Inside and Out: Top Detailing Tips to Get Your Truck Looking Terrific

Trucks may not be the style mavens that cars are, but there’s no reason for them to not be kept in tip-top shape. Here are the best ways to detail them inside and out – and how to clean them once the work is done.

Cleaning The Interior

Grab a trash bag. You’re in for a treat. Get into your truck and start cleaning it out. You may be surprised by just how much garbage has accumulated. Remove everything to start – even stuff you think you need in there like your insurance cards and registration.

Separate the stuff you need (insurance, registration cards, owner’s manual, etc.) from the junk. Throw the junk away.

Now, put the stuff you need into a carrying case or pouch and put it back inside the glove compartment. Put a pen in there too, just in case you get into an accident or need to write something down.

If you’re accident prone, or you eat in the vehicle, throw a hefty wad of napkins and kleenex in there, or get travel-sized versions of each to keep in the truck.

Vacuum out the carpet and wipe everything down with a dust cloth or a damp microfiber cloth. Now, clean up the dash by wiping on some UV protectant and maybe put an air freshener in there.

Cleaning truck Interior

Center Out, Top Down

The methodology for cleaning and vacuuming can be summed up as “center out, top down.” Meaning, start with the headliner by vacuuming it out, removing all the papers from under the sun visor, and then work your way down.

Wipe down the windows and clean them with window cleaner.

If you have tinted windows, forget the window cleaner, it will turn your tint purple. Use a microfiber cloth instead.

Once you get to the outside, the fun begins. Unless you’re really experienced with detailing a vehicle, you’ll want to hand it over to someone else for the polishing and waxing.
Otherwise, wash your vehicle with dish detergent or a special car soap. The car soap won’t remove the wax that’s on there. The dish soap will.

So, if you do wash with dish soap, make sure you wax the vehicle.

The process is generally:

  • Wash
  • Dry
  • Polish
  • Wax

If you really want to bring out the shine of your vehicle, do a 3-stage polish before you wax. This will remove the swirl marks and give it that “wet” look that you see in magazines.

Wax the truck in the shade so that the wax doesn’t bake onto the vehicle’s finish.

If your truck has chrome, polish it with special chrome polish.

Preventing Mishaps

Keeping your truck clean isn’t as hard as it sounds. Get some truck seat covers to prevent spills from staining the seats.

Get floor mats to protect the floor. If at all possible, do not eat or drink in the truck.

Pay Attention To The Details

A word on detailing. For most people, it pays to have your truck professionally detailed twice a year. Once a year if you can’t afford the 2-per-year treatment. This will protect the exterior from sun damage and the elements.

Keep a trash bag in the truck and promptly clean up everything as soon as possible. This will prevent extra work later.

Lara Bird grew up helping out at the family auto repair center. Over the years she has picked up a ton of information, and is now sharing that with an online audience.