preparing a car as a present

Holiday Wish List … Gifting a Used Vehicle

It’s that time of year where people across the country are putting together their holiday gift wish lists. If your loved one is hoping to get a new car with a big red bow on it but your budget isn’t quite big enough, consider gifting a used vehicle.

Gifting a used car can be just as meaningful, but the presentation may need a little more TLC. Here are a few tips to make it look like new:

1. Give it a Wash

The first step in preparing the vehicle is to wash it. Using quality soaps with citrus oil and gloss finishes can make a big difference. Make sure to clean the wheels before moving onto the body and save yourself the headache of water spots when you start detailing the exterior. Many car care brands sell kits that include soap along with other items.

Tip: Use high-quality microfiber cloths to avoid any scratches or swirling in the paint. You can find these at most automotive and department stores.

2. Restore the Paint

Tiny dirt and grime particles can get stuck in a car’s clear coat, especially with used or older cars. Try using a clay bar – a plastic, malleable, clay-like material that works great for removing dirt and particles from the surface of your vehicle’s paint job. A clay bar can remove hard water stains, paint overspray and more. Start by rolling the clay bar into a ball in the palm of your hand and pressing it flat. Next, run the clay over the vehicle’s exterior to lift away the dirt.

Tip: Remember to use plenty of lubricant when going over the surface of the car – most will come with lubricant. Doing this will ensure a smoother finish and even prevent future scratches!

3. Wax On, Wax Off

A clay bar will remove any surface wax on the vehicle, so it’s imperative that you reapply a fresh coat of wax to protect your present’s paint from the elements. Use a high-quality wax when detailing the vehicle. A little protection can go a long way in keeping your car looking great for years to come!

Tip: Make sure to wax in a circular motion to apply the coat and reverse the direction to remove. Wax on, wax off and the vehicle’s exterior is sure to shine.

4. Clean the Trim

Many parts of a vehicle’s trim are made of plastic and need to receive a special treatment for cleaning and protection. Using a degreaser will help restore trim surfaces, this includes vinyl and rubber. If the vehicle’s trim is composed of black plastic, automotive stores also carry products that help prevent plastics from becoming dull or faded.

Tip: Use this time to add some sparkle to the wheels and pick up some foaming rim and tire cleaner.

5. Detail the Interior

Getting the interior in top shape is key when gifting a car. Be sure to follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Make sure to check under the seats and in all the nooks and crannies to make sure it is spotless. Using an old toothbrush will help get into all of the spots you can’t reach with a cleaning cloth.
  • Step 2: Use interior wipes or spray to make it shine like new. An unused coffee filter can be a particularly effective tool.
  • Step 3: Vacuum the interior, paying extra attention to crevices as these areas are prone to collecting crumbs, dirt and grime.
  • Step 4: Apply UV protectant to the dash and interior trim to preserve that clean car appearance.
  • Step 5: Wash windows using a streak-free car window cleaner. And, if the vehicle has tinted windows, be sure to use an ammonia-free cleaner.
  • Step 6: Make sure to double-check door jams for excess moisture and dirt underneath the door panels because over time, too much moisture can cause your door sills to rust prematurely.

Tip: Consider adding an emergency car kit, because you never know when you might pop a flat or have mechanical issues.

Whether your new vehicle is brand new or gently used, you can make it look like it just rolled off the showroom floor with a little TLC, and that will make all the difference for that special someone who is receiving your amazing gift!