Caring For Your Car – Exterior Car Detailing Steps

If a neighbor scrawls the words “Wash Me” in the dust on your car’s windshield—or if there’s enough dust to do it yourself—it’s time to take action. Exterior car detailing isn’t a complicated process, but it does take a little time. Carve out an afternoon next weekend and get to work!

1. Scrub the Tires

A non-acid based tire cleaner will strip the grease and grime off the rubber as well as your rims without inflicting any damage. Spray the cleaner or degreaser on the wheels, then let it soak in for a minute while you grab a stiff tire brush. Scrub all surfaces of the tire and rim, then spray off the residue with a garden hose.

2. Remove Excess Tire Grime with a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers produce too heavy a stream for most of your car’s exterior, but it won’t damage your tires if you leave it on the lowest setting. Stubborn grease and grime will usually come off if the surface has been soaked in a cleaner for a minute or two. A second scrubbing with the tire brush might become necessary in extreme cases.

3. Wash the Paint in Sections

Grab a large pail and a bottle of a car wash. Use medium-warm water to create a sudsy liquid in the bucket, then dunk a soft sponge into the mixture. Clean the exterior of your car in small sections, pausing to rinse off the soap every three or four minutes. This prevents soap from drying on the paint and causing pits.

Avoid dish detergent or any other cleaner not meant specifically for cars. Dish soap contains chemicals that cause auto paint to oxidize faster, which might leave your vehicle with streaks or patches of missing paint. Air-drying your vehicle will result in soap spots. To avoid this, grab a soft towel or chamois and rub all visible paint until it’s dry.

4. Clean the Windows

Make sure the glass cleaner you choose doesn’t include ammonia or vinegar. These substances will degrade the film used on tinted windows. You might check your local auto parts store for a compatible cleaner that won’t inflict any damage on your windows.

Now you can sit back and admire your hard work. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about any more embarrassing “notes” from your neighbors.