John Nielsen: Hi! I'm John Nielsen with AAA's approved Auto Repair. Maintaining the appearance of our car is a great way to protect our investment.
The interior of our car is where we spend most of our time. There're several things that we should know to keep that area looking good and prevent long-term damage. So let's start with the basics; simply keeping it vacuumed, keeping it clean is important and it's something we should we do at least weekly. By keeping sand and dirt and salt out of the carpet fibers that carpet is going to look good for longer period of time.
We also want to make sure that any stains that might show up on the carpet get cleaned up quickly. One of the best products to use is a carpet cleaner; a number of household cleaners may remove the stain, but it also could cause long-term damage to the carpet.
So as we move up the car, let's talk about upholstery next. Now depending on what type of upholstery we have, we'll need to use specific cleaners for that. If we have cloth seats, we want to make sure that we use a cleaner that's specifically designated for upholstery. Anything else can actually damage the fibers or create new stains. If we're dealing with vinyl, they'll usually wipe down pretty easily with the simple household soap. One important part of vinyl seats that some people have found out the hard way is we don't want to put protectant on their seats, because it makes them so slick, you actually start sliding around in the car when you turn a corner.
Finally, with leather, there are a couple of things that are important. We really want to keep it clean and to do that, we want to use a designated leather cleaner or saddle soap. Once it's clean, we want to make sure that we put a conditioner on it and this isn't a regular protectant; this is a conditioner that helps keep the leather soft. You may not notice the difference each time you do it, but over the life of the vehicle, it'll keep that leather from cracking and looking old. It's a great tip and something that we should get in habit of doing with leather at least once a week.
The last area to talk about is the hard surfaces; this can be the dashboard, this can be anything that's really made of plastic or some plastic like material in the car. And the first tip is when it comes to cleaning these materials, we want to use the least harsh cleaner that would possibly can. Many household cleaners can actually cause damage inside the car. So make sure that you're using a cleaner that's designed specifically for vinyl.
And once we have that clean, we want to make sure that we protect it and it's the rays from the sun that actually start to deteriorate most of the plastic surfaces in the car. So when you purchase a protectant, you want to make sure that it has the UV inhibitor and you also want to look for something that has a low gloss or low sheen. Often times putting a high gloss protectant on the dash or other surfaces in your line of sight can actually become distracting with the sun under some conditions.
The next thing we want to be careful of is not to protect some surfaces, like the steering wheel, the break paddle and the gas paddle, because they often become slippery and become difficult to hold on to. Now these are just the basics; you can go crazy inside the car with crevice tools and special pieces to clean intricate nooks and crannies, but the important part is to maintain the inside of your car, keep the dirt out of the carpet, keep any stains off of any of the surfaces and protect those surface, so they don't prematurely age. If you put all these together, you really can protect your investment in the long run.