Owning a classic car is often a substantial investment. Just like any other valuable piece of the portfolio, routine maintenance must be performed to protect the vehicle and keep it in car-show condition.
Hand Wash only
All cars should be hand washed but especially classic cars. Machines simply do not do a great job; they miss spots and do not dry the vehicle properly, leading to corrosion. To properly clean a classic automobile, it must be washed and dried by hand. There is no way around it. Fortunately, even the largest vehicles do not take long to clean.
Avoid Abrasives at all Cost
If you are fortunate enough to have the original paint on your classic car, you know how valuable that detail can be. Use only detergents with no abrasives to wash your vehicle. Otherwise, you will be slowly removing one of your vehicle’s most valuable features. Abrasives have no place in car washing; they create scratches and swirls in otherwise glassy finishes. Cleaning is about gently removing oil, dirt, and grease, not scouring the topcoat.
Use Different Cloths for Different Purposes
Grease and grime collect on certain surfaces of your vehicle, mainly the wheels and undercarriage. Using the same cloth to clean these areas as you use for the rest of the body and windows will only spread the oil. Begin from the top with a clean sheepskin or non-abrasive rag and work toward the ground. At the bottom, change rags and continue to clean. You will notice the difference immediately when the car is dry.
Use Water Sparingly and Completely Dry Your Car
Rust is the enemy of classic cars. But it is hard to avoid. Washing a vehicle results in much water being left behind and rust thrives in wet environments, especially when water is left to sit and pool. So, be judicious in your use of moisture and be diligent when drying. Using an abundance of clean cloths, start from the top and dry every surface you can reach, leaving no water behind.
Choose the Right Tool for the Job
Properly cleaning classic cars means every nook and cranny must be explored. A rag cannot do this. Get creative. Toothbrushes with nylon bristles are perfect for cleaning spoke wheels. Q-tips can reach in between door gaps around interior molding. Car show quality means every surface is clean. Make sure you have the right tools for the job.
Don’t Grind Dirt into Your Carpet
Vacuums are a great tool for cleaning carpet, but they don’t always lift dirt out of the fibers. For the best results spray compressed air into your carpet first. This will lift the dirt and make it easier to remove. Also, stay away from hard vacuum attachments while cleaning your vehicle. They are known to cause scuffs and scrapes along the trim bordering your carpet.
Polish Chrome whenever It Needs Attention
Chrome will fail if not polished. Even the oil from a fingerprint is enough to cause a blemish if left long enough. Fortunately, rust can be removed from chrome, but it is better to be proactive. Find a quality chrome polish and use it every time you wash your car. Your bright work will last longer, and your classic car will continue to turn heads everywhere it goes.
Each car presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to cleaning and detailing. With a little practice, you will come to know where your car needs the most attention and which surfaces are relatively maintenance free. Over time, the whole process will become quick and easy. And, driving your classic car will be as enjoyable as it was meant to be.