How to give your car a spring clean

Let's face it: other than the most dedicated of motoring enthusiasts, not many of us can find a great deal of motivation to get out there and clean the car during the cold winter months.

Unfortunately, this means that plenty of problems can build up throughout the season; most of these will only be aesthetic to start with but, if left untreated, can develop into serious issues which will bring the value - and the quality - of your car right down.

For this reason, it is essential that you aim to give your car, whether it is one of the range of new Ford vehicles or an ageing model you have owned for years, the most thorough of spring cleans once the weather starts to get warmer; here is a guide to what is most important and how to do it.

Interior

One of the biggest winter weather problems in terms of the potential damage done to your car is caused by the fact that sodden shoes and clothes are very often trampled into the vehicle when the driver and passengers get in, with a lack of heat meaning that the damp cannot dry out. Carpets and upholstery can be seriously affected by this, so be sure to ‘spring' into action as soon as the sun comes out and the temperature starts to rise.

In most cases, vacuuming and shampooing the carpets should be enough to get them looking their best again. A couple of important points to remember when it comes to doing these tasks are:

  • Remove all mats before vacuuming
  • Don't use too much water with the shampoo
  • Open all doors and windows to assist drying

Cleaning interior glass and metal shouldn't take long - simply wipe using a chamois leather and water - but care should be taken to ensure that any products you use for sprucing up the trim, roof lining and seats are suitable for your particular vehicle.

The only major issue that could arise during the winter months which routine cleaning might not resolve is water penetration. If you do spot any suspect patches of damp underneath the carpets, this could be a sign of serious corrosion, so it would be best to make an appointment for an expert, such as those found at many Ford dealers in the UK, to take a closer look.

Exterior

When it comes to the outside of the car, water and shampoo can again be used to get rid of any residual grime and dirt which the winter has left over. The best way to do this is to start with the roof because this will ensure the thickest mud at the very bottom gets a good soaking before you even get to that part of the car.

Picking up a few stone chip marks on the body of your car can sometimes be unavoidable, especially if you tend to drive in rural areas, but tackling them and other signs of corrosion as soon as possible will help to minimise any damage. As with water penetration, the worst cases will have to be fixed with the help of professionals, but some stone chip prevention kits are available from retail outlets and can be surprisingly effective.

Finally, don't forget that using the right polish will help to preserve the paintwork of your beloved motor for years to come; if plenty of patience and elbow grease is used, even the oldest of vehicles can gleam again with a good polish.

Everything else

Although it may not be an area we often give much thought to, the undercarriage of our cars that tends to receive the brunt of winter weather damage. The combination of mud and salt sticking to the bottom of your vehicle is a recipe for corrosion and must be addressed promptly, particularly around the wheel arches.

This should simply be a case of hosing down the underside of the car, but the underbody sealing compound can sometimes become damaged, which will require more attention. This, again, can be dealt with yourself, or by your local garage if you are not entirely confident of what you will be looking for.

Of course, the state of your tyres is of paramount importance, and this - along with your oil, coolant and windscreen levels - should be monitored throughout the year anyway. The winter period can be particularly hard on tyres, however, so put some time aside to have a close look for shallow tread, splits, cuts and bulges. Even if you are someone who does not really enjoy car maintenance, keeping an eye on the tyres is not an option but a necessity: remember that any tread depth below 1.6mm is illegal and can lead to a fine and other penalties.  

Image Credits: Ian T. McFarland, Mike Roberts (flickr.com)

This content was written by Ben Edwards. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.