America is home to some of the world’s biggest car fanatics. But you don’t have to be a fanatic to like the feeling of driving a clean, classy car. Old or new, big or small, coupe or convertible, keeping your car looking good will definitely improve the look, feel and even the value.
Basic, regular car care tasks such as washing, waxing and polishing simply make sense. Beyond that, there are a number of simple, low-cost and effective ways to keep your auto looking its best. Here are 5 inexpensive ways to make your car look great:
1. Remove paint blemishes, scratches, oxidation marks and other imperfections from your car’s finish. If you do this regularly, and before your “wash and polish” regime, you can go a long way in restoring a classic “showroom” shine. Various light- to medium-duty rubbing compounds are both easy to use and safe for most common car finishes.
2. Leave the dish soap in the kitchen. Dish soap contains detergents and other harsh chemicals that dull the paint, “cloud” the finish and even cause long-term damage. Special “car wash” soaps are made to safely remove dirt and grime without stripping the protective waxes and other compounds that give your finish its “shine.” In fact, if you don’t have any mild car soap and don’t want to drive to the auto store to get some, it’s better simply to wash your car with plain water.
3. Get your car some cost-effective protection. Assuming your overall paint job is still in decent shape, you need to protect it from the elements before you can work on making it shine. There are various “one-step” cleaning products that include wax, and a single application can remove water spots and even fine scratches. The included wax will then provide the protection your finish needs.
4. Metal and trim attract attention, so they need to be in good shape, too. Any broken trim pieces should be replaced, and special metal cleaners and polish should be used to maximize the appearance of these decorative elements. This includes the antenna, wire or alloy wheels, chrome on bumpers or trim, and the license plate frames, too.
5. Don’t forget the plastic and rubber parts of the auto. Even a dried out and bent-up window molding can make your car look old and decrepit. All of the window seals, the plastic (if any) on bumpers, the black rubber/plastic design elements and, of course, your tires should also be treated with conditioner. There are specialty products that will not only lubricate and restore the plastic and rubber parts of you car, but will also restore the deep, rich black color. You can use these products on the outside components, as well as on your interior.
It doesn’t much money at all to keep a car looking decent, and just a few bucks invested in some conditioners and cleaners will help you make your car even more attractive. It is wise to treat car care as an ongoing responsibility, rather than some special and occasional event. Wash your car regularly, treat the different materials (metal, rubber, plastic) in the appropriate ways and invest enough time to do it all well.
A sharp, attractive auto, like any other art or design, is in the eye of the beholder. There are, however, some universal benchmarks for cleanliness and automotive beauty, and there are no shortcuts. You will have to get wet and expend some elbow grease, or pay someone else to do it. Of course, if you are interested in the “inexpensive” part of this approach, your savings would be lost as soon as you hired someone. If you do the deeds yourself, you will not only save your money but have the satisfaction of a job well done – and a cool ride, too!