I’ve Been a Lousy Car Owner, But This Weekend, That Changed

By  May 23, 2016
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Back in my late teens through twenties, I’d wash and wax whatever car I owned every two or three weeks, even if it was a base model econobox. I was so proud that it was mine and that showed in how much effort I put into keeping the car looking top notch. But since I went back to school for my master’s degree, that’s changed. Over the past two years, I’ve been a lousy car owner. Sure, I’ve made great progress with the Miata, including replacing several seals, the crank bolt, and all of the coolant hoses, finally getting the air conditioning fixed, but in the meantime my wife’s Volkswagen Rabbit that I drive every day has gone for months at a time without detailing, without fresh wax, with barely even a wash. Working through grad school left me low on time and energy. I could whine and complain, and blame grad school for my dirty wheels and foggy headlights, but that wasn’t going to solve anything. And grad school is just hard; that’s just how it is. Difficult, but worth it.

But that all changed over the weekend. I finished my final semester of graduate school a couple of weeks ago, and on Saturday I treated “Thunder Bunny” the Mk V Rabbit to a full day of detailing.

Wheels being cleaned

It all started out with the wheels. This Rabbit sits on 17×8 inch OZ Racing Ultraleggera wheels which had plenty of dirt and brake dust. Looking back a few months, during this last semester I’d felt so bad about the condition of the car that I did something I swore I’d never do, drove through an automatic car wash. It actually did a decent job with the exception of the wheels. It left a lot of dirt on the silver spokes and may have stuck it on worse with the spray on wax that I payed a little extra for. On Saturday, I cut through that with some Surf City Garage “Code Red” wheel cleaner. It’s an “active” wheel cleaner that changes color similar to a few other products. It’s locally available, affordable, and works well. Now, although it might be an active cleaner, I never leave all of the work to a chemical, so I went through every square inch of the OZ wheels with the wheel brush after the cleaner had been given a few minutes to do its part.

Shiny like new

From there, the headlights were looking a little cloudy. With plastic, it’s best to proceed like paint. Start with the most gentle chemical and work up in strength from there. These lenses had already been resurfaced three years ago, so they shouldn’t have needed much. After rubbing them down with some old plastic polish and a microfiber towel, the yellow was actually coming off onto the towel.

Bug splattered front end

From there, it was bug time. Moving further toward the outer edge of town recently, commuting has improved but the amount of bugs we hit has gone up a bit. There was nothing on hand to solve this but good old elbow grease.

Finally, it was just down to washing the body of the car… or was it? Nope, after washing, I also applied Rejex to the wheels, all of lenses, and every window (double applications on the front), and waxed the paint.

Freshly cleaned Volkswagen Rabbit

After all of that (and more work from Sunday to discuss later), I’ve now got sore hands, sore shoulders, sore back, sore everything, but a renewed sense of self as a car guy. Good quality German paint is forgiving of a lot, even grad school. I’m myself again, a lousy car owner no more.