How to Give Your Car TLC After a Road Trip

How to Protect Your Car On, After, and During a Road Trip

  • Vehicle owners taking a long road trip should know what their car goes through during the ride and how to maintain it post-trip.
  • A long over-the-road trip is one of the most stressful experiences for a vehicle’s interior and exterior.
  • Learn tips on how to properly maintain a vehicle after a road trip.

Lengthy road trips expose your car to lots of elements and challenges—inside and out. You drive through hazardous conditions and put your car through stress it doesn’t experience simply driving around town.

While your car is built to go the distance, you also have a responsibility to care for it and give it what it needs to continue looking nice and performing well. Road trips can rack up some miles, so give your car extra attention afterwards to prevent permanent damage. Let’s explore further.

What Does a Vehicle Go Through on a Road Trip?

Cruising down the open road, wind in your hair and tunes blasting from the stereo: it’s all fun and games until you realize your precious car is being bombarded with multiple hazards, including environmental and man-made ones.

Environmental Factors

Away from the comfort of your garage, your car is spending long hours on the run. It’s traveling through construction zones and sloshing through salt and brine during the winter.

Your windshield and front bumper are also magnets for flying insects. The longer they stay there, the harder it is to remove them.

The Human Element

Long hours spent in a car can lead to trash buildup, drink spills, and crumbs from snacks. You’re also adding wear and tear to the seats and floor mats (and anything else you touch).

Tips for Treating Your Car During Your Trip

Taking care of your vehicle during your trip can make maintenance easier when you return. Use these tips to care for your car in the meantime.

On the Inside

  • Throw away trash at every stop. A little cleanup now reduces the risk of crumbs, spills, and stains later.
  • Eat outside of your car, not in it. If you need to eat on the go, take plenty of napkins and a trash bag to make the mess more manageable.

On the Outside

  • Avoid construction zones if you can. And if you can’t, drive on the more finished parts of the construction area.
  • Wipe down the vehicle at stops, prioritizing any noticeable smudges or marks that could stick.
  • Give your car a midpoint wash. Don’t just wait until the trip is over. Wash the car at your destination before you return, especially if driving through wintery or sandy areas.

How to Treat Your Car on Its Return

Once the trip is over, you’re due for a complete auto detailing, whether it’s DIY or professional. As part of the royal treatment, include the following steps to restore your ride.

Give Your Car a Full Wash When You Return

Wash your car to remove any bugs or debris before they become baked into the paint. Use a high-quality car shampoo that doesn’t leave residue or swirl marks. Focus on the wheels to remove brake dust that accumulates from lengthy trips.

Finish your wash with a gel wax and car polish to restore shine and add a layer of protection to the car’s paint. Waxes and polishes aren’t permanent solutions, but they can help your vehicle look its best while providing defense against the elements for a short period of time.

A good car detailing kit comes with everything you need to make your ride look its best after a long trip.

Clean the Interior

Since you’ve spent so much time inside the car, you’ll need to give your interior a spa day, too. Start by removing any trash. Check under the seats, in between seats, in cup holders, and any other areas where trash might have been stashed while you waited for your next pit stop.

With the trash gone, vacuum all surface areas, including the seats and seatbacks. Use an attachment tool to get into small cracks and crevices where dirt and debris may have settled. Remove your car floor mats to give them a thorough cleaning.

Take a gentle cloth to wipe all car surfaces, including the dashboard, vents, handles, gear shifter, cup holders, and center console. This helps to remove dust and debris that may affect your car’s appearance, not to mention its air quality.

Last but not least, treat your seats with a cleaner or conditioner made for your seat material. This is especially important for leather seats, as exposure to the elements can lead to cracking and fading.

Bonus Tip: Apply Automotive Paint Protection Prior to Departure

Every scratch, chip, or ding tells a story of adventure and journey. They aren’t just signs of wear and tear; they are badges of honor, marks of the miles traveled and memories made along the way.

But if you’d prefer not to sport these badges on your car’s exterior, consider waxing your car before your trip. Automotive paint protection is a great way to preserve your vehicle’s paint if you know you’re going to be making frequent lengthy trips.

Cilajet has you covered with superior ceramic coatings, waxes, and polishes to help you protect your car’s appearance while on the road. Find a Cilajet dealer near you!