Getting the Best Possible Deal Helping Your Vehicle Look Its Best

Presumably, you take care of yourself: You bathe regularly, you keep your fingernails neatly groomed, and you treat bumps and bruises with bandages and the appropriate salves and ointments. You probably also take care of your home You sweep mop, dust, vacuum, and clean out the gutters occasionally.

So why wouldn’t you also take care of your vehicle Like anything else, it will last longer and remain “healthier” if you do. Washing, waxing, removing small dings, cleaning the interior, you name it — this part covers everything you need to keep your vehicle looking great.

Keeping Your Vehicle Clean and Beautiful

A vehicle is more than a collection of parts and systems. When you drive it, try to trade it in, or sell it, it’s judged on its appearance as well as its performance. Contrary to popular belief, the main reason for washing your car often and keeping a good coat of wax on it isn’t to keep it looking good but rather to wash away the salt, mud, and chemical-laden dust and dirt that provide breeding grounds for rust and accelerate paint deterioration.

If you live in an area near the seashore, where a lot of salt is used on the roads in the winter, or where there’s industrial air pollution, it’s imperative that you wash your vehicle at least once a week. If you have no access to a hose or a place to wash your car, or if the weather in your area gets so cold that the water freezes on the windshield, drive to a coin-operated do-it-yourself car wash and use its facilities.

The steamy hoses keep both you and your vehicle warm enough to wash away the mud and salt in the winter and can do an even better job than you could do at home, especially if your water pressure is low.

fyou use a do-it-yourself car wash with high-pressure hoses, be sure to adjust them so you don’t damage the paint and protective coatings on your vehicle. Always clean the interior of your vehicle before you wash the exterior. For advice on how to deal with each of the materials you may find inside your car, see the “Cleaning the Interior” section later in this.

In this chapter, you discover the best ways to keep your vehicle clean and in good condition — inside and out and even under the hood! Whenever you encounter a term set in this font, you’ll find it defined in the glossary in Appendix A.

The lazy person’s guide to “good housekeeping”

If you have no time or inclination for cleaning your vehicle yourself, hire someone to do it for you. The expense more than pays off in the increased life of your car. At the very least, take it to a car wash every week or two and be sure that the interior gets cleaned and vacuumed as part of the deal.

Car washes vary considerably in efficiency and reliability. Be aware that your vehicle will probably respond to the rather rough and impersonal scrubbing it will receive from the machines at some car washes by acquiring scratches and losing a bit of paint around the edges. Spinning car-wash brushes are especially lethal for vehicles with clear-coat finishes.

Last word

To keep the damage to a minimum, find a low-cost “brushless” or “touch-free” car wash that uses curtains of jiggling strips or one that washes vehicles by hand. Forget about the optional hot-wax sprays offered by car washes.

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