There’s nothing like a professional valeting job to make your car look and feel like new. But when you can’t make it to the valet’s there are plenty of ways to keep your car in top condition.
Before you get going with the vacuum cleaner, use a stiff brush to loosen ground-in dirt. Pay special attention to the area which gets the most wear – under the accelerator pedal.
A 20” length of hosepipe provides a usefully flexible extension for hard to reach places. It also gives the vacuum cleaner more sucking power. Hold the hosepipe in place with thumb and forefinger then cup your hand over the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner.
Plastic surfaces and interior trim
A large soft paintbrush is an excellent valeting tool for cleaning air vents, buttons, switches and around the steering column. It’s also useful for removing wax and polish residue from creases and crevices on the exterior of your car.
Plastic surfaces can be wiped down with warm soapy water and a damp microfiber cloth. Sensitive electronics don’t respond well to water so make sure the cloth is damp, not wet. For longer term protection, buy a specialist anti-static product that works on both interior and exterior surfaces such as Autoglym Vinyl & Rubber Care.
Car wax and polish works on glass too. Polish gets rid of stains and water spots, while waxing your windows helps water bead up and roll off. Avoid using wax on the windscreen as it can cause smearing.
Don’t forget the inside of your windows. Use a general purpose cleaner and two microfiber cloths, one damp and the other dry. Use the damp cloth to give the inside of your windows a thorough wipe down. While the glass is still damp, dry with the other one.
Cleaning your wheels prevents etching and pitting. Most importantly, it protects against permanent damage caused by brake dust. Use a good quality wheel cleaner such Autoglym Wheel Cleaner and check for the bits you’ve missed by rolling the car forward and back so the wheels turn 180°.
You’ll find your wheels easier to clean next time if you use a protective wheel sealant. It coats your wheels in a corrosive resistant film which repels ferrous metal particles contained in brake dust.
Washing, drying & waxing
The secret is to wash your car regularly, wax it once in a while and take care of minor chips and scratches quickly.
Your pressure washer nozzle should never get closer than 4 inches from the surface. Start with the pressure washer to remove surface grit. Loosen the remaining dirt with a wash mitt and soapy water then blast it off with the pressure washer.
The best way to dry a car is with 2 large microfiber cloths, one in each hand. Use one for drying and the other for finishing. Make sure they’re good quality cloths, the bigger the better.
A good quality car wax will stay on for several months so for a really professional finish, go for the best quality wax you can afford. There are a number of excellent products on the market these days, such as Autoglym HD Wax.
The impact from flies and insects can chip your paintwork. Even if you don’t have time to wax the whole car, try waxing just the front.