FLORHAM PARK—When you say “vehicle maintenance,” the first things that come to mind are oil changes, tune-ups and other routine vehicle checks. However, maintaining a vehicle – and its resale value – extends beyond what is under the hood.
“You can prolong the life of the vehicle’s exterior and interior the same way you take care of its mechanical parts – through proper and routine upkeep,” says Mike Coppola, general manager of the AAA Car Care Center in Springfield. “Cosmetic car care can not only reduce wear and tear, but help command a higher resale value.”
AAA New Jersey recommends the following tips for cleaning your car:
• Vacuum regularly and lightly shampoo carpets as needed. Dirt in the carpet greatly accelerates wear, but be careful not to soak carpets with too much moisture.
• Use floor mats. Carpeted floor mats collect dust and dirt and are best for warm, dry weather. Protective vinyl floor mats are recommended when it is wet and snowy.
• Wipe down dusty or soiled surfaces with a damp cloth and follow with a UV-protective coating on vinyl or rubber surfaces. To reduce reflections on the windshield, use a solution with a matte or semi-gloss finish on the dashboard. Do not apply petroleum-based products on plastic surfaces.
• Clean stains from seats and other interior surfaces promptly to prevent them from becoming set. Use a cleaner recommended by the vehicle manufacturer to prevent damage. Test any non-approved product in an inconspicuous spot before use to make sure it is safe.
• Tinted windows cut down on infrared rays that cause heat buildup and UV rays that can fade or damage interiors. To avoid compromising visibility, do not over-darken the windshield and front windows.
• Use protective flooring and seat covers when transporting pets or items with sharp edges that could gouge upholstery or carpeting.
• Wash your car every two weeks and wax it twice a year. Wash or wax more frequently depending on the weather and driving conditions. A good coat of wax protects the vehicle’s finish and helps reduce paint fading from the sun’s UV rays.
• Rinse wheel wells and accessible areas of the undercarriage when washing your car. This is especially important where salt is used on roads in the winter, as it will help prevent rust.
• Use care when removing bugs and tar to avoid damaging the clear coat or paint. Many auto stores carry specialty products that easily remove dirt and grime without damage.
• Clean all glass inside and out to ensure good vision. Use a product that does not leave streaks or cause glare.
• Have small windshield chips repaired immediately to prevent them from becoming cracks that require complete windshield replacement.
• If your headlights have developed a frosted yellow surface, consider headlight restoration. This restores a clear finish to the lens, which improves both vehicle appearance and nighttime vision.
Save all maintenance records, as this also improves the resale value. Keep records in organized in a file or just store them in the glove compartment.
Being able to produce a record of proper maintenance and repairs can add hundreds of dollars to your vehicle’s sale price. Also, most repairs come with some form of warranty and documentation of the repair is needed to support any claim that might arise.
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