As spring ends and summer begins, I am looking at my own home thinking about any spring maintenance I may have neglected. And it hit me—the car! I took out the trusty shop-van and went to work. My piles of Cheerios and rocks my sons collect at the park got me thinking about all of the scary and disgusting things we have found in customer cars. So if you are reading this over breakfast, bookmark and come back later—thanks!
There are the obvious messes: a few pieces of grass or dirt here, maybe a splash of coffee there, the salt residue from winter, dust from the kids’ shoes, Cheerios (guilty!). It's easy stuff in my eyes—nothing the vacuum and some glass cleaner can’t handle. I never think anything of these messes, most trade-ins fall into this category.
Then there is an entire separate category. I’m talking about the smells, the grime, the unidentifiable objects, the unmistakable smell of feet. In an industry where we see a lot of personal vehicles, we have been "lucky" to experience a range of cleanliness habits—some beautifully showroom clean for years, some well, let's just say "less than ideal." Our highlight real includes: old milk cups and stains, cigarette butts, stench and burns, french fry floor rot, trunks full of groceries left in a hot car all day, sticky film in the cup holder (escaped Slushie perhaps?), melted lollipops, even animals—deceased and alive, along with their nests.
I know some people live in their cars, but if your living room looks like some of these cars—I’m calling "Hoarders."
Car towed in on the way home from the grocery store? Another argument for re-useable insulated grocery bags because it always happens in August, on the hottest day, when there is no one to come get you, your stinky cheese and ice cream soup for a few hours. I’m sure you love your fast food lunches, but after a few too many floor mats made of McDonald’s fries and wrappers, I’ll pack mine—thanks.
Do you like wildlife? Well, your car doesn’t. Animals can get into your car and usually chew up the most expensive wiring harness. Yes, true story. Gunshot through the floor? Yep, we’ve seen that too. The emotional scars from these messes should help me keep my own car Cheerio-free forever.
If your own car tends to cross the line, or you are interested in preventing disaster, here are some cleaning tips to avoid the worst:
1. Vacuum! Do not forget the places you can’t always see, such as under the seats and the pedals.
2. Clean the glass! Outside and inside. It would amaze you how dirty the inside of your windows can be.
3. Replace your cabin air filter. Lingering smell and allergens live here.
4. Warm or hot water for the sticky cup holders.
5. An air freshener is nice, but 15 Pine tree scented ones hanging from the rear view mirror is "stay away" in any language.
6. Sometimes a profession detailing service is the perfect gift. Father's Day is fast approaching!
If you are a serial hoarder, please take a minute to take stock of your vehicle’s contents. You nice car is not a storage locker or garbage receptacle, but it may be a lesson and example for the rest of us.