Home THE JOURNEY Road Trip How to Detail Your Car on a Budget

How to Detail Your Car on a Budget

Image by Janis Liepa

Detailing your car is more than pouring dish soap on the windshield and hitting it with the hose; it involves doing everything possible to preserve your car’s original look. Over time, sunlight fades paint. Water causes rust. Surface-level scratches can settle into deep scars. Thankfully, when it comes to detailing your car on a budget, you have options. Remember, before performing any kind of car detailing, you should always wash your car at a place like Spark Car Wash. This will give you a fresh start that helps you get clarity and perfection with the detailing.

The following is a how-to guide when it comes to giving your car some tender loving care. 

Give Your Rims Some Attention 

When detailing your car, you should first start with your rims. First, start by assessing their state. If there’s rust, you should purchase a cleaner that removes rust and shines the chrome. If there’s general wear and tear, then most car cleaning soaps should do the trick. 

You should also: 

  • Clean one tire at a time. You don’t want to spray cleaner on each tire, then detail each one. Here, the cleaner will likely dry and waste your resources. 
  • Agitate the tires. Depending on your tires’ state, you might use a scrubbing brush to scrape off any grime or dirt. However, you should read your cleaner’s instructions before doing this. 
  • Use warm water. If possible, use warm water. The heat will reduce any dirt or grime’s adhesion. 
  • Dry using a cloth. If you let your rims dry on their own, you might notice streaks or bubbles. By drying each spoke by hand, you give your tires the attention they deserve. 

The Many Benefits of Waterless Washing 

With this method, you don’t have to fuss with short hoses or sloshing buckets of water. Instead, you purchase a waterless washing spray, apply it to various parts of your car, and it’s good to go. You see your face’s reflection on the hood in no time. Furthermore, more benefits include: 

  • You save money on your water bill. 
  • Water can cause chrome to rust, and rust is very difficult to remove. 
  • Waterless washing soap generally doesn’t leave streaks behind. 

Want to give your car a nice shine during your lunch break? Not a problem. Most waterless washing sprays are the size of most name-brand spray bottles, making them easy to store. 

Apply Some Wax to Your Car 

There’s nothing better than driving a new red sports car right off the lot. However, paint on red cars fades faster than any other color. It can go from being firetruck red to burgundy to an almost black color. 

Other colors, like blue, green, yellow, and black, also fade over time. To prevent this from happening, you should wax your car every one to three months. Wax seals in your car’s paint. It also protects your car from the sun’s rays, chemicals mixed in with rain and snow, and abrasions from flying dirt and gravel. 

When waxing your car: 

  • Read the instructions on the bottle first 
  • Use a smooth towel, rag, or pad; avoid using sponges 
  • Apply the wax using small, circular motions 
  • Remove the wax with a cloth (a different one that you used to apply the wax with) 

Many popular waxes include Turtle Wax, Nu-Finish, and Griot’s Garage. Some major retailers also offer generic brands. 

Clean the Inside of Your Windows 

You might apply cleaner to your windows’ exterior and still notice fingerprints and smudges on the other side. Detailing your car isn’t just about cleaning the outside; you should focus on its inside, too. In addition to cleaning your car’s windows with warm water and soap, open the door and spray some Windex on the interior. In no time, your windows will be so clear, you’ll hardly notice them. 

Pay Attention to Those Little Nooks and Crannies 

When refueling, you might pop open your gas cap, see some grime, and immediately forget about this. You might experience the same thing when replacing your windshield wiper blades; you see some grime, you make a mental note of it, then immediately forget. 

However, to truly detail your car, you shouldn’t shrug off small residue and grime. You may consider: 

  • Scrubbing it off with a toothbrush 
  • Using cotton balls to get hard-to-reach areas 
  • Applying soap and warm water 

You might even use wax on these parts to seal in the paint’s color and shine. 

Vacuum the Floor Mats and Interior 

Over time, crumbs, sand, dirt, and residue can sully your floor mats. So, when detailing your car, you should: 

  • Beat the mats to remove any particles. 
  • Remove the floor mats and vacuum them separately. 
  • Throw them in the washing machine. 
  • Leave them to air dry (using the dryer could damage the mats’ fibers). 

You might also consider using special shampoo or cleaner to remove stuck-on gum or liquid. 

Commonly Asked Questions About Detailing Your Car 

There’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to properly detailing your car. You don’t want to risk damaging your car or spending more money than you need. Here are some questions that first-time car detailers may have about vehicle maintenance: 

Can I Use a Brillo Pad to Detail My Car? 

While you can use a Brillo pad to remove grime and rust from your rims, you should avoid using it on your car’s windows, hood, and spoiler. Otherwise, you risk scratching your car’s surface or even removing the paint. 

Can I Have Someone Detail My Car for Me? 

Absolutely. However, this can get expensive quickly. Some companies charge more than $100 for basic car detailing––and that’s not even including tip. If you’re looking for a car detailer in your area, do a quick Google search and read some reviews. You also should call ahead and ask about pricing options, so there are no surprises. 

Do I Have to Detail My Car? 

You don’t have to detail your car. However, don’t expect it to last long in its current condition. The benefits of detailing your car include: 

  • You retain your car’s value. 
  • It brings you closer to your vehicle. 
  • It alerts you to any potential problems, like cracked hubcaps or worn tires. 
  • It preserves the car’s paint and shine. 

A Final Word 

If you’re detailing your car on a budget, start one step at a time. Focus on your tires, then work your way outward. A great place to start is with a simple, run-of-the-mill car washing. From there, you can focus on your car’s problem areas.