It’s time to spring clean your car!

Spring has sprung! Time to help your car shed its layers of winter grime and rubbish and give it some love! Giving your car a quick spring clean reduces the risk of damage from corrosion and helps to maintain the car’s value, as well as making your car feel nice and fresh. Here are the kinds of things Dan and I do one sunny spring weekend each year, with a few kid-size jobs thrown in.

Essentials

Step one is to gather all the kit we’re going to need for the day. This includes at least two carrier bags for the array of interesting rubbish we’re going to fish out, glass cleaner, a newspaper, car wash sponges, tea towels and some all purpose wipes (I’m still using up our bumper pack of nappy wipes I’m afraid!). A hand held vacuum cleaner is a good investment if you can’t park close enough to use the mains. Dan throws in some small snacks for the kids too to use as bait when they’re flagging! Then we’re all ready for our spring clean!

Inside

We work from the inside out. After a long, wet, cold winter our car is usually somewhat damp from tiny wet shoes, coats and muddy mum and dad boots. The car’s also a bit musty because of the lack of heat or ventilation that would dry it out properly, so we start by emptying the whole thing. Dan and I gather up all the rubbish so that we can vet what the kids might otherwise throw away. The kids are in charge of the mats. They line them up neatly before being let loose with plenty of soapy water to get them nice and clean. I’ve even been known to allow water pistols! Meanwhile I vacuum the carpets and seats as they’re usually looking a bit crumby.

We did once shampoo the carpets after an accident one year (don’t ask). We chose a nice sunny day so there was time for them to dry out with the doors open, I’d suggest you do the same. Dan’s always on the look-out for any wet patches under the carpets at this point – a sign that rain water’s getting in – if you see any investigate further to avoid corrosion. You may need an expert to help locate the source of the incoming water as it can be difficult to find.

Brandishing the all-purpose-god-sent wipes, the kids give the dashboard, console, gear stick, steering wheel and most other internal surfaces a good going over. Dan squirts the glass cleaner on the insides of all the windows and the kids have great fun cleaning it off with loosely balled newspaper. This is the best way of getting a smearless finish and doesn’t require a chamois leather. There’s a lot to be said for the old methods!

Outside

After firmly closing the doors on our now clean and shiny interior, we set to on the paintwork with a couple of bowls of warm water and a nice smelling car shampoo. Dan’s the tallest so he cleans the roof. With strict instructions to stick only to the paintwork for the moment, the kids then launch in with glee. Last of all we do the areas that are likely to be more gritty – the wheels, undersides of doors and sills. The hose or a few buckets of cold water rinse everything down including the kids who, at this stage, usually give up and go off dripping through the house in search of more entertainment.

Whilst they’re curled up in dry clothes with cocoa and a bit of TV, Dan and I finish off. When drying the car off with a couple of tea towels (I have to do something with the hideous ones from Aunt Ethel) we check carefully for any areas of corrosion or chips in the paintwork. Dan usually fixes these with a stone chip touch-up kit. Polish can also give some protection so I tend to get going on that whilst Dan does the rest.

Underneath

Winter salt can cause corrosion if left on the car – it gathers on the underside so you may not notice it. Dan hoses it down, checking for any signs of damage to the sealing compound. If he does see any damage we take it to Pete at the garage, after checking if our anti-corrosion warranty is still valid, as it’s a bit specific about how such repairs should be done. Your Perrys dealer will be pleased to offer advice if you need more information.

Checks and chocks away

Whilst Dan’s dealing with the grime, I check the tyres, including the spare. The tread should exceed the minimum 1.6mm and keep an eye out for any bulges or splits. They were OK this year but last year we replaced some well-worn ones before anything untoward could happen.

A check of the fluid levels – engine oil, coolant, windscreen washer – and tyre pressures and we’re done. There are clear instructions in the car handbook to guide you and this is something that ideally should be done weekly to avoid any breakdowns.
If you need further advice you can always contact your friendly local dealer who’d be glad to help. They can sort you out with servicing and maintenance or a new car, if your spring clean and checks have made you think you may need a new one.