There’s no greater feeling than buying a new car and driving it off the lot. That’s when it looks its best because, even if you bought a slightly used car, the dealership has had it professionally detailed. After a few months of neglect, that new car look will fade. You can prevent that from happening with some basic preventative maintenance practices.
As a general rule for keeping your new car look, you should be washing your car at least once every two weeks. A weekly washing is better, but someone with a busier lifestyle may not be able to commit to this schedule. Frequent washings are important because they will help remove tar, insects, road salt, and other debris from the car’s exterior surface. Be sure to rinse the car first. Use microfiber cloths and a soap that’s specifically designed for washing cars. Rinse thoroughly to remove the soap and grime.
You should also wax your car, but this is necessary less frequently than a good washing. You only need to wax your car every three months, but be sure to wash and dry it ahead of time. There is a wide range of waxes, so you should take the time to look for the wax that’s best for your car. Again, use microfiber cloths for both applying the wax and buffing it out. These cloths will help you do a thorough job without leaving scratches on the surface.
Taking care of your auto glass is important because a minor crack or scratch can lead to major problems. Avoid leaving your vehicle sitting under direct sunlight whenever possible since heat can cause the glass to expand. When it’s time to wash your car, clean the windshield and other windows with a high-quality auto glass cleaner and microfiber cloths. Applying a windshield coating can also help you protect your auto glass. The coating will add an extra layer of protection so the glass is less likely to crack when hit by a pebble or when dirt gets kicked up by another vehicle’s tires.
If you don’t vacuum the carpeting in your car during your routine car washings, dirt and debris will build up. In addition to creating an unsightly mess, your shoes and those of your passengers will grind that debris into the carpeting. This will damage the fibers as well as leaving permanent marks in the carpeting. You can use a spray-on carpet shampoo, or you can find car wash stations that provide carpet shampooers. Once you lay down the shampoo, scrub it into the carpet fibers with a stiff-bristled brush. Finish by vacuuming the shampoo and loosened debris from the carpeting. You can clean your upholstered seats in the same manner.
Once every month, you should clean the vinyl and leather surfaces in your car’s interior. While auto care stores sell cleaners specifically designed for cleaning vinyl and leather, you can use warm water in a pinch. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the cleaner or water and use it to wipe down the surfaces in your car. Dry surfaces right away with a clean microfiber cloth. There are many hard-to-reach areas in your car’s dashboard and console. You can use a wet toothbrush to scrub grime out of these areas, but do this before wiping down the rest of the vinyl to avoid having to clean it twice.
Anything can happen to your car when it’s parked on the street, in a driveway, or under a carport. In these situations, you can reduce the risks of vandalism, bird droppings, and other damage by using a car cover. Whenever possible, park in an enclosed garage for additional protection. If you do need to park outdoors, avoid parking in secluded or dark areas. Parking closer to other cars and in areas where it can easily be seen will help reduce the risks of intentional damage and theft.
Your preventative maintenance plan should also include taking care of the car’s mechanical components. A car that still looks beautiful won’t be worth much if it doesn’t run well. Be sure to keep up with oil changes, tune-ups, and tire rotations to ensure your car will always provide a smooth ride. A comprehensive preventative maintenance plan will help you keep your car looking great and running well for many years to come.