When a car needs TLC, it means that it needs tender love and care. Typically, the vehicle is dirty, noisy or operating inefficiently. A vehicle needing TLC may be taken to a service technician for general maintenance, cleaning and repairs.
After long periods of neglect, cars become cluttered with discarded items and dirt. Engines produce less power and parts wear. Cars that need TLC may have old brake pads and dirty oil. The exhaust may be producing smoky fumes. Over time, seats can fray and carpets become dirty. All of these are signs that the car needs to be shown some TLC.
People spend a lot of time in their cars. Like any other living environment, the condition of the car is important to its occupant's sense of self. The state of a car can also be seen as a superficial indicator of the owner's character. Waxing, polishing and cleaning a car improves the quality of the internal environment and makes it look better to other road users.
More importantly, vehicles that are mechanically healthy don't break down as often, and cars with new brake pads and well-serviced engines are safer to drive and less harmful to the environment. Mechanical wear can be dangerous, and regular servicing increases the car's efficiency, saving fuel and money in the process. Giving a car TLC is an important part of looking after it and its owner.