We’ve already covered how washing your car is both a maintenance thing and a money thing. But there’s more to a clean car then just going to the drive-thru wash once a month. Although it doesn’t require a whole lot more work than that, it’s definitely all in the details.
While the bare minimum is completely washing your car whenever it’s dirty, and especially when it has salt, something I’ve noticed over the years is a few specific areas make the car look brand new when cleaned (Literally, someone asked me if my 1985 Buick was a new car).
Door Wells – Open the doors to your car and look in the frame (the part the door normally covers when closed). I bet you see tons of gunk. Clean all of that area really well. This makes a huge subliminal difference, because it’s the first thing people see, and yet they never consciously notice it’s dirty or clean because most people’s are dirty.
Vacuum Everywhere – You probably run a vacuum around your carpet every couple of months. But don’t stop there! Make sure you pull the floor mats out, and get under there. Use the little nozzle attachment to get between the cracks in your seats. Get in the back seats and get all that junk from under your drivers seat. This will improve not only the look, but also the smell.
Clean the Engine - This is a losing battle. Your engine is dirty and greasy and it’s going to continue to be. You can really go nuts and clean everything with a degreaser like a classic car, but just giving it a wipe down periodically makes an old car seem in good mechanical shape.
Clean the Rims – This usually makes the biggest difference between a “kind of clean” and “sparkling new” look to your car. All that brake dust really gunks the look up over time. If you have hub caps, consider getting new ones if they are really scratched up. Make sure you clean the tires as well, armor all for a brand new shine.
Defog the Headlights – Over time, headlights get oxidation. There are several over-the-counter solutions that work just like wax and turn those yellow, hazy headlights into crystal clear, brand new looking ones. This is another one of those things that is subtle, but makes the car look brand new.
Wax It – Finally, make sure you wax the car at least once a year if not more often. It not only keeps it cleaner, but protects the car so long-term it will always look new.