Car detailing tips to make your ride shine again after CNY
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The festivities are done and the house visits are (hopefully) over. Here's how to make your tired-looking car glow again after its Lunar New Year tour of duty.

Category: Car Maintenance Advice


Like many car owners, you've probably had your car detailed or even groomed it yourself prior to the Lunar New Year. However, numerous house visits later, your car's interior probably took a beating.

There's also the constant rain, which has undoubtedly dirtied and dulled the paint. The cool weather is appreciated, but not the mess it left on your bodywork.

Fortunately, this is when your earlier efforts will now pay off, as the protective layers beneath the grime will make post-CNY detailing easier than expected. Here's how to go about it.


Foam it up

Consider foaming your car a second time if you feel it's really gotten filthy
With more time on your hands, cover your vehicle in generous snow foam prior to the actual washing. Leaving the foam to sit on the car's exterior helps loosen contaminants, so that they can be rinsed away or removed without causing scratches.

You can use snow foam on the wheels and tyres as well, provided the brake dust isn't bad enough to require a dedicated wheel cleaner. Leave the foam on till it's about to dry. Then give your car a good rinse.


Contact washing

The two-bucket method is probably the best way of preventing scratches during the washing stage
You were in a rush to get your car shiny before CNY and probably only used a single bucket during washing, but now it's time to do the right thing by performing a two-bucket wash. Fill one bucket with a mixture of water and car shampoo and a second bucket with clean water.

After running your wash mitt over a panel, rinse it in the second bucket before dipping it into the first one (with the shampoo). This lets you rid the mitt of dirt or grit that would otherwise scratch your paint.

It's more tedious than the single-bucket method, but your car deserves this TLC. After all, it faithfully transported your family to numerous places, letting you spend time with family and friends.


Is it time to clay?

Check your car's paint condition before applying a polish or wax - if it feels gritty, claying is needed
Perhaps. It depends on how your paintwork feels after you've rinsed and dried your car. Are there rough patches or sections? If there are and you're planning to polish and/or wax your car, you'll need to spend some time claying the surface.

If you don't feel anything and are reasonably confident in your washing skills, skip this step. Most car owners don't have the luxury of perfecting the paintwork themselves, so don't feel pressured just because you have friends who are detailing enthusiasts.


Wax if needed

Small droplets like these indicate that the sealant or wax on top of the clear coat is still good
We mentioned earlier that if you've prepped and groomed your car properly before CNY, you'll have less work to do now. Look at your car's paintwork. Does it still look and feel glossy post-wash?

If it does, we suggest you leave the exterior alone - for now. There's no point in applying more wax or sealant if the existing layer remains intact. The proof can be seen during the rinsing process: If the water beads easily and most of it just rolls off the body panels, it's still good.

Adding another layer may seem tempting, but remember, the 'pores' on your paint can only absorb and hold so much product. Slathering more wax or sealant won't make your car shinier either.


The interior is important

A dashboard protectant will prevent the surface from fading and cracking
Now that the exterior is looking great again, it's time to shift your focus to the cabin. Vacuum the seats and floor mats, remove any rubbish from the cup holders, and clear the boot of unnecessary items.

Keep a look out for crumbs, sweets, or drinks that may have spilled. Clean these before they attract pests. Wet wipes, especially if they contain alcohol, will help. Remember, once ants arrive, cockroaches may follow. And if that happens, rodents won't be far behind.

Now for the last two steps. Wipe down the dashboard and apply a protective product if needed. Then, use a leather cleaner to clean your seats. Take a break, step back and admire your efforts. Hopefully it'll be a while before your elbow grease is needed again.


Looking for more car grooming advice? Check out these stories

Need to get your car shiny in a jiffy? Here's how

Shinier and glossier: Products to upgrade your detailing routine

How to keep your car clean with minimal effort

Wax, ceramic, graphene, or sealant: Which should you use?

Does rainwater clean your car, or do you still need to wash it after driving in the rain?

How to prepare your car for wet weather

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