If you’re the keeper of a second-hand car, the chances are that you’ve either owned your beloved car for several years, or maybe you’ve got yourself a used motor for a bargain. Contrary to myths, the experience of driving an older vehicle doesn’t need to be anything less as opposed to a new one. With some knack and one or two handy tips, you can get your trusty old car looking as good as new. Give our how-to guide a read to truly get some years off your car.
Clean it thoroughly
If you haven’t heard of hinching, it’s a big trend on Instagram at the moment, although it mainly focusses on getting the house absolutely spotless. Why not, get your hinch on with your car? Treating your car to a thorough and deep clean both inside and out can make a huge difference
Interior cleaning guide
At the beginning of your big clean, grab a bin liner and remove all the clutter from your car’s interior. Drinks bottles, McDonalds wrappers, papers, whatever you’ve shoved in the glove box and forgotten about, the air freshener that lost its scent several years ago. Check the chair pockets, and the door storage, and the boot.
Boot, carpets, and floor mats
Gert out the vacuum cleaner and give your boot, floor mates and carpets some thorough hoover treatment. If the floor mats look worse for wear, throw them out and get them replaced with the best floor mats — a rubber floor mat is a good way to ensure no mould develops from wet shoes going in and out of your car.
For a really deep clean, brush your carpets with a nylon brush before going at it with the vacuum cleaner. This will bring up any deep-set dirt buried in your car’s carpets.
Headlining and sun visors
You’ll be surprised at just how big a difference cleaning your car’s roof headliner and sun visors can make. The fabric covering the interior ceiling can become discoloured and cling on to odours, so it is worth taking the time to give it a good clean.
In order to treat the headlining and sun visors to an in-depth clean, spray the entire headliner with upholstery cleaner. Foam-type upholstery cleaners are recommended for this. Follow the instruction on the product, then use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush the headliner. Then, let it dry for a few hours.
If your headliner and sun visors are particularly dirty, you can deep-clean it with a steam cleaner, but be aware that this can damage the glue holding the layers of your headliner together.
Seat belts and seats
When cleaning your seatbelts, pull them out as far as they will go, then attach a clip at the top to stop them pulling back. Using the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner, clean down the belt with a cloth. Leave the belt clipped to dry for a few hours before letting them roll back in.
If your car seats are cloth, vacuum them then pick up either a window squeegee or put on a damp rubber glove. Run the squeegee or damp glove over the seats to pull up deep-set fluff, dust, and pet hair. Then, go at it with the upholstery cleaner too.
Windows and mirrors
If you used your window squeegee for your seats, be sure to rinse it down, then spray some window/glass cleaner onto your car windows and mirrors and wipe away with a squeegee or cloth. Wind down your windows slightly to get the grime away from the top of the window and ensure of a streak-free finish.
Air vents and cup holders
If your air vent filters are removable, it’s time to change them up. Give them a clean down, as well as any cup holders or trays your car may have.
Grab handles and pillars
Using a clean microfibre cloth, give your grab handles and car pillars a wipe down. Depending on the material, you can use the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner and sun visor, or an antibacterial spray.
Hoover over the door panels and any little gaps in your door. Then, using a leather cleaner where needed and a vinyl cleaner for the rest, wipe down the whole interior door panel. Be sure to check on a small area that the cleaner you are using is safe to use on your door’s interior material.
Steering wheel and dashboard
There are dedicated dashboard cleaners and wipes available to purchase, but warm water and a mild soap will also do the trick. Be sure to go lightly with the water though, as you don’t want to risk water running down into the electrics. To get rid of grime and grease, a glass cleaner will do the trick. Also, wash your dashboard in the shade to avoid the sun from drying the product too quickly.
Make sure you wipe down your indicator sticks too, and make your steering wheel a top priority — it’s one of the dirtiest parts of a car interior.
Exterior cleaning guide
Now that the inside’s taken care of, it’s now time to turn your attention to washing your car’s exterior. You can head to the car wash if you like, but if you have the time to spare, giving it a clean yourself usually produces better results. This is because you can spend more time on the areas that really need some attention.
It’s recommended that you use the three-bucket system to clean your car:
- Clean, soapy water bucket. This bucket is just for soapy water. No dipping your dirty cloth in here!
- Water bucket. Use this bucket to rinse off your dirty cloth before dipping it back into the soapy water bucket.
- Wheels and tyres bucket. As the wheels are particularly dirty, have one bucket of soapy water just for this.
First of all, wash down your car. Use a hose or a microfibre cloth wet with just water and rinse down your car. The idea behind this is that you want to wash away any large amounts of dirt before you get the soapy water involved.
If bugs and insects are stuck all over the exterior, these are often difficult to remove due to being dried on under the sun. Soap will have a hard time peeling these critters off your car, but there’s an easy trick to remove them. Get a few tumble dryer sheets and a bucket of warm water. Wet the dryer sheet in the warm water, then wipe down the bugs. They will come away much easier this way.
Then, you can go at your car with the soapy water. Remember to rinse your cloth in the water bucket as you go along. For tougher spots, try using a clay bar instead.
To give your headlights a dazzling shine, use ordinary, white-paste toothpaste (not the gel kind). With a soft cloth, apply the toothpaste to your headlights. Then, rinse away the toothpaste with water.
Now that the car is clean, polish it down with a hand-polish or dual-action polisher to give it a like-new shine. Then, apply a final coat of wax to protect the paintwork and that hard-earned shine. Use a power buffer to apply the wax, but then remove it with a soft cloth to ensure an even finish.
Simple water will be enough for the tyres – no need to use product on them. It’s now time to tackle the alloy revwerks wheels. Make sure to use your designated wheels bucket, as brake fluid smeared across your windows next time is not preferable. Don’t use product on the tyres though; simple water will be enough
Replacing old parts with new ones
Now that your car’s spick and span both inside and out, you can now evaluate the condition of your car. Some parts could use replacing, and it will help the overall appearance of your vehicle. These don’t need to be expensive replacements!
- Seat covers — seat covers are a great way to spruce up your car interior without splashing out on expensive re-upholstering. Plus, you can add a little character with many different designs and patterns to choose from.
- Use a cherished number plate — cherished number plates are registration plates with no year identifier on them. This is a great way to make an older model of car look newer!
- New speakers — if you’re a music lover, upgrading the car speakers will improve your experience without breaking the bank.
- New wheels — if your wheels are looking worse for wear even after cleaning, it might be time to replace them.
- A fresh coat of paint — if your budget allows, a new paint job can work wonders for an old car.