Car Care: Dishing the dirt

By Jack Biddle

Tidy up and clean of the interior is also recommended

Regularly wash your car and clean it on the grass.
Regularly wash your car and clean it on the grass.

Allocating some of that precious spare time to your vehicle and providing it with a little bit of extra love and care occasionally can, in the long run, pay off in more ways than one.

While the modern fleet has a much improved exterior paint process applied during initial assembly (clear coat over the base coat) these days which helps retain a vehicle's shine longer, constant exposure to the elements can still inflict damage if left unattended.

Bird droppings, tree sap, and high levels of ultraviolet rays are just a couple of examples of undesirables that vehicles can be exposed to for long periods on a regular basis.

Top surfaces such as roof, bonnet and boot are normally hit the hardest but rubber seals and glass can also suffer from the elements if left unattended for too long.

A regular body wash, using a commercially available car wash/wax, can remove some of those unwanted elements easily and provide some ongoing protection, while a clean windscreen can improve all-round vision and prolong wiper rubber life making the vehicle safer to drive in wet conditions.

Parking the vehicle on a grass surface during its "scrub-up" to help absorb the fallen grime and dirt is recommended to help prevent any contaminated water pouring down the local storm water systems and also helps keep the concrete driveway clean.

Using a commercial car wash facility where the contaminated water is contained in an environmentally friendly way is another possible option for some.

If you spend a day at the beach, a good hose down including the vehicle's underside to remove any sand and the unwanted effects of any salt spray is always recommended once the unpacking has been done especially if the vehicle has been used to launch/retrieve a boat.

Just as important during any vehicle clean is the opportunity to check for any windscreen, body or wheel rim/trim damage that may normally go unnoticed.

A thorough tidy up and clean of the interior is also recommended on a regular basis to help protect the trim, remove any unwanted or unsecured weight, realign floor mats especially around the foot pedals and to check the operation and condition of all the seatbelts.

A quick check of under-bonnet levels such as windscreen washer bottle, radiator and oil can also easily be incorporated into the routine.

When parked for long periods in hot and sunny conditions a sun shade is another cheap and easy way to avoid premature interior wear and keep inside temperatures down.

While most motor vehicles are a depreciating asset they can definitely hold their value better and be more desirable on the used car market if presented in a clean and tidy condition.

A well-presented car is much more enjoyable to drive and can often have a positive impact on a driver's attitude.

From my experience also, a vehicle taken into a workshop for routine service or repairs will often be initially judged on its appearance and be treated accordingly.

In some cases, an extra effort will be made by technicians if they believe a vehicle has been well looked after by its owner.

Some vehicles which are constantly exposed to dusty metal roads or where water restrictions apply can suffer more than most, but a quick wash and check-over occasionally can still have long-term benefits.

So don't take your vehicle for granted, give it a cuddle occasionally, it may well pay positive dividends some time during ownership.

- NZ Herald

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