Best Car Care Products

Spring is in full swing, and that means it's time for housecleaning, landscaping, flowers, and fresh starts. And for a lot of us, it also means it's time to get our vehicles looking great! Here's a roundup of some of the best car care products to make your car look its best inside and out.

Wash and Wax

As you probably know, you can't just squirt some dish detergent in a bucket, fill it with hot water, and wash your car (not unless you want to strip all the wax and polish away, at least). Specially formulated car-wash products will include a little bit of wax (like carnauba) to give you a head start on waxing the vehicle. Armor All Ultra Shine is a favorite of ours—it adds a nice shine after the car's been rinsed and dried, and will bead up and repel water like a coat of good-quality wax. We've also always been fans of products from the Meguiar's family, and Meguiar's Ultimate Wash and Wax is a great car-wash solution as well, with carnauba and polymer wax built in and thick suds to lift and remove dirt and grime.

Wheel Cleaner

Are your wheels chrome or aluminum? You'll need to make sure that the wheel cleaner is safe for the type of lug nuts you have on your vehicle. Meguiar's Hot Rims All Wheel & Tire Cleaner Spray does a great job of cutting through the grime. Once your wheels are clean, finish them off with Meguiar's Hot Shine High Glass Tire Spray, which prevents cracking, browning, and premature aging while providing a sleek, wet look.

Interior Products

Time to vacuum up all those petrified french fries and get rid of all the grit and grime in the floorboards and carpeting! And while you're at it, you might as well freshen up the upholstery, door panels, and dashboard. Mother's VLR Vinyl, Leather and Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner is infused with lanolin and neatsfoot oil for leather, and can deliver deep cleaning and shine without a greasy residue. For a leather-only product, try Griot's Garage Leather 3-in-1 Spray to protect your leather. If your carpet and upholstery need a good thorough cleaning, Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner will loosen and lift even ground-in dirt and grime for deep cleaning. Best of all, it's even good around the house for painted surfaces, walls, tile, fixtures, and more. 303 Automotive Protectant provides UV protection to the dashboard and other hard plastic surfaces, preventing cracking.

For window interiors, Sprayway has long been a favorite; it contains no scent or foam or other additives that can leave streaks and smudges. Try a microfiber cloth to avoid streaks and scratches.

Windshield and Windows (exterior)

A coat of Rain-X 2-in-1 Foaming Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellent means that water on your windshield and windows will quickly bead up and disperse, improving visibility and making your wipers much more effective.

Wax and Polish

A good coat of wax will help protect your car's finish against chips, scratches, and dings, as well as the sun's UV rays. We're fans of Meguiar's Fast Finish Spray Wax, especially for its ease of application (it's also good on windshields and windows to repel water). If you're a fan of paste waxes, Meguiar's Cleaner Wax - Paste is a great choice for its combination of natural waxes and deep, glossy, like-new shine. Mother's California Gold Brazilian Carnauba Cleaner Wax is another excellent product that incorporates polish into its formulation for a one-step application that needs no second coat.

Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compound is a great choice for eliminating swirl marks from previous wax jobs. If your car's got a dull, oxidized finish or has picked up some scratches and scuffs over the winter, the mild abrasiveness of rubbing compound is a great start to restoring that finish. It can also be useful to remove the haze and oxidation that builds up on acrylic headlight lenses. Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl Remover is one of our favorites, as is Meguiar's Two-Step Headlight Restoration Kit.

Got some ideas now? Get to it!

Last updated June 6, 2018