I got the idea for this article after speaking with clients on how to properly maintain their vehicles. Most of the talking I do revolves around proper washing of paint, drying, etc., but what I noticed was that I always mentioned some little things that should be addressed every wash, or at least every other wash, in order to keep the car in great shape. So, without further banter, here are my few detail tips:
Cleaning door, trunk and hood jambs is one thing I do on every detail service and something I highly recommend to all clients who take care of their own vehicles. This is a vital part of the cleaning process because a lot of dust and dirt particles collects in all the jambs on a regular basis. Leaves, mud, etc ends up in the jambs with simple daily driving, so if all this is left untouched for a longer time it tends to require quite a bit of cleaning and may even stain the paint. The hood jambs are usually extremely filthy if they haven’t been touched in a while, so these may take much longer to clean than door and trunk jambs. The way I treat all jambs during detailing work, that is detail work where I’m not hired to specifically clean jambs, is by simply wiping them down well with Optimum No-Rinse and an All-Purpose Microfiber Towel. I do this for all the jambs after the wash. Waxing the jambs is also a great idea in order to keep them cleaner for following washes.
Engine and Hood Wipedown
Immediately following the jambs, I like to wipe down the underside of the hood as well as the engine bay. Reason being, a lot of dust and grease can easily collect all over the engine bay and, just like with jambs, if left to collect for a long time will be a big pain to completely remove. One thing I also noticed as a result of not wiping down the underside of the hood and engine bay are numerous water spots right around the edges. This happens because during washing water will collect a few inches under the hood all around, but since it’s not dried it simply leaves a spot/stain. Over time these become a horrible eyesore, especially if there are painted or aluminum parts that can easily show the water marks. So, I’d simply recommend spending the 5-10 minutes wiping everything down in order to avoid any future headaches. Just as the door jambs can be protected, a good step for the engine and hood underside is a coat of protection on the paint and plastics. The protection is an added bonus whereas the cleaning is something that should definitely be performed.
The inside of the fuel door becomes just as filthy as the engine bay if not treated regularly, so this area is definitely a stop in my wipedown process. I treat it the same way as the jambs and engine bay, simply wiping down everything well and throwing on a coat of spray wax for good measure. Another extremely important reason for wiping down the fuel door area is to check and, if necessary, unclog the drain that pretty much every vehicle has. Usually it’s one or a few small holes somewhere under the fuel cap, which, if they become clogged, could lead to overfill spilling out and running down your beautiful paint! Always keep this area clean and free of debris.
A large majority of exhaust/muffler tips are made of some variety of stainless steel or something similar, which means they all end up getting fairly beat up with regular daily driving. These exhaust tips are a part that’s greatly overlooked in the enthusiast community, at least in my area, because owners tend to simply care for the paint and not much else. I never understood why since the tips are extremely easy to clean and, like everything else, if kept clean on a regular basis they won’t get to the point where complete polishing and restoration is necessary. To keep the exhaust tips clean, you simply need to remember to wash them every wash with a dedicated wash mitt or sponge and bucket. Wash them thoroughly inside and out, and also feel free to reach under and wash the muffler in part or the whole thing. In addition to washing, a mild metal polish, like the Optimum Metal Polish, might be required every now and then to thoroughly remove any embedded contamination and fully clean the tips. As with the other areas, a coat of protection is always a good idea!
Panel Edges and Creases
After every wash and jambs wipedown, I like to run some cotton swabs along pretty much all the creases of the car. Not only does this process remove any wax residue on some edges of panels, but it also gets out the dirt inside creases (for example between a rear quarter panel and bumper or sideskirt on some vehicles) that a normal washing cannot. This is important to not only clean the car thoroughly, but to ensure no loose dirt will come out later during waxing, polishing, etc. Some creases and edges may require a bit more attention, which usually calls for a brush and a more aggressive cleaning solution, but typically a simple wipedown with some Foam Swabs and a light cleaner will get the job done.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’m not talking about simply washing the wheels with brushes, cleaners and mitts. I’m referring to giving the wheels a thorough wipedown AFTER all the cleaning has been done, in order to get all the standing dirt and dust that a simple brushing and rinse cannot remove. So what I like to do is, after cleaning the wheels with wheel brushes, like the EZ Detail Brush and Boars Hair Detailing Brush, and P21S Wheel Cleaner, give them a good wipedown as with all the other things. Both on the face of the wheels as well as back of spokes. This gets rid of all the dust/dirt that requires a good wipedown and ensures the wheels are thoroughly cleaned. Plus, it provides a clean surface for a coat of wax or sealant. Don’t forget to run some foam or cotton swabs around the bolts to get the last piece of dirt out.
Well, that’s all I got for now :). Keep in mind, following these tips will not only make the car cleaner and look better, but it also allows for easier cleaning each time after the initial cleaning. The next time you get to stuff like the jambs, engine or exhaust tips, all that will be required is a simple and quick wipedown to get some standing dust off.
Thanks for reading as always!