Winter is finally behind us, and we can enjoy the warmer days of springtime! Unfortunately, the road salt, snow, and rust of winter may have taken a toll on your car. But there are a few easy ways to get your car back in shape, clean it up, and prevent long-term damage.
Check out our five tips for spring cleaning your car, inside and out. (That’s right, spring cleaning isn’t just for closets anymore!)
1. Get an oil change, and check fluid levels.
If your oil is dark, sticky, or gritty — or it’s been a few months since your last oil change — it’s time to bring your car to a mechanic or change the oil yourself. Experts recommend at least two oil changes per year (spring and fall) with a high-quality synthetic oil. And springtime is perfect for changing oil if you’re a DIY-er, because the weather’s finally warm enough to work on your car outdoors!
Along with changing your oil, check your vehicle’s fluid levels: brakes, transmission, coolant, and so on. If any of these levels seem low, refill them as soon as possible. And you’ll want to make sure you don’t have any fluid leaks (and if you do, ask your mechanic to help you stop them). Not sure what to look for? Oil leaks are black; brake fluid leaks are brown; transmission fluid leaks are red; and coolant leaks are yellow-green.
2. Inspect your brakes, tires, and wipers.
Spring is a great time to make sure your brakes are working as they should, since they might have had to work overtime keeping your car (and you) safe on snow- or ice-covered roads this winter. If your brakes are squealing or grinding — or if your brake pads are less than a quarter-inch thick — it’s probably time to repair or replace your brakes.
Once you’ve inspected your brakes, it’s time to look at your tires. They can quickly lose air when the weather’s cold, so check each one’s air pressure and fill them up if necessary. It’s also a smart move to rotate your tires this spring so that all four wear evenly.
Along with checking brakes and rotating tires, you may need to replace your windshield wipers. Removing snow and slush all winter takes its toll on your wipers — and since spring often brings rain, you’ll want reliable wiper blades in case you get caught in a downpour.
3. Check your vehicle for scratches and rust.
While road salt may keep you safe when you’re driving on winter roads, it can quickly build up on your vehicle’s undercarriage and cause scratches and other auto damage. But if you notice any minor scratches on your car from road salt, you can easily fix those at home! Your local body shop will help you find a paint pen that matches your vehicle’s paint color so you can fill in the imperfections and scrapes
Rust is another major problem for drivers in the winter because it only needs a few elements to form: an anode and a cathode (the metal in your car), plus an electrolyte (road salt and melting snow or ice). That’s why spring is a great time for a professional rustproofing service.
With a clear-coat, drip-free application, you can protect your car from ice, road salt, brine, and more for the rest of the year. Plus, you’ll remove existing salt buildup from small spaces — helping you avoid costly repairs or part failures that vehicle rust can cause.
4. Wash and wax your car’s exterior.
Once you’ve performed the necessary auto maintenance, it’s time to make your car shine again! Get rid of the dirt, dust, and road salt from winter by washing your vehicle’s tires, headlights, surface, and windows — then finish the job with a nice waxing.
Tires & Headlights
Once you’ve rotated your tires and checked their pressure, wash the tires with a non-acidic product. A stiff brush works well for the surface of your wheels, while a toothbrush is a handy tool for cleaning the small, hard-to-reach areas in your tires.
You can also use a toothbrush (along with some toothpaste and baking soda) to clean your headlights and stay safe on the road. If they’re especially dull, hazy, or scratched, you might want to ask a professional about headlight restoration services.
Surface & Paint
Hand-wash your vehicle’s surface with gentle dish soap (or a carwash solution) and water, then remove the water with a squeegee. This will help you remove minerals and/or dirt better than air-drying your car will.
Don’t forget to wash your car’s rims and undercarriage, since these areas are the most susceptible to collecting road salt and debris. This is also a great time to double-check for rust on your exterior’s less-visible places.
Windows & Windshield
Clean your windows and windshield after your car’s surface, and make sure to use an ammonia-free cleaner. Ammonia is a compound that can discolor and damage your window’s tint; many household glass cleaners (especially the blue ones) contain ammonia and are too harsh for car windows. So check your cleaner’s label, and stay away from blue liquids just to be safe!
You’ll also want to wash and dry your car windows with a microfiber cloth to avoid leaving towel marks or fibers behind. Then, roll down your windows and wash away the dirt and oil that tends to collect at the top of the glass.
Once your car is clean and dry, apply a coat of wax to protect the paint from dirt, debris, salt, and other harsh materials. You can wax your car again in the fall to better protect your vehicle from dirt, rust, and damage next winter.
Not sure if your car needs a wax yet? Try this water bead test: Pour water onto the hood of your vehicle. If the droplets clump into tight water beads, your car’s wax is doing its job. But if the water spreads out and streams down the hood, you’re ready for another wax.
5. Clean and organize the interior.
You want your car to look amazing, inside and out! So once you’ve washed and waxed the exterior, it’s time to clean up the inside of your vehicle.
Brush & Vacuum
You can use a stiff brush to loosen the dirt from your car mats and carpet. You’ll also want to remove dirt, dust, and salt from your car’s ventilation, buttons, seat cushions, and more — either with a brush or a vacuum attachment.
Next, vacuum up the dirt, debris, and hair from your car seats, carpet, and mats. If you’re struggling to remove hair or dander, try this trick: Put on a pair of rubber gloves, then rub your hand across the carpet or seat. You’ll be able to remove the hair fibers that the vacuum refused to pick up!
Organize & Deodorize
Once you’ve vacuumed dirt and debris, throw away any trash that’s collected in cupholders, on the floor, or in seat pockets. Then, deep-clean your carpets to prevent odors, stains, and other damage from wintertime moisture (snow, mud, and slush).
Even if your car is technically clean, it might still be a bit messy. To keep everything from piling up again, organize the items you keep in your vehicle — such as gum, sunglasses, and so on. Top off your interior cleaning with an air freshener so your car smells as good as it looks!
By following these tips for spring cleaning your car, you’ll be able to start the season with a sparkling and clutter-free vehicle.
If you don’t have time to clean your car (or you’d rather spend your time enjoying the spring weather!), you can bring your vehicle to an auto detailing expert. With a full detail, you can sit back and relax as trained professionals clean your car and make it look like new again, inside and out.
Premier’s mission is to create happiness through professional detailing, and our purpose is to exhibit a philosophy of servanthood! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or visit our website. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well!