Detailing your car can help you revive that new car look and smell. Just make sure you avoid these five common car detailing mistakes when cleaning up.
Going beyond the weekly car wash and detailing your car can help keep it in good condition, which is good if you’re hoping to maintain resale value. Not to mention, a clean and thoroughly detailed vehicle can be more pleasant and comfortable to drive. Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, take note of these five common car detailing mistakes you don’t want to make.
Mistake #1: Using the wrong cleaning products
You might think you can use just about anything to clean your vehicle’s interior or exterior but not necessarily. Detailing your car’s interior or exterior with household cleaners, such as dish soap or laundry soap, could be damaging to the paint job or upholstery.
The better option? Spend a few bucks on cleaning products that are designed just for cars. This ensures that your detailing work doesn’t result in another mess you need to clean up. And before you get to work, read the instructions on the cleaning product’s packaging to make sure you’re using it correctly.
Mistake #2: Detailing your car in the wrong weather
You may not give much thought to how temperature can affect the finished product when detailing your vehicle but it’s important to keep in mind. A hot and sunny day may seem like the perfect time but the warmer it is and the more exposed your vehicle is to the sun, the faster cleaning products will dry. That could lead to streaks or swirling, which means having to go back and retrace your steps again.
If you’re detailing your car while it’s warm out, aim to keep it in the shade as much as possible to avoid having to do extra work. If you’re detailing when the weather is colder, try to do it earlier in the day and pick a time when it’s sunny so the vehicle has time to thoroughly dry.
Mistake #3: Applying wax or polish incorrectly
Finish your clean up job off with a coat of wax can give your vehicle a nice shine but doing it wrong is one of the most common car detailing mistakes. Pouring wax or polish directly on to the car’s surface, for example, can result in an uneven application. It’s a good way to end up with streaks, swirls or missed spots.
You also need to be careful about what you apply wax or polish with. You can play it safe by using the applicator that came with the wax but if you plan to use something different, avoid clothes made of abrasive fabrics that could cause scratches.
Mistake #4: Cleaning in the wrong order
Order matters for detailing your car thoroughly–move in the wrong direction and you might end up having to clean twice. You might plan to start at the roof and work your way down but for detailing, a bottom-up approach works better.
Start with your tires, since those are often the dirtiest part of the car. As you clean off mud and dirt, it can splash back to other parts of the vehicle which is why you want to do them first. That way, you don’t have to go back and reclean around them later.
Mistake #5: Spot-cleaning stains
Stains on your interior can be an eyesore and you definitely want to give those some attention as you’re detailing. But don’t focus just on individual stains–plan to give the interior a thorough scrubbing. Otherwise, the spots you cleaned may stand out and make the rest of the upholstery look dirty.
If you have leather interiors, take special care to use the right cleaning products and protectorants. You don’t want to coat your seats in something that will leave them feeling sticky or tacky for months afterward.
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