Bagging a bargain set of old wheels is great, whether you’ve just passed your test or you’re buying that dream car model from your youth. Better yet, these vintage cars can be polished up to a shine to make even modern cars jealous! Take a look through our handy how-to guide to discover how you can make your old set of wheels feel new, while keeping all its rustic retro charm.
Get it squeaky-clean
Ever given something a good hinching? It’s all the rage on Instagram right now, though it’s mainly focused on getting the house spick-and-span. Well, get your hinch on with your car! Giving your car a thorough detailed clean inside and out can make the world of difference.
How to clean the interior
Step one: Clear it out
The first thing you need to do is get a refuse bag and clear out all the rubbish from your car. Drinks bottles, McDonalds wrappers, papers, whatever you’ve shoved in the glove box and forgotten about, the air freshener that lost its scent several years ago. Check the chair pockets, and the door storage, and the boot.
Step two: Headlining and sun visors
Let’s start cleaning now. If you’ve never cleaned your car’s headliner and sun visors, you might be surprised just how much difference it can make. The fabric covering the interior ceiling can become discoloured and cling on to odours, so it is worth taking the time to give it a good clean.
Spray your headliner and sun visors with upholstery cleaner. Foam-type upholstery cleaners are recommended for this. Follow the instruction on the product, then use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush the headliner. Then, let it dry for a few hours.
You can also use a steam cleaner to clean particularly dirty sun visors and headliners. However, keep in mind that this can damage the glue holding the layers of your headliner together.
Step three: Grab handles and pillars
Clean the pillars and grab handles of your car with a microfibre cloth. Depending on the material, you can use the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner and sun visor, or an antibacterial spray.
Step four: Seat belts and seats
There’s a quick trick to making seatbelt cleaning easy. To clean your seatbelts, pull them out as far as they will go, then attach a clip at the top to stop them pulling back. Using the same upholstery cleaner as you used for the headliner, clean down the belt with a cloth. Leave the belt clipped to dry for a few hours before letting them roll back in.
Wipe down your car seats with a cloth, unless you have cloth seats. In this case, vacuum them then grab either a window squeegee or put on a damp rubber glove. Run the squeegee or damp glove over the seats to pull up deep-set fluff, dust, and pet hair. Then, go at it with the upholstery cleaner too.
Step five: Windows and mirrors
Did you use your squeegee for your seats? If so, rinse it off before this next step. Then, spray some window or glass cleaner onto your car windows and mirrors and wipe away with a squeegee or cloth. Wind your windows down a little to get the grime away from the top of the window and achieve a streak-free finish.
Step six: Door panels
Take a vacuum cleaner to your car’s door panels. Then, using a leather cleaner where needed and a vinyl cleaner for the rest, wipe down the whole interior door panel. Be sure to check on a small area that the cleaner you are using is safe to use on your door’s interior material.
Step seven: Air vents and drinks holders
Removable air vents make this next step a bit easier. Give them a clean down, as well as any drinks holders or trays your car may have.
Step eight: Dashboard and steering wheel
You can choose to use either warm water and mild soap, or to buy some dashboard wipes. If you go for the first option, be sure to go lightly with the water though, as you don’t want to risk water running down into the electrics. To get rid of grime and grease, a glass cleaner will do the trick. Also, wash your dashboard in the shade to avoid the sun from drying the product too quickly.
Wipe over your indicators sticks. Give your steering wheel some serious focus too — it is one of the dirtiest parts of a car interior.
Step nine: Boot, carpets, and floor mats
Give your car’s boot and carpet a vacuuming. If the floor mats look worse for wear, throw them out and get them replaced — a rubber floor mat is a good way to ensure no mould develops from wet shoes going in and out of your car. For a really deep clean, brush your carpets with a nylon brush before going at it with the vacuum cleaner. This will bring up any deep-set dirt buried in your car’s carpets.
Step ten: Exterior cleaning guide
With the interior deeply cleaned, it’s time to give the same treatment to the exterior. You can head to the car wash if you like, but if you have the time to spare, giving it a clean yourself usually produces better results. This is because you can spend more time on the areas that really need some attention.
Use the three-bucket system when washing your car:
- Clean, soapy water bucket. This bucket is just for soapy water. No dipping your dirty cloth in here!
- Wheels and tyres bucket. As the wheels are particularly dirty, have one bucket of soapy water just for this.
- Water bucket. Use this bucket to rinse off your dirty cloth before dipping it back into the soapy water bucket.
Wash your car down with water. Use a hose or a microfibre cloth wet with just water and rinse down your car. The idea behind this is that you want to wash away any large amounts of dirt before you get the soapy water involved.
Is your car covered in splattered bugs? These can be difficult to remove due to being dried on under the sun. Soap will have a hard time peeling these critters off your car, but there’s an easy trick to remove them. Get a few tumble dryer sheets and a bucket of warm water. Wet the dryer sheet in the warm water, then wipe down the bugs. They will come away much easier this way. Then, you can go at your car with the soapy water. Remember to rinse your cloth in the water bucket as you go along. For tougher spots, try using a clay bar instead.
Want an easy way to clean up your headlights? Use normal, white-paste toothpaste (not the gel kind). With a soft cloth, apply the toothpaste to your headlights. Then, rinse away the toothpaste with water.
Once the car has been washed, polish it up with a dual-polisher or hand polish. Then, apply a final coat of wax to protect the paintwork and that hard-earned shine. Use a power buffer to apply the wax, but then remove it with a soft cloth to ensure an even finish. Don’t use product on the tires though; simple water will be enough. It’s time to tackle the wheels. Make sure to use your designated wheels bucket, as brake fluid smeared across your windows next time is not preferable.
Step eleven: Replacing parts with new
Having the car cleaned up will help you evaluate the overall condition of the vehicle. Some parts could use replacing, and it will help the overall appearance of your vehicle. These don’t need to be expensive replacements!
- Use a cherished number plate — cherished number plates are registration plates with no year identifier on them. This is a great way to make an older model of car look newer!
- New speakers — if you’re a music lover, upgrading the car speakers will improve your experience without breaking the bank.
- Seat covers — seat covers are a great way to spruce up your car interior without splashing out on expensive re-upholstering. Plus, you can add a little character with many different designs and patterns to choose from.
- New wheels — if your wheels are looking worse for wear even after cleaning, it might be time to replace them.
- A fresh coat of paint — if your budget allows, a new paint job can work wonders for an old car.