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An Essential Guide To Car Care On Beach Days

In San Diego, practically every day is a beach day! Keep your car in tip-top shape while making the most of your fun in the sun.

What happens at the beach, should stay at the beach – we’re talking sandcastles, saltwater, and sunshine. One of the great things about San Diego is being able to go to the beach year-round. With so many beach-friendly activities to enjoy, it’s easy to forget how much of a toll the three best parts of the beach can take on your car. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to do the thinking for you so you can enjoy your beach days to the fullest!

Prepare For Your Best Beach Day

There are a few things you can do before your beach trip to start your car care on the right foot. These easy tips will spare your car and require less clean-up when it’s time to head home. Get ready to take some notes!

Bring mesh bags. Bags can easily trap sand while you’re at the beach, which means you’ll be taking the beach home with you well after the day is done. It’s like an unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Swap out your typical beach bag with a mesh bag. It helps minimize the amount of sand that will end up in your car.

Equip your car with all-weather floor mats. Some sand will inevitably make it into your ride. Rubber floor mats with raised edges help contain the sand you track in so it’s easier to remove. Sand finds its way deep into the fibers of a carpet mat, and the situation gets even hairier with water and dirt in the mix. These rubber mats also help if you track in water. Since they’re made from odorless rubber they won’t absorb water or any unwanted smells.

Don’t neglect your trunk. The trunk is the best place to store your dirty beach gear after a long day in the sun. It’s a good idea to get a rubber liner for your trunk (much like the rubber floor mats mentioned above). If you can’t get your hands on one when you need it, grab a tarp, plastic garbage bags, sheets – anything to help separate your trunk from the gunk.

Bring collapsible chairs. Beach blankets and towels tend to trap sand. You can avoid tracking sand into your car by sitting in chairs. You get less sand on yourself and, when it’s time to head out, they’re much easier to shake the sand out of before putting them into your trunk.

Wear sandals. Have you ever walked in the sand with closed-toe shoes? Sneakers accumulate sand both inside and out! This means the collected sand goes with you for days after you leave the beach, gradually dispersing wherever you walk. Wear a pair of simple sandals to avoid this. The simpler the better, so think less detail and crevices that sand can make its way into.

Cover your seats. Add a protective barrier to your seats. You can use seat covers or a simple blanket. You don’t want ocean water, sticky sand, or crusty sunscreen touching your car seats, no matter what material your seats are made of. An extra layer of protection is needed to protect your car seats from your beachy self.

Use a car cover. Okay, this one isn’t for everyone. But if you find yourself going to the beach regularly or you live near a beach with saltwater in the air, it may be wise to at least consider it. A car cover with fabric on the underside will help prevent possible corrosion to the surface of your vehicle, especially the paint! It will also shield your vehicle from UV rays that can compromise your vehicle’s finish. But be sure to only use it if it’s clean. You don’t want to inadvertently scratch your vehicle with sand that’s caked on the underside of your cover.

Bring a laundry basket. Toss your wet towels and sandy clothes into a laundry basket that fits inside your trunk. You’ll spare the rest of your car while keeping all of your dirty items together to be cleaned once you get home. Don’t have a laundry basket up to the task? Use an extra-large garbage bag instead.

Use a sunshade. Protect the interior of your car from the sun’s UV rays while you’re out enjoying the beach. This will also keep the overall temperature of your car’s cabin lower.

Start with a clean car. Make sure you start your beach day with a clean car. The more dirt and grime that’s caked up on the surface of your vehicle, the more potential damage it can do. The same goes for the wheels. Don’t add a new layer of dirt to an old layer. It’ll be a tougher job to remove in the long run.

Apply wax or ceramic coating to the exterior. Protect your vehicle’s paint from salt, sand, and bird droppings. A quality wax or ceramic coating acts as a protective barrier to keep your vehicle’s finish in good shape, preventing scratches and rusting. If you are a frequent beach-goer, a ceramic coating with at least a year warranty is your best bet. This also helps with sun damage from UV rays.

Go with an interior ceramic coating. If you go to the beach frequently, you may also want to consider a ceramic coating for your interior. With an extra layer of protection, your seats, dashboard, and console hold up better against whatever pieces of the beach you may track in. Ceramic coating is hydrophobic, so surfaces protected with ceramic coating literally repel water and resist stains.

Crucial Post-Beach Day Tips

Rinse yourself off. Get as much sand, saltwater, and sweat off of your body as you can before getting into the car. Then, dry off with a fresh, sand-free towel to minimize the post-beach clean-up.

Air out your vehicle. In a perfect world, you would be completely dry before it’s time to hop in the car and head home after a long day at the beach. However, any beach-goer knows that rarely happens. Since your clothes are still probably a little wet on the drive home, make sure you let the seats air dry. Leave your car windows open for a while so you can air out your vehicle. Make sure your seats are fully dry to prevent mold from forming in damp areas.

Get your car detailed. Truthfully, you’ll need a full car detail after a trip to the beach. Considering all the possible contaminants that make their way into and on top of your car (think: sunscreen, salt, sand, beach trash, sun damage, etc.). A post-beach day detail is not something you want to rush through, so it’s best to leave that kind of job to a professional detailer. If you want to take care of it yourself, make sure you hit these points thoroughly:

  • Wash, dry, and wax the entire exterior

  • Wash your wheels and rims

  • Vacuum and treat the entire interior (seats, floors, trunk, dashboard, crevices, etc.)

  • Wash and dry your windows

Do a little research beforehand so you clean the different materials in your car the correct way. For example, using water on sandy carpet mats will just embed the sand deeper into the fibers. Before vacuuming, shake and brush as much sand out of your vehicle as possible. When it’s time to vacuum, take it slow. Going too quickly will just redisburse sand particles as they jump around or form dust clouds.

There you have it! All it takes is a few preventative measures and diligent post-beach maintenance to get the most out of your beach day. No matter what kind of car you drive, you’re equipped to enjoy some fun in the sun while maintaining the beauty of your car.

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