your paintwork.
Sponge down the car in sections beginning with the roof and then rinse it off immediately. So, wash the roof, rinse it; wash a door panel, rinse it; move on and around your car until you get to the bottom – the bumpers and wheels.. You have to rinse instantly to prevent a film of soap drying onto the paintwork, especially on a hot day.
Re-rinse the whole car in case you missed something. If you purchased a car wash with wax included, you are done, but if you would like the best finish, now is the time to wax on and then wax off.
Owen Jones, the writer of this piece, writes on lots of topics, but is now involved with auto interior detailing. If you want some tips on detailing cars come over to our website now at Detailing Car Interiors.