Each week on this page Mr. Clean Car Wash will present some good-to-know facts and expert advice about cars and how to keep them running clean. Stop in frequently to learn some simple and important ways for you to love your car.
Everyone wants a clean, shiny car in the
summer. But it is just as important to kee
p your car exterior clean in the winter to
help prevent rust attacks later on.
Road salt and other corrosive chemicals
can wreak havoc on your car’s finish.
Keep your paint cleaner, longer by
washing away winter worries befor
e they become all-season rust scars.
If you wash your car, or have it washed,
make sure the towels used to dry
your vehicle are always fresh,
clean and soft. Dirt and abrasives
in a not-so-clean towel can scratch
your finish just like sandpaper.
If you get an exterior wash it’s
better to drive away and let
the air dry your car than
to use a dirty towel.
It may seem obvious that giving your car a regular wash
will keep it looking new. But too many people wait too long
and their car’s finish gets damaged. A simple wash at
least every few weeks is an easy way to keep up your
car’s appearance. How often you wash depends
on weather conditions and exposure to harsh
elements like sun, salt, trees and impolite
flying animals. Just keep your
car shining and you’ll
always run clean.
Looking for simple ways to keep your car’s interior
looking its best? Consider buying an inexpensive
set of rubber mats to put on top of
your carpet mats. This trick keeps
your fancy carpet mats cleaner
longer. Or you can even turn
your carpet mats upside down
if they have rubber bottoms.
When you wash your car at home, soap, road
grime, tar and oils often end up in storm sewers
that flow into local lakes and streams. Professional
car washes like Mr. Clean Car Wash recycle and
filter most of their water before returning it clean into
the environment. Before considering how clean you
may want to consider how green is your usual car
You can’t always park your car in a cool garage
but you can look for shade. UV sunrays not only
heat up your vehicle’s interior but also can
cause damage to your dashboard
and upholstery. Find a shady
spot whenever possible and if
not, utilize interior car shades
to block out harmful sun. Those
foldout shades may not look so
cool but the temperature inside
your car surely will be.
Yes, your car’s undercarriage needs
love, too. Though it may not show,
mud and crud buildup under your
car can block vital drainage systems
and the accumulated moisture can
accelerate rust. Do your best to keep
the bottom side clean, but for a professional
job, ask Mr. Clean Car Wash about our
underbody rust inhibitor. It’s standard
with our Mr. Clean Signature Shine®.
Has your car been assaulted by angry birds? Bird droppings and other obvious
contaminants have a high acidity that if left on your paint
for any length of time can eat into the clear coat. Even
the acidic chemicals in rainwater will remain
on the surface after the raindrops
have evaporated, leaving a mark
that can permanently stain the paint.
So don’t wait to wash your car.
That black, grimy brake dust that collects
on your wheels isn’t just unsightly, it can
also be damaging. Brake dust is
made of carbon fibers and metal
shavings from the rotor. Heat
and friction make this combination
highly corrosive and your wheels
could become pitted or permanently
stained. So don’t let the dust settle.
Keep your wheels clean and let the
car wash pros help you with the dirty work.
One of the telltale signs of a neglected car is its
tires. When your tires look dry and faded, they
make your entire car look years older.
Moisturize your tires with products like
Tire Shine & Mr. Clean Wheel Guard™
that have been proven to keep
wheels cleaner, longer. Both
are available on select washes
at Mr. Clean Car Wash.
If you are planning to sell your car, having it cleaned
and professionally detailed first can go a long way to
enhance its value to potential buyers. Detailing restores
your car to its ultimate
beauty and maximizes
its resale value. A car
with a faded finish and
unkempt look will sell
for 10% - 20% less
than a cleaner, nicer–
Oil is the lifeblood of your car, so keeping it clean
is crucial to your car’s lasting health. Having
not enough or the wrong kind of oil can also
lead to decreased gas mileage, which means
you pay even more for gas. See your
manual for manufacturer’s recommended
oil specifications and change intervals.
Leather interiors are comfortable and luxurious.
But they need your attention to keep them clean
and supple. Dirt can easily become embedded
and sun can dry out leather and cause it to
age and crack. Regular cleaning which includes
leather hydrating and conditioning can protect
it and keep it looking new longer.
Though it doesn’t show, experts believe
you should wash your engine at least
every year or two. Why? For one, a
clean engine runs cooler than a dirty
one. Also, when an engine is clean it is
easier to spot leaks and to service parts.
You can do it yourself if you’re careful to
protect sensitive components. Or you can
have it steam-cleaned by a professional.
Excessive heat absorption. Individual paint
molecules. Oxidation. These all sound like fancy
scientific terms well beyond everyday car care. But the truth is that things
like sunlight and normal wear and tear can hurt your vehicle’s paint molecules.
All you need to know is that waxing protects your vehicle against paint fading.
You don’t have to be a scientist to understand and appreciate that.
Yes, a fresh coat of wax can make
your car shiny and beautiful. But the
protection it gives your paint is even
more valuable. Wax can provide a
shield against bugs, sap and other
debris which can damage your
car’s finish. So keep it waxed and
make a lasting impression.
Your car’s paint will last longer and look
better over time if you remember to keep
a coat of wax between its finish and the
elements. Between insects, trees, birds,
salt and harsh sunlight, nature can
take a real toll on your paint and
cause it to break down and even
crack and peel. Regular waxing at
least once every three months will
leave your car shiny and protected.
Make sure to check your air filter every
time you get an oil change. The air
filter stops airborne contaminants
from getting sucked into your
car’s engine. It stops debris such
as leaves, dust, and even small
army toys before they get inside
the engine and do damage.
Some professional oil changes,
including Mr. Clean Oil Change
Plus, will check air filters as part
of their standard checklist.
The drive gears inside your 2WD or 4WD
vehicle’s differential need to be cleanly lubricated
to provide safe, optimal performance. When
the differential lubricant becomes gummy,
costly repairs could result. Have
your differential checked every
15,000 miles to be sure you
can keep running smoothly.
When the weather is at its hottest is not the time
you want your air conditioner to break down.
Have your mechanic check your cooling system
before that happens to make sure it is working properly
and will continue to operate when you need it most.
Despite the temperatures,
running your car’s air-
conditioning system a few
times this winter will help
keep it in good shape for
running the compressor
will prevent its moving
parts from seizing. Also,
circulating the refrigerant
will help keep the seals
soft and pliant. Chill now
and you’ll keep your cool
To keep your engine running cool
in any season, keep a 50/50 mix
of antifreeze (coolant) and water
in your vehicle’s radiator. You can
check the status of your mix easily
with an inexpensive antifreeze
tester you will find at any auto
parts store. If your mix is off, be
sure to have your cooling system
drained, flushed and refilled.
Most vehicles today are equipped
with the luxury of power steering. But
if it fails for any reason, steering will
not only be difficult but possibly very
dangerous. Check your power
steering fluid regularly. It only takes a
few minutes to check and even refill it
if necessary. If your fluid is low it may
indicate a leak, so have your mechanic
check it out.
Windshield washer reservoirs are easy
to fill but fill them only with washer fluid.
Water just does not clean as well and,
even worse, it could freeze in cold
weather and damage your washer
system. As soon as the reservoir appears
empty, do not try to use the system or you
may damage the washer fluid pump.
You may have occasion to drive your car on a beach or through desert sand. If you are
planning to do so you should drop your tire pressure to about 12 psi. This will better help
you float on the sand. Always keep momentum moving forward and if you do feel
yourself starting to get stuck, back out and look for a better path forward.
When the temperatures rise so does your
tire pressure. And if you have worn treads
you will be much more likely to have a
blowout. Check your tire pressure and
check your tread regularly. Know that
extreme heat will only make the weak
tires worse, so invest in some new
rubber now before you’re
flat out of luck.
Under-inflated tires can cause premature wear
and also factor in decreased gas mileage. In
fact, proper inflation can increase your MPG
by more than 3% when maintained regularly.
So check the air all around at least once a
month. Because when it comes to your tires,
you don’t want to tread lightly.
You can’t always trust commercial gauges found at
air stations and you can’t judge proper tire inflation
just by appearance. That’s why you should always
have a portable tire gauge in your glove box.
Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s
specs. And don’t forget to check
the pressure in your
spare tire, as well.
Today’s vehicle transmissions, both manual
and automatic, require little attention under
average use. But the one thing you can
do is to check, and, when necessary,
change the transmission fluid in
accordance with your owner’s manual.
Contamination can shorten the life of your
transmission and affect your car’s performance.
Checking your brake fluid once a month
is easy and may save you thousands of
dollars in repair bills down the road.
If your brake fluid is low, add only
the type recommended by your
car’s manufacturer. Always use
fresh brake fluid as previously
opened fluid absorbs moisture
and can contaminate easily.
Your engine’s cooling system is vital to a car’s long life. The
radiator sends coolant through the engine block, absorbs the
heat and carries it away from the engine. Over time, especially
in extreme heat or extreme cold regions, the coolant can
break down and not work efficiently. That is why you
should schedule a coolant change and
radiator flush at the start of
The antifreeze in your vehicle keeps the
radiator and other metal and aluminum
engine parts from corroding. Over
time, its anti-corrosion properties
deteriorate so it has to be changed
out every two or three years or
30,000 miles. Follow your owner’s
manual for maintenance schedule
or ask your mechanic if more
frequent changes are necessary.
Your car works harder when it’s carrying more than just you and your family to the movies.
If you’ve ever packed your car for vacation with a cargo trailer, you might have noticed
your vehicle moved slower and your gas mileage decreased. That’s because heavy cars
use more energy and create excess heat under the hood. Oil and transmission fluid
coolers are smart add-ons that will help make your car prepared for the long haul!
Regular vacuuming and upholstery
cleaning will keep your car looking fresh
well beyond its years. Done properly,
vacuuming will rejuvenate your
upholstery fibers and lift carpet
pile to give it new life even if
it is heavily used. After all,
your car’s interior is your
living space, at least for
short periods of time.
Don’t be caught in the rain with an old set of wiper blades. Most experts say
wiper blades should be replaced every six to twelve months for optimum
performance and driving visibility. The rubber material deteriorates over
time. Not only is it a potentially unsafe situation, but also the streaking
and chatter sure are a nuisance.
Safe driving depends on clear road visibility.
That’s why you should always have dependable,
safe, working wiper blades to keep your
windshield clear from rain, sleet, snow and
any other hazardous road conditions.
But the next time you replace your
wiper blades, buy an extra pair
and keep them in your trunk so
you can be clearly prepared for
any storm that rolls through.
How often you change your motor oil depends a lot
on your driving habits. Do you regularly make
short trips, drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow
a trailer, drive in dusty or dirty air conditions,
live in a cold weather region? If yes,
your habits are hard on an engine
and that means more frequent
oil and fluid changes, like
every 3 months or
every 3,000 miles.
Old motor oil just can’t do the job it’s intended
to do. Over time, oil absorbs water, dust
and combustion by-products and the
result is engine-damaging sludge.
Your car needs clean, fluid
lubrication to keep it running
smooth and most of the time,
all you need to do is change
your motor oil. For the life of
your car, make a change.
Still driving that classic 1963 Alfa Romeo? What about
a 1970 Dodge Challenger? If so, pay extra attention
here. The oil levels in older engines have a tendency
to drop between oil changes. As engines wear, oil
can make its escape. Your engine may be burning
oil because of a worn piston ring or even a bad
gasket. Get in the habit of checking your oil level
from time to time to avoid an expensive repair.
There are many types of motor oil on the market
today so it’s important that you know which best
suits your needs. Your owner’s manual will
recommend the proper oil viscosity for the
temperature range of the current season.
Oil tends to thicken in colder weather
and that may damage your engine.
So consult your manual or see a
professional to make sure your
oil makes the grade.
Did you know driving with your headlights on during
daylight hours could actually be a very bright idea?
A 1994 Canadian study found that you
have an 11% decreased risk of being
involved in an accident with another
vehicle if you drive with lights on.
That’s an eye-opening stat that
could save your life.
The new synthetic motor oils on the
market usually cost more but have
proven to be much better at resisting
engine damage and sludge buildup
at extreme temperatures. If you
drive in extreme high or extreme
low temperatures ask your
mechanic about switching to
synthetic oil for your next change.
How much tire tread should your tires
have? Obviously a deeper tread
makes tires safer on wet roads.
An easy way to measure if your
treads are too worn for safety
is to use a penny. Insert the
penny into the grooves of the
tread. If you are able to see
all of Lincoln’s head, your
tread is not deep enough and
you need to replace that tire.
Keeping a small kitchen-sized trash
bag in your car is great for freeing
your car of cups, trash or even
muddy soccer cleats. If you have
children, consider putting your
child who’s in charge of the trash
bag at home in charge of the trash
bag in the car. It might be a great
way to extend the time in-between
interior car washes.
Give your gas cap a little twist every time you
fill up. Gasoline will evaporate from your gas
tank if it can escape so make sure your gas
cap is on right and tight. Loose, damaged
or missing caps cause 147 million
gallons of gas to evaporate
each year, according to
the Car Care Council.
So tighten up
Carrying extra keys and trinkets on your key chain may
be convenient but it could cause damage to your car.
The swinging motion and extra weight hanging
from your key in the ignition could wear out the
tumblers and lead to ignition switch failure. Keep
your ignition key separate or on a lightweight
key chain and add years of life to your ignition
switch. If your key starts to stick when you
turn it, it may be a warning sign of
future ignition switch failure.
Statistics show that driving in the
center lane on freeways makes
you less likely to be involved in a
rear-end crash. The slow lanes are
where more decisions are made
and more “action” takes place.
Every time you change lanes you
add risk so when traffic allows,
stay in the center lane and resist
your urge to merge.
No matter how careful you are,
every car will pick up an occasional
nick or scratch in the body paint,
especially around door edges.
Because most paint will not adhere
to rust, it’s important to touch up the
nicks before rust can form. Be sure
to keep a little matching touch-up
paint on hand in case your car
has a knack for nicks.
Keep a record of your vehicle’s
maintenance history and get
the most from your car. Use a
smart phone app or a simple pen
and paper to record your gas fill-ups,
mileage and routine service visits. While
keeping records, if you notice decreasing gas
mileage it could indicate something is wrong with
your car and allow you to check it out before it
becomes a danger.
If you’re like most people, your car owner’s
manual stays in the glove box until you
run into trouble. But that little factory-
installed book can sometimes
prevent trouble before it even
happens. It’s a great idea
to familiarize yourself with
the manual and pay particular
attention to the suggested
maintenance schedules. A little
leisurely reading now could save
you some panicked reading later.
If you’re taking your car on an extended trip it’s always a good idea to have
a mechanic do a safety check before taking off.
Long drives can test your vehicle and
bring any problems quickly to the
surface. A good mechanic can look
for trouble spots and make sure
your trip won’t be detoured by
When you have a new battery, you don’t have to worry
much about your car starting. But when a battery
is 2-3 years old, you never know when it
may decide to quit. Know the age of
your car’s battery. After three years it
should be tested and replaced if
necessary. At that age, even a
strong battery will lose output when
the outside temperature drops–and
that’s not a good time to be stuck.