There's no better way to get to know a vehicle than washing it yourself. So rather than sending it through the local hand-wash last weekend, I pulled out a bucket and got sudsy for the first time... in a while.

After a run through the Altamont Hills the previous day, our long-term Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition was coated from windshield to air dam with crickets – something that happens in the hills the same time each year. While I expected the massive grille to be covered in the little bastards, what I didn't expect to find (after I toweled everything down, natch) was hundreds of the buggers wedged in between the lower bumper and the underbody tray. A small gap in between the two panels allowed the loud-legged Gryllidaes to go antenna-first into the slot, requiring a strong hose and a flathead screwdriver to get them out. Messy – but the again, genocide normally is.

Make the jump for the rest.

Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Otherwise, there were no major revelations during its bath. Water was trapped in the normal spots under the hood and in the trunk, and the lack of creases in the bodywork made it easy to get every last drop before we headed out for the night. Also, praise be upon VW for the simple, attractive design of the 10-spoke, 18-inch wheels – they're a cinch to clean, even with a healthy coating of brake dust. Egg, however, is another issue...

Less than 24 hours after the TDI's sponge bath, I get a call from one of our neighbors. A group of sackless degenerates had driven down our block egging cars at two in the morning and the Jetta got hit on the left-rear bumper. Our insomniac neighbor was kind enough to hose it down before we got home so the damage was minimal – just a handful of circular cracks where the egg hit. We've called in a few favors and their heads should be mounted on stakes by the end of the weekend.

Mileage Update: From July 3 through July 16th we've averaged 35.4 mpg on one and one-quarter tank.

Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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