Lighter days and warmer temperatures mean spring is in the air. So why not celebrate by treating your car to a thorough spring clean. Here’s how.
Are you the sort of car care enthusiast who conducts a thorough, top-to-bottom clean every weekend? If that describes you, we applaud your dedication to perfection. But for the rest of us, the annual spring clean is exactly that — a once a year job. Some may take one look at the havoc that winter has wreaked on their car and immediately delegate the task to a local valeter. However, we’re here to assure you that it is not only possible to tackle such a deep-clean yourself but that it can be enjoyable and cheaper, too. So let’s spring into action!
Hold your horses for a second, though. It’s wise to create a plan of action, a strategy that ensures we won’t blunder in and make any mistakes but carry out each step in a rational order that lays the groundwork for the next procedure. So as tempting as it may be to grab the bucket and sponge and crack straight on with the bodywork, logic dictates that we start elsewhere first. And that’s with the dirtiest parts of the car — the wheels.
Autoglym has a couple of options here: Clean Wheels and Custom Wheel Cleaner. The former is a perennial best-seller and suitable for alloy wheels with a painted or clear lacquer finish, as well as all plastic wheel trims. However, if your wheels have a more unusual chromed, polished aluminium or anodised finish, the acid-free formula of the latter is the product for you.
Whatever the case, ensure your wheels are cool to the touch as working in a hot zone may result in damage. Working on one wheel at a time, apply the cleaner generously from the bottom up, fully coating the wheel and tyre sidewall. Agitate the surfaces with a soft brush, concentrating on any areas that trap dirt, and then rinse the whole lot off with clean water from a low-pressure hose. You’ll come back to the wheels later…
Because now it’s time to actually wash the car. Let’s assume that you prefer getting your hands stuck in with the traditional method, and that you know the important routine of working from top to bottom and using a second bucket of water to rinse the dirty wash mitt before plunging it back into the wash bucket. Yes? Excellent!
In which case you need a cleanser with a foaming element to gently loosen dirt and hold it safely in suspension until the suds can be rinsed away. Either Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner or high-end, treat-yourself UHD Shampoo will do the trick here. The former leaves a water-repellent film, while the latter has a high foam formula that leaves a high-gloss finish. But neither will strip away any residual protection from previous winter washes.
A clean surface can highlight imperfections, however. So at this point you need to decide how deep your deep-clean of the paintwork is going to be.
For example, have you noticed any scratch marks around the door handles or scratches from bushes? Don’t fret. These can probably be polished out using the special cutting compound included in the Scratch Removal kit. A couple of pea-sized squeezes of the product on the foam applicator and 30 seconds of deliberate up and down and back and forth movement over the affected area should clear the scratch. If not, apply more compound and repeat the process until you see a significant improvement.
Or maybe your gaze has been drawn to an unsightly ‘pebble-dashing’ of black tar spots along the lower half of the car? Scrubbing with a sponge will only smear the sticky goo across the paintwork, so why not safely dissolve the spots and wipe them cleanly away with Intensive Tar Remover.
Now that you’ve removed the most visible eyesores, what does the paintwork feel like? If you have a small stash of those disposable plastic gloves you find at petrol stations, put one on and run your hand over the paintwork. If you feel it catching on tiny imperfections then it’s worth removing them with our Clay Detailing kit, which will capture all those near-imperceptible contaminants and leave your paintwork with the full baby’s bottom level of smoothness. Although it sounds like an expert procedure all it really requires is that, you lubricate the paintwork with our detailing spray and gently work a malleable clay bar over the surface in a sweeping motion. With no real effort, this process will magically lift all unwanted nasties from the paintwork.
On the other hand, if the paintwork already feels pretty smooth, then a once-over renovation with UHD Polishing Compound or Super Resin Polish will create the same silky smooth finish and set you up for the next paint procedure. Which of the two should you use? If you’re using good old-fashioned elbow grease, we recommend you apply Super Resin Polish. However, if you have access to a dual-action machine polisher then we would direct you towards UHD Polishing Compound, which has the additional benefit of being able to remove micro-scratches, or holograms, from the paintwork and contains no fillers.
Exhaust trims and other metal components can now be buffed-up with Metal Polish, while Car Glass Polish will deep-clean the windows, removing traffic film, grease, wax, nicotine, insects and other baked-on yuckiness for a crystal clear view. Exterior unpainted plastics can also be enhanced with Bumper & Trim Gel.
Remember the wheels that launched your spring cleaning programme? Well, now’s the time to crouch back down and complete their story. First, treat the tyres with some High Performance Tyre Gel, which uses active silicone polymers to transform the rubber from that nasty post-winter grey-brown hue to the satin black look of a brand-new tyre. And if your preference is for more of a wet-look then just give the sidewalls a second coat once the first has dried. Talking of coats, why not protect your investment of time with a spray of super-hydrophobic Wheel Protector, which creates a bouncer-like presence that reduces the accumulation of brake dust for up to six weeks.
But when it comes to protection, nothing in the Autoglym arsenal can match the locking-in quality of UHD Ceramic Coating. It is the most durable paint protection product we have ever released and the ultimate, complementary barrier against contamination. It’s disarmingly simple to apply, requiring little more than a quick wipe over with preparation fluid before the coating is applied in straight sweeps across the bodywork. This semi-permanent clear coating uses a clever polymer resin fomula to bond with the paintwork to lock in a seamless and naturally hydrophobic finish. All it needs is a buff with a clean microfibre cloth and you’re protected for up to 12 months.
The final stage of the spring cleaning process is completed with UHD Wax, a product that represents the pinnacle of more than 56 years of advancements in car care treatments. This can be applied on its own once you’ve finished your car cleaning steps or on top of UHD Ceramic Coating to further enhance the level of protection you’ll get. With less application effort than Mr Miyagi would normally propose, its blend of carnauba wax and other fine ingredients takes the concept of a showroom shine to a higher plane. In fact, it delivers the sort of lagoon-deep finish that owners will derive great pleasure in standing back and appreciating with a knowing nod.
Tackling these extra areas in your spring clean may take more than the usual effort but the reward is the satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge that there is no part of the car letting the side down.