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April 24, 2013

Spring some effort into cleaning the car

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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According to Kasey Hopper from Classic Appreciation in Birmingham, a typical auto detailing job can take about seven hours to complete.

The season for hoses and sudsy buckets is approaching, and that means many drivers will either be cleaning their own vehicles or having a professional do it for them.

For an extremely thorough cleaning, an auto detailer may be an option. Kasey Hopper, vice president of Classic Appreciation in Birmingham, said an individual, professional auto detailing session takes about seven hours to finish a car, inside and out.

Hopper said many people like to focus on cleaning a car’s interior after spring. “Most people tend to do the interior and exterior at the same time,” he said.

For the interior, Hopper said one of the most basic tasks is cleaning the floor mats, which can attract salt and grime from the winter.

On ordinary car windows, he said, his business uses an absorbent towel and fortified glass cleaner. But soap and water is best for tinted windows, as strong solvents or chemicals like ammonia can cause damage, he said.

On the vehicle’s exterior, a thorough underbody wash and rinsing of the wheel wells can remove the winter’s salt. People should also pay attention to cleaning the tires and wheels, Hopper said.

A clay bar treatment may be a good idea before applying a wax, he said. “A clay bar is a compound product that kind of looks like Play-Doh that you rub on the surface of the car,” he said. “It’s kind of like exfoliating the skin. … It really cleans all of the debris of the salt or road contamination.”

Steven Sadoski, owner of Steve’s Auto Care, summarized a series of steps on properly refurbishing a car.

Cleaning a car’s interior requires the proper tools. Sadoski recommends a shop vacuum from a store like Home Depot for removing dirt and debris.

“You can go as far as using any household steam cleaner if you actually want to clean the upholstery,” he said.

Non-plush upholstery must be cleaned in a different way. Sadoski said leather seats require a bottle of leather protector found at auto supply stores. He added that a solution like Armor All cleaner can work on the dashboard and plastic surfaces, but he warned against putting any on the steering wheel, since it could risk making the wheel slippery.

Auto owners who wish to clean their cars’ exteriors by hand should start with a clean rinse with water and then apply car wash soap with a clean sponge. And be gentle.

“You don’t want to scratch the vehicle once you got the soap on it,” he explained. “You want to rinse it from top to bottom. With darker-colored vehicles, normally you want to dry them as you go so you don’t get water spots.”

Waxing a car takes some forethought. First of all, make sure the vehicle is clean, dry and cool.

For a quality treatment, Sadoski recommended getting a three-stage set consisting of a cleaner, a polish and a wax, and those items should be applied as recommended on the bottles.

As an aside, Sadoski reminded drivers to take a look under the hood and check the fluids, including windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, oil and coolant. And check the condition of the car battery, too.

“Make sure the terminals aren’t corroded,” he said. “If they are corroded, you can clean them with baking soda and water, or cola.”

Learn more about Steve’s Auto Care in Sterling Heights at www.stevesautocarellc.com or by calling (586) 795-8840. Classic Appreciation in Birmingham may be reached at www.classicappreciation.com or by calling (248) 644-9300.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.