DEARBORN – Saving a few dollars, getting a little exercise in the sun or prepping your classic for a summer cruise are just a few reasons to clean your vehicle by hand.
Besides, a freshly-washed and cleaned car just looks better, right?
Here are a few tips from Ford for the next time you’re in the mood to grab a hose and a bucket to make the star of your driveway look its best.
Click here to watch "Ford Makes Car-Washing Easy," a short and entertaining video featuring Gerry Bonanni, senior engineer, Paint and Body Repair and the Ford GT Mustang.
Cleaning your car’s exterior:
- Be well-soaked: Make sure the car is fully rinsed off first and kept wet during the wash. You want to float the dirt off the surface
- Use the right soap: Ford recommends soap specifically formulated for cars. “Even a mild dishwashing liquid can strip wax protection and possibly cause waterspotting concerns,” said Gerry Bonanni, senior engineer, Paint and Body Repair
- Grab your mitt: Ford recommends a sponge or wool mitt. Keep the sponge or mitt wet and sudsy to help float the dirt away instead of rubbing or scratching the surface
- Start at the top: Wash the top, then the sides and save the bottom for last, which is where the most grit typically accumulates
- Dry it off: Use a water blade and a soft towel to fully dry the vehicle
- Wax on: Ford recommends waxing your car to help keep the surface protected
- Wiper blades: Use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
Each Ford vehicle undergoes a five-layer paint process designed to enhance long-term durability. The procedure starts with a pretreatment that protects against corrosion and ends with a clearcoat that aids in reducing chips and scratches.
Cleaning your car’s interior:
- Instrument panel: Wipe the instrument panel, interior trim areas and cluster lens with a clean, damp white cotton cloth, then use a clean and dry white cotton cloth to dry those areas. Household or glass cleaners are not recommended
- Vacuum: For fabric, carpets, cloth seats and safety belts, use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and loose dirt
- Use the right cleaners: Ford recommends using auto-specific carpet and upholstery cleaner for light stains. If grease or tar is present, Ford recommends spot-cleaning the area first with an auto-specific spot-and-stain remover
- For leather seats: For routine cleaning, wipe the surface with a soft, damp cloth. For more thorough cleaning, wipe the surface with a mild soap-and-water solution. Dry the area with a soft cloth. Leather cleaning products designed for automotive interiors also are available
Ford recommends never washing a vehicle that is hot to the touch or during exposure to strong, direct sunlight. In addition to warm weather, summer also presents other challenges when it comes to keeping your car looking nice. When you’re hit with the following, try to clean off quickly and follow these tips:
- Bird droppings, bugs, suntan lotion, insect repellent: Wash off with car wash soap and water as soon as possible
- Tree sap and tar: Use a good quality bug and tar remover and wax afterward
- Bothered by bugs? Going on a long trip and don’t want to face a windshield and/or bumper full of dead insects by the time you arrive? Wipe down your windshield with a tumble dryer sheet; bugs won’t stick to the glass as easily. Also, give your bumpers the once-over with cooking spray
- Don’t scratch it; smear it: Can’t get that sticker from the amusement park or beach parking lot off your window? Saturate it with cooking oil before you start scrubbing
Here are a couple of tips aimed at those who display their vehicles at car shows.
To clean aluminum wheels and wheel covers:
- Use wheel and tire cleaner. Heavy dirt and brake dust accumulation may require a little elbow grease with a sponge. Rinse thoroughly with a strong stream of water
- Never apply any cleaning chemical to hot or warm wheel rims or covers
To clean the engine:
- Take care when using a power washer. The high-pressure fluid could penetrate sealed parts and cause damage
- Do not spray a hot engine with cold water. You could crack the engine block or other engine components
- Use specially formulated engine shampoo and degreaser
- The battery and filters need to be covered when cleaning. Refer to your owner’s manual
- Never wash or rinse the engine while it is hot or running; water in the running engine may cause internal damage
- Never wash or rinse any ignition coil, spark plug wire or spark plug well, or the area in and around these locations
Be sure to refer to your vehicle owner guide for more cleaning and care information.