4 Car Cleaning Hacks From Industry Insiders

Expert solutions to the things that drive you crazy.

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"I need to remove an old bumper sticker from my car's rear window." —April Thompson, via Facebook



THE FIX: Aim a hair dryer set on high straight at the sticker for 60 seconds to loosen the adhesive, says Geralynn Kottschade, the vice president of operations at Jerry's Body Shop, in Mankato, Minnesota. Then spray warm, soapy water on the sticker and around its edges. Lift one corner to wedge a single-edge razor blade underneath (the soapy water lessens the risk of scratching the glass), then gently scrape in one direction (from top to bottom or left to right) until the sticker comes off. If there is any residue, or if you're nervous about putting blade to glass, peel off as much of the sticker as you can with your fingers, then have at it with a cotton ball soaked in adhesive remover (such as Goo Gone Stain Remover; $5, walmart.com). Let it sit for several minutes, says Audra Fordin, the founder of the car-care site WomenAutoKnow.com. Wipe the area with window cleaner and a rag. Repeat the process to eliminate lingering glue.

"There's sticky tree sap on my car." —Jennifer Tse, via Facebook

THE FIX: Apply a tree-sap remover, such as Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover ($6, turtlewax.com). Wash and dry the area to loosen the sap. Spray the remover on the spot; let it sit for at least two to three minutes. Use a soft rag to gently rub it away, says Amy Mattinat, the owner of Auto Craftsmen, an auto-repair shop in Montpelier, Vermont. If residue remains, saturate the corner of a rag with WD-40 and carefully wipe. Don't scrub, says Jamie Little, a coauthor of Essential Car Care for Women, as hard pressure can damage paint. After the sap comes off, the area needs to be cleaned. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 2 cups of warm water, dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution, and wipe. Regular waxing will render your car (at least somewhat) sap-repellent.

"My kids' bikes scratched my car." —Carla Hartle Bermudez-Rivera, via Facebook

THE FIX: First run your fingers over the marks. If they're relatively smooth to the touch, they can be buffed away with ordinary car wax (try Meguiar's Cleaner Wax; $7, walmart.com), says Jim Policare, the body-shop director at Vinart Collision Center, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Do the scratches feel sharp when you touch them? That means they've penetrated the clear topcoat. To cover these, Allan Wodtke, an automotive engineering specialist at Minnesota State University, in Mankato, recommends Quixx Paint Scratch Remover ($14, amazon.com), a rubbing compound that dilutes the surrounding paint molecules so that they fill the scratch. Rub it on the abrasions with a microfiber cloth. For nicks more than a quarter-inch wide, go to drcolorchip.com to order a repair kit in your car's paint color (from $40). And consider applying a paint sealant at least once a year to help prevent future scuffs (try Wizards Supreme Seal; $14, amazon.com).

"The car leaked oil and possibly transmission fluid on my brick-paved driveway, leaving a stain." —Bonnie Liss Hanna, via Facebook

THE FIX: Cover the mess completely with a thick layer of powdered laundry detergent (any brand will do), instructs Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's home expert. Dribble warm water on top until the soap turns to paste. Next, with a stiff nylon brush, scrub the solution into the stain for about two minutes, then let it sit for 15 minutes. Scrub for another minute, then rinse with warm water. Repeat if necessary. For best results, attack the stain within a few days of the leak. The longer oil sits, the harder it is to remove.