February is the month of love, and the ideal time to show your partner how much you cherish them. It is also a good time to show how much you care for the other love in your life: your car.
Regular car care is vital to ensuring your car operates optimally. And, perhaps more importantly, looking after your car will extend its good looks, and improve its resale value. Another important reason to care for your vehicle is that many features, such as your windscreen wipers, need regular maintenance to keep you safe.
If you normally take your car to a car wash for cleaning, consider doing it yourself every now and again. In this way, you will notice any scratches, bumps or irregularities on the bodywork that you may miss if someone else is cleaning it for you.
A good place to start is by washing the exterior. But don’t wash your vehicle with dishwashing liquid or other detergents. They are designed to strip grease and grime off surfaces such as glass and plastic and may damage your car’s bodywork. Use specially formulated products instead, even though these may cost a little extra.
Some tips to remember when washing your car are:
Be aware of any water restrictions in your area, bearing in mind that many parts of the country are still gripped by the drought. Use water from a bucket, instead of from a hose, and keep your water usage to a minimum.
Wash your car in the shade. Washing a hot car, or a car in the sun, will cause soapy water to dry too quickly, and leave marks on your paintwork.
Don’t spray cold water on hot brakes; this may cause the brakes to warp and can prove costly to fix. Also don’t spray any water into the air intake vents or any electrical components, as this may also cause damage, and lead to a malfunction later on.
Use cloths and sponges designed for auto-detailing, other products may not be as gentle on your paintwork. And, start by cleaning the roof of your car and work your way down. In this way you can move all the dirt in one direction.
Don’t let your car stand in the open to drip dry. Use a proper cloth or chamois and, again, start from the roof and work your way down. If you drop the cloth on the floor, shake it out properly before continuing to avoid little grains of sand scratching the paintwork.
Please remember to save water!
Once cleaned, check that your car’s windscreen wipers are working properly and that they can be trusted in a heavy downpour. This is also a good time to check that all the indicators and lights, including your brake lights, are working properly.
On the interior of the vehicle, be careful not to spill any liquids, especially close to any electrical devices or systems. Do not use any silicon-based sprays on electrical devices such as radio's as this may damage them.
If your car has leather seats, avoid using chemicals that may damage the leather. Instead, use a solution of 90% water and 10% soap to clean these surfaces. Wipe them down with a dry cloth before using the solution with a soft cloth. Do not use any chemical that is not approved for leather, you will damage your seats, and any repairs will be costly.
In addition to taking care of the vehicle’s looks, check the oil regularly, and make sure your tyres, including the spare tyre, are in a good condition. If you have a car seat for your child, make sure it has been re-installed properly if you removed it to clean inside.
A car is a massive investment. With the proper care it will serve you well for a long time. Maintaining the engine through regular services is only one of the things responsible owners do; they also keep their vehicles clean, and in good condition, to extend its time on the road. And, if you don’t do it for your car, do it for your significant other who will appreciate that special night out in a clean and safe ride.
Another way you can show your love for your car this February, and other cars on the road, is to be a courteous driver who obeys the rules. Remember that this means allowing other cars into traffic, indicating when you need to, not talking on your cellphone or speeding, and importantly, making sure that you, and your passengers are properly buckled-up for the journey.