How about that spring clean? Exterior

Now that we’re seeing a bit more of the sun, it is a good time to pay some attention to your car to help keep it looking on-point before we head into summer.

We recently focused on your car’s interior, and now we’re paying special attention to the exterior. Without regular cleaning, conditioning and treatment, your car’s shimmering exterior is prone to fading, cracking and peeling - courtesy of UV damage, grime, and those annoying bird droppings!

Start with a wash

Washing your car regularly will prevent pollen and dirt from embedding itself in the clear coat. Grab a quality bottle of car wash, rather than using a liquid detergent which can damage the paint and strip away wax.

Make sure you use clean water and that your brushes, sponges, and clothes are all soft and clean. Try and avoid washing in direct sunlight, as the vehicle can often dry before it has been washed, which leaves soap or dirty watermarks on the paintwork. A soft brush can remove light dirt, but an old toothbrush or something similar may be required to remove stubborn dirt and lichen in the seams and window rubbers.

Polish for that shine

The next step requires a bit of old school elbow grease. Apply a polishing cream to the vehicle, using a very soft polishing disc, pad or, if possible, an electric polishing tool. The purpose of this is to heat up the clear coat so that it may be more evenly distributed across the car, thus filling in any scratches on the surface and making it shine.

Mild rubbing compounds can be used during this step but care should be taken as too much pressure will cause swirl marks and ‘burning’ of the clear coat. Excessive polishing has a tendency to damage or wear through the clear coat, so it’s not something that we recommend doing often.

Wax on, wax off

A wax is like sunscreen for your car. It adds a layer of protection from UV rays to prevent fading, as well as anything that may land on the paint. It preserves your high gloss finish and is available in either a carnauba or polymer form. Both types of wax are similar, but a polymer wax won't haze as it dries and can usually be wiped off soon after applying.

We recommend waxing your car about four times a year to ensure the shell of your car remains covered with a shiny protective shield. If you don’t have the time (or the energy), then we recommend you book your car in with a professional at the end of spring and autumn to protect it against the summer’s harmful UV rays and the harsher elements of winter.

Get to the glass

A clean windscreen and windows is not only important to the overall look of your car, but is also essential for your safety. Grab an automotive glass cleaner and microfiber cloth from your local retailer and get stuck in – not forgetting your mirrors. While you’re there, ensure your wiper blades are in good condition and that your windscreen washer fluid is kept at the recommended concentration and the bottle is full.

Finish on the wheels

While you’re paying all this attention to the body work and getting it gleaming, kneel down and take a brush to those wheels before tipping out the wash water. Baked on brake dust and tar splashes may take extra product to shift, so a foaming cleaner to soften dirt and grime, or even a mild solvent to dissolve tar may be required. Once the tyres are dry, some tyre dressing will enhance the rubber and make those tyres shine like new!

Make sure to visit the AA Shop for your car cleaning accessories.

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