Today we’re focusing on the details of the details. The forgotten spots. The moist “armpits” of your car that require some TLC to avoid issues down the road. New England just got it’s first proper snow of the year with 8 inches accumulating over night. As you can imagine, my commute to the AMMO Studio was drenched in snow, mud, sand, and worst of all sodium chloride, aka road salt. So now more than ever is a good time to clean and protect the “armpits” of your car. The less sexy areas that when neglected are a hotspot for corrosion and damage. So instead of the paint, today is doorjamb and suspension day on this episode of Drive + Protect.
So the focus of the detail is to clean the “hidden” areas like the engine compartment, doorjambs, wheels, suspension, and exhaust because they’re prone to moisture. Rust is accelerated by the salt on winter roads as the salt increases the oxidation that leads to corrosion. So how can we best protect our vehicle during these salty conditions? I’m going to walk through the steps on my Macan GTS which I restored a few years back for daily driver duty.
First fill your foam cannon with Brute Wheel Soap (or Foam) and add Boost Anti-Salt additive to dissolve the layer of brine. Likewise, fill your wheel bucket with both as well, and add water about half way. Next if you have access to hot water, use it to increase the strength of the cleaners to help dissolve the salts. Additionally, I’m using the AMMO US Steamer during this process for concentrated cleaning power on the brakes and suspension components.
While the steamer heated up, I laid a thick layer of Brute and Boost-Anti Salt to soak the Macan thoroughly. In this case, I removed the wheels altogether which allowed easier access to the suspension components. If you don’t have a lift, feel free to use a quick jack system or work 1 wheel at a time. Once inside the wheel wheel, I noticed how much sand and salt had accumulated even after just 5 miles of driving. Imagine what this would look life after an entire winter season?!
With the wheels off to the side, I used the wheel brush and woolie to agitate the salt and remove it with the Brute + Boost mixture. With the heavy grime removed, you can cleanse the calipers with Plum Wheel Cleaner for heavy break dust or Titan 12 for removing grease. Repeat this process on the other 3 wheels and enjoy the therapeutic nature of cleaning your car. Trust me it works…
Now with the major dirt and junk removed, if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, use the AMMO US Steam machine with the single hole nozzle to get the very last bits of grime. The advantage of steam is that you can get into super tight areas and not completely soak the suspension (and yourself) with the pressure washer. Steam isn’t totally necessary, but if you saw the 996 episode on Mike Musto’s Porsche, this framing technique will give you the last 1-2 % for an overall better detail. You can also use steam in the door, trunk, and hood jambs as well to avoid getting water into delicate areas.
On the wheels, I first sprayed Plum Wheel Cleaner and agitated with the Wheel Brush. Next I scrubbed the wheels with Brute + Boost before rinsing off the wheel face. On the inner barrel, I used a clay bar to remove embedded contamination using the soap mixture as a lubricant. I repeated this step on all 4 wheels before moving back to the paint. The Brute + Boost from earlier had soaked well into the paint at this point, so I quickly washed it again with Foam + Boost to complete the full process. I dried the paint with Microfiber Towels and Hydrate for added lubrication.
Before the protection step, I thoroughly dried the brake calipers, suspension components, door jambs, exhaust and wheels with compressed air. A completely dry surface will improve the adherence of the protection layer so use whatever’s handy whether it’s an air compressor or leaf blower. I protected the wheels, calipers, exhaust, and suspension components with Gelee Pro which provides insane looks and protection (Gelee Pro can be left on metal surfaces without buffing off if applied carefully without any excess drips/runs). With the metal components coated, I worked on the doorjambs with Reflex Pro as this is the correct coating protection for paint.
With the “armpits” of the Macan cleaned and thoroughly protected, I reinstalled the wheels and torqued them to spec. I added some Mud tire dressing for the extra pop and admired the contrast against the coated wheels. Just to be clear, during winter conditions it’s best to wash the car weekly and at a minimum rinse your wheels, jambs, suspension, and undercarriage with a pressure washer to knock out the heavy salt accumulation. While these areas may not be as visually impactful as the paint, your car will thank you for the deep clean! Thanks for supporting AMMO and stay tuned for many more helpful detailing blogs.