Detail Your Car for Top Resale Value

To truly get the best resale value out of your car before a sale requires some specific detailing tasks. Your vehicle’s esthetics (eye appeal) will be the first impression it makes upon a potential customer. Unlike a simple wash and wax, detailing goes a bit further with attention to smaller details that cover every area of the car. It requires some time and patience, but the ultimate reward is a vehicle that has reached its maximum potential as far as looks, touch and smell.

Interior

Start on the interior first. This keeps dust and dirt from landing on clean body panels. Brush out heavy dirt, debris and hair with a stiff whisk broom. Remove the rubber mats and thoroughly vacuum the front, sides and rear carpet. Use a nozzle to reach under the seat. For embedded carpet stains, use some carpet cleaner in a bucket of warm water and a stiff brush. Brush the carpet in a cross-hatch motion and let the solution sit for five minutes. Vacuum all moisture out with a wet-dry vacuum cleaner. Use a mild dish washing soap, warm water and a terrycloth rag to clean the door side panels, console, rear window deck and dashboard. Towel dry and coat the surfaces with either a vinyl protectant or leather conditioner, depending upon the material. If the seats are cloth, use some stain remover to remove dirt, grease, oil and sweat stains, then wet-vacuum the material. Place a few scent appliances under the seat to enhance the interior smell.

Body

Use car wash soap and a washing mitt to clean the exterior of the vehicle, including the wheels, bumpers and inside the fender wells. Rinse and buff it dry. Apply a good liquid or paste wax in circular motions to the body panels, concentrating on one panel at a time. Allow the wax to dry and then vigorously buff it off with a terrycloth towel. If you have sun fade or paint stains, use a medium-grit polishing compound on the affected area, rubbing it out with circular motions. Then apply the regular wax over it and buff it out. For a deeper paint luster, use a mechanical buffing machine. Clean soft tops with soap and water, then rinse and let air dry.

Use spray-on window cleaner to scrub both the inside and outside of all the windows one at a time. Use cotton or a microfiber cloth to dry them. A window scraper will remove tree sap and bird residue as well as tar and over-spray paint.

Wheels

Determine if your wheel material is painted steel, chrome or magnesium. Use a stiff cleaning brush and detergent soap to wash the outside surface and tire area of each wheel. Make sure you reach inside crevices, seams and between spokes. Rinse and pat dry. Apply mag polish for magnesium wheels, using a small polishing pad to scrub the surface is circular motions. Rub until all stains and oxidation disappear, then buff away the residue with a cotton cloth. Use a small polishing pad and chrome cleaner for chrome wheels, using the same strokes and buffing technique. For a painted wheel, clean with ordinary soap and water, then use some light or medium-grit polishing compound, if applicable.

Bumpers and Trim

Several products are available to enhance the bumper and plastic or vinyl trim areas on your car. Armor All is one such treatment, and there are plastic bumper protectants and bumper guard oils. Plastic and rubber bumpers are subject to sun fading and oxidation, so you’ll need to use an abrasive-cleaner polisher to cut through the haze. Use circular scrubbing with a small polishing mitt, and then rub out the residue with a cloth towel. Apply a medium coat of sealer-protectant on the bumper and trim, using a small square of cloth. When applying the sealer-protectant, run a steady straight coating over the area—avoid rubbing back and forth.

Advertisements

Time to Change Your Vehicle’s Cabin Air Filter

Before winter sets in is a good time to check your cabin air filter, after it’s been working hard all spring, summer and fall. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens, & should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or per the owner’s manual.

The cabin air filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle’s air conditioning and heating and ventilation systems. The filter also prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.

A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can cause musty odors in the vehicle and cause contaminants to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car compared to walking down the street. A restricted cabin air filter can also impair airflow in the HVAC system, possibly causing interior heating and cooling problems, important for staying comfortable this winter. Over time, the heater and air conditioner may also become damaged by corrosion.

Most filters are accessible through an access panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or in the interior of the car. An automotive service technician can help locate the cabin filter and replace it according to the vehicle’s owner manual. Some filters require basic hand tools to remove and install the replacement filter; others just require your hands. Filters should not be cleaned and reinstalled; instead, they should be replaced.

Many people don’t even know they have a cabin air filter in their vehicle and most others aren’t aware of the health benefits of changing it. Checking the cabin air filter is a simple preventive maintenance step that goes a long way toward protecting passengers, as well as the vehicle’s HVAC system.

How to Save Money on Brakes

It’s no secret your vehicle’s brakes are an essential safety system. With complex hydraulic mechanisms and plenty of parts that need replacing on a regular basis, it’s always tempting to put off your brake service as long as possible to save a few pennies. The truth is, failing to keep up with routine maintenance is a sure-fire way to cause yourself extra headaches in the future. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to reduce the cost of this necessity. Check out DriverSide’s list of great ways to save money on your vehicle’s brakes.

Keep Up With Maintenance

Make sure you do all of your brake maintenance on time. Failing to do so can cause damage to expensive parts, sticking you with a hefty bill. For example, it’s easy to overlook replacing you vehicle’s brake fluid, but if you skip the job for a long time, you could cause damage to your brake lines, calipers and your proportioning valve. Replacing all of those parts could cost well over $1,000, whereas bleeding your brake system shouldn’t cost more than $50.

Use Quality Parts

It may be tempting to go for the cheapest parts possible when picking up new bits for your car, but the truth is lackluster replacement parts fail quicker than their name-brand counterparts. Rotors from Mexico may cost as little as $30, whereas a quality example may be closer to $60, but if you have to replace the $30 rotor three times as often, you’ve lost any money you gained in the first place. Do yourself a favor and pick up OEM or mechanic-recommended equipment.

Change Your Driving Habits

More than anything else you can do, changing how you drive will save you tons on your vehicle’s brake costs. Slowing down earlier, not coming to abrupt stops and not riding the brakes will go a long way toward making your car’s equipment last longer than it otherwise would.

Ask if Your Calipers Can Be Rebuilt

If you haven’t taken the best care of your brake system and your mechanic tells you the vehicle will need a new caliper, ask if it can simply be rebuilt instead. In most cases, rebuild kits cost around $30 and the job doesn’t take very long. Compare that to over $100 for a caliper on most cars, and you can see the savings.

Recognizing the Signs of Vehicle Engine Damage

why-is-my-nissan-check-engine-light-on_b.jpg

It’s not always easy to recognize when your vehicle is suffering from engine damage as symptoms can be overlooked and seen as “normal.” While not all sounds and smells may threaten the life of your engine, there are some obvious warning signs that require a vehicle inspection right away.

Early diagnosis of engine damage can most likely be treated, but it is important to be aware of potentially damaging symptoms and have the vehicle inspected if something doesn’t seem right. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs as soon as possible, you could be saving yourself from the cost and hassle of breaking down along the road.

One of the signs of engine trouble is an illuminated check engine light. This light indicates that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally. Ignoring the check engine light can negatively impact your fuel economy or cause damage resulting in more costly repairs.

Many motorists are familiar with the noises their vehicles make on a daily basis. However, any noise that is new, different or suspicious may indicate a problem, including a high-pitched squeal, grinding or thumping. Sounds under the hood, such as hissing, can also indicate that your vehicle is in need of attention.

Although all cars burn fossil fuels that create undesired emissions, these odors should remain outside of the car. Unusual smells that could signal engine damage include: burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, sweet smell of syrup, burning carpet and rotten eggs. When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it.

Another symptom of engine damage is excessive amounts of smoke or steam. Although some smoke is normal, excessive amounts of dark smoke in particular indicates that oil is leaking into the combustion chamber and is being burned along with the gasoline.