Taking care of the paint on your beloved street machine should fall in line right behind taking care of the skin on your beloved body in terms of importance. While washing both is a good start to proper exterior care, for the best results you need to work harder to ensure both your paint finish and your skin remain as clean and healthy as possible.
When it comes to the dermatological side of things, there are all sorts of products to help exfoliate your skin and remove pore-clogging oil and dirt, including different chemicals and brushes. However, to remove the harmful particles from your vehicle’s finish, you need look no further than detailing clay.
Commonly referred to as a clay bar, this important car care tool is capable of quickly and easily removing contamination from painted surfaces, exposing a smooth finish well prepared for polishing and waxing. Using a product like Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit, which includes two clay bars, a moisture-seal case, Quik Detailer for use as a clay lubricant, and a Supreme Shine Microfiber towel, will help remove the roughness commonly felt on painted surfaces, even after a thorough wash.
If after washing and drying your street machine you feel a gritty residue on the paint, your street machine could stand to be clayed. To ensure the detailing clay works properly, you need to keep the surface properly lubricated; Meguiar’s includes their Quik Detailer for that purpose. Once lubricated, you can start moving the clay across the surface in a back and forth motion, trying to avoid circular or swirling patterns. As you progress, you will likely notice a gritty resistance and sound, which is normal and means the clay is cleaning the surface. As the clay picks up contaminants from the paint, the clay will begin to take on a different color and will be noticeably dirty. When this occurs, you can renew the clay by folding it in half and kneading it until it’s clean. Once the rubbing resistance is gone, the surface will be clean, signaling it’s time to move on to the next area.
With a little practice, you should be able to clay an entire vehicle in less than 30 minutes, removing the harmful and often hard-to-see particles and leaving a clean surface ready to be polished and waxed. This easy-to-do yet often overlooked process will help ensure the exterior of your street machine remains as clean and smooth as the faces of the skin care spokeswomen.
No More Dishpan Hands
DON’T use dish soap to wash your street machine. Dish soap, while great at removing grease and food from plastic and glass dishware, will dull and dry out your vehicle’s paint, and will have the same affect on your car’s plastic and rubber components as well.
DO use soap specifically designed for washing cars. Most car wash soaps, even entry-level products, are formulated to provide superior paint surface cleaning properties without the use of detergents and are designed to help prevent scratches during the wash process.
Clear The Cloudiness From your stainless components
Keeping your stainless steel headers and exhaust system components looking new is not an easy task. As manufacturers of high quality stainless steel exhaust systems, the folks at Borla Exhaust know that better than most and have created a product to make old exhaust look new again. Borla Exhaust’s Exhaust Cleaner and Polish is capable of restoring the original finish of stainless steel exhaust systems by cutting through layers of dulling oxides and adding tarnish protection. When applied with fine grit brass wool, the cleaner will remove the common discoloration associated with exhaust components and within minutes will bring back the head-turning shine you’re after. Don’t let your headers or exhaust system suffer visually with dull exhaust tips; get some Borla Exhaust Cleaner and Polish and bring them back to life. Available by calling (877) GO BORLA or online at borla.com.
If Billy Mays was a car guy, he would be slinging this product late into the evening. But, unlike Mighty Putty, this product actually works. After using fishing line to remove the moldings on your late-model, there is sure to be some residue leftover. The Scotch-Brite Four-Inch Molding and Stripe Removal Disc is great for removing this from your vehicle’s finish. It has the consistency of a soft eraser, like the ones we used in grade school, making it safe enough for use on painted surfaces, and it makes residue removal a breeze. No infomercial slight of hand here or claims of three easy payments of $19.99. You can pick one of these up at your local auto parts store.
Details on Brushes
Small paintbrushes are excellent tools for cleaning everything from the small crevices in your center console to the recesses around your gauges. But, while they work wonders at fitting in hard-to-reach places, they can cause damage if you’re not careful. To avoid scratching or gouging your interior panels while cleaning, try wrapping the metal part between the handle and the bristles on the paintbrush (also known as the ferrule) with duct tape or electrical tape. The tape will act as a protective layer, preventing the metal ferrule from coming in contact with your vulnerable plastic interior pieces.
Another great way to avoid causing harm to interior components is to use foam brushes. Available for very little money at your local craft store, foam brushes are great for jobs like cleaning air vents or squeezing between radio or climate control buttons thanks to their flexible nature and ability to conform to fit tight spaces. But, the best thing of all is that there’s no need to worry about scratches or gouges.
Best Window Cleaner For The Dollar
Some things can be learned from the guy on the street corner washing windows for spare change. They’re not life lessons, instead it’s how to get a streak-free shine while saving a buck or two. Quality glass cleaners can be made from a few things found in your cabinets at home. One-cup of rubbing alcohol, one-cup of water, and a tablespoon of vinegar in a spray bottle makes a glass cleaner that will rival most others on the market. Just make sure not to drink it out of desperation when the liquor stores are closed.
Also, panhandlers don’t use newspaper just because it’s convenient and free. They use it because years of experience have shown them that it absorbs moisture well, while the ink’s grit helps by polishing the glass. So, save yourself some cash by putting the political section of your local paper to good use and by mixing your own cleaner at home to get a flawless shine on your street machine’s glass.
Clarity on headlight restoration
While the vintage car owners of the world may not have to worry about this, owners of late-model cars know exactly what it’s like to have hazy headlights full of sand scars and other forms of road rash. In the past, automotive detailers didn’t really have an all-in-one solution for this unavoidable problem. Meguiar’s changed that with the introduction of their Headlight and Clear Plastic Restoration Kit. This one-step kit provides a clean, factory-like finish for cloudy, scratched, oxidized, or yellowed uncoated plastic headlight housing surfaces. The kits’ unique PlastX formula works in concert with a Meguiar’s buffing pad that you attach to your drill to safely deliver amazing results in a matter of minutes.
Because the kit does not require the use of abrasives, enthusiasts of all experience levels should be able to use it with ease. This Headlight Restoration Kit will leave your headlights, brake lights, plastic convertible windows, and more looking as good as new.
For Rich Leather, Treat it Like Royalty
For reasons unbeknownst to us, interior care more often than not plays second fiddle to exterior and paint care. Maybe it’s because when out cruising the town, passers by and other drivers can’t easily see the cleanliness of your interior or the condition of your seats. While we too pay close attention to both our paint’s finish and its shine factor, like most others, we tend to wait longer between interior cleaning episodes than we do car washes – far longer, in fact.
But, in all reality, neglecting the interior of your street machine is only doing an injustice to both the vehicle and all the hard work and effort you’ve put into making it into what it is. One of the most often mistreated parts of an interior is the upholstery, and more specifically, leather. Many enthusiasts see no reason to clean leather seats unless they stain them in some way or spill something on them, simply because they don’t appear to show dirt like painted surfaces do. However, while this couldn’t be further from the truth, there’s more to leather care than just keeping it clean; it needs to be nourished as well if you want it to continue looking and feeling good for years to come.
Proper leather care starts with frequent cleaning. Using a quality leather cleaner and a foam pad or microfiber towel to apply it will ensure your leather is cleaned thoroughly, but not with chemicals or tools that could potentially harm the material or the stitching. Brushes with firm bristles and products not designed specifically for cleaning leather can lead to leather damage and may only exacerbate any wear or preexisting damage, requiring expensive repairs or the often used sheep skin covers.
After cleaning the leather in your street machine, the next step is to treat it with a conditioning product featuring enriching ingredients like aloe or lanolin, which will help ensure your leather remains soft, supple, and full of the necessary natural oils that prevent cracking and other forms of fatigue. By treating your leather with a high quality conditioning product, you’re also protecting it from stains and the sun’s harmful UV rays. Leather conditioner can be applied the same as cleaner, by using a foam applicator pad or microfiber towel.
After cleaning and conditioning the leather in your street machine, it should look and feel like new and have a fresh clean smell. Considering how expensive leather upholstery is and how important of a role it plays in having a head-turning street machine, there’s no excuse to neglect it any longer. Besides, while your street machine’s exterior might draw a crowd of enthusiasts, only a well-detailed interior will keep them around.