Your Guide to a Thorough Vehicle Spring Cleaning

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The weather is warming, and you’re probably itching to do some spring cleaning in your home. But did you know that this is the perfect time to give your vehicle some of that tidying attention, too? Set aside time this spring to thoroughly clean, organize and maintain your car—inside, outside and under the hood.

Tackle the Interior

Because you spend so much time in it, make your car interior a clean and inviting place so you can drive with comfort.

  • Toss out the trash! Grab a garbage bag and dispose of anything that shouldn’t stay, such as empty food and drink containers, broken toys and unnecessary papers (like that fast food receipt from last November).
  • Pull everything out of the glove compartment. Throw away any garbage and keep only the items that are necessary: your vehicle owner’s manual, insurance and registration papers and often-used convenience items (napkins, breath mints, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Pop your trunk and follow the same method. Get rid of anything you don’t need. Store winter items like ice scrapers and salt bags. Organize the items you need to keep such as jumper cables, spare tire equipment and emergency supplies.
  • With the interior cleared out, it’s time to clean up. Use specialized cleaners or soap and water to clean the console and dashboard. Wash the windshield and window interiors with glass cleaner.
  • Spray compressed air to blow out some of the dust, crumbs and other gunk that has accumulated in your car’s nooks and crannies.
  • Vacuum and clean your seats and floors. Depending on the seat materials, you can use soap and water or special leather cleaner. Use towels to make sure everything inside is dry before you drive. Or, consider taking your vehicle to a professional for a deep car detailing.

Refresh the Exterior

With the interior spick and span, move on to the outside to make your vehicle shine.

  • Wash the entire vehicle, including windshield, mirrors and grill, with car-safe soap and water. Take care to thoroughly spray the wheel wells and undercarriage.
  • Use microfiber cloth towels to dry. These cloths are super soft and less likely to leave streaks or scratches.
  • Consider giving your car a wax, but be careful not to do it in direct sunlight or you could damage the finish or have to reapply.
  • With washing complete, look for exterior damage. If you find any windshield chips or cracks, schedule a repair.
  • Examine your exterior lights and replace any burned-out bulbs.
  • Check your tire pressure and tread. A common tread test is to insert a penny, Lincoln’s head down, between the tire ribs. If you can see the entire top of Lincoln’s noggin, your tread is too bare and you should consider a full tire replacement.

Finish Under the Hood

With your vehicle’s interior and exterior in top shape, finish your spring cleaning by cleaning under the hood and making any needed adjustments.

  • Clear out any plant and other debris that wasn’t washed away with your exterior cleaning.
  • Wash your engine parts with soap and water or specialized engine cleaner. Be careful not to douse any electrical parts such as the fuse box or cable connectors, or the carburetor if your engine has one.
  • Check your fluids including oil, brake, washer and transmission. If it’s overdue, take your car into a shop for an oil change.
  • While they’re at it, ask the shop to check your engine belts and tune them up if necessary. It’s also a good time to check your vehicle’s air conditioning and battery.

Your vehicle deserves the time and money you spend on cleaning and maintenance. A thorough spring cleaning routine every year will help keep your transportation attractive and reliable.