10 tips for classic car detailing
Detailing your classic car is a labor of love. Here are 10 tips to take you beyond simply washing and waxing it:
1. Chrome trim - Avoid touching chrome trim with your hands if possible. The oils from your skin can cause smudges and can eventually deteriorate the chrome surface. Wipe off smudges and fingerprints with a soft cotton cloth.
2. Upholstery - Remove grease streaks or oil-based stains from upholstery with baby powder. Sprinkle it directly on the spot, allowing it to rest on the surface for about half an hour. Dust it off with a soft nylon brush then vacuum the area to remove the powdery residue.
3. Interior carpet - Spray compressed air over the carpet to flush out dirt from around the edges and in the corners. Use a sweeping motion above the carpet on the floorboards and in the trunk. Remove the loosened dirt with a wide attachment on a vacuum cleaner hose.
4. Dashboard - Cotton swabs are an effective way to clean dirt and debris from inside and in between the dashboard vents. They also work well around gauge seams and inside slots for heating and air control levers.
5. Wheels - To get all the dirt from crevices and voids, use a toothbrush to detail wheels. Nylon bristles work well on spokes and intricate patterns. Be sure to use the proper type of cleaning solution for the surface material.
6. Engine compartment - Hang a bright light overhead to make more areas of the engine compartment visible while you're detailing it. Don't be afraid to remove parts to thoroughly clean them.
7. Window glass and stickers - Remove old or faded stickers before washing the windows. Slowly peel them off with your fingers, starting with a raised corner under your fingernail. Dampen a cotton rag with rubbing alcohol and saturate the remaining parts of the stickers to soften them.
Quickly wipe up any liquid that runs down the glass before it reaches the bottom of the window. Use a sharp razor blade to remove any stubborn stickers by sliding it underneath, flat against the window. Douse the rag with alcohol again to remove any gummy residue.
8. Detailing rags - Use different rags to clean different elements of your vehicle. For example, don't use the same cloth to detail the tires that you use to clean the windows.
Most importantly, don't mix cleaning solutions on the same cloth without laundering it in between uses. Microfiber towels are helpful for cleaning surfaces without scratching them or leaving lint on the surface.
9. Under the hood and trunk - Don't forget to clean the undersides of the hood and the trunk lid when you're detailing your classic car for a show. Lay a sheet over the engine or across the trunk opening before you begin if these overhead areas haven't been cleaned in a long time.
10. Exterior surface imperfections - If there is a slight bubble in any surface, resist the temptation to press on it or flick it off with your thumbnail. It could be an imperfection in the surface that will quickly become a chip or a larger imperfection if it's removed.