It’s summertime, and we are ready for a clean, shiny car to cruise the streets in. Here are some DIY auto detailing tips to get your car looking great again!
Let’s start with the leather
If you have leather upholstery, buy a leather-cleaning kit and keep it in the vehicle. When you clean the oops and spills right away, you dramatically increase your chances of a complete cleanup without signs of an accident. If you wait, lipstick, ink, dye, and lipstick transfer from clothing (and plastic shopping bags) and can become permanent in as little as 24 hours. Pretreat your leather with a conditioner before you start the stain removal process. Wipe the leather down with a pre-treater, and then apply leather cleaner and the leather protection cream.
Lubricate your hood hinges
Before applying grease or oil, be sure to wipe down the hinges first. We recommend white lithium grease or a few drops of any ordinary motor oil. Move the hinge several times to work the grease in. and work it into both sides of each hinge. Once you are done, wipe away any excess to keep it from collecting debris.
Next up: The interior
Brush Out the Air Vents
The vent louvers are a magnet for dust; most of the time, a vacuum with a brush attachment won’t get it all, no matter how hard you try. A simple trick is to take an inexpensive artist’s brush and give it a light shot of furniture polish and then work the brush into the crevices to collect the dust. Wipe the brush off frequently with a rag and move on to the next vent.
Using a carpet cleaning machine is a great way to give your car a deep clean. This helps to get the dirt that settles deep into the fibers of carpets. You can also clean cloth seats this way. Machines designed to clean carpets spray a solution of water and cleaner and then sucks the dirt and grime up into a reservoir. Owning a machine like this pays for itself after just a few uses. You can also rent one from a rental center or use a spray-on cleaner and a scrub brush to get the job done.
Scrape Off Those Annoying Stickers
Do you walk around your vehicle and marvel at how many stickers you have accumulated on your car? These stickers can become a visual hazard as they accumulate. High-quality stickers will pull off if you can get under a corner and carefully pull them free using a 90-degree angle. Others will leave a gummy residue and require a lot more attention. Cover your dash with an old towel and dab on a degreaser like Goo Gone. Then scrape and wipe it off.
Eliminate squeaky doors
Are you tired of your door squeaking every time you open it? It is time to squirt the hinges with WD-40 to free them. Just remember to move the door several times to work in the lubricant. Once the hinges are in good working condition, add white lithium grease or motor oil, open and close the door several times and then wipe any excess away. Remember to check the door latch for corrosion. Door latches love a shot of silicone spray while you are at it.
Cleaning from the Top
Most DIY’ers usually start by vacuuming the carpet when cleaning their cars; however, that just pushes dirt from the dash, seats, and door panels back onto your freshly cleaned carpet. Professional detailers start at the top and work down to the carpet last.
Slide Seats Forward to Clean Out the Junk
It is always a treasure hunt behind the seats of a vehicle. Pens, pencils, a lost cell phone, or change for parking and vending machines can all be found back there. Start with the seats, pull the mats, and vacuum the carpet. Take an attachment, use it on the door panels, and dash while at it. Remember to clean those door pockets and see what treasures they hold!
Remember to Clean Nooks and Crannies
What is detailing? Precisely that, paying attention to the details, so don’t shirk now; take the time to wrap a cloth around an old screwdriver. And spray simple green or another cleaner on that cloth and slide it gently along all edges and trim lines and buttons to collect all the fine gunk collected there.
Brush and Vacuum Your Carpet
If you just vacuum automotive carpets, you will leave dirt and grim behind. Removing the dirt requires a stiff brush to scrub with while vacuuming up all the debris that comes up. When you do this, you will see all the dirt and particles bounce through the surface, and you can then suck them up with your vacuum.
You’ll see the dirt particles bounce to the surface so you can suck them up with your shop vacuum as part of your auto detailing.
Wash Plastic and Vinyl
Apply soap to vinyl and plastic surfaces and scrub with a softer scuffing pad. Put extra effort into textured and recessed areas. Wipe the surface with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth and let it dry.
Apply Non-Silicone Dash and Vinyl Protectant
Silicone attracts more dust, so you’ll have to clean it more often; a shiny dash reflects into your windshield, reducing your vision, especially at nighttime. Using a non-silicone matte finish vinyl protectant will not only reduce glare, but they also look great!
Rinse your car before washing
When your car is dirty and dry, you’ll grind surface dust and road grit into your paint finish. Always start with a clear water rinse to remove as much dust and dirt as possible, as the professionals do.
Forget the Sponge; use a Microfiber Mitt
Sponges grab and hold dirt in their pores, which means you will eventually use a sandpaper sponge to scratch the paint on your vehicle. We recommend a microfiber mitt as it releases the dirt and grime while you go.
Wash With the Right Suds
Yes, dish soap is a great degreaser and removes old wax, but it is not good for your car’s paint because it sucks important oils out of the finish of your paint, effectively shortening the lifespan of your paint job. Head into a car wash where you can do it yourself, or head to an auto parts store for a cleaner specially formulated for your car. If you have a second bucket, fill that one with water to rinse your mitt during your wash to prevent scratches. When you are done, toss that mitt into the washing machine to get it clean and ready for next time.
Dry With a Microfiber Towel
Even though chamois soak up water, they don’t pick up grit that’s left behind after rinsing. A microfiber towel collects particles, malking them better than a chamois. Rinse the towel in clean water to remove the grit, and then wring and keep drying during your DIY car wash.
Get a Mirror Finish With Synthetic Wax
Carnauba wax is fantastic; however, we prefer a liquid wax by Meguiar’s that leaves the newer synthetic polymer wax’s wet-gloss look. Even though it is pricier than other synthetics, it doesn’t leave a white film on plastic or trim—which is a real advantage. Plus, it’s easy to apply. Simply apply the wax to the foam applicator and rub it into the finish with a swirling motion. Then wipe off the haze with a microfiber towel. Swap to a clean towel as soon as the first one loads up for a faster shine.
Last is the Glass
Once you’ve cleaned the inside of your windows before you cleaned the dash and applied vinyl protectant, the glass is again smeary. That’s why the professionals save glass cleaning until the very end. Cleaning the windows last removes all treatment overspray and leaves you sparkling clean windows.
Last things Wash the Windows, Including the Top Edges
Have you ever noticed that line of grime on the tops of windows when they’re rolled part way down? Most people overlook this detail when giving their vehicle a quick wash. A few minutes with Windex and a clean rag is all it takes.
At Foothill Auto Service, we are proud to provide you with the best in-house 3-year/36,000-mile guarantee in the Lake Forest area and a TechNet 36-month/36,000-mile warranty in case you are traveling. Call our friendly service desk today or schedule an appointment online so we can take great care of you and your vehicle.
We look forward to seeing you soon!