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Car Wash, Wax and Tire Shine to Tidy Up that Ride

Remember that new car smell? What’s that, you say? Your car smells, but that’s nothing new? Hmmm…might be time to get busy paying attention to the details…car detailing, that is. With a wash, wax and some tire TLC, your ride will look (and smell) fly in no time.

How do I know when I need to detail my ride?

You could wait until upholstery stains, carpet crud, windshield scuzz, dust and odors mount up, but why let it get to that point? Car care experts recommend regular intervals for getting that sedan, SUV or sports car spick-and-span, typically advising the heavy-duty treatment at summer’s and winter’s end. This is due to the punishing effects of weather extremes on vehicle interiors and exteriors. However, washing and waxing throughout the year offers the best protection.

What parts do I need to detail my vehicle?

When you’re ready to wash and wax your car, truck or SUV and shine those tires and wheels, here’s a list of cleaners and supplies you’ll need:

  • Fabric cleaner
  • Window cleaner
  • Leather soap
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Car wax
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner (with attachments)
  • Car wash solution
  • Sponges or wash mitt
  • Chamois towels
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose
  • Two buckets (one for car-wash solution; one for rinsing)
  • Terry-cloth detailing towels or wax-application pads
  • Wheel and tire cleaner
  • Paintbrush

Key DIY Tips

Start on the interior and work your way to the outside. For tips on upholstery upkeep, check our illustrated step-by-step guide. Here are a few steps for exterior clean-up time, culled from the detailed washing and waxing tips listed on our NAPA Know How Blog:


  • Prep properly. Lay out your tools: bucket of warm water, clean hand towel, shop towels, car wash solution and have the garden hose hooked up and ready for action.
  • Get outta the sun. Keeps yourself cool and prevents soapy water from drying before rinsing.
  • Soak the towel and GO! Try using a dual-towel approach to speed up the process.
  • Rinse rapidly.
  • Dry, then drive. Drag a full-sized towel over broad surfaces and use a hand towel to get the smaller areas; start ’er up for a drive and let the wind do some of the drying work.


  • Properly prep. Detecting a pattern here? Ensure your vehicle is completely clean and dry.
  • Which wax? Carnauba-based waxes provide a wet-looking shine, but are stiffer and, therefore, harder to apply. Not quite as lustrous, polymer waxes are easier to use and last longer. Some waxes even combine the two substances into a hybrid.
  • Apply. Using terry-cloth detailing towels or special wax-application pads, work the wax into the paint by applying steady pressure in a circular motion.
  • Buff. Gently wipe your vehicle’s surface with a clean terry cloth in a circular motion until a deep, reflective look is revealed.

Tire Time

Just like a dirty, scuffed pair of shoes will sabotage an otherwise impeccably assembled necktie, shirt and suit, wheels and tires that look the worst for wear will detract from a spiffy wash-and-wax job. The only way to get rubber and rims rocking is to use a dedicated wheel-and-tire cleaner. Apply plenty of cleaner to the outer surface, then go heavy-duty by scrubbing back and forth using a tire brush. Apply cleaner to the wheels and set for a minute. Using a clean paintbrush, gently remove any debris. Next, hose down wheel and tire. Dry both with a microfiber towel.

What other repairs or maintenance should I do at the same time?

While you’re detailing your vehicle, you may also want to:

  • Check the tire pressure.
  • Lube your door hinges.
  • Inspect or replace your windshield wiper blades.
  • Top off your windshield washer fluid.
  • Check your oil, transmission, coolant and other fluid levels.

Remember, with Glenbrook Auto Parts in Glenview, you can save time by ordering your parts online and picking them up in the store. We’ll have them ready and waiting for you.

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