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Now is typically the time of year when I would pen a column on spring driving. However, with current travel restrictions in place, I would like to emphasize the need to stay close to home so we can all do our part to keep everyone safe.

Sticking close to home also provides the perfect opportunity for spring cleaning for your vehicle. If you do the work now, you and your vehicle will be in tip top shape when the travel restrictions are lifted for recreational travel and you can hit the open road.

A proper spring cleaning starts with the exterior of your vehicle’s body. A thorough wash is the best way to properly clean and flush the salt and sand from your vehicle’s body, panel gaps, undercarriage, wheels, and wheel wells.

If you want to treat your car to the ultimate cleaning and protection, a complete spring detailing and vehicle service by your local new car dealer may be exactly what you are looking for. Dealerships are taking all the proper precautions to ensure the health and safety of all patrons and staff with thorough sanitization, physical distancing measures, and many offerings by appointment only. It is not only a great way to provide intensive cleaning for your beloved vehicle, but a way to support your local small businesses at this time too.

If you would rather tend to your own vehicle, you will need a large wash bucket with grit guard (or the two-wash bucket method), wash mitts, soft-material towels and proper car washing soap. A clay bar can help further get contaminants off the exterior from the past winter’s wear. The soap is important as dish washing liquid, as an example, can damage a car’s paint protection. Products used for cleaning a vehicle should be specifically designed for automobiles. While household cleaners may do a great job of cutting grease in the kitchen, they often contain ingredients that can damage the paint finish on vehicles.

Spring is also the right time to touch up any protective coatings you like to apply to your vehicle. A coat of wax after a good wash and clay bar will bring the shine back to your paint. It also protects your finish from the hot summer sun, including some protection against tree sap, UV rays and bird droppings.

The next order of business is the interior, an area where you are likely dealing with smudged glass, salt stains, dust and various forms of grime. Make sure your floors are vacuumed and mats are hosed down with a pressure washer to remove the build-up and, if possible, use upholstery cleaners to clean your vehicle’s seats and carpet.

While often overlooked, don’t forget to clean your battery. Over the winter, build-up can accumulate and affect your battery life, so ensure the crud is cleaned away using a wire brush and appropriate cleaner. If you’re not sure how to, ensure this is addressed during a regular maintenance. Likewise, make sure a flush and refilling of the cooling system takes place and check the condition and pressure of all your tires, including the spare.

And finally, the trunk tends to act as a general storage facility housing everything from hockey gear to shovels, along with any other winter items you may not use for the next several months. Clean it out and find another storage space. It will free up some room to store things you’ll need in the summer – and for at least the next several months, you can forget about winter.

As always, take care, stay healthy (and remember to wash your hands!).

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].