Land Rover Defender Blog

Practical Tips to Wash your Land Rover

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

August 23, 2017

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year


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One day, smart cars may well wash themselves, so say RS-Online who have produced an interesting infographic of where the motor industry is heading over the next couple of decades. But, until then, we have to wash our own Land Rovers. Doing so is often overlooked, but can help to prolong the life of your Landy and also reduce the damaging effects of corrosion.

Tip 1: Don't wash on a sunny day

Window cleaners know this, that on a hot day, it takes seconds for the cleaning detergent to dry directly on the glass. So, avoid washing your Land Rover directly in the sun. If possible, try to do it in the shade. It's a lot easier to wash off the cleaning products when they haven't dried out and so an overcast day will give you a lot more time to work with.

Tip 2: Soak before washing

Land Rovers have a number of crevices and traps that hold onto mud. The chassis and bulkhead in particular can be full of dry, hard-packed mud. This contains salts and moisture that will act as a catalyst for corrosion, so we need to get it out. The best way is to power wash the underbody components after each off-road trip. This will prevent the build-up of mud in the first place.

The results of not cleaning a crossmember regularly can cause an MOT failure and necessitate replacement

However, if you haven't done this in the past, or perhaps the previous owner neglected to, you should start by soaking it, just like you would with a stubborn stain on a dish. Take the power washer and run it through the chassis rails, until the outflow turns clear. Make sure to hit all surfaces, paying attention to the bulkhead inners, tub supports, chassis rails and crossmember as these are common points for corrosion. Be careful to keep the direct jet away from electrics like the alternator or plug connectors in the loom for example.

If the body is heavily caked in dirt, then it's a good idea to soak that too, either with your hose or power washer lance. This greatly reduces the amount of cleaning products needed and saves you effort in scrubbing off the muck.

For the wheels and brakes you can purchase wheel cleaning products that remove stubborn areas of dirt.

Tip 3: Use the right product

Not all car cleaners are created equal. My favourite offerings are from Autoglym or Meguiars. Both companies produce a very good combined wash and wax cleaner that cuts through muck and restores the shine of your paintwork. Make sure to use 2 buckets, one with detergent, the other with clean water. Clean your wash sponge or mitt frequently in the clean water, removing grit that could scratch the paint surface. For those with metallic paint finishes, it's worth spending a little more time afterwards and polishing or waxing the paint. This gives your Defender body a beautiful gloss look, but also helps prevent dirt from sticking for a number of washes before requiring re-application.

You could also consider Williams waterless wash and wax for washing your Landy in a more convenient and quick way.

Tip 4: Use a good engine cleaner

Most people use an engine cleaner before selling a Land Rover, to give it an as new look. But using one regularly keeps the engine clear of oil and dirt- thus helping you to diagnose any leaks and stopping any oil patches from forming on your drive. Always read the instructions and stay away from electronics and wiring.

Tip 5: Don't forget the interior

Many utility Land Rovers I've worked on have filthy interiors. I've even seen grass growing in deposits of soil around the seatbox. Giving the interior an occasional clean makes it a more pleasant place to be. It's possible to power wash out the interior of a utility model, but make sure to first remove any rubber matting and if possible, leave the windows down, or better yet, the doors open to aid drying times. It goes without saying to not directly spray the dashboard. Many car care cleaning products are available for the interior vinyls and plastics.

For County and XS models, some of the carpets can be removed for a more thorough vacuuming and leather seats can be cleaned with a specialist leather cleaner, or just a damp cloth. Don't forget to use a glass cleaner on the windows, the results are staggering and gone are those annoying blemishes that catch the sun and can be highly distracting when driving. Finish the job with an air freshener of your choice. To this day, the best smelling air fresheners I've come across are available from Wax Addict.

Tip 6: Keep up to it

Regular cleaning of your Land Rover will prevent corrosion, make it a pleasant vehicle to drive and help hold it's residual value, so keep up to it! Weekly washes for vehicles that are used hard are recommended, but even just removing your litter and personal effects after each trip go a long way to keep your Defender spick and span!

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