We’re sure many of you have your fair share of resolutions planned for the new year. Whether it’s a stab at Dry January or an effort to hit the gym more, the first month of the year always heralds a fresh start. But we think the ‘new year, new you’ mentality should extend to your motor too.

If the festive season has taken its toll on your car as much as it has your waistline, then January’s the perfect time to give things a detox. From cleaning out the interior and fine-tuning under the hood to sprucing up the outside, we’ve created this extensive checklist to get your car in tip-top condition for the year ahead.

How to tidy your car’s interior

Throw out the rubbish

If your car’s been doubling up as a four-wheeled bin over the festive period, then it’s more than likely full of old receipts, food wrappers, water bottles and all sorts of other unwanted rubbish. Before you start giving your car a proper clean, it’s essential you get rid of the trash that’s been accumulating inside the vehicle first. Bin bags at the ready, this could get messy…

Wipe things down

Now that you’re rid of the rubbish, there’s probably a few stains and spills left in its wake. Get some specially-designed wipes for car interiors – or just some baby wipes – and wipe down the dashboard, windows, gearstick and steering wheel. Then, keep them handy in your glove box so you can take care of any messes while you’re on the go.

Buy a bin

Rather than letting the mess accumulate over the months and having to do mass chuck outs, it’s worth investing in a bin for your car. Though you can get bins specifically for cars, any sort of container – or even a plastic bag – will do the trick. As long as you have somewhere to put your rubbish, you’ll be able to avoid accumulating trash over the months to come.

Rubber up

Mud, leaves, sand and other debris can make a real mess of the carpeted floor of your car. Keep things protected with some heavy-duty rubber mats for the front. In the event of dirty shoes, all you have to do his hose them down, let them dry and you’re good to go next time you clean your car.

Organise the space

Like your home or your desk at work, keeping things organised is key to de-cluttering. If things like pens, CDs or the kids’ toys are strewn all about the place, then it’s worth getting some organisers in order to optimise the space. Organisers that can be hung on the backs of seats are particularly useful, while something that you can store in your boot for things like spare shopping bags or emergency gear is another good idea too.

Keep things fresh

All that rubbish has probably left a less-than-ideal odour in your car, so be sure to get an air freshener to hang from your mirror. Or, if that’s not your style, an odour eliminator under the seat is always handy.​

Deep Cleaning

Now that things are tidy, the next step is a more thorough clean of your car’s interior. Be sure to carry out the following:

  • Clean the vents and ducts with pressurised air. If you don’t have access to any, then a dusting cloth or baby wipe will do the trick.
  • Use the wipes mentioned earlier on things like cup holders, change holders, the door bins, and any other places that dirt or grime might have gathered.
  • Sweep any dust and dirt on the seats onto the floor and use a vacuum to hoover up the mess.

How to clean your car’s exterior

Though ‘inside is what counts’ is applicable to a certain extent when it comes to cars, the outside appearance is still a big deal. Get your motor looking as good as new with these top tips:

Front, back and bottom

Getting the paintwork looking good is never a bad idea, but freshening up the car by removing the salt from your car’s underside is perhaps more important – reducing the risk of rust and corrosion. If you’re up to the task, use a hose to spray down the exposed areas underneath, but if you don’t fancy it, then a car wash with an undercarriage wash system can do the trick.

Washing the exterior

If you’re cleaning the paintwork yourself, then use a liquid or power cleaner for the body; abrasives like steel wool can scratch the paint so avoid using these. And remember to not let your car dry in the winter sun while still wet, as this creates water spots. Dry things off with a rubber or a silicone squeegee blade or non-shedding microfibre cloth.

Clean the tyres

Avoid the car wash and clean tyres yourself using a tyre and wheel cleaner. Apply it to the outer surface, and then use a tyre brush to scrub back and forth in a vigorous manner. After this, apply cleaner to the wheels, allowing it to set for a minute, and then remove with a clean paintbrush. Rinse the wheel and tyre with a hose before drying with a microfibre towel.

Replace the wiper blades

If you’ve noticed any streaking or skipping with your wiper blades, then now is the time to replace them as the rubber has most probably cracked.

How to check under your car’s bonnet

If you’re up to the challenge after cleaning the inside and outside of your car, the next step is to give the inner workings a once over, so that everything is in tip-top condition for a new year of driving.

Change the air filter

If your car’s performance is a little on the sluggish side, then it may be because the air filter hasn’t been changed in a while. It’s a good idea to change your filter every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. If you forego changing the air filter, then it can affect your car’s acceleration and fuel economy.

Change the fluids

The fluids that go into your car, such as coolant/antifreeze, oil and power steering fluid, get worn out over time, affecting the way your car performs on the road. To optimise the conditions, you need to change them every so often. To do this, you’ll need to flush the necessary fluids from your car. And since your car has many different mechanical systems, there are several types of fluid flushes required for each, so be sure you’re working on the right one before you start the process.

Check the tyre pressure

As the seasons change, fluctuations in temperature can affect the pressure of car tyres. As we move from winter into spring, make sure you measure the pressure in your tyres to check that they meet the requirements for your vehicle. Driving on tyres with low pressure can affect fuel economy and cause a safety hazard.

Miscellaneous checks and other tips

  • If you’re polishing your car, make sure to use car paint polish or car polishing wax. When buffing, it’s recommended you use an electric oscillating polisher/buffer, but if you don’t have one, then you can always do it by hand.
  • For extra protection, use a sealing wax or carnauba wax. Just be sure to do this every season if you’re looking to protect your car’s paint.
  • When cleaning windows, use an ammonia-free glass cleaner and wipe down with a microfibre cloth.
  • If there’s a spare tyre in your boot, then be sure to check its pressure too.
  • Don’t forget to wipe down the dashboard – avoid spraying your cleaner into any electronics, but by all means give the consoles and cup holders a clean.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Head here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.