Whether you drive a new Suzuki, or an eight years old Range Rover, Iain Robertson suggests that providing it with a detailed spruce-up is a great way to maintain that its health is as good as your own, as we emerge from ‘lockdown’.

Regular readers will be aware that I have a good chum, who owns a Land Rover and prestige car sales business in Lincolnshire. Keith Arnold Cars allowed me to spend a few hours in the company of its ‘general factotum’, Peter Davies, as he showed me the best ways by which to resurrect a motorcar following the past few months of relative inactivity.

IMGPeter is adamant that a thorough car cleansing and detailing exercise will ensure that any inherent bugs and diseases are removed and, with a regular service notwithstanding, that motoring life can return to a semblance of normality. “The Range Rover you see here,” he states, “has already been treated to a comprehensive air-conditioning flush and refiltration. Having been parked for the past couple of months, various germs and viruses, including Legionnaires Disease, can be contained by the car’s air filtration system. It is therefore vital to have it properly serviced by an authorised outlet, before venturing back onto the road.”

Even a fairly old car will benefit significantly from a pre-emptive service that includes the air-con. However, detailing, rather than just a quick wash and wax, provides an additional safeguard. Of course, you need to gather together appropriate items, as follows:IMG

  • Four multi-fibre, lint-free cloths
  • Two buckets (one for rinse water, the other for washing the car)
  • A chamois leather (natural hide is always preferable but some man-made drying cloths can be remarkably effective)
  • A large sponge, or wash mitt
  • Car washing detergent (do not use washing-up liquid, as it contains salt)
  • Your preferred bottle of car wax (preferably with carnauba wax as a key ingredient)
  • Proprietary window cleaning liquid (Mr Muscle window cleaner is very good)
  • Car interior cleanser (AutoGlym produces a pleasantly scented fluid)
  • ‘Back to Black’ vinyl cleaner
  • A domestic vacuum cleaner, or a ‘wet and dry’ alternative
  • A roll of good quality paper towels.

IMGFirstly, using warm water and a capful of car shampoo, wash the vehicle thoroughly, including the wheelarch lips, mud-flaps and both front and rear under-bumper areas. Washing the door jambs, including the rear hatch/bootlid and the under-bonnet area will add to the final appearance and ensure that mud, salt and other roadside debris are removed effectively. Ensure that you rinse it thoroughly to remove any detergent residue and dry the bodywork using the leather.

Using one of the multi-fibre cloths scrunched into a useful ball shape, apply car wax sparingly to the bodywork, in a small swirling motion. Most dependable brands will allow you to apply the wax all over the car, before returning with a clean multi-fibre cloth to buff it up. You should use large sweeping lines to remove any polish residue and work on it one body-panel at a time, rotating the cloth frequently. Peter states that small circular applications will pick up any minor scratches, remove sap and other deposits that the washing process failed to do so.

IMGYou can apply wax to the door jambs, inner door edges, hinge plates, running-boards, sills and sill covers and, with all of the doors open, it can be easier to reach the sills just before they become vehicle underbody. Get into all of the nooks and crannies, when applying the wax. Once you are happy with the resultant smooth finish, you can use another micro-fibre cloth and the ‘Back to Black’ vinyl cleanser to refresh side-skirts, steps, mudflaps, under-bonnet plastic covers and all rubber seals. Do not forget to also clean the inside of the fuel flap, if your vehicle has one and any painted areas visible beneath the bonnet.

Having buffed-up the car’s paintwork satisfactorily, spray the window cleaning fluid lightly (no more than three quick blasts to each pane) onto exterior glass and the door mirrors. Using several sheets of scrunched-up kitchen paper roll, polish the windows both externally and, then, inside the car (paper is significantly better to use than a cloth). When the paper becomes lightly grubby, dispose of it and refresh. This is a good time to clean the rear-view mirror and any mirrors fitted within the car’s sunshades. Peter warns of possible streaks and Mr Muscle glass cleaner happens to be a well-respected and streak-free product.

IMGIf your car’s seats and door cards need to be cleaned, use a good quality upholstery shampoo, diluting it with water as instructed. Avoid over-wetting, as it will extend the drying time. If you own a ‘wet and dry’ vacuum cleaner, again follow the user instructions and avoid over-wetting. A scrubbing brush might be a useful tool for heavy soiling and will be a boon for removing dirt from the heel-pad.

Then, you can apply the appropriate cleanser to dashboard, centre console and instrument panel, making sure that you remove any unnecessary rubbish and items stashed in the door pockets, below the centre armrest and the drinks-holders. Any dark grey vinyl, both attached externally, or within the cabin, can benefit finally from an application of ‘Back to Black’, which is available at your local Halfords, or car accessory shop (even some petrol stations may be able to satisfy your requirements).

As an added finishing touch, you might be able to obtain a final finishing, or sealing fluid, which factors in an extra degree of depth to a comprehensively waxed motor vehicle. An extensive cleaning exercise, such as this, can take upwards of three hours to complete. However, for little more than a few Pounds investment, the amount of self-satisfaction and even pride is almost insurmountable. What’s more, according to Peter, the vehicle will even feel better to drive, as an added bonus.

Conclusion:     A comprehensive car cleansing exercise will have the effect of removing any bugs and viruses that may have developed within your vehicle. Its feel-good factor is substantial.