Tips on Detailing Your Vehicle
Want to Detail Your Vehicle Yourself? Here’s How
Making sure that your vehicle stays clean is important. It will last longer, it’s safer to drive, and it just feels better to drive a clean rig. While we do offer professional auto detailing from our shop here in Billings, Montana, you may be more interested in doing it yourself.
We have put together a list of areas where you should pay attention to when you’re cleaning your vehicle. Keep in mind that using high quality cleaning products (that means don’t try to cheap out and use something like olive oil) is going to provide your vehicle with a longer lasting and deeper clean.
Detailing the Inside of Your Vehicle
We are going to work from the inside out on the vehicle. But there’s no reason you have to do the inside first. If bad weather is coming, get it washed and then pull into the garage to finish this part.
Pro Tip: work from the top down. As dust, dirt, and cleaning agents settle, you will get a chance to vacuum or wipe them up later.
Yes, dust can be wiped up. And much of it will be wiped up later. But it’s easier to get it with a vacuum. Take all the floor mats and anything else removable out, you can vacuum them separately (or wash them if they’re rubber). Using brush attachments on the hard surfaces, vacuum it all to pull up any dust, dirt, debris, or loose matter.
Clean the Stains
With the vacuum off to the side (we may need it later), it’s time to tackle the stains. Using a high quality carpet and upholstery foam cleaner, spray the spot and work the foam in with a clean brush or rag. Let it set for a few minutes, and then wipe away excess cleaner with a wet rag. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can use it to pull the remaining cleaner or water from the surface.
Wipe Down the Interior
All hard surfaces, with the exception of windows, can be wiped down with a microfiber rag and some interior cleanser. Armor All makes a great product, and so does Meguiar’s. It’s important to just leave a thin film in place, no need to load it up. To get into the nooks and crannies, you may want to use a toothbrush or q-tip. Quickly wipe up or vacuum up any dirt that is dislodged in the process.
Deep Clean the Seats
Fabric seats can be cleaned with a carpet/upholstery cleaner. Vinyl and Leather seats will need the appropriate spray. For vinyl, a DIY method is to use 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Simply wipe the seats and scrub any spots that have a reluctant stain. Leather you will need a leather conditioning product so you don’t wreck up the seats. These clean and condition to make sure the seats stay in great shape.
Get the Windows Last
When all else is done, it’s time to hit the windows. Using a window cleaning product, like Windex, you can quickly spray them down and wipe them clean with a microfiber. Other cleaning agents have a foaming component that tend to work a little better. Keep in mind that some window tinting can be damaged with ammonia based products.
Detailing the Outside of Your Vehicle
Pat yourself on the back, you’re done with the inside of the vehicle! Now, we get the outside done to protect against the elements.
Wash it Down
First things first, give it a good washing. If your vehicle is really dirty, you will want to have two buckets: one with soapy water and one with clean water to rinse your brush or sponge. Start at the top and work in small areas rinsing the suds away as you go. When it’s all clean and rinsed, use a squeegee to get the water off the windows, and a microfiber or chamois to get the rest of the water off.
Degrease the Tires
The tires take the brunt of the drive. And they get road grimed up pretty bad. There are a number of tire-specific products that will help clean your wheels. Keep in mind that these are going to be bad for your paint, so make sure that it’s only getting on the tires. If you want the tires to keep their sparkle, a silicon based “wet tire” spray works wonders. It will leave a “wet” spot on your driveway if it drips off though.
Spruce up the Windows
Get the windows done. See tips up above.
Make is Shine
When the exterior is all dry, it’s time to lock in the shine and lock out the bad stuff. Using a cleaning wax you can get rid of any last bits of chemical harshness on the vehicle. It’s a simple process of wipe on the wax, let it dry a little, and then buff it off with a clean microfiber cloth. When it appears to be all cleaned up, buff it down again with that microfiber. If the wax dries completely, it’s really hard to get off!
Let Big Sky Collision Center do the Dirty Work
Detailing your own vehicle doesn’t take a whole lot of extraordinary talent. It does take a few particular pieces of equipment and some supplies, and it takes a lot of time. If you are strapped for time, then all you have to do is give us a call at 406-259-6328 and set up an appointment to bring your rig in to have a full auto detailing.