Auto Facts

Car Care Tips

Cleaning the Exterior of Your Car

How often should I wash my vehicle?
Washing a vehicle is very important. You must keep dust, dirt and grime from adhering itself to your paint and possibly damaging your paint. Your car should be washed at least once a week to prevent any dirt buildup and paint damage.

What should I use to wash my car?
First, never use any household detergents. These detergents were designed to strip grease and grime, and can strip off your car's wax protection.  Use a quality car wash shampoo specifically made for washing cars.

Second, use a large bucket (at least 5 gallons) so that dirt particles sink to the bottom and the fresh suds and water you apply are free of major contamination. Some people use two buckets, one for rinsing and one for the suds.

Third, do not wash your car in the sun. Make sure the vehicle's surface is cool to the touch by hosing down the entire vehicle starting from the bottom. Using a quality wash mitt, wash from the top down, focusing on one portion of the car at a time. Now rinse the vehicle by running a slow stream of water instead of high pressure spray. This will reduce water spots and drying time.

Fourth, once the vehicle is washed and rinsed, take a clean 100% cotton cloth or chamois to wipe off the water starting at the top. Rinse the chamois frequently in a clean bucket of water to avoid any dirt being trapped and possibly scratching your paint. Wipe around all doors, hood, trunk and your gas filler door.

How do I wash my wheels?
Washing the wheels should be the first thing you do. Again, make sure the wheel is cool to the touch before spraying any wheel cleaning product. These products will help remove road grime and brake dust. Determine what type of wheel you have. Is it aluminum, chrome or a clearcoat painted? Once determined, use the appropriate cleaner. You can also use a multi-purpose wheel cleaner if you're not sure of the type of wheel you have. Finally, apply a vinyl conditioner on your tires, allow the product to soak for one minute or two, then wipe off the excess with a rag.

Should I use wax?
Wax is designed to protect the area that has been polished. Waxes containing carnauba are recommended by paint manufacturers since they provide a hard protective barrier between your paint and the environment.

How do I wax my car?
A coat of wax acts as a shield to protect your car's finish from the environment. It is recommended to wax your vehicle in a shaded area and to only do a few panels at a time. If your paint is too hot, the wax you apply will dry up too quickly and may become difficult to remove. Apply wax with a moist applicator. Apply the wax using a straight motion. Allow the product to dry to a haze, then use a dry, clean, soft cotton rag to wipe off the wax. Turn the cloth over regularly to avoid wax clumping on the cloth. Shake out your towels periodically and/or change your rag.

Once you finish the car, take a clean rag and rub any areas that look cloudy.  Try to avoid applying wax on rubber moldings or unpainted bumpers. Wax can be extremely difficult to remove on these surfaces.

Cleaning Your Car's Interior

  • Using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner (if you don't have one go to a local service station) vacuum your interior. You can start from the rear seats and floorboard area. Then, bring your front seats all the way back and vacuum the front area.
  • Clean all plastic and vinyl surfaces inside your car. If you have a leather interior, use only leather cleaners to clean the surface. Once all the vinyl and leather is cleaned, apply a vinyl or leather protectant. DO NOT use a vinyl conditioner on a leather surface. Leather conditioners contain oils to rejuvenate your leather. Avoid products that contain silicone.
  • If your vehicle requires a thorough upholstery cleaning, it would be preferable to take it to a professional detail center..
  • Never apply dressing to the steering wheel, brake, clutch or accelerator pedals. They can become slippery.
  • When cleaning windows on the interior, wipe in an up and down motion. On the exterior, wipe side to side. This will allow you to locate missed streaks, spots and marks by the direction of the smear.
  • Never use vinyl or rubber dressings of any kind on leather. It will cause drying and make the seats slippery.

Mechanical Tips

  • Change the oil and its filter regularly
    The engine does the most amount of work in your car. Its moving parts run at high speed, and function at very high temperatures. For the protection of your engine, change your oil regularly, about every 3,000 miles. This will improve your gas mileage and protect your engine.
  • Change the air filter regularly
    A dirty, dusty filter lowers gas mileage and causes an engine to stall.
  • Flush the power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluids every two years.
  • Flush the cooling system every two years.
    A poorly maintained cooling system can accumulate rust and sediment in the system, which can ultimately lead to engine damage or breakdown.
  • Monitor your brake pad thickness
    This can damage your brake rotors and possibly your calipers as well.
  • Rotate the tires
    Twice a year, or every 6,000 miles. It can help reduce uneven wear and tear on the tread, thus extending the life of the tires.
  • Keep the tires inflated
    Under-inflated tires can reduce the tire life by 15% and will slightly decrease your gas mileage, perhaps by 10%.
  • Keep the front end aligned
    It can extend the life of your tires and will keep the tread even for increased safety.
  • Get your car off to a good start
    every time you drive it. This reduces the strain on the engine while the oil is still cold and thicker.
  • Use your parking brake regularly
     It helps keep the brakes adjusted in the rear of the car and makes them last longer.
  • Wash your car regularly if you want to avoid corrosion related repairs.

Rust Protection Techniques

Tar and wax based products can seal moisture and water against metal causing serious rust problems. Also, tars and waxes can crack and peel, allowing moisture to pass directly to the metal.

Rust prevention tips

  • Having your car protected by Rustop is the best way to keep your vehicle rust free.
  • Keep your car clean. Regularly inspect your car for an accumulation of dirt and salt.
  • When washing your car, clean any mud accumulation in the lip of the wheel wells, as dirt can hold moisture and cause serious rust problems.
  • During wintertime, keep your carpets dry. Remember, moisture causes rust and if your carpet is wet, your floor panels will rust from the inside out.
  • Wax your car at least twice a year.