had a friend send me an email saying her granddaughter was overseas and
moving back to the U.S. but needed to sell her car before she returned.
She asked me to email her some tips on prepping her car to sell. It
reminded me that it is just plain old good practice for all of us to
keep our vehicles clean and detailed inside and out. So here are a few
friendly reminders and tips if you choose to be one of the many
For the rest of you there are professional detail shops at many local car washes, most dealerships, many body shops, and some stand alone shops. They should all offer many different interior and exterior packages to meet your needs. When you take your car in for a detail it is a good time to inspect all around your vehicle for small dents and scratches you may also want to get taken car of at that time. It is my professional opinion that Mother’s Products offer a great over the counter retail product line that is found in most auto retail stores. Barbara Halloway is the owner and you can find all that you need to know about each product at www.mothers.com.
Now that you have the best products, lets get
started. You will want to start with a good exterior wash. Scrub down
the sides of the tires and the wheels - don’t forget the wheel wells!
Door jambs are often a forgotten spot yet usually dirty. Yes, you need
to clean the roof too! Now the interior just start scrubbing
everything, seats, carpet, trunk, and dash. Clean it all!
There are a few tricks for cleaning hard-to-reach or difficult areas. Q-tips work great in vents and small spaces, knobs, etc. That can of air you use to clean your computer will blow out a million little cracks and crevasses. A small, soft paint brush with a little window cleaner will get your windows clean all around the edges that you can’t reach (like where the windshield and dash meet). Don’t forget the lint roller, which is great for cloth seats, headliners and trunks (picks up animal hair with no problems). Your dust buster will work better than a shop vacuum most of the time.
It’s simple to wash your car, but you want to do it right. Here are a few tips to protect your car and get it clean.
Don’t use dish soap. Many people think that this is an acceptable cleaning agent for cars--it’s not. Go to an auto store and look for soaps made specifically for vehicles.
Use a bucket to mix the soap with water and wash using a big mitt or large sponge. Remember to rinse the sponge/mitt it often to avoid scrubbing dirt and grime back into your car’s finish.
Wash your car in the shade so that the car itself is cool and you won’t have the sun drying it faster than you can work, leaving spots.
Start with the wheels, one at a time. Hose down one wheel and then spray on a wheel cleaner on the wheel AND rim. Using a brush scrub down all the dirt and mud. Rinse, and then move on to the next wheel. You’ll be surprised at how nice they look!
Use a trigger nozzle on the end of the hose. If conserves water and will give a nice, even spray.
Hose down the car, from top to bottom.
Using your mitt or sponge, scrub the roof, in straight lines, from the innermost part out to the edges. Using a circular motion is not recommended. Rinse the hood.
Next, do the sides in the same manner, using straight strokes from top to bottom. Remember to rinse the sponge or mitt frequently!
After rinsing the sides, do the hood and the trunk.
Be sure to pay special attention to the bumpers and fenders, especially in the front where bugs tend to accumulate. You’ll probably need extra elbow grease here!
After these surface areas are finished, spray down the undercarriage to remove the dirt and mud buildup.
Once the car is completely rinsed, you’ll want to use a clean, soft cloth to dry it. You’ll want to run it lightly over the surface of the car to smooth out the water droplets. Don’t try to rub out the water. You might need to use more than one cloth, depending on its size and the size of your vehicle.
Waxing should be done according to the wax product’s directions, only after your car is completely dry. You should try to wax your car 3 or 4 times per year.
For the interior, no vacuum works better than one at the do-it-your-self car wash, but if you don’t have access to one, start by shaking out all removable rugs and mats. Vacuum those outside the car and then move in to get what remains. Check our the auto store for cleansers to wash the dash and interior. Like the no-no on the dish soap, you’ll want to find something that works best on your specific interior. Be sure to read all labels and follow instructions exactly. Remember that the better you care for your car, the better you’ll feel driving it, and your resale value will be tremendously higher if you pay attention to cleaning.
Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, your vehicle needs a good cleaning at least 2 times per year. It will keep your vehicle’s paint and interior surfaces in good condition. You and your vehicle will always feel better when its clean and shiny.
by Debbie Lee, President Professionals Car Care