4 Ways To Improve Your Car At Home During the COVID-19 Social Distancing Mandates
The COVID-19 pandemic has us at home more than we have ever been. Many of us are working overtime at home. Doctors, writers, and many other workers are doing more work from home than ever before. Some workers are simply not working in their normal jobs and have more than enough free time. Maybe too much time. Those looking for a way to channel that unexpected resource into something productive may wish to make some improvements to their vehicle or vehicles. Here's a list we created that any vehicle homeowner in good health can accomplish with no experience.
Before you begin, take stock of what tools and resources you have at home. If you're like me, you have a stock of supplies that your friends and family have gifted you over the years. Cleaners, polishes, waxes, and much more. If you find yourself with none of these, there are still a few things you can do. We will also suggest a few items that you can order online. We may have plenty of time to wait for them to arrive.
Rotate Your Tires
If your vehicle has a compact spare or the rare full-size spare, you have the tools you will likely need to rotate your tires. Now, if you are any kind of shadetree mechanic you will also have a better lug-nut wrench in your collection. If not, you may want to ask a neighbor if one is available they can leave at the end of the driveway for you to use. That little L-shaped sad excuse for a wrench is going to just frustrate you.
Every owner's manual has instructions on how to change or rotate a tire. The most important thing is safety. Never find any part of your body under the jacked-up vehicle for any reason. Use jack stands if you have them or access to them. When removing lugs, we suggest gloves in case you slip the wrench under pressure. Why bloody your knuckles?
Wash and Wax The Exterior
Washing your own car may be a necessity if your local area does not consider car wash business essential. This is one activity almost anyone can do at home. Start with a good water rinse of the whole car. Always keep the car wet during the wash. Use car wash soap. Dish soap is to be avoided. Unless your car is a junker. In which case, don't sweat it. Wash with a rag or super-soft brush from the top down. Don't let the soapy water dry on the car. Rinse occasionally as you go. The most important step is the drying at the end. If you let hose water or tap water dry on your car it may leave water spots.
Related Story: 3 Ways to Wash Your Car Without Water
If you have some car wax, follow the instructions. All of them will tell you not to do the job in full sun. Shade is best. Waxing a car is more work than you think. We suggest having a good supply of clean cloths for the wax removal. And at least three of your favorite beverages chilling on ice. Try not to get any wax on the rubber bits of your ride, and if you have one, wear a rubber glove on the applicator hand. Wax can make your hands irritated.
Change Your Cabin Air and Engine Air Filters
If you are able to source the needed filters using Amazon or another supplier that will ship to you, change your cabin air filter. We suggest you search for a Youtube video showing your exact make and model having the filter changed. This is one job that if you mess up the car will still run just fine, so go forward with confidence.
Changing the engine air filter is for those with more confidence. Normally, there are no tools required, but you will have to do some minor disassembly of the air intake. Again, watch a video, One tip: When you expose the old air filter, take a picture of how it is installed in the car. If you have any doubts about the new one being the correct part, you can always put back the old one after giving it a love tap to knock out the bigger contaminants.
Renew Your Cloudy Headlights
There are dozens of home remedies to help restore cloudy headlights online. But the perfect kit costs under $25 so why steal your spouse's toothpaste to try something that may or may not work? We've restored the cloudy headlights on many vehicles. Here is a good example of how it is done. You will need a few items from Amazon, but this is one of the most satisfying DIY vehicle projects possible without special tools.
Combined, we estimate that doing all of this work yourself rather than having mechanics or detailers do the work can save you about $300. That will buy you a lot of toilet paper and cleaner wipes! Are you working on your car during the COVID-19 pandemic? Tell what you are up to in the comments below.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.
Image of the convertible top being rinsed courtesy of Bill Johnson.