By Dave Reed, CD-SV, D.A.R. DETAILING, Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Summer is the prime time for road trips, beach vacations, and all kinds of adventures. So how do you keep your vehicle looking its best throughout the season? Detailing, of course!

However, detailing a car in the summer requires special attention due to the hot weather and potential risks associated with working under the heat of the sun. A vehicle’s paintwork can get very hot under direct sunlight, and this is particularly relevant on darker colored vehicles as the darker the color, the more heat is absorbed and retained.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you detail your car effectively while minimizing any potential issues:

1. Choose the right time: Aim to detail your car during the cooler parts of the day, either in the early morning or late afternoon, to avoid the midday heat and direct sunlight. Consider using natural shade, and move the vehicle to utilize that shade should it be available. Consider detailing one side of the vehicle in the shade and then turning the vehicle around to detail the other side once moved into the shade. Another consideration is using a gazebo or pop-up style shelter to help you keep the vehicle’s surfaces cooler and provide shade to the vehicle and yourself!

2. Prepare your chemicals and tools:

  • Prewash/foam cannon
  • Car wash soap/shampoo
  • Buckets (one for wash with soapy water, one for rinse with plain water)
  • Wash mitt or your chosen contact wash medium of choice
  • Grit guards (for the bottom of the wash and rinse bucket)
  • High-quality microfiber drying towels or access to warm forced filtered air
  • Wheel cleaner and wheel cleaning mitt/brushes/tools
  • All-purpose cleaner or interior cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Tire dressing
  • Wax or paint sealant
  • Applicator pads
  • Polishing and buffing pads (if machine polishing)
  • Clay bar and lubricant (for removing contaminants if claying)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Upholstery brush
  • Soft bristle brushes (for vents and crevices)
  • UV protectant (for interior plastics)
  • Sunscreen and personal protective equipment (PPE)/clothing

3. Wash the exterior:

  • Rinse the vehicle down to cool surfaces and remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Carry out a prewash, either a foaming or non-foaming prewash – remember never let any chemicals dry on the surface of the vehicle.
  • Use a separate wheel cleaner and brushes for the wheels and tires, and when the ambient temperature is hot, work on one wheel at a time, fully rinsing before moving onto the next wheel.
  • Mix car wash soap/shampoo in one bucket, and fill the other with clean water for rinsing.
  • Use the wash mitt to gently glide across each of the vehicle’s exterior surfaces, starting from the top and working your way down.
  • Consider detailing the exterior with this contact wash stage in sections with frequent rinsing before moving onto the next section.
  • Rinse the car thoroughly, making sure all shampoo/soap is removed.

4. Clean and dress the interior:

  • Remove all rubbish/trash and personal items from the interior.
  • Vacuum the carpets, seats, and floor mats thoroughly.
  • Use soft brushes and upholstery brushes to clean vents, crevices, and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Wipe down surfaces with an interior cleaner, and apply UV protectant to prevent fading and cracking.

5. Clean windows and mirrors: Use a glass cleaner and dedicated glass towels to clean the interior and exterior windows and mirrors. If the vehicle is hot, work fast and methodically.

6. Tire and trim care: Apply tire/trim dressing to the tires and trim to enhance their appearance and protect them from UV damage.

7. Final touches:

  • Inspect your work for any spots you may have missed.
  • Stand back and admire your freshly detailed vehicle!

8. Consider your own wellbeing: Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the sun’s rays while detailing a vehicle in the summer.

By following these tips, you can help keep your car looking its best throughout the warm summer months. Of course, you can always contact your local professional detailer, who will use their expertise and equipment to help provide the proper care for your vehicle in any season!

About the Author: Dave Reed, CD-SV, is the owner of D.A.R. DETAILING in Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom.