Auto Q&A: Keeping a Clean Car

A gray car.

If you have a car, you'll want to keep it clean. This article will help you with some commonly asked car cleaning questions.

Q: I recently discovered gray mold on the door panels and seats on my closed up 68 Firebird. I keep it in a garage - no heat, no humidity control. How do I remove the mold without damaging the interior? I'm afraid to use bleach, as I don't want to bleach out the black interior. What should I do?

A: It's best to kill it first with a mildewcide. Lysol works great and will not damage anything. Spray until it's damp and let dry. Removing the dead stuff is tougher. If it's vinyl, a foaming product such as Tuff Stuff works wonders with mold and mildew. Put some newspaper on the floor, foam up the seats and with a wet sponge scrub. Just have lots of rags and paper towels handy. This works on polyester but it's harder; use a wetted brush to scrub and dry it really well. Do not use bleach.

Q: What removes carwash wax buildup on windshields? It drives me nuts when it rains and I see spots!

A: Try a good liquid glass cleaner and 0000 or finer steel wool. Wet the windshield with cleaner and scrub the wet glass with the steel wool. It may take several applications to completely clean it. You may then want to apply the popular Rain repellant as a final step. You might also try Invisible Glass by Stoner. It comes in an aerosol can you can get it from department stores. Follow up with a rain repellant such as Rain-X.

Q: I have a battery that exploded in the car. Acid is everywhere. I attempted to rinse it off with a baking soda solution. I see damage to the radiator - paint is peeling off. What can I do to stop corrosion? How can I make sure it's not going to create more damage? I replaced the battery.

A: The only thing is to use lots of baking soda. If you can see it fizz, you still have acid. Sprinkle it all over the engine and try not to get it into things like the alternator. Rinse with lots of water and repeat if necessary. Start the engine to dry it. As far as the paint on the radiator, just repaint. You can use a good black spray paint. It should not corrode but if you think it might have, just rub it down with a scotch-brite pad and water, let it dry, and then paint.

Q: I have a '98 Park Ave. and when the headlights are on, the control buttons on the steering wheel get very warm. What might be the cause and how do I attempt to fix it?

A: This is normal, but if they get really hot, maybe the bulbs have been changed to a higher wattage.

Q: A bike has been sitting in a barn for the last 22 years. I am going to tear it down and clean it up. How do I clean the gas tank out? It looks to be empty but there tons of sludge, etc. Is there a cleaner for this?

A: They used to make a liquid liner for this. You just pour the stuff in the tank and slosh it around until you think it's coated the entire interior surface. It dries into a hard coating. I'll bet your friendly motorcycle dealership has just what you need.

Q: I've only had the vehicle for two months with no other problems. My tires squeal quite noisily when I'm driving very slowly and making a sharp right or left turn. I notice this when I'm driving through the drive-through for coffee. I'm only traveling about 2 or 3 miles an hour and it sounds like I'm driving the Indy. Does this have something to do with the tire pressure?

A: It sounds pretty normal considering the size of the tires and their forces at low speed while turning sharply. Low tire pressure can accentuate this as can the surface of the pavement, so check tire pressure and adjust to manufacturer specs only.

Q: What does an EGR valve mean and do?

A: EGR stands for Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve. The EGR introduces exhaust into the combustion process to lower combustion temperatures, which reduces detonation and pinging and reduces NOX gases.