Springtime With Your Saab

Remember the first warm day of spring, when you find yourself kneeling in your driveway, attentively cleaning your Saab’s alloys with a small toothbrush, dirt all over your clothes, Abba blaring away on your boombox… (ok, ok, the last part is probably just me 😉 )? Its here! It is time to get your beloved Saab into shape for the upcoming year! Time to wash the dirt, salt and sand off, and lather it lovingly with a nice wax. While we’re on the subject of firsts, don’t forget the other fun part of spring: the first time you get to fully put down your windows, open the moonroof, turn off the seat heaters, and drive down the road blasting some fine tunes with the biggest grin on your face! (yes, that radio of mine only plays Abba while driving too! 😉 ).

There’s absolutely nothing like these feelings of absolute bliss, when you drive a fine Swedish automobile. With everything that has happened over the past six months, those of us who love Saab have been very stressed out. We need to now take the time to let the administrators do their work finalizing the new owner for Saab, while we show our appreciation for the Saabs that we currently own. Two easy ways of doing this are to do a complete spring detail, and also to hit the open road to a fun destination, hopefully with other Saab lovers!

I want to give a brief rundown on a proper spring detail, and why we should all be doing it. I’ll start with the why. Besides the fact we love our cars and want them to look good, a good detail will prevent rust, fading, corrosion and scratching. These things detract from the beauty as well as heavily on the resale value. Taking the time out now to do a few simple things will save you a lot of money in the long run, as these problems down the road can and will lead to requiring body work and repainting. You will also get extra years out of your Saab by taking good care of it inside and out.

And here’s how you do it: I strongly recommend hand washing over conventional quickie car washes, and I recommend using warm water when you can, as it helps lower the risk of leaving scratches. I dislike quickie car washes because they use strong chemicals that can and will harm the paint and chrome/gold finishing if used for any length of time. A good hand wash with very sudsy soap will gently remove dirt and grime, and today’s soaps are very gentle on both the car and environment. A quick tip on washing- make sure you rinse off the mitt or sponge after each panel to prevent dirt from being carried and possibly scratching the paint. Once you’ve washed, use a microfiber towel or chamois to dry the car, they work better than a terry cloth and will not scratch the paint. Next step is to apply a nice polish to the paint. Polish makes the car smooth and shiny, and will also help fill in tiny scratches in the clear coat (the protectant over the regular paint). Finally, you are ready for the final step! You can either use a good carnuba wax, or a paint sealant. The difference is a paint sealant is made to last at least 6 months and can be tougher than a wax. I don’t recommend using spray waxes, they have a very short lifespan.

A big problem with our cars is the tendency for plastic mouldings and doorhandles. We also have visible rubber trim around doors, trunks and windshields. These over time with sun and heat will fade from black to grey. But there is something you can do to help protect them, and turn them back to black when faded. There are products out there for plastics and rubber, one of the most popular one is actually called Back To Black, and its made by Meguiar’s. You can either apply it with a towel and rub it into the plastic, or if you are as meticulous as me, you can apply it with a toothbrush to make sure all the crevices are covered, and then finish off with a towel. I also use this product on the rubber around the doors, trunk and windshield, it keeps things looking nice and new, and also keeps it moisturized so it won’t crack. Actually, its amazing how new the car will look by doing just this little step!

Another piece to a good detail involves keeping the wheels clean. You can either use the leftover car wash soap, or you can buy a special wheel cleaner. It is best to use either a toothbrush or a tire brush to clean both the tire and the wheel. Buildup over time will cause rust and other problems, and will harm the rubber on the tire. Wheels aren’t the cheapest to fix when the finish gets ruined on them, you will have to find replacements instead. To keep the tire looking nice, and to help any curb scuffing, there is a finishing product you can spray on to the tire to make the rubber nice, shiny and like new. Actually, this also helps keep the rubber soft and flexible, which will help prolong the life of the tire’s sidewall.

The interior is easier- it involves vacuuming every square inch, possibly going after any stains with a carpet cleaning product, and using an interior cleaner (please stay away from the Armor All!) to wipe off the dash, doors, center console, mirrors, etc. After that, use a glass cleaner and clean off the insides to all the windows as well as mirrors. Finally, if you have leather seats, you really need to apply a nice conditioner cleanser to them. This will keep the leather moisturized and soft, and help prevent from premature wear and cracking. A well treated leather seat won’t care so much about the hot glaring sun, or the occasional wet if you’re like me and forget to put up a window or close the moon roof during a rain storm.

Now that the car is clean, its time to hit the road and have some fun! Did you ever hear that clean cars drive faster? Actually its no joke, its been proven that wax reduces the drag resistance and thus makes the air flow smoother over the car. I’m not sure if that explanation will get you out of a traffic ticket, but it might help convince your significant other, or friends, that you need to go for a nice long drive in the afternoon… to see how the car’s running… or something. But really, take this time to enjoy your Saab, and get reacquainted with each other. It doesn’t matter what has happened with the parent company, for your car still runs strong, and it was made in Trollhattan. Have a great and safe spring season with your Saab!

41 thoughts on “Springtime With Your Saab”

  1. I have used Back to Black and, yes, it`s very good. But in the UK a product which was recommended by SAAB is Safeguard – wheel cleaners, tyre spray (excellent) and shampoos – I use them always.

  2. You forgot the most important part of washing; hose down the car with a lot of water before you start with the sudsy stuff, you want to get all the sand and loose abrasive off before you start the mechanical scrubbing.
    I agree about the commercial car washes, the chemical are incredibly harsh on everything on your car. The worst are the brush-less car washes, to get the dirt off they are using extremely aggressive chemicals. Also, that little bit of spray-on wax that they are using doesn’t last for more than 2 weeks.
    Polishing is great but you should be careful with overdoing it. Imho the real maximum is only once a year and ONLY when it is really necessary, every time that you polish you take a thin layer off your paint or clear coat. Also be careful with an electric polisher, it’s pretty easy to burn through your paint. Better just do it by hand, make strokes from front to back of the car, it avoids swirls. Start with a mild polishing compound or wax first, only use the coarse stuff when you paint looks beyond awful. Keep in mind that a respray will cost you a couple of thousand bucks!
    I only wax twice a year, once in Spring, once in Fall, using rather old fashioned carnauba wax (Mother’s). There is no such thing as a free lunch, if it goes on easy then it will also come off easy. I wash the car with car Mother’s car shampoo, it seems to be formulated to not attack the wax. Probably any quality (=expensive) wax-shampoo brand will achieve the same. Btw, I also wax the wheels. Be very, very careful with the wheel and tire cleaners, they are extremely aggressive. In the US the label doesn’t state the ingredients, but I definitely smell and feel acids. These acids will attack anything, leave them on for only a minute or so and hose down with a LOT of water.
    Happy clean Spring motoring!

  3. > A big problem with our cars is the tendency for plastic mouldings and doorhandles. We also have visible rubber trim around doors, trunks and windshields. These over time with sun and heat will fade from black to grey. But there is something you can do to help protect them, and turn them back to black when faded. There are products out there for plastics and rubber, one of the most popular one is actually called Back To Black, and its made by Meguiar’s.

    Both products suck – they are basically mineral oil, aka “baby oil” and you need to reapply them every 2-4 weeks, which can be a real hassle. Instead, use a product which is actually dye-based and contains UV protectant. I use “Forever Black” on the trim on my car and it lasts well over a year. It is designed for plastic but I have found it works well on the door handles, wiper arms, and other plastic parts as well.

    For the shark fin, consider using “Plasti-dip” because Forever Black does not work well on the rubberized surface, but Plasti-Dip works really well. Use the spray type though; I used the brush-on type so mine came out a little uneven.

      • I just read the description for black wow – it does not contain dye and is a dressing,.

        Forever Black lasts, well, seemingly forever, I did reapply it after 14 months because I used denatured alcohol to remove road tar from the skirt (and made a stain), and decided to see what a second application of Forever Black would do as far as evening it out. The trim looks brand new four months later. There wasn’t much difference between the second application on that skirt and the rest of the trim that was coated 14 months prior.

        If you want to use just a dressing, then save some money by buying mineral oil (or even “baby oil”) at the pharmacy, or just use peanut butter as someone else suggested.. They hold up just as well as the trim “dressings” that contain no dye. Forever Black actually restores the color and does a darn good job of it.

    • So what if your trim is not black, but grey or red or whatever. The trim on my Viggen is grey. Mother’s back to black makes it look OKish, unfortunately wax on it makes it worse again. My good old Citroen BX is in storage in The Netherlands for 11 months a year. The bumpers are suppose to be red, but after storage look almost white in spots. How to get them nice and red again?

    • +1 on Forever Black. That stuff is great, but you may want to consider removing smaller parts from your car first before using it. The dye sets quickly and is difficult to get off of paint. For this reason, I also use latex gloves when handling the stuff.

      I used it last night on my third tailight. The interior housing for the light had become gray and discolored. I popped it off, gave it two coats (letting it dry between each coat), and reinstalled it. Now instead of being a washed out gray when looking through the rear window, it instead looks like you’re peering into a black hole with a red light in the black.

  4. Its not spring until I can remove the Blizzacks in favor of the 18 inch PZero Neros. It will still be a few weeks for that here in Cananda, but I am looking forward to it.

  5. every time I wash my car…. I polish it and have done so for many years…..using ”woods ‘carnuba wax….best wax ever, try it just punch it into internet. also for alloy wheel cleaner ” VIROSOL” an orange based degreaser….. absolutely brilliant..a car valet er gave me the heads up on this stuff, amazing. Your SAAB deserves it !!

  6. Abba in your Saab? Absolutely ! together with all the other great swedish music, like Ace of Base, Ainbusk, Anna Bergendahl, Anna Ternheim, Anne Sofie von Otter, Frida, BAO, CajsaStina Åkerström, Calaisa, Carola, Charlotte Perrelli, Elin Ruth Sigvardsson, Eva Dahlgren, Jette Torp (Denmark), Jill Johnson, Josefin Nilsson, Kari Bremnes (Norway), Lena Philipsson, Lene Marlin (Norway), Lisa Miskovsky, Marie Fredriksson, Nanne, Peter Jöback, Roxette, Sanna Nielsen, Sara Varga, Secret Garden (Norway), Sofia Karlsson, Timoteij and West of Eden!
    Country Music is also great to play while driving, although it also sounds great in my Saab, it sounds even better in our big ol’ Ford Explorer… 🙂

  7. Sadly I sold my Saab back in October as we changed continents and they are very expensive to insure here in the UK (next year I will get a used 9-3SS). For those of you in North America I always found that Turtle Wax Ice car polish did a great job on black plastic bits of the car. Oddly enough peanut butter (smooth works best 🙂 ) did a great job as well when used sparingly.

    I TOTALLY miss my Saab and am driving around in a crappy Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 until my insurance premiums get to an acceptable level. The irony is that my 9-3SS 2.0T got way better gas mileage on the highway that my [email protected] Corsa does. I miss pampering my Saab too, I have had my Corsa for nearly four months and to me its just a mode of transport whereas my Saab was a part of me.

    adspringer80, ABBA were/are FANTASTIC. 🙂

    Saab Up!

    • I found “Quote me Happy” (an online version of Aviva) the cheapest. My 1.9TTid SE SC costs £290 Fully Comp – but that`s with full NCB. Check it out, you might still be able to go SAAB!

      • My biggest issue with car insurance…..I live in Manchester. My 15 year old Corsa costs me £512 a year fully comp with 6yrs NCD.

        • Try living in London then..!!

          Just tried to get a qoute from qoutemehappy & it won’t even state a price for a MY98 9K…

          Car insurance in the UK has gone mad in the last few years.

          My 9K used to [just 3-4 years ago] cost around £300 with full NCB, but I was lucky to get a price of £598, when my previous year’s insurer wanted over £900.

          The price I got was on moneysupermarket.co.uk

          Insurance co name; LV and cover provided by Bationwide.
          Strangely several prices for LV were much higher.

          My 9K cost £698 this year & just got a 9.5 Aero MY56, that has cost me £990, all a bit much….!!

            • 2007 9-3 2.8 Anniversary Aero Sportwagon, 20000miles/year, business use £270/year with Direct Line. LV wouldn’t insure as the car has optional darkened windows behind the B pillar and wouldn’t listen hat it’s a factory option!

  8. These are all good ideas, but I am surprised no one so far has mentioned how effective a clay bar is. In my neck of the woods – Pennsylvania – we get a LOT of gunk on our cars from the road salting, which no amount of soap is going to remove.

    Wash as described, use a clean clay bar with a bit of lubricant (a couple of drops of car wash in a spray bottle of water), rub lightly until you feel all of the grime lifted. move onto the next section. Wash the car again, then apply your favorite wax / polish. Watc out when drying the car too! Use microfiber or very soft cotton towel only. I personally use of of those squeegie-things, then employ a leaf blower to remove most of the moisture, then use a towel for the remainder. I know… a bit anal. But my 2006 SC still loks brand new for it.

    Garrett is correct when he says not to overdo the polish, and following what I descibed above allows you to limit to 2x per year. The rest of the time you simply wash & dry…your Saab will look beautiful!

  9. Great discussion here! I just did a short but sweet article about detailing since this is more of a car enthusiast site. I would be happy to have a more technical article about detailing if people request it. I have a lot more to say as I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years. As you guys have mentioned, there are also compounds, buffers, cleaners and clay bars involved in detailing. Those should be used with discretion as they can and will harm your car’s paint if not used right. But for a regular person, a good polish and wax twice a year works well.

    I think it would be fun to have a discussion about the various chemicals that we use. I named one that is readily available at the stores, but I didn’t want to mention any more. There are ALOT of them out on the market, and it depends what you need, what results you want, and how much you want to spend, as to what chemical you want to use. I’m happy to see that most of the chemicals now are formulated to be easy on your health, automobile and environment, and they do a much better job at cleaning than they used to. That wasn’t the case even ten years ago. On a side note, I learned the hard way about the harsh chemicals, as I have weakened lungs now because of them.

    As for everyone living in the southern hemisphere, right now is also a great time to give your Saabs a nice cleaning in fall, to prepare them for winter. I should have mentioned in my article that this kind of detail is best for spring AND fall.

    I think we ought to get some space somewhere to post all our spring/fall cleaning photos to showcase our work. That would be fun to see! 🙂

    Rock on, everyone!

  10. Lucky me =

    Hand car wash including all door stops & leather off afterwards @ £2.99 a car ( € 3.30 or $4.50).

    Getting lazy in my old age….

  11. My cleaning method is a foam soak for about 10minutes, cold jet wash then a handwash rinsing the mitt at least once/panel but more likely twice or three times rinse with a hose then dry with microfibre towels. I add a coat of wax about once a month. If the car has embeded grime I use a clay bar. When this has been used I polish the areas that I’ve used the bar on then apply an acrylic sealant then wax. My car is Jet Black so looks bad when dirty but stunning when clean!
    I found this website useful – note I have no interest in them other than being a regular customer since I found that they are about 20miles away.

  12. I like Poorboys Trim Restorer, much better than Back to Black. Also use Collinite 845# on wheels to protect from road muck and brake dust, lasts about a year. I use Collinte’s Super Double Coat on the paint followed by P21S 100% Nuba.

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