Having your car detailed increases the longevity of your vehicle, ensuring that you’ll receive the most bang for your buck should you decide to trade it in or sell it. But detailing can seem costly and time-consuming. Below are our tips to vehicle detailing yourself, ensuring that your car stays like new, without heading to the shop.

  • Start at the bottom of your vehicle and work up.
    • Pick out a wheel cleaner that’s safe for your types of wheels and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also opt for a degreaser made specifically for auto detailing. Do not use an all-purpose or cleaning degreaser, as it can damage the clear coat, paint, and tire. It’s cheaper to use the correct product the first time rather than pay for repairs down the road, especially if you’re doing the vehicle detailing yourself.
    • Some wheels can be very scratch-sensitive, and you’ll want to use very soft brushes that won’t mar the surface of the wheel. Start at the bottom of your tire with a specific tire brush (not your wheel brush) and start cleaning, working your way up. For extremely dirty tires and wheels, you can choose to spray the wheel down before starting to loosen any built up dirt and grime. After cleaning and thorough rinsing and drying, take the time to add a tire dressing, which will really up the aesthetics of your vehicle. Carefully buff out dressing and be sure to let it dry between coats.
  • After finishing your tires and wheels, it’s time to move on to the interior.
    • It’s easiest to do the inside of the car next, as you won’t run the risk of marring a clean exterior surface with hoses or cleaners. Fire up your air compressor and start spraying out air vents, nooks, under seats, and door jambs. Focus the air any place that’s too small to wipe out by hand. This will force dirt, hair, pollen, and grime out of the tight crannies and either onto the flat surfaces to be cleaned or to the middle of the carpet for vacuuming.
    • Take a minute to wipe off any large surfaces like the dashboard or middle console. Sweeping away dust and dirt on to the floor before vacuuming ensures that you won’t have to vacuum more than you need to (although it is suggested that you vacuum the carpets at least twice, even if you’re doing the vehicle detailing yourself). Use this time to blow out your heating and air conditioning duct work, in case there’s any blow back into the cabin.
    • Using a stiff brush, pull any dirt from the edges of the carpet or upholstery toward the middle. Be sure to use even strokes and pull the dirt toward you, not crush it in to the carpet. From there you can vacuum it up easily, eliminating a large portion of the dirt in your vehicle.
    • For leather seats, it’s important to not scratch the finish. A vacuum with a slim nozzle attachment can get in to the seams of the seat and remove most of the dirt. Finish any leather off with a good leather cleaner (not an all purpose cleaner) and a conditioner with something rich like oil or aloe.

Stay tuned for the second part of this DIY Detailing article!

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