Albuquerque was blessed with a mild winter this year. But even with the lack of salt and caked road grime, your car likely needs some sprucing up for the spring. We know that spring cleaning your car can feel like a daunting task that will just get relegated to the “maybe later” list, but by breaking it up into smaller jobs, you will find that you can enjoy a ride that’s “so fresh and so clean” in less than a week.
Here’s how we suggest approaching the Herculean task of car spring cleaning:
Day 1: Trash Removal
Once you decide to start, start by removing the big stuff that will show immediate improvement in your car’s interior appearance—trash, debris and all the stuff that got thrown in there and never taken back inside.
This step’s easy. You need:
- A trash bag
- One box for stuff that needs to go back into your house, garage, work or its regular “home”
- One box for stuff that needs to be donated or taken to a local recycling plant or hazardous waste disposal station
A wet cloth or whisk broom wouldn’t hurt, but we don’t want you to burn out too fast. Anything beyond “stuff” removal/relocation can wait until tomorrow when you…
Day 2: Vacuum
If you’ve got a shop vac, great! Pull your car into a well-lit area, plug it in and get all the crumbs, lint and dirt out of the crevices. Suck the small rocks out of the floor mats and corners around the pedals. If you don’t have a shop vac, just about any nearby car wash will have a vacuum station, and $1 is usually sufficient to give the front and backseats a good once-over. You may even scrape together enough loose change for a few extra minutes to get the trunk.
For car owners with kids, this is the time of year to make the extra effort and take out the car seats so that you can vacuum in and around them. And, while they’re out, strip ‘em down and put those pads in the wash. You know they need it.
Next, get an iced tea and plan for tomorrow…
Day 3: Air Quality Improvements
Spring cleaning is all about giving long-closed spaces a breath of fresh air. To make sure the air you’re breathing in your car’s cabin is clean, you need to clean out its pathways. So, today’s task involves:
- Detail cleaning the air vents. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. You really just need cotton swabs to get in between the fins.
- Checking (and likely changing) your cabin air filter. In most vehicles, the cabin air filter is located behind the dash, so you can check and install them yourself. Consult your owner’s manual for help. If you need more detailed instruction, there are loads of YouTube videos.
If you’re really not up for a DIY cabin filter change, Quanz will do it for you.
Day 4: Visibility Improvements
Critters start coming out of hiding in the spring, so you need to make sure you can see them and they can see you. So, this day’s spring cleaning task is all about visibility, which means you need to:
- Clean your windows. Before you reach for the glass cleaner, make sure you soften all the dried-on gunk so that it wipes away cleanly. For streak-free windows, try a solution of water and white vinegar (usually safe for tinted windows, too) and use a clean microfiber cloth.
- Clean your mirrors. Follow the same steps you did for window cleaning.
- Clean your headlamps. You need to clean the exterior of your headlamps, but if your lights are cloudy, they need to be cleaned on the inside, too. You can do this yourself, and many car cleaning gurus recommend toothpaste and a toothbrush to remove the film that builds up inside the light case.
Again, if you’re not up for a DIY project (and here we don’t blame you), Quanz offers headlamp buffing (sometimes at a discounted price when combined with another maintenance service. Contact us to ask about seasonal specials.)
- Check (and change) bulbs. No amount of cleaning will make dead bulbs glow. They just need to be replaced…so replace them. You can find the right sizes/models in your owner’s manual, or most auto part stores can look up the required part numbers based on make and model.
- Refilling your windshield cleaner reservoir. Once your windows are spotless, you’ll want to keep them that way. But you can’t get off freshly splattered bug if your windshield wiper fluid is gone, so refill it (and you don’t need de-icer anymore!).
Wow! That was a lot of work. Better take a break.
Day 5: Restocking
Every year we tell you how to prepare for winter weather driving (or I-got-stranded) emergencies. Some of the equipment and supplies you needed for possible snow and ice are just going to weigh you down in the summer, so take it out. To be ready for highway road trips and unexpected car troubles in spring and summer, you need at the ready:
- A first aid kit, restocked with any supplies that you may have used
- Emergency roadside kit with fresh batteries for flashlights and flares or warning triangles
- Fresh water (at least a gallon, more when you are actually packing for a trip with multiple passengers)
- Non-perishable food (just enough for a snack in the event that you’re waiting a long time for a tow)
- Spare tire, properly inflated
- Tire iron
- Car jack
- Jumper cables
You’ll need extra supplies if you’re going on a trip where roads may be washed out and/or cell reception is limited. However, those supplies you can stock as needed rather than carry them around with you all the time. After all, you need trunk space for soccer gear, camp chairs and coolers for picnics and ball games more often.
Day 6: Wash and Wax
No car spring cleaning is complete until your car looks clean. Your energy level and level of “persnickety-ness” will dictate whether you wash and wax yourself or opt for an automatic car wash. If you DIY this step, two pieces of advice:
- Use two buckets—one to rinse your sponge before plunging it into the soapy water to bathe your car. This will significantly reduce the amount of sediment in the sponge that can scratch your clear coat and paint.
- Do not skip waxing. Wax provides UV protection for your car, and that is absolutely essential if you want to prevent the “sunspots” and flaking that result from baking under the intense New Mexico sunshine.
If you’ve really gotten into the spring cleaning groove, you may want to try your hand at DIY detailing. Check out our 10 top tips here.
An Even Easier Spring Cleaning Strategy
There is, of course, an easier way to get a clean car for spring—take it Quanz Auto Body for spring detailing. With the exception of knowing which sweatshirts in the back seat go in your closet or to Goodwill, we do everything required to get a clean car. Contact us for a quote and to schedule an appointment. We provide courtesy shuttle service to your home or office if needed.