After several weeks of lockdown and a car market that had effectively stalled, dealerships around parts of the UK are starting to return to work.
And with further easing of lockdown measures expected shortly, there’s a certain amount of pent-up demand for new and used stock.
But with businesses effectively closed for long periods of time, vehicles have been sitting on dealership pitches and unfortunately may have been neglected during this time.
While the weather has been relatively stable throughout lockdown, this doesn’t mean that vehicles will simply need a quick rinse and dry to get them looking back to their best.
Considerations have to be made for the contamination that will have built up that can’t simply be rinsed away – contamination such as tree sap, Sahara rain (yes, that is a thing) and the dreaded bird droppings.
We spoke to Autoglym’s technical solutions and training manager Lee Irving to get some guidance on how to properly prepare cars for sale after weeks of standing unattended.
Use foaming equipment where possible
‘Using shampoo, a bucket and a sponge could damage already contaminated paintwork, so it’s essential to begin the cleaning process without touching the car,’ says Lee.
‘Autoglym recommends the use of Advanced Traffic Film Remover for the initial touchless clean on the entire bodywork and wheels. It’s caustic-free so is safe on all materials, including sensitive chromes and rubbers, and can remove contaminants such as tree sap without the need to agitate it.’
The next step should be a contact wash with a pH-neutral shampoo such as Brushwash. The high-foaming, lubricating shampoo is designed to clean without compromising protective waxes and polishes.
Autoglym also recommends a top gloss product such as Coat It – an easy-to-apply spray shine that will add a depth of gloss to the vehicle as well as an all-important layer of protection.
Smart repairs and detail prep
The next step is to dry the car before thoroughly inspecting the paintwork, which is where Autoglym’s latest innovation may well be just the ticket.
Introduced this year, Autoglym Reflow uses heat transfer technology to mend etchings in paint lacquer left by bird droppings.
‘Reflow is a one-shot product that you leave to do the work on its own,’ says Lee. ‘You simply activate the Reflow pack, apply it to the damaged paint, leave it in situ and let it do the work for you. It’ll heat up the affected area and can effectively reseal the lacquer, presuming the surface isn’t too badly damaged.’
Reflow can also be left to its own devices, which means a valeter can crack on with some of the other detailing tasks required to bring a car back up to scratch.
Rubbers and plastics
While waiting to finish off the paintwork, the next step is to sort out some of the detailing elements.
Smartening up rubbers and plastic areas really makes a difference, so a quality rubber cleaner such as Autoglym Rubber Plus will bring a showroom shine back to the tyres without being too ‘over-shiny’.
‘We develop products on the back of what we’re told by professionals,’ said Lee. ‘That means that they’re designed to look just right, rather than over the top.’
Lee’s top tip is to use a three-inch paintbrush to apply the Rubber Plus to the tyres. ‘Tyres often have patterns or markings on the side, and a paintbrush will make sure you get the cleaners into all the nooks and crannies,’ he said.
With the rubber parts all looking smart, next up for attention is the car’s glass.
‘Clean glass makes a huge difference,’ says Lee. ‘It’s amazing how many traders will spend ages making the paintwork shiny and the tyres look all glossy but not pay mind to grubby glass – yet if not properly cleaned, smudged and dirty glass can really let a car down, as well as lead to awkward glare when driving at night.’
A professional cleaning product such as Autoglym Window Clean will leave the car with streak-free glass and certainly help its appearance. And don’t forget the mirrors!
Providing a car hasn’t been standing anywhere excessively damp, or with a window open or there’s been a leak from the sunroof, the period of lockdown shouldn’t have had too much of an impact on the cabin.
As far as interiors are concerned, not too much should be needed other than a thorough vacuum followed by a light wipe with a damp cloth on hard surfaces to remove any dust build-up.
However, if the car has been allowed to get damp then it may have suffered from a build-up of mould and it’s essential that this is properly dealt with. Autoglym Interior Clean is designed for all interior materials including plastics, cloth and leather and is both simple to apply and effective.
An application of a freshening agent such as Autoglym Odour Eliminator to each of the footwells may be necessary to add a pleasant fragrance ahead of any potential vehicle viewing, but don’t overdo this as any excessive fragrance may make it look like you’re trying to hide a more substantial issue.