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!