There is more to car care than regular trips through the car wash. With a little skill, a car’s condition can be improved step by step using the do-it-yourself process.
- Washing, polishing and waxing help against dirt and salt on the car
- A thorough vehicle preparation improves the appearance and can pay off when selling
- A self-service car wash is a right place for cleaning the car
Wash the car: two gears for a clean result
A high-pressure cleaner removes coarse dirt and, in winter, road salt from the paintwork and underbody of the car. In order not to damage the paint, a distance of 30 centimeters is essential. The delicate wash that follows requires a lot of manual work, a sponge, car shampoo, and lukewarm water.
Tip: Don’t forget to clean the tailgate and entrances, especially the driver’s side. It is best to use the car wash to wash the underbody.
After rinsing with clean water, dry the vehicle thoroughly with a leather or microfiber cloth.
Clean rims: What works against brake dust
Here, too, the high-pressure cleaner is used at a distance of 30 centimeters. Remove heavy dirt with a sponge, brush, and wheel cleaner. This works against burned-in brake dust because these cleaners contain chemicals, you should not exceed the recommended exposure time and use protective goggles and gloves. Acidic cleaners are unsuitable because they can damage the seal on the rims. A special cleaning clay helps against stubborn dirt such as rust film or tar. If the rims are clean, they are rinsed with clear water.
Clean the windows: a better perspective with a trick
If a commercial window cleaner is not enough to remove tar or fly droppings, use a special remover. It is best to move the side windows down a little before cleaning the inside to get to the top areas otherwise hidden under the seals. Toll stickers are easier to remove if they are preheated with a hairdryer. A commercially available silicone cleaner helps against any residues.
Tip: If you clean the glasses vertically on the inside and horizontally on the outside, you can recognize streaks more easily and rework them more precisely.
Prepare strips and door rubbers: Small pencil with a big effect
The cleaning of faded plastic trim works well with a silicone remover. Then it is colored darker with a deep care product. A care stick made from deer tallow or Vaseline makes brittle door rubbers pliable again, prevents water from penetrating, and dampens wind noise.
Clean the interior: with a vacuum cleaner and microfiber cloth
The interior of the car needs a thorough vacuum cleaner first. With its narrow nozzle, you can also reach the spaces between seats and on the floor. Be careful with softer plastics: the hard vacuum cleaner nozzle can cause scratches. With a car interior cleaner and a microfiber cloth, fittings, seat cushions, and fabric linings are removed from dirt. If this is lower, a wet vacuum cleaner is used, with which you spray the affected area and then pull out dirt and moisture. Cockpit spray is suitable for cleaning, preparing, and maintaining plastic and smooth leather surfaces.
Maintain the paintwork: If in doubt, better by hand
The last point in car preparation begins with covering all plastic parts with tape. A small amount of polish is then applied, section by section, with a soft microfiber cloth. It is essential to work in the shade, at a moderate temperature and only with light pressure. Polish away any residues with a second clean cloth. It is then advisable to seal the vehicle with car wax – then the polish will survive several car washes. Only professionals should use a machine for the application.
If you want to get to work yourself, you have to determine whether car care is also allowed on private property or in a public parking lot. This is regulated differently depending on the municipality. Therefore, a safe choice is the self-service wash area at a gas station or car wash. High-pressure cleaners and vacuum cleaners are usually also available there.