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Independent, impartial advice for car buyers and car owners

Car cleaning: How to remove the effects of winter from your car

The end of winter and the arrival of spring is often synonymous with a particular phrase – spring cleaning. And it isn’t just a task which can be carried out on the inside and outside of your home; a great deal of car cleaning work can also be done to ensure that much of the grime which has accumulated on your car is cleaned away.

If the dirt accumulated on a car is left to moulder, it can cause problems at a later stage, even encouraging the development of corrosion. So setting aside a few hours to clean the car properly – either by doing it yourself, or taking advantage of a commercial valeting service – is a sound idea.

Car cleaning:  Beware of alien substances

This 500 could use some car cleaning (The Car Expert)

Winter sees a great many substances which find their way onto our roads also working their way into the bodywork and fabric of our vehicles.

And while snow and slush will eventually melt away, of course, they can leave behind plenty of other dirt which, if left for any length of time, can be more difficult to remove than if it was tackled straight away.

A professional car valeting service will have the necessary tools to effectively remove all this detritus, because it’s quite possible that a simple washing sponge, hot water mixed with car shampoo, and elbow grease might not even be able to remove some of the marks.

In such an instance, the first thing a valeting service will do is to use a high-pressure hose or nozzle to aim a jet of water directly at the worst affected areas, to loosen the muck. Once this is done, it can then be properly removed using more conventional means, such as the good old shampoo and warm water.

Car cleaning:  Don’t overlook the underbody

car-cleaning-mudy-wheel-the-car-expert

When they carry out their own car cleaning, many people miss some important areas. The parts in and around a car’s wheel arches are particularly susceptible to being overlooked, and this can cause problems, because your tyres churn up lots of mud, water and other grime as you drive, which can become encrusted beneath the wheel arches.  If left unattended, this can lead to corrosion in areas that are difficult and expensive to repair.

Mud and detritus thrown up from the wheels can also stick to other parts of the car’s underbody, so it’s important to get your high-pressure hose under the car to attack all the nooks and crannies.

Car cleaning:  Examine and replace safety-critical equipment

Volkswagen Jetta (Bora) in the middle of a car cleaning session (The Car Expert)

Winter weather also takes its toll on many perishable items on a car, particularly the tyres and windscreen wiper blades. A wise move after a prolonged period of bad weather is to get your tyres checked for condition and tread depth.

In any case, you should quickly notice if your tyres are excessively worn, as this will make the car more difficult to handle, and this will be particularly evident when road surfaces are slippery. So as a matter of safety, it should be attended to quickly.

And a final consideration: we all spend more time driving in darkness and poor light in winter than at other times of the year, so this means we spend longer with the car’s lights switched on. You might not immediately notice that a light bulb has blown, but you should regularly check that they are all working, and again, inspect any which are not working properly, then replace them if necessary.

When you've finished your car cleaning, your car should look like this Aston Martin Vanquish...
When you’ve finished your car cleaning, your car should look like this Aston Martin Vanquish…
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