Newly cost-conscious and recession-battered Americans are keeping their cars longer than ever — inching back up to 10-years — and that means being more attentive to maintenance to preserve long-term performance.
(The good news is that as a car ages, it gets less and less expensive to insure. To further cut costs, owners can drop their collision coverage. The expense of the repair is going to exceed the price of replacement in almost all cases, and the older a car, the more likely an insurer is to just total it anyway.)
The winter months are hard on your vehicle, with drivers in snowy climates facing a never-ending struggle against the forces of rust and corrosion. (Not to mention road salt, traction sand, gravel, and other debris.)
So, on the first warm weekend of spring, a good hand-washing of your car, inside and out, should be a high-priority on your “to do” list.
Some tips to remember:
– Only use soaps that are specifically formulated for automobiles.
– Don’t wash your car in direct sunlight.
– Put a mist-spray nozzle on the hose if you’re working in your own driveway. It will do a better job of rinsing away debris and getting all the soap off.
(Actually, you’re probably better off working in your own driveway, especially right after the winter thaw. The commercial joints get super busy and they recycle a lot of their water, which means they’re washing your car with the very things you’re trying to get rid of — salt and corrosives.)
– Crank up the water pressure to blast up under the wheel wells and along the undercarriage. That’s where you’re going to get the biggest build-up of “crud.”
– Use a soft cloth (natural fibers are best) or a chamois to dry the vehicle. Use this time to carefully examine the vehicle’s body for dents, dings, or places where rust is getting started. You want to have those problems taken care of before they develop into something big (and expensive.)
– Wax is your friend on a clean car. Take the time to apply a good coat and buff to get that shine that makes you want to hop in and go for a ride.
Then? Hop in a go for a ride. It’s spring!