4 pro tips for spring-cleaning your car

Springtime means many cars have been sitting unattended for a few months, waiting to be revived for another driving season. With recent calls to spend less time in groups, now may be the perfect time to hole up and spend some time detailing your classic.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2020/03/17/4-pro-tips-for-spring-cleaning-your-car

If I had a V-16 Cadillac I don’t think I would be cleaning my own car.

If I had a V16 Cadillac, I wouldn’t let anyone else do it…In fact I would be looking at it right now!


Very timely article; I just took several cars out of their winter “hibernation.” The first thing that I did was to take off the winter storage covers and give them a good dusting (Amazing how dusty a car can get over the winter months). Then I checked the oil and radiators to make sure we were up to snuff there. Last thing checked were the tire pressures. Then I started them up and began taking them for a medium long drive (10-15 miles). Once they were fully warmed up, I began a check out ride to make sure everything was working properly. Because I stored them with a full tank of gas I did not need to fill them back up yet. Checked all the operating items (Lights, wipers, suspension behaving well). Because I had them on a battery tender over the long winter months, there were no issues with the starting them for the first ride. We are now ready for the next car show when the Cornavirus issues go away. :<)


After winter storage, dust cover comes off first then a quick pass over exterior with a dust buster followed by quick detailer.

This is also a great time to inspect the levels of all the fluids in your vehicle. If any of them haven’t been changed in two years or more, this might be a good time to do it.
Here in Arizona where we get lots of hot temperatures, I typically use a 50/50 mixture of anti-freeze and distilled water, with a pint of Red Line Water Wetter in the cooling systems of my 1966 Corvette and my 1960 Shelby GT350.

I don’t really put my 67 Shelby GT500 in storage. I drive it at least
2 or 3 times a month during the winter as long as there is no sand
or salt left on the roads here on Long Island, NY. Seems to work for me :slight_smile:

Good for you Rich. I drive both of my cars pretty much all year long - even on those 95-100 degree days. I try to get each one out of the garage at least once a week - even if it’s just a short trip to get gas,

I live in Maine and have two Porsches and a !954 Dodge Coronet Suburban Wagon that I put in carbags every winter in the barn. If you put the car in the bag clean, the car comes out in the Spring exactly as it was put in-Clean!

I live in S. Cal and drive all year round. Even so these tips are timely any time.

Great information.

I completely clean the undercarriage before the first show. Although I do not use emery cloth on white wall tires, emery cloth works very well to brighten raised white letter tires. Fifty years ago when I graduated HS and before college, I worked in a Goodyear tire factory. The white walls and raised white letter tires were produced by grinding though the black top layer of rubber to the inlaid white layer so don’t worry about using the sand paper as long as you are careful to prevent getting into the black and smearing black onto the white wall. I have constructed a ring of galvanized flashing with the ends taped together which fits snugly between the steel wheel and tire which allows me to paint the wheel if necessary and not spray any paint onto the tire,

Be cautious to use jack stands on a solid concrete surface. Jack stands without a solid base can sink into hot asphalt or dirt. Never get under a car supported by a hydraulic floor jack without jack stands or a mechanical support. Many years ago I had a seal blow out in a floor jack which dropped the car immediately…fortunately no one was under it as I was preparing to place stands under it.

Be sure to use Sta-bil or a similar fuel treatment before storing your car or letting it sit for an extended period of time. Use a battery tender instead of a trickle charger to keep your battery charged. The trickle charger will damage the battery over a period of time.


Be careful when it comes time to clean brakes, suspension and the backs of wheels. Brake dust is deadly. Use an N95 dust mask at the very least and try to keep the dust to a minimum. Dampen the area first with a fine spray mist using a generic spray bottle that you can pick up at any garden centre.

These tips are, I suppose, valid. Although the tone of this article is aimed at someone who is just getting into the hobby. I guess after 35 or 40 years of car collecting the info demonstrates that the author has a keen insight to the obvious! so, clean 'em up and Happy Motoring!

Yeah, maybe for a newbee, but there’s always something that maybe you’ve forgotten to do or even think about. Even something simple as cleaning your wheel wells are overlooked. I’ve seen that on cars going through the auctions and even at shows.

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Hello this post is great. I agree with you and everyone want to this type of post for car.

Maybe I’m a little ignorant but how is trickle charger different from a battery tender and how does the trickle charger damage a battery? I remove my trickle occasionally to the let the battery cycle and have never had battery issues.

A little caution with “remove the seats and vacuun underside” I had a Z3 M Roadster with seats out. Turned key to ON position for another reason. and I immediately got an error code for air bag. Had to be reset by dealer. Not like the good old days :slight_smile:

@PeteL98921 - That is a good reminder. It is also a good thing to think about the weight of seats–especially modern ones that are full of electronic adjustment. Vintage seats tend to be fairly easy to handle, but modern ones can be quite unruly.

Probably not the highest and best use for an N95 facemask in today’s world. Have you heard of the coronavirus?

I just got a Cadillac V-16 in AZ in January. I clean it myself…