Tips, Tricks & Trends

Oil Changes And Car Washes Are Not Enough Maintenance

Half a century ago, if a person purchased a car, they could expect it to last two to three years. As technology has progressed, manufacturers have learned how to make their products more precise in fit, with better quality, and have thereby elongated system life spans. That is true from the suspension and engine systems in a car, all the way to the power seats and sunroofs. But, those systems still need regular maintenance. An occasional oil change or automated car wash pass is not enough. 

Cars Are Better Today

It is easier for the purchaser of a modern car these days to think that the vehicles today are so good that all that is needed is an oil change and a few car washes. That is true. Today a car can get one from point A to point B with just that. But, that is neglectful of the other systems in the vehicle that need maintenance and the vehicle’s appearance, which tends to fade over time. 

Car Wash Rollers in Action
Car going through car wash photographed from inside vehicle | Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Car ownership can be fun. It can also be a source of pride. A shiny grime-free car can make the owner happy. Also, a thoroughly well-maintained vehicle tends to do better when it’s time to trade it in or sell it. Why? Trading in a car that runs as expected and that has that smooth glossy finish will make the dealer more confident in offering top dollar. That is why doing oil changes and going to the car wash is not enough. 

Looking At The Owner’s Manual

It is universally agreed that maintaining a vehicle’s engine and suspension can lead to longer and more carefree miles. So, take a look at the owner’s manual and find the schedule of maintenance for the car. It will specify oil replacement intervals, the expected mileage a belt replacement should be considered, other fluids that need regular replacement, and even how often filters should be changed, among other things. 

Dirt and Grit Inside

Dirt and grit in the grains for the interior surfaces such as the steering wheel, dash, door panels, and the different buttons to components can also lead to excessive wear damage if not properly maintained. So, maintenance should include more than just an occasional vacuum session for a car’s interior. It should also involve safe cleaners, rags, and brushes to get that dirt and grit out from the grains of the surfaces. 

Even glass surfaces need to be maintained too. Leaving all the cleaning duty of the glass surfaces to the wiper blades, or the paper towels and window cleaner won’t be enough. In time, the clean glass will still show water spots after it has already been cleaned and dried. So, a good deep cleaning will be necessary. 

Automated car washes typically offer a setting that permits a vehicle to be waxed as well a washed. That is certainly helpful. However, sometimes it is not enough. So, after a few car washes, a good and safe rubbing compound session might need to be done. This will remove oxidation from the paint. Afterward, waxing the vehicle can restore missing shine. But, monitor paint depth carefully to avoid thinning the paint so much that the primer starts to show through. 

Aston Martin Being Detailed
Car Detailing | BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Time Is Cruel To Exterior Plastic and Rubber

The passage of time is also not very kind to exterior plastic and rubber on a car. Many times those items fade from their original black or dark gray appearances to a dull gray. An automated car wash is not able to address that. Those surfaces will need treatments that could range from simple cleaners to fancy dye applications. 

All of these maintenance concerns are something that can be done by almost anybody. However, time is very fleeting, and warranted work may be more appealing. So, scheduling an appointment to get the regular maintenance done at a licensed shop or dealership may be in order. Also, calling a reputable detailer to discuss courses of action to bring the car back to near-showroom or better-than-showroom condition may also be in order. Otherwise, changing the oil and the occasional automated car wash might end up shorting the owner when it’s time to trade-in.