How To Clean Exhaust Tips

Learning how to clean exhaust tips may look murky, but keeping your tailpipe free of midnight black soot helps keep your vehicle looking spotless and running smoothly. If you don’t compromise on a few key components and are willing to get your hands dirty, your chrome tips for exhaust pipes will retain their off-the-lot shine. As with all car detailing, attention to detail and product selection are key. Don’t put a subpar or incorrect product on your car or SUV and expect an exceptional result.

Set Yourself up for Success

Just as world-class car designers work with the most cutting-edge materials, you can’t expect to have squeaky clean exhaust tips without making sure your materials are of the appropriate quality. Here are the essential materials for returning your chrome muffler tips to a more acceptable condition. Choosing anything else may leave your tips in an even worse condition than they are now.

  • Quality wheel cleaner with fallout remover
  • Ultra-fine wire wool (0000 grade)
  • Autosol metal polish
  • Wheel sealant

Do not compromise when it comes to these materials, particularly the cleaner, brush, and polish. Discount materials can damage your car and/or render your other material choices useless. As any of our vehicle professionals at our service shop in Dallas, Texas, will tell you, both used cars and new cars need consistent service and maintenance to remain on the road.

For example, DIY detailers that don’t know what they’re doing may select a subpar wheel cleaner that doesn’t have a fallout remover embedded within. The fallout remover, a crucial component of any exhaust tip cleaner, breaks down harmful contaminants on the exhaust tips and makes breaking through all that gross gunk possible. Some non-professionals may even try to do the job with WD40, which can burn off with the heat of the exhaust and potentially do more harm than good.

Ultra-fine 0000 grade is the perfect wire wool because it’s rugged enough to remove the sticky particles and buildup glued to the inside of your exhaust tips yet won’t scratch up the metal while doing so. Weaker wire wool will make even the best polish not able to gleam very brightly, while wool which is too strong will leave you with marks you might like even less than the sticky situation you’re already in.

Polish is what gives your chrome exhaust tips the mirror-like shine you’re craving. Selecting the tried-and-true finishing touch of a brand like Autosol is the way to go. You don’t want to do all of the dirty work of scrubbing and scraping only to emerge with something only slightly less unsightly. Getting a good wheel sealant will help your tips keep shining as well.

Other materials you might find helpful are (microfiber, if possible) towels, soap, and water.

Don’t Fret. Follow the Steps

Once you’ve gotten ahold of all of the mandatory materials, you’re ready to begin getting dirty (and getting your tips clean!). This is how to clean exhaust tips:

  1. Set the stage for your maiden voyage into learning how to clean chrome exhaust tips by first cleaning what you can with soap, a bucket of water, and a rugged towel. We recommend gloves, rags, and/or washing mitts for this first part. If you happen to have a tire brush, it’s a helpful tool for this initial stage. You’re going to want to take great care that as your towels and mitts collect dirt and dark gunk from the surface level of the tips, they don’t come into contact with your vehicle’s paint. Wear clothes you won’t mind ruining or relegating to solely mechanical situations. Wash your area after you’re done to avoid staining the garage or driveway.
  2. Once soap and water have done all they can, it’s time for your wheel cleaner to take things to the next level. Apply the wheel cleaner with your tire brush or towels just as you did the soap, brushing the insides of the pipe with vigorous force. The fallout remover should break all of that soot down, and piece by piece, scoop by scoop, you should see a gradual re-emergence of your exhaust tips’ original condition. Even if it’s not exactly shimmering, you’re ready to grab your wire wool and move on.
  3. Start the polishing process by rubbing your automotive-grade 0000 steel wool throughout your freshly cleaned exhaust tip. This is especially good for stainless steel or chrome exhaust tips.
  4. Follow up the power of the fallout remover and abrasive steel wool with a metal polish that will remove any faint scratches accrued by the steel wool, as well as shine up your final product. If you have painted exhaust tips (not chrome), you should just use a degreaser meant for tailpipe use, soap, and water.
  5. The final step is optional but will make sure all your hard work doesn’t quickly go to waste. Use a wheel sealant to keep your tips polished and protected for the maximum amount of time. Consistent polishing and sealing can help keep you from having to redo the entire process.

Cleaning Used Cars

It’s important to know everything about the condition of a used car before you buy it, particularly cars under $15K. You don’t want to spend a ton of time and energy planning and executing a cleanup or rebuild of a car that isn’t worth it. You also need to know about the materials the car is made from, how and where it’s been driven and stored over the years, and how often the owner has serviced said vehicle. Go through each point on our used car buying checklist before you go any further down the path towards a new vehicle.

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