Classic Car Valeting Tips; the Ultimate Exterior Wash Guide
As the sun sets over another warm and breezy day here in the UK the classic car community here at Classic Cars HQ has come together to bring you the best car washing and classic car valeting tips which we think are important to maintaining your pride and joy yourself.
Preparation is key to a successful and shiny classic car so here is our 15 point guide to washing the exterior of your classic car, including what you will need and what a professional valeter would use to wash anything from an MG midget to a Vintage Bentley or classic Rolls Royce.
1. Prewash; much as it sounds a pre-wash is where you wash down the classic car first of all and before you put anything in contact with the paintwork. Spray the wheels (particularly wire wheels) with a non-acid cleaner at this time to allow it some time to cut into the dirt and brake dust. Squirt some no detergent soap initially on the car body (and windows or convertibles roof) to loosen the dirt and then rinse off at some pressure with a hosepipe (preferably with a particle filter on the hose pipe itself) once you have rinsed off the body work, spray the wheels and wash them down well with the hosepipe (spray behind the wheels too to get and brake dust which lurks back here.)
2. Now check under the wheel arches for dirt and build up (see image) – rusty wheel arches and even rusty lower sills are often caused by a build-up of dirt in the lip behind the wheel arches which never truly dries out, particularly on the rear arches of older and classic cars or vehicles. Use your fingers to check for any dirt stuck under the arch lips and either push it out by hand or use a brush to remove all the dirt from this area, then simply use the hosepipe to wash out the remaining dust. This can cause some dirt to get on the drive, so be sure to wash the area down so that you don’t trail any wet mud into the car.
3. And now to washing the body, bumpers, windows and paintwork using the two bucket method; by using a bucket of hot, soapy water and a bucket of clean water to wash your sponge or wools mitt after you contact the paintwork you should be able to ensure that you don’t scratch the paint work of your car. It’s worth noting that most scratches are caused during the drying phase (see later.)
4. Starting at the top/ roof of the car wash in straight lines (not circles) the roof, door pillars and a-frames and then front and rear windows, remembering to dunk your wools mitt or sponge into the clean water bucket each time you contact paintwork and before you contact again. Do the back and front windscreens then move onto the side windows. Now do the rear of the rear of the car, boot-lid, tailgate, lights, but not the bumper just yet. Work downwards and use a brush to clean the gaps around the lights and clean your badges and manufacturer emblems with the brush too to get into the cracks.
5. Move around the car from the rear now towards the driver or passenger side and start to work from the back of the car towards to bonnet. Again remembering to wash the highest part of the car and move downwards towards the ground. Stop at the sill of your car and don’t wash under the sills just yet as the dirt from here will mix into your water and could put small stones and particles on your sponge. Do the wing mirror now on this side.
6. Once you have done one side, move around the other side and do that side in the same fashion. Do the wing mirror now on this side.
7. Now the bonnet and front end. Again start at the windscreen and wash in straight lines towards the bumper. Do the lights too and get your brush out again to do the front grills and badges as well as all around the light clusters and side repeaters or indicators.
8. Wash the front bumper and any lower parts of trim, then head back to the back bumper (checking the side of the car for cleanliness as you pass) and wash the back bumper from top to bottom.
9. Now we have done and washed all the outward facing panels and paintwork as well as windows. So use your warm soapy water to wash under the side sills, as well as under the back bumper and even use your brush on the exhaust and under side if needed.
10. If it’s a Hot Day wash the car down at this time with the hose so that the soap bubbles don’t dry onto the paintwork or windows. Washing under the car too with the hosepipe is a good idea now too. You then need to think about drying it quickly if it’s a hot day. Use a shammy cloth or leather but ensure that it is clean and if you drop it, get a clean one out. You can use a squeegee to remove the initial water from the classic car, again working top down from the roof and back to front.
11. The wheels need washing again now, spray the non-acid cleaner on them and either use a brush or a cloth to wipe and clean down each spoke or wheel. Rinse each wheel with the hosepipe before moving onto the next.
12. You should now fire up the classic car and take it for a quick run out around the block before you put her away in the garage, this will ensure that the water comes out of the cracks and lips and that your brakes don’t stick on or start to rust up over night. Don’t go fast just tootle around the block and pull her back up.
13.Stand back and admire looking out for any remaining water. If you spot any trails simply use your leather to get them.
14. Open the doors and boot and now take another cloth to wipe inside the door jams and boot jams.
15. If admiring isn’t your thing then you could now polish and then even wax the car. These are jobs all in themselves but those with metal or chrome finishes on their classics will probably know all about polishing.
So there you have it a rather definitive guide to washing the exterior of your classic car like a pro. Check back later for the interior valet and polishing and waxing articles coming soon to Classic Cars HQ. Be sure to check out the clean and shiny classic cars for sale too in our free to list classifieds.