Archive for Car Detailing – Page 2

Why DIY Car Washes are the Best

 Do it yourself  car wash dryingThere’s nothing like good, old-fashioned elbow grease when it comes to getting the most out of your car wash. Although there’s something to be said for automatic car washes, which allow you to get in and out without even exiting your car, nothing will get your vehicle in better condition—and for less money—than a self-serve car wash. Here’s why.

  • Full Cycle on Your Terms: Self-service car washes are like automated car washes in that your automobile goes through a carefully tested cycle of soaking, washing, rinsing, and waxing. However, unlike an automated wash, you get to decide how long each cycle lasts. Do you have lots of caked on mud and windshield splatter? You should soak for a few extra minutes. Has it been a while since you put a coat of wax on your car? Spend a little extra time making sure you wax all the nooks and crannies. Because you control how long each cleaning step takes, you can customize your wash to your ride.
  • Personalized Inspection: Chances are you don’t do a walk-around of your car each night when you get home from work. A car wash is a great opportunity to perform a careful inspection of your vehicle without taking extra time out of your day to do it. When you’re up close and personal doing the scrubbing, spraying, and wiping for yourself, you can keep an eye out for any dings or dents that might need your attention. You can also use this time to check the pressure of your tires, assess your windshield wipers, or even peek under the hood to ensure your fluid levels are good.
  • Clean Inside and Out: If you’re like most car owners, the inside of your car gets just as dirty as the outside. With a DIY car wash, you can pay equal attention to both the interior and exterior. Before you pull into the stall, stop at the vacuums to clear out the garbage, clean the upholstery, and run a window cleaner over the inside of the windshield.
  • Provide Your Own Detailing: There are certain parts of a car that require a more detailed focus than you get from an automated wash. For example, your headlights should be regularly polished, and you may need to work double duty to clean off a bug shield or get the chrome on your wheels shining. During a DIY car wash, you can do as much (or as little) detail work as you like. Many people find it handy to carry their own supplies for the details, while others take advantage of the materials available at the car wash itself.
  • Less Water Waste: One of the rarely discussed benefits of a self-service car wash is the positive impact it has on the environment. Because you control the amount of time spent washing the car, you determine how much water is being used or not. And because you’re at a professional wash instead of at home, the drained water isn’t being put directly into the ground. In fact, this type of car wash is considered the most eco-friendly.

DIY car washes are also great for providing you with exercise, a long-lasting appreciation for your vehicle, and, in some cases, a chance to have some fun with your kids. Here in Salt Lake City, we find that lots of families stop by to work together to clean their cars, staying active and healthy while they do it!

Car Maintenance Checklist You Can Perform at the Car Wash

Check your cars exterior for scratches and dingsRegular car maintenance doesn’t have to be a hassle. By taking ten extra minutes the next time you stop at the car wash, you can combine the task of cleaning your vehicle and making sure everything is in working order. Save time by getting everything done at once and save money by taking care of potential problems before they arise.

Vehicle Exterior

As you walk around your car soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, keep an eye on these features:

  • Body for cracks/dings/scratches
  • Wipers for wear and tear
  • Headlights and taillights for cracks
  • Tire tread and condition
  • Windows and windshield for damage/deep stains

Although it’s not recommended that you leave your car running or the lights on while you’re washing the car, you can also take a moment to flip the lights on and perform a walk-around that way. This will let you know if any of the lights need to be replaced. (If you have someone with you, have them sit in the driver’s seat and press the brakes so you can check those lights, as well.)

It’s also a good idea to keep a pressure gauge in your car toolkit so you can check the pressure in your tires. Many car washes have air available, so it’s a good time to inflate should your pressure be low.

Vehicle Interior

As you’re vacuuming and dusting the car’s interior, look at:

  • Tint for bubbling/peeling
  • Vents for heavy dust/poor air quality
  • Seat belts and child seats for security
  • Odometer/check engine lights for any needed updates
  • Mats for excessive wear and tear
  • Upholstery for stains and rips

This area tends to be the easiest to look over, as most interior issues will come to your attention as they arise.

Under the Hood

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking at when you crack open the car’s hood, you may want to have your mechanic walk you through the basic maintenance steps the next time you’re in for a tune-up. Although the engine can be intimidating, you can attend to many of these issues on your own, especially if all the car needs is a fluid topped off:

  • Air filter
  • Accessory belts
  • Battery (especially for acid buildup)
  • Fluid levels (coolant, oil, automatic transmission fluid level, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid)
  • Hoses and wiring

With the right amount of prevention and care, you can improve your car’s appearance while ensuring it runs well for years to come. Pack a car wash prep kit and take a few extra minutes to get the most out of your automotive investment. You—and your car—are worth it!

The Difference Car Wax Makes

Benefits of car wax shine, paint and finish protectionYou already take the time to wash and rinse your car on a regular basis. You stop by the car wash every week to keep your exterior looking great. And you never park out in the sun or elements, so you aren’t too worried about the damages of the environment.

Do you really need to worry about car wax, too?

The short answer is yes. Car wax is a lot like a clear coat of nail polish or that final sealant on top of your deck—it’s the last layer of protection against the outside. Not only does it provide protection against the elements, but also from daily wear and tear.

For example, when you use a car (or your fingernails or deck, for that matter), you’re putting a strain on the finish. Dropping things on the surface, heavy treads, and even well-intentioned cleaning all contribute to the final condition. With a wax layer in place, you’re never directly impacting the underlying foundation—you’re only interacting with the wax.

Benefits of Car Wax Shine and Protection

While anyone who wants to keep their car’s exterior in good repair should use car wax, there are other benefits, as well.

  • Protect the Paint: The more coats of wax you have, the better protected the paint underneath is. If you’re worried about fading, scratching, or other damages to your car’s paint, then wax should become your best friend.
  • Shiny Finish: Most car waxes offer a reflective shine that looks great under the sparkling Salt Lake sun. If you love that glossy, straight-off-the-lot shine, car wax will help you achieve it.
  • Sun Damage Protection: That glossy shine isn’t just for looks—it’s also helpful in reflecting the sun’s harmful UV rays. Over a long period of time, the UV rays can break down your car’s color. With wax, the damage is much more minimal.
  • Keep Cleaner for Longer: The wax also helps repel dirt and water streaks. We’ve all seen how beads of water run off a waterproof surface as compared to a non-waterproof one—wax offers a water barrier and a dirt barrier so that your car stays cleaner for longer.

Although you should do a deep car wax by hand once or twice a year, most modern cars can get by on a spray-on wax the majority of the time. During your next visit to the car wash, take a few extra minutes to use the spray wax feature such as our Turtle Wax ICE, covering all the nooks and crannies on your vehicle’s exterior. For a small investment of time and money, you’ll get big returns!

6 Tinted Window Maintenance Tips

Tinted window maintenance, washing and long-term careTinted windows are great for increased privacy and decreased sun exposure while you’re on the road, but they do come with a few extra steps when it comes to long-term care. Special tinted window maintenance is essential to protect your investment and ensure they last. We suggest you follow a few routine steps every time you hit the car wash.

Extend Tinted Window Life With These 6 Maintenance Steps

      1. Don’t Wash Them Right Away: If your tinted windows are brand new, you’ll want to wait a few days before you clean them (this gives the film time to dry and set). If you apply water or cleaner before the tint has a chance to fully dry, it may be pulled loose and/or bubble.
      2. The Exterior is Fine: Because the window tint is applied to the inside of your car rather than the exterior, you should be fine to wash the outside of your car like you normally do. Automatic, self-serve, or DIY—you can go through most car washes without any problems. However, once you get to the inside, you’ll need to be extra careful.
      3. Don’t Use Regular Window Cleaners: There are specialty tinted window cleaners you can buy to wash your windows, but these can get expensive (and aren’t always necessary). The most important thing to avoid is any ammonia-based cleaner or those with blue or green coloring. The chemicals in these can break down the tint film and/or cause it to discolor (in fact, ammonia-based products are often used to remove tint). Instead, stick to chemical-free cleaners or the mild soaps that are offered at the self-service car wash.
      4. Wipe Away Smudges: In most cases, you can simply use a paper towel or microfiber to do the bulk of the cleaning for you. Avoiding the edges as much as possible (as this is where the tint peels away) and spot clean any smudges, prints, or other kinds of debris. If necessary, you can use water and/or mild soap for a deeper clean.
      5. Always Dry the Windows Well: Because water is a tinted window’s biggest enemy, it’s important to make sure the window is completely dry before you consider the job done. We prefer a microfiber cloth for maximum results.
      6. Take Care of Bubbles/Imperfections: Over time (or if the tint was poorly applied in the first place), you may find that bubbles and other surface imperfections arise. These can be taken care of by pressing the edge of a credit card against the bubble and pushing it out to the edges or, if that doesn’t work, by popping the bubble with a small pin and then pushing it out. Too many of these, however, and it might simply be a sign that it’s time to upgrade/remove the tint.

Taking care of tinted windows doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. The next time you’re at the car wash, give them a once-over and wipe off any smudges. By making this a routine habit, you can significantly extend the life of your tint.

Tire Washing Tips

Tire washing tips -- deep clean tires, wheels and rimsTires might not be the flashiest or more exciting part of your car, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore their maintenance and care. The next time you’re at the car wash, spend a few extra minutes focusing on your tires, and you’ll be surprised how much better your vehicle look and drives.

Deep Cleaning the Tires

Your tires are in constant contact with the road, which means they pick up dirt and debris more than any other part of your car. Add in the dust caused by your brakes, and you’ll see why tires are the first part of any vehicle to appear dull and rundown. Regularly deep cleaning the tires is important in keeping them looking good.

At the self-serve car wash, this means:

  • Wetting the tires with a rinse
  • Spraying them with tire soak and allowing it to set
  • Using the long-handled brush to scrub away impurities
  • Rinsing well after you’re through

Of course, you’ll want to go a little deeper than this to get a real shine. One of the best ways to do this is by carrying a bristled brush that you can use to really scrub. (You can also carry a strong all-purpose degreaser or other specialty tire cleaner that will get rid of road pollutants.) Although a weekly car wash will go a long way in keeping your tires looking good, this deep kind of hand wash will provide an even greater clean.

Always be sure, however, that you match the tool to the material. For example, using the same brush and/or chemicals for your steel rims and for the rubber of your tires could result in scratches or the breakdown of the material—not to mention scratch the body of your car if you slip and miss. If you do invest in a deep-clean chemical, read the label fully and understand its uses. (This is one reason why the soaps and brushes at self-service car washes work so well—they are designed for safe and effective use with the whole car.)

Other tips include:

  • Always wash the tire before the wheel/rims
  • Start on the inside and work your way out
  • For big buildups of dust and grime, a longer soak may be necessary
  • Adjust your car’s position halfway through so you don’t miss any spots
  • Use a paintbrush, toothbrush, or other fine detail item to clean lug nuts and other hard-to-reach spots
  • Don’t be afraid of high pressure water
  • Apply a tire dressing and/or sealant once you’re finished for a lasting shine

When done correctly, cleaning the tires can be a great way to enhance your car’s appearance without putting too much time, money, or effort into the final product.

How to Speed Up Your Car Wash Experience

Vacuuming your car first can save time at the washLet’s face it—when it comes to regular automotive upkeep like washing your car, faster is better. You already know how important it is to get regular washes and waxes to maintain the integrity of your vehicle, and you love the way it looks as it sparkles under the sun. It’s finding the time to incorporate this experience into your regular routine that’s hard to get a handle on.

Fortunately, a car wash is like most tasks that require regular upkeep. Although the first few visits might take more time than you’d like, over time, you can speed up your car wash so that you’re in, out, and on your way in just ten minutes or less.

  • Weekly/Bi-Weekly Visits: As mentioned above, the most important thing you can do to make your car wash fast is to get them done regularly. That way, instead of deep cleaning each time you visit, you’re simply touching up the work you’ve already done. With regular maintenance, sometimes you can skip the long soaking stage and deep scrubbing to get right to the rinse and wax.
  • Vacuum First: If you’ll be washing the interior as well as the exterior, head inside first. Shake out the mats by hand and run a quick vacuum over the seats and floor. (For an even faster experience, you can ban eating and drinking in the car, as these are the most common interior mess culprits.)
  • Pre-Wash/Tire Soak: The pre-wash and tire soak cycles should come first, and for good reason—the pre-wash can work while you focus on the tires, and the tire soak can work while you hoist the scrub brush. Although you might be tempted to skip the order of the self-serve car wash, we highly recommend you move linearly through the process. They’re put in that order to help you get the most out of your wash.
  • Skip the Drying: Hand-drying your car after a wash is a great way to prevent water streaks and spots, but you can skip it on a time crunch. Allow your car to air dry by taking it on the freeway or other fast roadway instead.
  • Bring a Friend: You know what they say—many hands make light work. Stop by the car wash when your spouse, parent, or child is with you, and put them to work. One of you can scrub while the other rinses; you can both hand-wipe problem areas. By working together, you can significantly cut back on wash times.
  • Keep a Washing Kit on Hand: It’s often best to handle problems as they arise instead of waiting for your weekly car wash visit. Keep a cleaning kit in your glovebox or trunk with window wipes, a dusting cloth, a car-friendly spray, and a buffing cloth. That way, you can take care of bird splatter or bugs while they’re still wet rather than allowing them to dry and cake on.
  • Carry a Garbage: A garbage can or sack in your car isn’t the most appealing interior decoration, but nothing will make your regular clean easier than simply tossing out the trash and putting in a fresh liner. You can save vacuuming and deep upholstery cleans for rarer occasions.

Time is money—especially at a car wash where each quarter buys you a few minutes of clean time. Move quickly and efficiently, stop by every week, and you’ll never spend too long cleaning your car again!

Must-Have Car Cleaning Supplies to Carry in Your Trunk

Cleaning supplies to carry in your car trunkMost drivers know that there are a few essentials you should carry in your car at all times. A first aid kid, a roadside emergency kit, a spare tire and jack, and jumper cables are the sorts of things we’re trained to carry from the moment we first sit behind the wheel.

There are also a few cleaning supplies you should be sure and stock up on. It doesn’t matter if you wash your car every week like clockwork, or if you’re more of a last-minute cleaner—with these items on hand, you’ll be that much closer to a perfect shine.

  • Disinfectant Wipes/Baby Wipes: Most parents already have these on hand, but every car owner can benefit from easily accessible wipes. Quickly wipe off a dusty dashboard, sanitize the steering wheel and stick shift between uses, and provide a general overall clean with these cheap and disposable sheets.
  • Window Wipes: Disinfectant wipes can be used to clean a window, but it’s likely to leave streaks and spots behind. Specialty window wipes (like Windex) provide a streak-free clean and are as easily portable as other kinds of wipes.
  • Spot Carpet Cleaner: Although cars vary in terms of the type of upholstery they have, all of them have carpeting on the floors. Keep a spot carpet cleaner on hand for when you need to get to a stain before it sets. These types of cleaners can also be used for fabric upholstery, so that makes them doubly effective.
  • Microfiber Towels: These towels can be used to wipe your car dry after a thorough wash, clean up spills that occur in the interior, or help you buff out difficult and caked on grease. The microfiber is gentle enough that it won’t scratch the paint and is also great for soaking up spills.
  • WD-40: Not only is this versatile chemical used for lubricating car parts, but it can also come in handy for cleaning purposes. Get rid of tar from your car’s exterior, remove adhesives and bumper stickers, and spot-clean difficult areas. You’ll be surprised how much this comes in use.
  • Hand Degreaser: Carrying soap and water isn’t really possible, but you may find yourself wishing for some anytime you pop the hood and do some mechanical work. A water-free hand degreaser will provide a quick and easy clean until you reach somewhere you can do a more in-depth cleaning.
  • Odor Absorber: Getting rid of unwanted smells in your car is a big undertaking, and may require an in-depth detail, but until you can make that happen, an odor absorber or spray air freshener (like Febreeze) can make a big difference. Keep your car smelling great for longer by keeping spares in your trunk.
  • Garbage Bag: Another great item to have is a garbage bag with a good seal. You can toss wet clothes, used wipes, and other things in there, seal it off, and toss it in the trunk for the next time you hit a garbage can where you can dispose of it.

If you organize these supplies correctly, they should take up more than a small space in your car’s trunk. Pull them out as needed and restock as soon as quantities get low.

The Best Way to Clean Your Car’s Hard-to-Reach Places

When it comes to washing your car, it’s not the dirt you can see that’s the problem…it’s the dirt you can’t see. Whether you look inside or out, vehicles are filled with hundreds of tiny nooks and crannies, many of which become home to dirt, rocks, food particles, and worse.

Those hard-to-reach places might be a little bit more difficult to clean, but they aren’t impossible. Next time you hit the car wash, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting a deeper clean.

Cleaning the Interior

  • Remove any Removables: The best way to deep clean a car’s interior is to make it accessible. The easily removed parts (like floor mats) should come out every time you vacuum. You can also look into removing the middle console, the door panels, or even the seats, if they’re easily taken out. Nothing will get in and under better than opening up the space.
  • Use Air: Vacuum intake and outake are both your friend when cleaning a car’s interior. You can use traditional intake vacuums to clean up the worst debris, and reverse the air flow (or even use an air compressor or can of compressed air) to blow out the harder to reach places.
  • Clean the Vents: Using a compressor or can of air to blow the dust out of the vent slats is one idea, or you can use a toothbrush, cotton swab, or other item with a long, narrow reach to individually clean each vent hole. This is especially important if you’re trying to eliminate smells that have gathered in the heating/cooling system.
  • Long-Reach Dusters: If you don’t want to invest in heavy-duty detailing equipment, purchase a disposable duster with a long reach. These work best when you just want to wipe away a build-up of dirt rather than provide a deep clean.

Cleaning the Exterior

  • Invest in a Detailing Brush: You can use a toothbrush or cotton swab to get those tricky spots on your car’s exterior, but they aren’t likely to stand up to the harder wear and tear for very long. A small detailing brush that won’t scratch your paint is worth the investment.
  • Focus on the Wheel Wells: The most common place in need of detailed work on a car’s exterior is the wheel well. Most people attack these areas with a toothbrush (or the aforementioned detailing brush) and a specialty wheel cleaner that will break apart the caked on grease and grime.
  • High-Powered Spray: Just as a powerful burst of air can clean your car’s interior, so too can a powerful burst of water take care of the outside.
  • Rotary Tool: When you need a little more power than a brush can provide, a rotary tool (like a Dremel) and a buffing or gentle bit can make a huge difference. Because the tool provides the power instead of your muscles, you can get more work done in a shorter period of time.

In all the cleaning and detailing, don’t forget to pay attention to the undercarriage. A good undercarriage spray will take care of most of the tiny details underneath your vehicle so you don’t have to climb underneath and reach the dirt that way.

How to Prevent Interior Car Damage

Taking your car through the car wash on a regular basis is a great way to keep the exterior looking good, but what about the interior? Harmful UV rays, wear and tear caused by kids, and everyday dirt can all contribute to a reduced car value—especially if you have leather interiors or a very light color for your upholstery.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your car’s interior. Even better: many of these steps can be taken during your regular washing so you don’t have to take any more time out of your busy schedule.

  • UV Protection: Tinting your windows isn’t just beneficial for keeping the sun out of your eyes—it can also keep your interior looking good for years. Some of the most harm done to cars is through prolonged exposure to the sun, which can fade upholstery and cause leather to crack and wear down. Window tints or even a sunshade you put up every time you park can go a long way in keeping the inside in good repair.
  • Smart Parking: Where you park can have a big impact on your car’s interior. If you have to park in a parking lot for work, look for shady, protected areas that won’t expose the car to the sun. If you have to park for long periods of time, consider investing in a car cover that will protect against the elements. By being aware of where you’re placing your car and what it will be exposed to, you can prevent damage before it occurs.
  • Emergency Cleanup: Spills happen, people get carsick, and fast food grease can get anywhere. Make it a habit to carry emergency wipes and cleaning products in your car at all times so these types of stains don’t have time to settle in. You can do a more in-depth cleaning at the car wash later—for now, it’s best to get the offending material out of the way so it doesn’t soak into the carpet or leather.
  • UV/Stain Blockers: Just as you can apply a wax to your car’s paint to keep it protected, so too can you protect the inside against wear and tear. There are specialty sealants that exist for everything from rubber and vinyl to leather and upholstery. Every two to three months, go through your car’s interior and apply the right sealant to the right material.
  • Seat Covers: Seat covers have the benefit of being fully removable (and therefore washable), making them ideal when there are kids in your vehicle. You should be able to find universal sizes and sizes for common makes and models of cars at most automotive stores. For specialty vehicles, you may need to find someone who can hand-make the covers to fit.
  • Detailing: Having your car detailed every few months (or detailing it yourself every time you wash) is a good habit to get into. Not only is it nice to drive a car that sparkles both inside and out, but detailing often picks up those hard-to-see culprits like dust, sticky residue, and other products that can stain the interior over time.

The inside of your car deserves just as much attention as the outside. With a few preventative steps and regular cleaning, you can keep interior car damage to a minimum for years.

Protecting Your Antenna and Exterior Accessories During a Car Wash

You spent a lot of time and money putting in your vehicle’s aftermarket parts. The last thing you want to do as you regularly wash your car and keep in it good condition is subject those parts to potential damages. Here’s a quick and easy guide to protecting everything from your antenna to those great new tail lights you had installed.

  • Car Antennas: Most antennas can either be unscrewed or pushed down so they no longer protrude from the car’s exterior. They’re flexible enough to withstand the occasional automatic car wash, but it’s best if you get in the habit of removing these items before you head in. (If you want to make sure the antenna screws on tightly, be sure and keep a wrench on hand.)
  • Side View Mirrors: If your car has the ability to fold or pull in the side mirrors, always do this before you go through a car wash. If they don’t have the built-in flexibility, you’ll need to inspect them both before and after the wash. Make sure the mirror is secure and firm, and always adjust the mirror afterwards so you have a clear line of vision, as the water sprays may move the angle.
  • Windshield Wipers: By nature of their purpose, windshield wipers are designed to withstand a little moisture and high pressure. However, if you want to protect the wiper blades during a wash to increase their longevity, you can purchase windshield wiper cover bags that easily slip on and remove.
  • Rubber/Plastic Trim: Because the trim on your car’s exterior is made of different materials than the body itself, it requires a different kind of clean. While these items don’t have to be removed prior to a car wash (in fact, because they provide sealing protection, this is a bad idea), it’s best to apply a specialty trim wax every few months. This will prevent the trim from fading in the sun and keep the rubber from cracking over time.
  • Tires and Wheels: Your new tires can go through the car wash just fine, but if you want to make them gleam, you’ll need to perform a deeper clean and even apply a tire shine. Over time, UV damage can crack and fade the rubber, and dirt and grease can build up. Extra scrubbing and tire soaks on the wheels will go a long way in helping you keep the quality up.
  • Taillights: If your taillight has a poor seal or has a tiny crack (possibly even invisible to the naked eye), the high-pressure spray of water in an automatic car wash can push moisture into the light and cause condensation to form inside. You can opt to remove a taillight cover after a wash to dry it out, or simply tighten and seal it so that no moisture can get in the next time.
  • Tinted Windows: The tint on windows is applied on the inside, so you shouldn’t have to worry about protecting them when you visit a car wash and use the regular sprays and chemicals. As you head into the interior, however, you’ll want to avoid traditional glass cleaners, which can damage the tint over time. Avoid all ammonia-based products (which can discolor the tint) and stay away from the edges to avoid peeling.
  • Exhaust Systems: Exhaust upkeep is important to keep rust away and ensure your investment in your vehicle stays sound. Take your car through your usual washing steps, being sure to remember to clean the undercarriage. Then, when the wash is through, you can detail the exhaust pipes. Avoid harsh steel wool and other scrapers that will scratch the metal, and be sure to apply a metal shine or metal wax afterward.

Car washes are designed to make a car shine without damaging the features and products that you’ve installed, but it’s always a good idea to take extra precautions when your car has been considerably upgraded. With a little extra planning and care, you can keep your investment running in perfect form for as long as you want!