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Years ago, an actual bumper sticker on a beat-up, old, rusted vehicle read THIS IS NOT AN ABANDONED CAR. It got a laugh — but at the same time, it made you think. If you’ve ever had a car you felt you had to warn people WASN’T abandoned…just in case…you may want to think about trying a few pre-emptive steps to keep your car from looking like it’s next in the queue for the scrap heap.
old-car

Unless you’re using car insurance money for demolition derby, your old car’s worth pampering a bit.

Clean, Clean, Clean

We assume you wash your car regularly. You DO wash your car regularly, don’t you? If you don’t, make a promise to her (ever wonder why cars are always female?) to mend your ways and get in the habit of keeping the lovable old clunker clean. It’s easy to do this: you need only a few supplies — some good car washing soap, microfiber rags, a couple of buckets, a good water source, and some shade to park the car in for the process. (Sunlight can dry the car prematurely and leave streaks.)

Pre-treat any really bad gunk on the car (such as bird droppings, grease spots, or tar) before you do the total wash. Experts say to wash the wheels first — and when you rinse them, be careful to protect your eyes; road gunk from the wheels can fly off in the hose spray and hit you without warning.

After a good pre-rinse, do the heavy washing, with one bucket of soapy water and one of rinse water. After one final sudsing, rinse it thoroughly with your hose (take the nozzle off for this rinse) and gentle water pressure. Then, dry the car quickly, with waffle-weave towels if possible (they absorb more water faster than regular towels). Do any chrome- or window-shining during this stage, then step back and admire your newly gleaming car. Looks better already, doesn’t it?

The Devil Is In…

You could pay a pretty penny to have your car professionally detailed — deep-cleaned, polished, and spruced up inside — but it’s just as easy to do it yourself. First, get all the trash from inside your car. Don’t worry about having a lot of it; even the fussiest person you know will have a stray fast-food bag, paper napkin, rubber band, or candy wrapper find its way onto the floor or under the seat. Just dig everything out, stash it in a handy bag, and cart it to the dustbin immediately.

Next, use a mini-vac or shop-vac to clean loose dirt and gravel from the floor mats and carpet. If you don’t have one of these, find a car wash or service station that has a coin-operated vacuum for that purpose; most of them give you more than enough time per coin to do at least half the car, if not the whole interior. If you have spots on the carpet, swab them with a rug or carpet-cleaning soap and dab with warm water. Wipe down the rest of the interior with damp cloths to get off ‘road grit’, and clean the interior of the windows with a vinegar-water solution and microfiber rags.

Loose Ends

Finally, as much as possible, repair parts that are loose, cracked, or in need of replacement. Check headlamps, license plate holders, and mirrors; if it’s at all possible, repair broken windows, door handles, and such; sometimes, your car insurance will cover these fixes. Replace wiper blades, make sure your washer fluid reservoir is full, and check and correct any tyre pressure that’s ‘off’. Then, inspect the car stem to stern — and smile. You did it!

Now, maintain this feeling: take trash out of the car every week or so, wash it when road dirt takes its toll, and keep its accessories in good repair. Do these simple things, and your car will ‘feel’ younger…and you just might, too.

Attribution: Philip (Flip) Kromer from Austin, TX


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