Dear Car Fix: I love my car and wash it myself at least once a week, but sometimes I'm busy with my studies. Are those quick wax sprays worth it?
– K.B., East Amherst
Dear K.B.: In a perfect world, we'd have time to wash our cars every weekend and wax them as necessary to maintain the factory finish as long as possible. In reality, few of us spend as much time on car care as we should.
Knowing that time is always of the essence, the car-care industry developed "instant detailers." These products are formulated to give paint that "wet look" without having to wash and wax the car. They typically contain shine-fortifying chemicals and are roughly the automotive equivalent of Pledge or Endust. Instant detailers help get rid of dust, fingerprints and smudges without stripping the wax.
Realize that instant detailers aren't for extremely dirty cars. Ideally, use a car-duster first to remove loose grit.
Applying a detail spray is probably the quickest, easiest visual improvement you could perform on your car. It elevates shine tremendously while making wiping away dirt, dust and smudges an effortless task. Detail sprays are meant to top off your wax or paint sealant, not stand in for them. You apply a detail spray as a way to extend the life of your protectant.
Spray and wipe to detail under the hood, door jambs, trunk decks, bumpers and glass. Detailing sprays literally can be used on the entire exterior for an instant gloss. Keep it in your glove compartment to use anytime you want to restore the just-waxed finish.
For best results:
*The car should be cool, although most instant detailers can be applied in the daylight.
*Sprayon the instant detailer in sections.
*Distribute the detailer evenly using a dry towel; microfiber-style towels work best.
*Buff the detailer dry before it evaporates with a clean portion of the towel.
*If the instant detailer won't buff out easily, the car needs to be waxed.
*Look for a name brand product you recognize. If you buy poor quality products, you'll get what you pay for.
Dear Car Fix: Is there a way to save money on my car insurance? Are there any discounts? I dropped my rental car insurance on the policy and saved about $10 a month. What else can I do? I'm a single mother and every dollar counts.
– D.J., Tonawanda
Dear D.J.: Insurance rates seem to always climb up each year, especially if you have a newer car and teen drivers. There are ways to cut your insurance costs.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national average auto insurance premium is $850 per year. Can you reduce that?
*Shop around regularly. Your insurance agent doesn't have a lot of incentive to reduce your premiums. Some people stick with the same agent just because it's easier, but it may be costing you more than you think. The internet makes it easy compare costs for the same coverage, or you can get an independent insurance agent to shop for you.
*Bundle your coverage. Bundling is combining different types of policies (auto, homeowners, liability, etc.) with the same company. The theory is that the company will discount the premiums if they have all your business. The most common combination is packaging your auto insurance and homeowner's policies together. Or, find companies that will bundle auto insurance with renter's or tenant's insurance. Bundled packages usually result in a 10 to 15 percent savings.
*Ask for discounts. You may qualify for discounts, but you won't know until you ask. They're commonly offered for good driving records, anti-theft devices, vehicle safety features (anti-lock brakes, air bags, etc.), low annual mileage and insuring more than one car, buying your policy online, paying in full up front and being a loyal customer.
*Take a defensive driving class. Most insurance companies recognize the value of a refresher course.
*Increase your deductible. Do your auto and homeowners policies have low deductibles? You may be able to reduce your premiums 15 to 30 percent by raising the deductible on your collision and comprehensive coverage. Make sure you have an emergency fund set aside to cover the cost of repairs before you make the change.