How To Clean And Protect Exhaust Tips

Exhaust tips are one of the many parts of your vehicle that get overlooked during the cleaning process, however getting the details right can really make your car stand out from the crowd.


Exhaust tips, Shiny, Before and after.

— What You Will Need 

•  Soap
•  Wheel cleaning tools
•  #0000 Steel Wool
•  Metal Polish
•  Sealant
•  Gloves
•  Microfiber Cloths

Products, Finish Kare 1000p, Liberon Steel Wool, Gtechniq M1, Gloves, Microfibre cloths

— Cleaning Your Exhaust Tips 

Before any polishing and protecting takes place, it is necessary to clean your exhaust tips. To do this, pre-rinse the exhaust tips with water in order to remove any loose dirt and debris, then use your dedicated wheel cleaning tools and products to clean the remaining dirt and black carbon build up. This can be as easy as using a soapy microfiber cloth, however I’ll be using my wheel cleaning brushes and a designated wheel cleaner. Once cleaned, rinse away any soap or cleaner left on the exhaust.

Image Instructions, Hose down, Clean, Rinse Product

— Steel Wool 

If your exhaust tips are still stained with black carbon, then it’s time to use steel wool. Specifically #0000 steel wool, this grade of wool is aggressive enough to clean, but not agressive enough to scratch your exhaust. Saturate the steel wool with your chosen cleaner and begin gently rubbing the exhaust tips. If stubborn spots remain, try upping the steel wool to a more aggressive grade, #00 should do. As this is more aggressive, you should finish with #0000 steel wool in order to soften up the scratches caused from using the #00 wool.

Teel Wool, Scrubbing exhaust tips

— Polishing 

Now that your exhaust tips are clean, they’re probably looking a bit dull and cloudy after the use of the steel wool. Take your metal polish (I’m using Gtechniq M1) and apply a small amount to your microfiber cloth (be aware that polishing metal will turn your cloth black and will likely stain, so don’t use your best most expensive cloth for this process!). Now rub your cloth back and forth over the exhaust tip, I find that placing the cloth over the top of the exhaust tip and polishing using a flossing motion can be quite effective. You can spend as long or as little time as you like polishing, when the exhaust tips are shiny enough for you, buff off the residue with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

Gtechniq M1, Metal polish, dirty microfiber

— Protection 

The final step is to protect the exhaust tips, this will allow for future cleaning to be much easier as the carbon will not stick to the exhaust as easily. Use a paint sealant rather than a wax as this will likely be more durable, especially on exhaust tips where heat can greatly reduce the durability of a wax. Im using “Finish Kare 1000p Hi-Temp Paste Wax” (actually a sealant) as it’s a great inexpensive sealant (£17.95 for a huge tin), and has great heat resistance. Use a foam applicator or simply use your hands (when wearing gloves) to apply a thin layer of sealant to the exhaust tips. Buff off when its ready to reveal a high shine and protected finish. Make sure you read the instructions for your specific choice of protection to ensure its applied appropriately.

Protection, sealant, Finish Kare 1000p

And that’s it! not too complicated. Going forward I’d recommend giving your exhaust tips a quick clean every time you wash your car, this should prevent your exhaust tips from getting stained with black carbon, use the metal polish when you feel its necessary.

Protected Exhaust Tip, Beading

Thanks for reading!

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