Car Care and Cleaning Tips

Get your ride ready for the road with these clever cleaning tricks.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Cooking Spray

  • You know that fine black stuff that collects on the wheels of your car and is so hard to clean off? That’s brake dust — it’s produced every time you apply your brakes and the pads wear against the brake disks or cylinders. The next time you invest the elbow grease to get your wheels shiny, give them a light coating of cooking spray. The brake dust will wipe right off.
  • When those bugs smash into your car at 55 miles (88 kilometers), per hour, they really stick. Give your grille a spritz of nonstick cooking spray so you can just wipe away the insect debris.

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Mayonnaise

To get road tar or pine sap off your car with ease, slather some mayonnaise over the affected area, let it sit for several minutes, and wipe it away with a clean, soft rag.

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Socks

A big old soft sock makes a perfect hand mitt for buffing the wax on your car.

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Spray Bottles

Be sure to include a recycled spray bottle filled with windshield cleaner in the trunk of your car as part of your roadside emergency kit. Use it to clean off your car’s headlights, mirrors, and of course, windows whenever needed. During winter months, mix in 1/2 teaspoon antifreeze, and you can spray it on to melt the ice on your windshield or mirrors.

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Vinegar

  • If those tattered old bumper stickers on your car make you feel more nauseated than nostalgic, it’s time to break out the vinegar. Saturate the top and sides of the sticker with undiluted distilled vinegar and wait 10-15 minutes for the vinegar to soak through. Then use an expired credit card (or one of those promotional plastic cards that come in the mail) to scrape it off. Use more full-strength vinegar to get rid of any remaining gluey residue. Use the same technique to detach those cute decals your youngster used to decorate the back windshield.
  • When your windshield actually gets blurrier after you turn on your wipers during a rainstorm, it usually means that your wiper blades are dirty. To make them as good as new, dampen a cloth or rag with some full-strength white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade once or twice.
  • If you park your car outdoors during the cold winter months, a smart and simple way to keep frost from forming on your windows is by wiping (or, better yet, spraying) the outsides of the windows with a solution of 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part water. Each coating may last up to several weeks — although, unfortunately, it won’t do much in the way of warding off a heavy snowfall.

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WD-40

  • It’s bad enough that your car grille and hood have to get splattered with bugs every time you drive down the interstate, but do they have to be so darn tough to scrape off? The answer is no. Just spray some WD-40 on the grille and hood before going for a drive and most of the critters will slide right off. The few bugs that are left will be easy to wipe off later without damaging your car’s finish.
  • To help restore a license plate that is beginning to rust, spray it with WD-40 and wipe with a clean rag. This will remove light surface rust and will also help prevent more rust from forming. It’s an easy way to clean up lightly rusted plates and it won’t leave a greasy feel.
  • To save time replacing spark plugs, do it the NASCAR way. NASCAR mechanics spray WD-40 on stuck plugs so they can remove them quickly and easily. Perhaps that’s one reason why WD-40 has been designated as NASCAR’s “official multi-purpose problem-solver.”
  • For easy removal of a truck-bed liner, spray the truck bed with WD-40 before you install the liner. When it comes time to remove it, the liner will slide right out.
  • You return to your parked car to find that while you were gone, another vehicle got a bit too close for comfort. Luckily there’s no dent, but now your car has a blotch of “paint rub” from the other car on it. To remove paint-rub stains on your car and restore its original finish, spray the affected area with WD-40, wait a few seconds, and wipe with a clean rag.

    See more uses for WD-40.