Car detailing is something that pretty much something that anyone who’s ever owned a car has done at least once in their life. It’s all about restoring your car to factory settings or close to them, so that the car stays looking like new for its whole life. Car detailing can be as simple as cleaning out the inside of the car, but it can also be small repairs that prevent major damages down the line. Below are some of the most essential car detailing tips to know about, especially if you just got a new car, because it’s easier to prevent ware and tare than to fix damages! At the very bottom you can find links to the products that were mentioned in each of the paragraphs and some videos where much of the information and ideas came from.
Interior detailing is a lot like cleaning up your house! While the outside of your home may be a beautiful mansion with a well maintained garden, if you have guests over and your home is a mess, it won’t be very nice to be there! The same goes for your car… It doesn’t matter if you have a top of the line Mercedes, if it’s not clean on the inside, it won’t make a very good impression on others and it certainly won’t nice to drive in. For this reason, interior detailing is extremely important, even if it is often overlooked. Here are some helpful hints on how to make your ‘home’ on wheels the comfiest and cleanest home to drive around. One rule of thumb when it comes to any car detailing is that when told to use a cloth, it’s usually a microfiber cloth. So, keep that in mind while reading the rest of this article!
1) Start from the Top Down
When it comes to making the inside of your car clean, you’ll always want to start from the top down. That means that you’ll clean the things that are highest up in the car, like the rearview mirror and then work your way down to the dashboard and other parts of the car. This is the most efficient way to clean because any loosened particles that come from the upper parts of the car will fall down onto whatever’s below. As long as you go from the top down, you’ll always be cleaning up the loosened particles after they fall, without having to go back over and re-clean.
2) Clear out Dust from the Vents and Remove Car Vent Smells
When detailing the interior of your car, you’ll never want to overlook dusty vents. The car can be completely clean on the inside however if the vents are super dusty, then as soon as they turn on, all that dust will blow out onto your car. The easiest way to clean dust from the vents is to use any old paint brush that can swipe between the brackets. You can even dampen the brush for a more thorough job.
If the air blowing out of the vents smells bad, it’s no problem because there’s a simple, non-expensive fix! Every car has an air intake by the front windshield, located at the hood of the car. To get started, you’ll want to turn your AC on full blast, which you’ll be able to feel pulling the air from the intake vents outside. You’re going to spray a cleaning solution into the vents and one that is recommended is called Lysol Disinfectant Spray. Give a generous spray of Lysol into the intake to clean out the air filters. While you do so, leave all of the car windows open, so that the toxic spray has time to air out. If you have a garage, you might even want to consider leaving the windows open overnight! The next morning, when the AC is on full blast, you won’t have any funky smells blowing in your face and it’ll be a much nicer drive!
3) Clean and Polish the Dashboard and Plastics
Cleaning the dashboard is most likely the easiest thing you can do for detailing your car. The only obstacle there is for getting the perfect clean is all of the buttons and crevices, but with a little maneuvering you can get into all these hard parts. To start cleaning, you can just use a warm, dampened cloth however if you’re really worried about getting a perfect clean, you might want to dab a bit of dish cleaner onto the cloth too. Once you’ve gotten all the spills and dust off the surfaces of your car, you’ll finish with a Long Lasting Protection for Rubber, Vinyl and Plastic. A product that I use personally is brand name Mothers and it works quite well and makes the car smell like new! To apply the finish, you can just rub it in using a towel. Watch out for any glass surfaces, since the product will leave streaks and instead use Windex instead.
4) Brush and Vacuum the Floor and Suede Seats
One of the last but most important steps, when it comes to detailing the interior of your car is to clean the seats and the floor so that there’s no more dust or crumbs or small, unsightly rocks. The best way to get rid of all of the bits and pieces that get stuck in the fibers of the seats and floor carpeting is to use a brush and a vacuum. While a vacuum can do a good job on its own for getting the different surfaces cleaned, it’s nothing compared to using it alongside a brush. The brush will lift up and unsettle all of the dirt bits to the surface of the material so that the junk can be more easily sucked up by the vacuum. Your seats and carpets, when cleaned with a brush and a vacuum will be perfectly spotless when finished.
5) Clean out Junk from Under Seats
You might find it hard to believe the amount of junk that can fall under car seats, if left un-cleaned for a long time. You might even be surprised to find valuable items, like lost identity cards and even money, after having rolled forward the seats to reveal what’s underneath. However, you can definitely expect to find lots of dust, probably crumbs and even find a French fry! When it comes to detailing your car, the underside of your car seats is a super important detail that you’ll never want to miss, since it tends to carry garbage that you don’t want in your car. Once the underside of car seats have been de-cluttered and vacuumed, you’ll really have the sensation that your car is clean.
6) Nooks and Crannies
Think about what car detailing is all about - restoring it to its factory cleanliness! To do this, you really have to pay attention to all the small details, like all of the nooks and crannies of the car and get all of the dirt out. One way of getting crevices clean is to use the tip of a very old screw driver, that’s been worn down and to put it inside a cloth. The tip can then be run through any cracks in the interior of the car to get at dirt and dust and be the finishing touch to make your car clean as new.
You may notice some imperfections on your car that are small and seemingly meaningless however it’s the smallest imperfections that can turn into rust and other problems down the line. Any DIY car detailing can be done effectively and inexpensively so long as you have the good set of instructions. Below are some helpful tips and instructions on how to detail the exterior of your car, like fixing paint chips, shining tires, and restoring headlights. Also, keep in mind that there are so many ways to detail your car and that if you feel like you have too much on your plate, you can always turn to a professional detailer who is sure to do a good job. You can otherwise ask a friend for a helping hand!
7) Fix those Paint Chips
Chips are quick to fix and by fixing them, it can really save you from any car problems that involve rust! Chips tend to form after small rocks hit the car’s paint, like when rocks get flipped up by big trucks passing on the highway. Fixing minor chips before they turn into rust is always the best solution for keeping your car’s paint nice for the lifespan of your vehicle.
It’s also super easy to match to the paint color for your vehicle, just by looking at the sticker on the right side of the driver’s door frame. It shows the color and trim that you will need for the job and it’s marked as C/TR. The first step is usually to go online and look for paint chip paint. With all the options it might be hard to decide which paint to choose but a recommended brand is offered by paintscratch.com and they even give you everything you need to fix the chip.
If you happen to have waited too long to fix your chip and there’s already some rust, it’s no big deal! It just means that you’ll have to take a couple extra steps to get rid of the rust before applying the paint. Start by sand papering the rust down until all you see is the shiny silver metal underneath. Once that’s all done, you can apply a primer just so that the edges of the rust don’t proliferate later on. When the primer’s dried after about an hour, you’ll be able to apply the paint like normal.
It’ll look a lot better right away but you can even add and shiny clear coat so that it really blends in with the rest of the car. There are some additional steps that you can take to make a professional job on the paint chip so that it completely blends in with the rest of the paint, however this quick fix will still look really good! What’s most important is that you’ve covered the chip so that there will be no more rust and the paint color will look exactly the same as the rest of the car.
8) Make your tires look ultra black and shiny
Never overlook the tires when detailing your car because it’s that nice and shiny black-look that is sure to attract the right kind of attention! While it might seem like the main focus of a good looking car should always be the paint, no car will ever look as good without outstanding tires to match. If you would like to get your tires to look like they’re always ultra black, what you’ll need is a powerful tire gel. One product that has been recommended is called Meguiar’s endurance tire gel.
To start the process of making your tires look WOW, you’ll need to clean them down with any simple sponge, soaked in warm and soapy water. next you’ll want to hose spray it down to be sure to get rid of any loose remaining particles of dirt and then let the tires sit to air dry. How long it takes them to dry will depend on how hot and dry the weather is outside but you’ll know when they’re dry since they’ll turn back to a dull grey color and feel dry to the touch.
The last, most important step of the process to getting your tires looking ultra black is to apply the endurance tire gel, using an applicator pad. Apply the gel all over the tire, just not over any white lettering and definitely not on the rim. Since the deep black color is made to last through rain, snow, salt and any other elements, it’ll really stain any surface it comes in contact with once it’s settled. After the gel has been sitting on the tires for just 30 minutes you will see a super shiny black that’ll last!
9) Restore and defog your headlights for the perfect clear
Even if you just got a new car, this car detailing section is for you! That’s because one of the best ways to restore headlights is to keep them from fogging up in the first place. There are many brands to choose from for spraying protective coating over the headlights however one that is recommended is Meguiar’s Keep Clear Headlight Coating. It can be applied once a year and will keep the lights completely clear from fog and scratches for the lifespan of your car. It’s fairly easy to apply since it is a spray on product and you just need to spray each headlight with a moderate amount two times. You’ll also want to consider taping up the perimeter of the headlights with painters tape so that you do not get any of the spray on the rest of a car’s paint. You can do the spray job in a cool, shady spot like your garage!
If your headlights are hazy already, it’s not seriously complicated to fix them, since all you need is a special cleaner. A recommended cleaner is called Meguiar’s Plastx Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish. It’s easy to apply, since all you have to do is get a dampened cloth and then to pour a dab of cleaner onto it to be rubbed onto the headlights. You can rub it in a circular motion and then just rinse or wipe it off once the headlight looks good. Some special cloth might also be preferable for wiping away the solution, like the Scott 75143 Scott Shop Towels.
If the headlights don’t look better from cleaning, it’s possible that they need to be cleaned from the inside or that the damage has gone completely through the plastic. In this case, the headlight would need to be replaced. Also, always remember to finish with the clear headlight coating since it’ll protect them from things like UV fade, cracking and scratching!
Now that you’ve gotten all this information you should be able to make plenty of car detailing plans for the nice days to come. You will truly appreciate the look of your car after it’s been given a little TLC and it’ll be more comfortable for you to drive around! It also saves you money, if you’re able to do the detailing on your own and even protects your car over time. Just be sure to watch some videos or get a helping hand for bigger detailing projects and you should do just fine!