Precautions to Take When Detailing a Classic Car

You’re a classic car enthusiast. You take these mobile miracles of engineering extremely seriously. When you chose to become the proud owner of a classic car, it’s not a decision you made lightly.

Buying a classic car is like buying a thoroughbred racehorse. You don’t buy one unless you know you can give it the home it deserves.

While you like to ensure that everything is harmonious under the hood and that you get the performance you’d expect from car’s pedigree, let’s be honest. You also chose a classic car because you wanted to turn heads!

But when it comes to keeping your classic car in pristine shape, you can’t just take it to any old car wash. Your car’s delicate exterior and custom paintwork require a little extra TLC.

You need a classic car detailing. And that’s not the same as a simple wash ‘n’ wax. A careful and considered approach is needed. Not to mention the right cleaning products.

Here are some important precautions to take when detailing a classic car.


The importance of timing

You want to ensure that your car’s paintwork is protected from the dirt, grime, and even chemicals that it can pick up on the road. And your paintwork may not be quite as hardy as something that rolls off the factory floor today. Unless you keep it under a tarp when not in use, you’ll probably need to get used to washing weekly.

When grease, dirt and grime are allowed to settle on your vehicle’s paint job it can become damaging and cause your investment to depreciate in value.


Invest in the right cleaning equipment

Cutting costs on the cleaning equipment and products that you use could also damage your classic car’s paintwork.

Make sure you use a gentle eco-friendly soap. Cheap soaps will make your paintwork fade and lose its luster so quickly that you may as well be washing your car with dish soap (don’t ever do that).

Even the kind of cloth you use can risk causing damage to the paint job! Use a sheepskin or cotton chenille washing mitt to clean your classic car. These are soft and gentle yet more than up to the task of removing road dust and other stains. They’ll leave no marks on the surface. They’re also great for fitting into the nooks, crannies and hard to reach areas where a bulky sponge or heavy brush may struggle.


Go from top to bottom

When it comes to a classic car detail, the key is just that… details. Even something as simple as the order in which you wash your car can make a huge difference.

It’s always a good idea to start at the top. This prevents grime from falling onto any part of your vehicle that’s already clean and therefore re-contaminating it.

Starting at the bottom of the car could expose your delicate paintwork to oils and dirt from the road as well as tiny metal shavings from the brakes. When you start at the top, all of this safely washes away without being wiped from one part of the car to another where it can cause micro-abrasions. 

The wheels and tires should be the last thing you tackle, once you’ve finished all painted surfaces. This is because they are typically the grimiest and greasiest area of the car. They will be coated with a buildup of grease, dirt, dust and brake shavings. 

Leaving even gentle soap to dry on your vehicle can compromise the finish on your paintwork. So once you’ve washed the car in its entirety, use a steady stream of free-flowing water to ensure that you’ve rinsed off every last bit of soap. 


Towel it down

Now your vehicle is covered in pretty little beads of water, it’s glistening in the sun and it’s looking really cool. Your work is done, right?

‘Fraid not! Water contains mineral deposits that will leave marks on your paintwork when the water dried. Which is why you need to towel down your car with a soft microfiber towel or a soft leather chamois.

Don’t use a regular hand or bath towel as these are harsher than you may think and could scratch the paintwork!

When drying down your car move from top to bottom, making sure that you work your towel into any nooks and crannies where water may be hiding. Classic cars are especially prone to rust, and this attention to detail is absolutely essential to ensure that your car’s paint is in great shape from top to bottom.


Protect the paint from the sun!

Even if you clean it regularly, your classic car’s paintwork is at risk of damage from the UV rays of the sun. Which is why many classic car and Hot Rod enthusiasts swear by nano-ceramic coating for their cars.

This is a liquid polymer that’s used in lieu of wax to provide a powerful layer of protection not just for your paintwork but your car’s value. You can buy this yourself. Just search online for “ceramic coating car near me” and you should be able to find a local supplier.

You may be reticent to apply something this important on your own. Should you do it yourself?


Or maybe you should defer to the experts?

As you can see, there’s a lot to be considered when detailing your classic car. In fact, as much as you may want to keep your car looking pristine and worthy of its pedigree, you may find the prospect of detailing it yourself somewhat daunting.

Not to mention the expense incurred in loading your garage with the high end products necessary to keep the paint, chrome detailing and tires protected while you clean. Save yourself the ceramic coating cost, and defer to the experts.

At KBW Hot Rods, we can take care of everything for you. We carry out a wide range of detailing services based on your individual needs. All while giving your classic car the care, attention and respect that it deserves.

Want to know more about our classic car detailing service?

Contact us today at 586-468-6008.


37623 S Groesbeck Hwy
Clinton Township, MI 48036

PHONE:  586-468-6008
FAX:        586-879-0576

Mon – Fri    9am-6pm
Saturday  10am-2pm
Sunday          closed

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