9 tips for caring for your car's interior

July 29, 2015

We spend so much time in our cars that the interior becomes our second living room. The inside of your car needs and deserves the same attention you give the furniture in your home.

9 tips for caring for your car's interior

1. Park in the shade

  • If a garage isn't available, minimize interior damage from UV sunlight and heat by always trying to park your car in the shade.
  • If no shade is available or if you find parking under a tree results in bird droppings, use a car shade to minimize the sun's impact.
  • As a bonus, you'll have a cooler car to step into on hot sunny days.
  • Car shades come in two basic types: those that you unfold and place on the front windshield and rear window, or pleated types that attach to the windshield posts (with adhesive), window frames (with Velcro) or the windows themselves (with suction cups).

2. Clean the inside, too

  • Vacuum and sponge your interior every time you wash your car. Dirt particles are abrasive, and spilled liquids, such as soda, can be corrosive.
  • Vacuum your interior thoroughly with a powerful vacuum (small cordless models are generally too weak).
  • Use the appropriate wand heads when vacuuming.
  • The bare metal wand can mar and scratch surfaces. Sponge vinyl surfaces clean with a solution of mild detergent and water.

3. Clean dash gauges carefully

  • Use a soft damp cloth to lightly wipe dust from the clear plastic lenses on your dashboard. Too much pressure will scratch them.
  • Too many scratches can make it difficult to read your gauges under certain lighting conditions.

4. Let floor mats take winter’s beating

  • Use floor mats to protect carpeting. The best type for controlling salt, slush and mud in the winter are rubber waffle-style mats.
  • They stay in place, don't allow the water to seep through, and are easy to wash clean. Carpet-style mats are helpful, too.
  • Shake, vacuum or wash as needed; replace them as they wear through.

5. Blast mats with the hose

  • When washing your car, drag out the rubber or carpet floor mats and blast them with the hose.
  • This will dislodge dirt particles that, if allowed to build up, will grind holes in your mats.
  • Let the mats dry thoroughly in the sun before reinstalling them.

6. Stubborn carpet or mat stains

  • After vacuuming floor mats or interior carpeting, apply foam rug cleaner to resistant stains as directed by the maker.
  • Work the foam into a few centimetres, or a few square feet at a time, using a wet sponge or brush. Vacuum when dry.

7. Preserve door and window seals

  • Wipe a rubber protectant or silicone on door and window weatherstripping to keep it in good condition.
  • Don't use an oil-based product because the oil will damage the rubber.
  • Regular cleaning and treatment of your car's weatherstripping will also lessen the likelihood of your door sticking to its rubber seal in cold weather, a common cause of damage to the rubber.

8. Fix bad weatherstripping immediately

  • If your weatherstripping is letting rainwater leak into the interior of your car, take a look at it and decide if you can repair it or if it needs to be replaced.
  • Small leaks can be handled with brush-on seam sealers.
  • Resecure loose sections, not otherwise damaged, with trim adhesive.
  • Torn sections may be repaired with special caulking available at auto parts stores.

9. Don't play locksmith

  • If you've locked your keys in the car or trunk, call a professional locksmith or a local dealer for help.
  • Fishing around with a coat hanger can damage weatherstripping and lead to nagging leaks and water damage.
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