WITH SPRING officially under way, now is the perfect time to blow away the cobwebs and clear away the fast food wrappers and childrens’ biscuit crumbs that have taken over your car during the winter months. Follow these simple steps and your motor will look as good as new, while running more reliably.
How to wash your car
Two buckets are better than one. Fill one with warm soapy water. Use car shampoo and not washing-up liquid, which will remove protective waxes. Hose the car, sponging away the worst of the grime, especially from around the sills and bumpers. Work from the roof down, and save the dirtiest areas until last. Now clean your sponge, making sure to get rid of any grit, dip it in the soapy water and get washing. Rinse the sponge in the bucket of clean water as you go; this will keep the soapy water clean, while dislodging any grit that could scratch your paintwork. Job done, wipe the vehicle dry with a chamois leather, otherwise all your hard work will be undone by blotchy watermarks.
Cleaning your car’s interior
Remove the mats and brush them clean, then get to work on the carpets and seats with a vacuum cleaner nozzle, perfect for those awkward places such as between the seats and centre console, and the door pockets. Slide the seats to improve access front and rear. Use the brush adapter to vacuum the fascia and remove dust from the ventilation grilles and narrow gaps. Use a wet cloth to wipe down muddy marks from the sills and seat backs, and chocolate marks from the seat cushions.
Cleaning your car’s windows
Ever wondered why you have to spend so long demisting your windows in the morning? It’s because of the build up of dirt and grease on the inside of the glass. Clean your windows with a drop of water and vinegar on a paper towel. Don’t forget to lower the windows a touch and clean the top of the glass normally hidden from view.
How to get your car smelling sweet
How to check tyre pressures
Returning tyres to their correct pressure will improve roadholding, braking and the car’s fuel economy. The correct pressures will be listed in the vehicle handbook or behind the fuel filler flap. Check them when they’re cold (warm air expands and will give a false reading). Take the opportunity to check the tread depth. The legal minimum is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread, on the complete circumference of the tyre. Turn the wheels on full lock to check the inner shoulders of the front tyres for extreme wear due to incorrect tracking.
Checking your car’s fluid levels
Open the bonnet (the catch is usually under the fascia on the driver’s side). Switch off the engine and let the car stand for a few minutes before checking the oil level. It should be half way between the min and max marks on the dip stick. If the engine coolant level is low, top it up with pre-mixed coolant from a petrol station or accessory shop. Don’t use water from the tap. Top up the windscreen washer fluid, essential for cleaning bugs off the windscreen. It’s also a good idea to check the condition of the windscreen wipers and replace them if they’re worn.
Now hit the road in the sure and certain knowledge that you have the cleanest, safest and most reliable motor on the block. At least until the next shower/breakdown…