By Lauren Bishop
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Think you can do a better job washing your car than a professional can? Try these tips from AAA and a pro:
Choose a fairly mild day to avoid frostbite, frozen locks or other problems.
Remove any dead bugs, clods of dirt or salt with water using a high pressure hose to decrease the chances of scratches or blemishes. Pay particular attention to the underbody of the vehicle since this area is the most exposed to road conditions.
If there is dirt or other road residue that is difficult to remove, use a pre-treatment product available at any automotive store.
Combine warm water with a mild solvent such as dish detergent or appropriate car wash solution in a bucket. Use one gallon of water for each tablespoon of detergent.
Wet the entire vehicle and wash in the following sequence using a soft cloth or sponge: Roof and windows; hood and trunk; headlights, brake lights, sides, back and front; tires and underbody.
Ken Byrnside Jr., owner of Loveland-based Finish Line Power Wash, Inc., a company that washes cars for many dealerships in Greater Cincinnati, also recommends cleaning door jambs.
"I would say that it would extend the life of any car," he says.
Byrnside also suggests cleaning your car's vents with special brushes available at auto supply stores.
Rinse off the solvent before moving on to the next part of the vehicle so the soap doesn't dry and cause spotting.
After washing, use a dry soft cloth such as chamois to dry off the vehicle, checking for areas that might have been missed.
AAA also recommends using a high quality wax or polish on the body of the vehicle, also available at any automotive store. Follow the product directions.
Byrnside suggests using a silicone-based tire dressing to make your tires shine.
Treat windshields, windows and mirrors with a protectant that will repel ice, dirt and salt.
During the winter months, spray a lubricant, such as WD40, onto a rag and wipe the rubber gaskets around doors, trunks and other areas that come in contact with the exterior to prevent freezing. Use an isopropyl-based lock de-icer in each of the locks as a pre-treatment.
Check the tire pressure, fluid levels, and condition of belts, batteries and hoses.
Make sure the road emergency kit is fully stocked. (Visit www.aaa.com to learn what to keep in your vehicle.)
If the mirrors were moved during the process of washing the vehicle, readjust them to reduce blind spots.
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