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Make Your Car Look New Again With These Detailing Tips & Tricks

You may be thinking to yourself, “Maybe it’s time to sell my car,” and if you’re ready to start the process, you’ll want to do a little prep work first. Getting your vehicle ready to sell means giving it a makeover so that it wows potential buyers the moment they lay eyes on it. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so getting your car to shine again is key. Detailing your car doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your car sparkle like it did when you first drove it off the lot. If you follow some of these car detailing secrets and tips, you’ll be able to detail your car like the pros and increase your chances of selling it quicker and for more money than if you were to just leave it as is, so let’s get your car ready for its moment in the spotlight.

Tip #1: Rinse First

Many vehicle owners get started straight away with the soap, which is a no-no in the industry. Before you even touch your car with soap, professional detailers recommend rinsing away all of the debris with plain water. This way, you won’t be embedding any dust or dirt into the paint. Removing as much debris as you can before applying soap is the secret to detailing perfection.

Tip #2: Avoid Dish Soap

Speaking of soap, it’s important to use the right soap for the job, and although many turn to dish soap, this isn’t the industry standard. Dedicated car wash soap should be used to wash your vehicle at all times. This is because car wash soap is gentler than dish soap and keeps the oil in the paint, as opposed to drawing it out like dish soap does, which affects the integrity of your paint.

Tip #3: Use a Microfiber Mitt

A lot of vehicle owners also turn to the plain, old sponge to scrub their car; however, this can cause more damage to the paint than you may realize. It’s recommended to use a microfiber mitt for this process. Not only does it eliminate more dirt and dust, but it is also gentler on your vehicle’s paint and won’t lead to unnecessary scratches.

Tip #4: Clean Better With Clay

Want a top-secret tip when it comes to detailing like a pro? Use a clay bar to remove lingering debris that scrubbing and rinsing didn’t take off. Simply running a specialized clay bar that you can find at any automotive store over your vehicle will get rid of pesky debris that’s difficult to remove, like tree sap and other contaminants.

A person is shown polishing a black sedan.

Tip #5: Polish to Perfection

It’s one thing to wash your car and scrub it clean, but polishing it takes its appeal to a whole new level. Using a polisher, if you have one handy, polish off that dirty, dingy first layer of paint to reveal a shiny new layer underneath that will sparkle like the day you drove your car home for the first time. This makes a world of difference for potential buyers.

Tip #6: Clean Your Wheels & Tires

Your tires are the dirtiest part of the exterior of your vehicle, and if you don’t take a few minutes to clean them, they can make your otherwise clean car look less appealing. Use a brush to thoroughly get in between all of the spokes and crevices of your wheels to ensure they’re as clean as can be, then go back through with tire shine to make this area dazzle again.

Tip #7: Use a Wax Sealant

When you’re satisfied with how your vehicle looks from the outside, chances are you’ll want to ensure it stays that way. Utilizing a wax sealant, you’ll be able to make your car shine for much longer, as it acts as a protective coating, warding off dirt and debris efficiently. Wax sealants are known to enhance the longevity of your vehicle’s paint for years, so this step can really help keep your car looking fabulous.

Tip #8: Replace the Wiper Blades

This is a cheap and simple fix that really goes a long way. The last thing you want is for your vehicle’s wiper blades to be screeching as they operate, barely removing any rain or debris from your windshield, especially if you’re looking to sell your car. Plus, new wiper blades just look better and provide the vehicle with a refreshed look. It’s all in the subtle details when it comes to car detailing.

A person is shown using a brush to clean the center console of a vehicle.

Tip #9: Use a Brush to Get in the Hard-to-Reach Places

Moving into your vehicle’s interior, there can be a lot of small spaces for dust and dirt to hide. That’s why professional detailers use various brushes to clean between air vents, seat cushions, and other hard-to-reach spaces to really achieve that clean look every potential buyer wants.

Tip #10: Deep Clean the Carpets

If you’ve driven your car for any length of time, the chances are that new car smell has long vanished, and a lot of odors can come from the vehicle’s carpets. This is why simply vacuuming them isn’t enough. Deep clean your car’s carpets to remove any embedded debris and eliminate the source of odors.

Tip #11: Trust in Compressed Air

Another way professional detailers get dust and debris out of cracks and crevices is by using compressed air to blow it away from these compact spaces. Sometimes a bristle brush can only do so much, and you’ll have to turn to alternative methods. You can find cans of compressed air in many stores and online, as this product has tons of uses.

Tip #12: Don’t Forget Your Seat Belts

Think about how much your seat belts get used during your travels. They’re bound to get dirty, and dirty seat belts can cause buyers to stray away from buying your car. It’s easy to stain your seat belts, but the good thing is that it’s easy to clean them too. Many detailers use a steamer to get rid of stuck-on stains and make your seat belts look brand-new again.

A person is shown polishing red and black leather seats.

Tip #13: Clean Leather Surfaces With a Leather Cleaning Kit

You can buy leather cleaning kits online and in many stores, and when it comes to making your vehicle’s leather seats look luxurious, you’ll want to invest in one of these kits. From cleaning to making simple repairs, this detail is important, especially when you want your car looking its best.

Tip #14: Deodorize Your Interior

The last thing you want is to have someone get inside of your beautiful vehicle only to cringe at the smell. Like we mentioned earlier, the more time you spend in your vehicle, the more odors are going to get trapped in carpets, seats, and other materials. There are many vehicle deodorizers available in auto stores, so pick one up and make your car smell fresher than ever.

Tip #15: Make Your Glass Sparkle

You don’t want to forget your vehicle’s glass, as this is a major feature that many people notice. Be sure to use a glass cleaner on all windows, inside and out, as well as your rear-view mirror and side-view mirrors to not only enhance visibility while you travel but also make your car look revitalized.

DIY Detailing Like a Pro

When you want to get your vehicle looking new again, these simple tips and tricks will help you breathe new life into your trusted travel companion. Most of these tips include minimal equipment, and with the right finesse, you’ll be able to turn your vehicle into a showstopper that every buyer will want. So, when it’s time to enhance the appeal of your vehicle, keep these secrets from the pros in mind and get ready to wow the crowd.