Spring cleaning for your car
Man cleaning the interior of a car

When the buds start budding and the birds begin to return from their winter sojourns, it’s time for spring cleaning. However, this seasonal spruce-up doesn’t have to only include dusting your bookshelves and moving your sweaters into storage – it’s also a good time to clean your vehicle inside and out. From rinsing off the last of the winter’s road salt to giving the interior a vigorous vacuum, a little TLC can prolong your vehicle’s life and help it look its best for the season to come. Here are a few essential steps to take when the time comes.

Give it a wash 

Running your vehicle through the carwash regularly in the winter is a good idea, and now is the time to rinse off the last of the season’s salt and grit. Salt can degrade your vehicle’s body and external components, particularly on the underside, and the longer the salt sits there the more damage it can do. If you’re washing the vehicle yourself, give it a thorough top-to-bottom scrub as you normally would, but pay extra attention to the undercarriage by spraying it all over with the highest-pressure setting on your hose. Or, you can simply take it to a touchless car wash and make sure to opt for the undercarriage wash option.

Check the tires 

Once the last of winter’s snow and frigid temperatures are in the rear view, it’s time to have your mechanic swap your winter tires for your all seasons. It’s also a great time to check your tires for wear and replace them if needed. The average life of a set of tires is six to 10 years, but much depends on how and where you drive, so consult your mechanic to find out when it’s time for a new set. Don’t put it off – keeping your tires in good repair is an essential part of basic road safety. Now’s also the time to make sure your tire pressure is correct per your vehicle’s specifications. Poorly inflated tires aren’t just unsafe, they also reduce the efficiency of your vehicle on the road.

Inspect your wipers 

April showers may do wonders for your garden, but they can make for hazardous driving conditions if your wiper blades aren’t in optimum shape. Wipers usually last for six months to a year, depending on conditions, but if you notice streaks across the windshield when it rains, that’s a good indication that it’s time to replace your wiper blades.

Clean house 

Once the exterior is up to scratch, it’s time to tackle the interior. Start by removing everything from the car, from travel cups and gum wrappers to car seats, floor mats, and everything in the trunk. This is also a great opportunity to take stock of what’s on board and remove things that are no longer needed, like winter items from your emergency kit.

Get vacuuming

Now it’s time to get to work with a vacuum on the carpets, seats, cup holders, and anywhere else crumbs and dirt tend to accumulate. Try various attachments to see what works best for different areas. A carpet attachment might work well for the trunk liner, while the crevice tool is useful for getting at crumbs around the seat tracks. Don’t forget to move the seats all the way forward and back to expose the carpet underneath - you might be surprised by what treasures you find! Next, if you want to be extremely thorough, you can get into the cracks and crevices with a toothbrush and a little soapy water, and wipe away the debris with a clean towel. You can also give horizontal surfaces a once-over with a microfibre cloth, or a rag with a solution of vinegar and water. Just make sure to avoid using cleaning products that contain ammonia on your car’s interior, as this can damage the plastic parts.

Take it to the mats

Once you’ve got the interior clean, soap up the floor mats and give them a good scrub with a stiff-bristled brush, then rinse and set them somewhere sunny to dry. If your vehicle has removable rubber pads protecting the cup holders and console areas, you can remove those as well and scrub them with warm soapy water. Once they’re dry you can replace them, taking extra care to ensure the driver’s mat is secured and fastened to the floor. Now you’re ready for everything spring and summer have in store.

Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.

Jeremy Freed is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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