Before You Read: Yes, we know our subject vehicle isn’t a truck. In order to show you before and after photos we needed a vehicle that was not in near-new condition. Our long-term F-150 and Frontier are cared for weekly and look as good as the day we got them. These products can be used on any car, truck, or SUV.

I'm not going to lie, we get all kinds of cleaning swag sent to our office year 'round. And there are only a few of us who enjoy getting out the bucket, hose, and rags to clean our test vehicles the old-fashioned way. Most opt for the $14.99 plus tip option at the local car wash. As for me, a day spent out in the garage with a clay bar, potter cable, and good music is therapeutic and relaxing.

So when I was asked to try out some of the goods, I said why not. I chose three intriguing products: Turtle Wax Rinse Free Wash & Wax, Rain-X Deep Cleaning Windshield Kit, and Solution Finish's Black Trim Restorer for a recently purchased used 2002 Volkswagen Golf that could use some help. I would have used our long-term Nissan Frontier, but it still looks as new as the day we got it.

As I read the directions for the Rain-X Deep Cleaning Windshield Kit and Solution Finish's Black Trim Restorer, they both required cleaning the surface of the vehicle before getting started.

I turned to Turtle Wax's Rinse Free Wash & Wax to do that. The Rinse Free Wash & Wax is perfect for washing your car just about anywhere and it saves on water too. My carport has no nearby water faucets, so using a hose isn't an option. With the Rinse Free Wash & Wax, all I need is a bucket of water, a wash mitt, and some microfiber towels to dry. I poured 4 ounces of Rinse Free Wash & Wax into 2 gallons of water, dipped my mitt in the bucket, and started washing the car. Turtle Wax recommends starting from top to bottom, one section at a time. Once I washed down the roof, I rinsed the mitt in a bucket and grabbed a towel to dry the roof. From the roof, I continued to the windows, hood, fenders, and so on - one section at a time. Wash and then dry. The Polymers in the Wash & Wax trap dirt and cause it to sink to the bottom of the bucket. A bit time-consuming, but very eco-friendly and perfect for apartment living or washing your car in the garage on cold days. (Sorry, mudders, this product is not recommended for vehicles with caked on mud.)

Next up was the windows. This Volkswagen has been sitting in an uncovered storage yard for the past four years collecting layers of dust, rain spots, and other impurities caused by Mother Nature. Even though the windows are glass, they are rough to the touch, and you can see little specs of debris all over. Just like a proper wax job on paint, a clay bar is used to remove those impurities. Rain-X's Deep Cleaning Windshield kit is a clay kit just for windows. The kit comes with Rain-X Glass Cleaning Lubricant Gel, Glass Cleaning Clay Bar, and Bonus Rain-X Original Glass Treatment. You have to supply a couple of microfiber towels for final cleanup.

Unfortunately, the windshield on our Golf is cracked and getting replaced soon. So I opted to work on the rear window for this test. I poured a few drops of the cleaning gel on the glass. Using the clay bar, I rubbed the gel in a 5x5-inch patch from side to side, up and down, and in circular motions until the gel started to dry. I repeated this method till the whole window was covered in dry gel. With a damp towel, I cleaned off the gel, and checked to see if any areas were missed or needed a little more elbow grease. Last, I sprayed a few pumps of Rain-X original treatment to a clean microfiber towel and firmly wiped the glass as if buffing in a circular motion. I used the dry side of the towel to buff out any haze. Smooth as glass!

The glass felt sleek and the clarity popped in the sun. I was so impressed with the rear window that I did all the side windows too. It took about an hour to complete them, and it's a great workout for your arms.

As noted, this Golf has not been properly taken care of for a long time. Besides the scratches and chips in the paint, the lower black plastic trim on the front and rear bumpers are weathered and gray. The guys at Solution Finish sent us their Black Trim Restorer kit to restore our faded plastics back to black without that "wet look." The kit comes with Solution Finish Black Plastic & Vinyl Restorer, Cleaning Solution, latex gloves, two microfiber applicator pads, a microfiber towel, and an applicator brush.

To get started I slipped into a pair of latex gloves to avoid getting my hands stained by the Solution Finish liquid. I poured a little bit of the cleaning solution on one of the microfiber applicator pads and rubbed it thoroughly all over the faded plastic, then let dry. Using the second microfiber applicator pad, I tipped the Black Plastic & Vinyl Restore bottle over corner of the pad just to get a few drops. You don't need a lot, and a little goes a long way. I proceeded to rub the black liquid into the plastic. Once all the plastic was covered, I used the microfiber towel to wipe off any excess solution.

The results were amazing, and our Golf looked younger and newer in just 15 minutes. Solution Finish says an application of the liquid will last 12-14 months, but may vary from climate to climate. It can be used on trucks (perfect for the Chevy Avalanche and Honda Element owners), boats, RVs, bedliners, motorcycles, and anything plastic.

Though our Golf is a long way from being showroom quality, it now looks less neglected with the help of these three products.

Turtle Wax Rinse Free Wash & Wax
www.turtlewax.com
Price: $8

Rain-X Deep Cleaning Windshield Kit
www.rainx.com
Price: $15 (est)

Solution Finish Black Trim Restorer
www.solutionfinish.com
Price: $50