Maintenance and gear

Elbow Grease: What car cleaning tips do YOU want to know?

by Richard Tipper
27 August 2021 2 min read
Elbow Grease: What car cleaning tips do YOU want to know?
Photo: Via Unsplash

Richard Tipper has been valeting cars of all shapes and sizes since 1989, and can spend up to a week detailing every inch of a car. He has gone through more cleaning accessories and products than you’ll find on the shelves of an automotive superstore. These are Tipper’s Tips for the Hagerty community.

Over the last six months we’ve explored a wide range of topics related to cleaning and car care, covering everything from the essential tools of the trade to dealing with common issues you’re likely to experience when cleaning a car.

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What’s clear though is that while I can explain the basics of detailing and examine certain techniques in closer detail, the automotive world is so diverse that a general description may not yet have answered all your questions.

Think of it this way. While the same care and attention goes into every car I work on, whether it’s someone’s daily-driven Porsche 996 or a priceless historic race car, there are certainly differences in the materials, components, and even requirements for each vehicle, and that in turn requires different products and slightly different techniques.

With that in mind, I’m opening up the floor this week to your own car-care questions – so what other car cleaning tips do you want to know?

Elbow Grease: Still washing cars with a sponge? You're doing it all wrong
Photo: Richard Tipper

We’ve covered subjects like using wash mitts and snow foam for instance, but perhaps you’d like more advice on how to get the best results? Or maybe you want to know how clay bars and polishing might affect the paintwork of an older vehicle, or more vulnerable areas.

There might be a particular material you’d like advice on cleaning or polishing, or perhaps you’re keen to keep your car looking sharp but don’t want to remove that all-important lived-in patina that helps tell the story of your car’s history. WIth more modern cars, protecting or reviving plastics is an ongoing task, while brightwork or carbon-fibre panels all call for different tips and techniques.

You can leave any question you might have in the comments section below, or via Hagerty’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and we’ll look at each one in turn in my next columns. Some car cleaning tips might even deserve a column of their own, so if you’ve got a topic you’d like to see me cover, this is your chance to ask!

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  • Andy says:

    Wheels. I always have an issue with cleaning my cars mini lite style alloys. I hate it. And I can’t ever find the enthusiasm to remove all four to do it properly. So a quick and easy, but acceptable, way to do it would be just magic !

  • Faye says:

    Where does your passion for cars and detailing come from?

  • Rich says:

    Would love some tips on removing smells from a used car. Tried wet vac, all sorts of chemicals and steam… There’s an underlying odour I can’t seem to shift!

  • Stephen Doran says:

    Paint protection film is becoming more common – how should you look after cars that have partial or full PPF? What are the differences, if any, in regular washing and when doing a more through detail? Can you gently polish them to remove contamination and do you add final stage products such as sealants or waxes over PPF?

  • Max Hawksworth says:

    I have what seems to be loads of brake dust. After a week my wheels are covered again. Is there anything that can be applied so that I can just blow or rinse the dust off rather than doing a full wheel wash?

  • Mike Lusby says:

    What’s the best way of stopping brake disks rusting after washing and cleaning wheels?

  • Nigel Parry says:

    Hi, what would you use for vinyl dashboards, mine seem to be dried out and easy to damage

  • Mike Gill says:

    Could you give some advice on cleaning carpets and the material put on hatchback shelves, please? I vacuum my car but find things like pet hair almost impossible to remove.

  • Rich54 says:

    You mentioned looking after a Porsche 996. What about advice on cleaning and protection Porsche convertible fabric hoods, specifically 986 but they’re probably the same material

  • Ali Nawaz says:

    good tips for car detailing

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