Tips For The Road

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.

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  • Your car needs love in the winter, too.

    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.

  • Know how before you towel.

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Rubber floor mats are an easy way to keep your interior cleaner, longer.

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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
    wash routine.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Pamper your bottom.

    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®.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Don't let the dust settle

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Resale is all about the detail!

    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–
    looking vehicle.

  • Regular oil changes are the best preventive maintenance you can do for your car.

    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.

  • Your leather interior needs your soft touch.

    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.

  • Why clean is good...even under the hood.

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • The beauty of car wax is more than skin deep!

    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.

  • Wanna keep your shine? Wear a coat!

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Gummy is OK for bears but not for gears!

    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.

  • Keep your cool in extreme heat!








    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.

  • Keep cool next summer by running your AC this winter!

    Despite the temperatures,
    running your car’s air-
    conditioning system a few
    times this winter will help
    keep it in good shape for
    summer. Occasionally
    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
    this summer.

  • Keep your cool with a 50-50 mix.

    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.

  • Keep the power in your steering.

    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.

  • Keep the windows clean... just don’t add water!

    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.

  • Avoid the sand traps!

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Pssst. Have you checked your tire pressure lately?

    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.

  • Tire pressure is important. Make no mistake.

    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.

  • Your transmission needs love, too.

    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.

  • Stop to check your brake fluid. While you still can.

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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
    each season.

  • Keep your cool! Change your coolant

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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!

  • Don’t settle for an inferior interior!

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Change your wipers with a pair to spare

    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.

  • The way you drive affects your maintenance schedule

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Does your oil make the grade?

    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.

  • Hit the lights, day and night!

    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.

  • Time for a change? Think synthetic

    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.

  • A penny for your safety.

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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
    and save.

  • Lighten up that key chain to protect your car!

    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.

  • A clean car reflects well on you

    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.

  • Touch up in the nick of time!

    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.

  • Become a recording star and you’ll go far!

    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.

  • Read it before you need it!

    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.

  • Hit the shop before you hit the road.

    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
    preventable malfunctions.
    Drive safely.

  • Old and reliable don’t always go together

    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.