There are some things that don't happen often, but when they do, it is hard to think of ways around them. We are going to talk about some of these problems in this article. Hopefully they won't happen to you, but if they do, here's how you solve them:
Rubber and Vinyl
There is a lot of rubber and vinyl in our cars. Just about every area has one of these types of surfaces. Both rubber and vinyl are extremely susceptible to sun-provoked deterioration and UV damage. Evidence of this is dry, brittle, fading, cracking and peeling surfaces. So keep them conditioned and use dash covers, and sun shields as often as you can.
High quality reflective sun shields not only protect the dash and fabrics from direct sun bleaching and damage, but lower the temperature of a closed car up to 50 degrees. When the temperatures can easily reach 120 to 150 degrees, this can make a huge difference in the longevity of your interior rubber and vinyl areas.
Sometimes no matter what you do, the scratch happens. Maybe it was the dog (or cat), maybe the kids, maybe it was you, but its there now.
Getting a scratch out of vinyl is a bit of a process, but most folks can handle it. First we need a good hair dryer, something that kicks out a good deal of heat, without putting direct heat on the vinyl.
Heat up the surface around the scratch real good, then use a gloved hand to gently press the scratch area, pushing enough to rub the area smooth again.
If the scratch is deep, then use a filler, such as a wax source that is the same color as your vinyl. Crayons, believe it or not, work well. Heat the area up, rub in the wax filler, then (as before) use a gloved hand to rub the area smooth.
Polish the area with a good vinyl cleaner and inspect.
If the dash is cracking or very brittle, you can put on fitted molded dash covers, which basically replace the entire dash with a new one.
How to get rid of musty smell from the air conditioner
If you experience that unpleasant musty smell from the vents when the air conditioner is turned on, you can try one of the odor treatments you can buy in your local auto accessories store. They kill bacteria and remove mildew smells. Simply spray into outside air intake vent (check directions on your can).
Clogged air conditioner drain tube and accumulation of leaves and other debris under the cowl cover also may cause damp mildew smell. Ask the mechanic to check it when you do your next oil change.
You don't see these often, but they do happen. Rubber cargo liners save you from most of the sources, but if you got surprised and have the rust stain now, here is what you do.
To remove those stains, get a fresh lemon or two from the grocery store. Roll the lemon then slice it lengthwise. Squeegee the juice onto the rust spot and sprinkle it with salt. Keep the area damp with the lemon juice for several hours. The next day use a damp cloth and blot to remove.
If you have gone through a winter in the salt belt, you'll find salt embedded in your carpeting. Good floor mats are a life saver here, but none the less, let's get the carpet clean now, and get the mats after.
"Salt" stains are usually caused by calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, not sodium chloride, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute. Rock salt has small amounts of both of these salts imbedded in it. The problem comes with solubility. Patience and lots of rinse cycles are the key and sometimes calcium carbonate forms and this is fairly insoluble. Try to vacuum most of the dry residue off before using cool to warm water and a very small amount of carpet shampoo. Once the cleaning solution has been applied, allow time for it to dissolve the deposit. Blot, do not scrub, the spot. Sodium chloride is more soluble at lower temps than at higher ones. Then rinse with clear lukewarm water, blotting up the excess moisture and follow with another water rinse and blot dry. This should work. If not, try a cleaning mixture of 1/2 white vinegar to 1/2 lukewarm water, allow to stand 15 minutes and rinse with clear water.
The hardest thing to get off a car's finish is tree sap. I suggest that you avoid it altogether by avoiding parking underneath trees, and using a good car cover.
Since you already have it however, here's what you do.
To remove the tree sap from your vehicle's surface, you can use finger nail polish remover on a cotton ball. After the sap is removed, make a paste of water and baking soda to wash the affected area, then apply wax.
Another method to remove the sap is to use mineral sprits (it will also remove tar). Use a soft, terry towel, or wash cloth dampened with mineral sprits. After removal, wash the car and apply wax to the affected area.
Tree sap can also be removed by using a water-soluble paint brush cleaner. A common household solution is bacon grease or lard. Just rub it on, and off comes the sap. To get tree sap off of your hands, simply rub mayonnaise on them and wash it off. To remove tree sap and other substances, you can use common solvents like lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, WD-40 or even Skin-So-Soft bath oil.
The way to use those materials is to let them do their work of dissolving (in the case of alcohol) or softening (in the case of oils), enough to rub off the remaining sap. If you use the oil, wash the car afterwards to remove it.
You can also use commercial wax and grease-removing products available at auto supply stores. Be sure to wash and dry the car before applying the wax and grease remover. Then dampen a clean cloth with the solvent and rub the affected area. It may require several attempts if the sap is very thick or extremely hard. The surface may appear hazy after the solvent evaporates, but a good wax application will eliminate the haze and complete the job.
Removing tree sap from a car's finish is a bit more difficult than tar, as hardened sap can scratch your paint. I've found that by hand-rubbing the sap spots with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol, I'm able to easily remove the sap without damaging the finish. Mineral spirits and denatured alcohol acts as a solvent to break up and dissolve the sap.
If there is a large amount of sap on the car, or if the sap has been left on the finish for an extended period of time, it can be a lot of work to remove. For these cases, you can try hitting the affected areas with a light-duty buffing compound to remove the hardened surface on the sap spots. Then you can use mineral spirits or a similar solvent to remove it. The light duty buffing compound softens the sap so the solvent can do its job. The goal is to use the least pressure possible to reduce the risk of scratching the paint. After removing heavy sap, always buff the treated areas with a good polish to clean up any marks created during hand-rubbing with solvent. The treated area must also be re-waxed.
Parking under large trees can result in unwanted deposits of a sticky substance on the car. Most people assume this is tree sap, but the real culprit is far more likely to be insect honeydew, excreted by aphids or scale insects that infest the leaves and branches.
Composed of sugars and other waste products that pass undigested through the insects' bodies, honeydew becomes harder to remove the longer it's left on the car.
If you remove the honeydew and park under the tree again, you'll just end up with more sticky stuff dripping down on your vehicle. You may be able to dislodge and reduce the numbers of offending aphids in the tree by blasting overhanging branches with a forceful stream of water from a hose. Unfortunately, a hard stream of water does not help much if the source of honeydew is scale insects.
Spraying with insecticides is rarely needed to protect the health of the tree.
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