Regular body maintenance will preserve your car's appearance. A great looking car instills pride of ownership and helps resale value. All the maintenance records in the world mean little to a prospective buyer if the car appears ill-kept.
Your car should be washed frequently. Never try to wipe dirt from the car with a dry cloth, as this will only tend to rub the dust and dirt into the surface, scratching the finish. Wash the car with a clean sponge or cloth, using a mild soap and cold water solution. There are many types of car wash cleaning concentrates on the market; these can be found at your local auto parts store.
Wash one section of the car at a time, starting at the top, and rinse frequently with cold water. Never wash your car with hot water, in direct sunlight, or if the sheet metal is hot.
Rinsing the car is a good time to check for water leaks at the doors, trunk and hood. If a leak is found, it can be cured by repair or replacement of the weather-strips, or adjustment of the body part.
If you live in an area where the roads are frequently salted for snow and ice removal, the underside of the car should be flushed frequently with clean water, especially after driving on salt covered roads. Pay particular attention to cleaning out underbody members and drain holes where dirt and other foreign material have collected.
After the car has been completely washed, wipe the surfaces dry with a clean lint-free cloth. This will prevent water spotting, which results if the car is merely allowed to air dry. However, the car must be absolutely clean before it is wiped dry, to prevent scratching the paint.
The paint and bright metal on your car should be polished and/or waxed periodically to remove harmful deposits and provide added protection. There are many specialized products available at your local auto parts store to care for the appearance of painted metal surfaces, plastic, chrome, wheels and tires. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions before using them.
Touch-up paint should be applied to any chipped or scratched areas. Consult your Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealer for the correct color match.
There are drain holes on the underside of each rocker panel, quarter panel and door. These should be cleared periodically.
The interior of your car should be vacuumed thoroughly on a regular basis. Clean the carpeting, seats, trim panels, instrument panel and headliner. There are many specialized products available at your local auto parts store for cleaning and preserving interior components; be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions before using them.
Check all weather-stripping. Replace any pieces that are cracked or broken and no longer usable; use weatherstrip cement to attach any pieces that are usable but loose. Apply silicone lubricant to the weather-stripping to preserve it and to prevent squeaks.
Lubricate all hinges, pivots and latches with multi-purpose spray grease. Apply lock lubricant to all lock cylinders.