How to Properly Clean and Detail A Car For Maximum Profit

Washing a car for profit

Keeping a car well maintained is not everyone’s favorite activity, and people who are generally messy tend to keep their car the same way. While you may be able to live with yourself by supporting a family of cockroaches under the foot board and the pungent odor that the seat cover reeks of, a prospective buyer of your car will not even consider it. Whether you are parting ways with your beloved automobile for a trade-in, or selling it to an individual buyer, the first impression that your car makes will be its selling point.

In order to save your car from being sold at much less than it could be, you need to work on the interior as well as the exterior. After all, the brand value and appearance is what sells everything in the market today. So learn how you can properly clean and detail your car to make a quick and profitable sale.

The Exterior

The first thing that the prospective buyer will lay their eyes on, is how well the paint and body of your car is. Since they are scanning their entire exterior for all small imperfections, you need to clean and detail the exterior of your car with care and precision.

Removing The Dirt

Depending on whether you live in the countryside or the heart of the city, you will have a significant amount of dirt buildup if you don’t perform a regular wash. The dirt from the tires during the wet seasons can create molds of solidified mud above the mudguards, in the rims and under the grill of the car. Pressure washing is the best way to start as you will get all the messy dirt out and be ready for the next step.

Cleaning The Tires And Wheels

Once you have washed out the excessive dirt out of the tires, it is time to properly clean and detail them using a stiff brush, some abrasive (but not acidic) cleaners and a cleaning pick to get those grits and pebbles out of the tires. Your motive should be to clean out the tires, but be gentle on the wheels (rims) as you want to keep them nice and shiny. Using a non-acidic cleaner on the wheels and tires will help get the stubborn dirt out of the nooks and crannies without wearing out the paint coat on the wheels.

Hand Washing The Body

Hand wash a car

The reason you should hand wash the car is because it gives you a way to scrub and clean every inch of the car. Moreover, hand washing helps you identify the scratches, nicks and all those spots where the wax coating has worn off. You can then clean and detail these areas with care and make sure that they don’t stand out when a buyer inspects your car. It is advised to use specialized car wash solution and not detergent solution as it can strip away all the protective coating of wax and expose the vehicle to stains, scratches and nicks.

Polish And Waxing

The main reason to polish your car is to make the surface of the car smooth and shine brightly, which makes it appear in a newer condition. Although wax alone can help give you a polished look, it can’t help even out the paint surface. It is best to use an oscillating polish machine if you are not a pro at it. Protecting the paint with wax is the last step but one of the most important steps to clean and detail the exterior properly. The results of wax are always better if you have been doing them every few months as it will maintain a glow and scratch free shine on the car.

The Interior

Start With The Floor

Before you start to vacuum the floor and the carpet of the car, blow everything out with an air compressor and pay special attention to all those nooks and crannies under the seat, behind the wheels, under the pedals and the gaps between the seat-belt and the seats. Vacuum out all the dust and then fire up the air compressor once again to ensure that all the dirt and dust is out of the floor. If you have premium leather seats, use a conditioner with aloe gel as it will absorb the smells and give it a glossy appeal. Consider replacing the mats of the car if they are worn out, or scrub them and let them dry before you put them back in.

Cleaning Out the Windows And Dashboard

Any ammonia free window cleaner that you have around the house will help get that stubborn mineral coat off the windows. Make sure you roll them down halfway and clean the edges since most of the mineral deposits and whitening is stuck there. While cleaning the dashboard, the glove compartment and other components, use a lint free cloth as it will prevent any unnecessary scratching on the surface. Clean and detail with the help of some window cleaning spray on the gauges to make them shine and remove the dirt in the crevices with a Q-tip.

Take Care Of The Odor

As your car gets older, the new car smell fades away with the bad body odor and dust accumulation, irregardless of whether you smoke or not. Some anti-bacterial spray and an ozone machine will help neutralize the smell and a slice of apple in the ash tray will also help absorb the odors. Once the bad odor is out, a gentle dash of Febreeze is the perfect finishing touch.

Drive through car wash

A Few Tips

  • Keep the pressure hose restricted to the muddy parts as you don’t want to wear off the wax coating.
  • Be gentle when using the brush to clean the wheels so there is no unnecessary scratching but scrub the tires vigorously.
  • Dry the surface of the car with a rubber-blade squeegee so that the car does not become a dirt magnet right after the wash.
  • Make sure you clean the sunroof/moonlight and wipe it with some newspaper and Windex and remove the tint if it is already peeling off.
  • Clean the rearview mirror with a window cleaning solution and gently wipe it with a lint free cloth.
  • Using an abrasive window cleaner will help you get rid of that whitened tint off the headlights and taillights.
  • Take heed of the weather when waxing the car. Use a gentle wax coat in cloudy weather and in the summers, it is always easier to wax the car under some shade.


February 27, 2015 - Written by

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