Amidst all the excitement of the 2012 London Olympic games you might have forgotten about your pride and joy. It’s still there, go on look. After all the celebrations of gold for your home nation it may have been sat out there for a while as you raised a glass or two. So it’s rather dirty thanks to tree sap, insects, and baked on dirt. If you live in the UK summer has only just arrived and what used to be the shiniest thing in your street isn’t gleaming in the sun. So here it is… Inside Lane’s guide to returning your car to top form.
If you are anything like me when you wash your car, no matter what it is, you want it to literally look like it has arrived fresh from the showroom. That isn’t me conjuring up imagery in your head for the sake of it, it is possible. I had a 13 year old Vauxhall Corsa at one point, and with a bit of dedication you could swear it was 1999 all over again. Firstly set aside some time, don’t bother rushing because you have something else to do, the end result will just look crap. I would say about and hour for the exterior if you want it immaculate and half an hour for the interior.
For a kickoff you are going to need the right tools. The vast majority of people just use a bucket and sponge with a dash of washing up liquid in the water. WRONG! Firstly the sponge can actually do more harm to your paint than good. On a molecular level what happens is that the sponge simply moves the dirt around on the surface of the car in vain hope that when it is rinsed it will just go away. Also with the sponge moving the dirt around on the paint quite often leads to little scratches that are hard to get rid of. Washing up liquid is very good at blasting the dirt from your car, after all it made short work of the pots and pans last night, but the truth is that it is just too harsh and leaves no shine. So now you know that everything you thought you knew is useless what should you do? Well, here is your shopping list and it is all about microfibers. These tiny little guys lift the dirt off the paint as opposed to simply moving it about, so first up is a microfiber mitt. These are great as you can really get into the hard to reach areas of the car. Better yet get one with a netted surface on the palm as they are perfect for removing insects also. A microfiber towel is invaluable for drying the car. I use Zip Wax in the water as it does a good job of removing dirt whilst saving you the extra job of waxing the car after. Finally a sponge, yes I know I said sponges are evil but this is for the tyres and so it needs to be fairly abrasive. Lastly some alloy cleaner to get rid of that nasty break dust and some tyre dressing to make that rubber look brand new. All this should cost you no more than £20 and of corse you can use it all many times over.
You will need two buckets of water, one with Zip Wax and the other just water. BOTH SHOULD BE HOT. Park the car in a cool shaded area to avoid the water drying too quickly and leaving watermarks on the body. Start by rinsing down the car with a hose just to loosen up the dirt. Next grab your buckets and microfiber mitt to get going. First use the Zip Wax, then rinse with the plain water to get the dirt off of it before going back into the wax bucket. Your strokes on the car should be firm but smooth. No little circles, it potentially scratches the paint. Follow the body lines of the car and you will be done in no time. Rinse the whole car down with a hose once done within 30 minutes of beginning for the best results. Now take your microfiber towel and begin drying the paint. This bit is a little tedious so I would advise putting on some music or something to keep you amused. Again follow the body lines and no circle. Keep folding the towel so that a dry part of it is always touching the paint. The friction should dry the rest of the towel as you go. Spot an imperfection? Find a damp part of the towel, firmly rub until the blemish fades into the paint, and then return to using the dry areas. The paint should now be spotless with natural light reflecting off of it in a uniform manor. Moving to the tyres where with a damp abrasive sponge you should carefully apply the tyre dressing. Scrub it in hard but don’t use too much as in the case less is more. The alloy treatment should be applied as the bottle suggests. That is the exterior of your car completely done. The interior is easy as all they tend to need is a hoover, some plastic and leather polish. With a little bit of extra attention to detail the inside should look and smell new.
So there you have it folks! With a little bit of extra knowledge your car will never have looked cleaner.