The Complete Guide to Corvette Detailing: Our Top Auto Detailing Tips
Our Corvette detailing guide shares the exact process and meticulous detail needed to have your ride looking as slick as it can be.
It is expected that Chevy will sell just 3,000 2019 Corvette ZR1s this year. You don’t need to be the owner of one of these impressive Corvettes to want to keep your car looking like new. Corvette detailing is more than just washing your car. It’s a practice in patience and attention to detail. The only way to do it right is to have the right products, tools, and techniques. Wondering what you need for proper detailing? Well, we have a guide for you. Follow these tips and your Corvette will stay looking like new for years to come.
Wash and Wax the Right Way
Detailing your Corvette isn’t like washing any other car. This is a high-performance sports car. You need to take special care in detailing your Corvette to ensure that it stays looking like new for many years to come.
Materials You Need
Start your detailing project by gathering the materials you need. You will need a high-quality car wash soap. Don’t skimp and use dish soap. Using a soap that is not meant for cars can damage the clear coat on your car. Instead, opt for a washing solution that is meant to be used on vehicle paint. You wouldn’t use toilet bowl cleaner to wash your dishes, would you? You will also need a bucket with water, a microfiber towel, polishing compound, and wax. As well as a clay bar, but that is optional.
You’ll want to find a cool and shady place for you to wash your car. Avoid washing in direct sunlight. This will make the water and soap dry on your car, which is terrible for your paint.
This isn’t a complicated process, simply start by rinsing your car and getting the car wet. Then use your favorite sponge or brush to apply the soap. Work your way over the car in a circular motion. This way you can be sure that you get every spot. It is best to start at the top of your car and work your way down. That way you aren’t having dirty soapy water running over the areas of the car you’ve already cleaned. Remember to keep everything wet and well lubricated. As you move further along in the washing process your sponge will pick up more dirt and grime. This means that if your car gets too dry, you might as well be using sandpaper to wash your car. It is smart to have a separate sponge or brush to wash the wheels with. The wheels tend to be dirtier and you don’t want road grime getting spread over the rest of the car.
Feel for Gunk
Once the car is clean and well-dried feel the paint for any stuck on grime and gunk. This could be stubborn tree sap, bird droppings, or bugs. A clay bar can help you remove any stuck on contaminants.
Now that you have a truly clean car, it is time to polish the paint. Apply the polish with a microfiber cloth or included pad. Work in sections using overlapping circular motions. Let the section dry so it gets hazy. Then wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth.
Remove Water Spots
Water spots are not only an eyesore, but they can actually dull your Corvette’s paint over time. This is especially true for those of you who own a black Corvette. Water spots are the minerals that are in water getting left on the surface of your car’s paint. You’ll need to gently remove these deposits.
You’ll need white vinegar, cotton cloth, clay bar, and car polish. You’ll want to start by applying the vinegar immediately while the water is still wet. This will make the spots easier to remove. Just apply the vinegar, wait a minute, then wipe away.
If the water isn’t cleaned up right away, the spots will etch into the paint. You can remove them with wet sanding and polishing. Just be aware that you need to be very careful when doing this.
Most owners won’t do this process because if you do wet sanding wrong you will leave uneven scratches in the paint or damage the clear coat.
Your final option is to clay bar the paint. You’ll rub the clay bar over your Corvette’s paint with the aid of a lubricant. The bar will remove any impurities on the paint.
This will leave you with a super smooth clean surface. Now you can buff out any water spots that have etched themselves into the paint.
Cloudy, yellowed, or just dull looking headlights aren’t just ugly, they can be a safety hazard. There are plenty of DIY tricks across the internet that people claim will fix your headlights.
However, for seriously oxidized headlights, this is the only solution that will work. Start by washing your car. You want to work with a clean surface. Next, you will use masking tape to tape around the headlights to protect the paint. Once you are sure you have the paint totally protected, you’ll wet sand the headlight lens. Use sandpaper with 180 grit. Be sure to keep your surface wet while you sand. You’ll also want to continually change your sandpaper. You will eventually move to a 320 grit, and then finish with a 600 grit. The next step is to buff the headlights. This part is a time-consuming process of working a polishing compound over the headlight to remove any remaining traces of sanding. To protect your headlights in the future, you should apply a protectant. This is a clear coat that you buy in a rattle can.
Polish Your Exhaust
You don’t want to have a beautifully detailed Corvette, only to have missed your exhaust. This small step will take your clean car to show car level. You’ll need a metal polish, a degreaser, microfiber towel, detail brush, and some water. To start this part of your detailing you’ll use the water and degreaser to clean your exhaust tips. Make the cleaning job easier by letting the degreaser sit on the exhaust for a minute or two. It will soak in and break down the carbon buildup. Then use the detailing brush to clean up what is left. When you’ve thoroughly cleaned the exhaust tips, ensure they are totally dry by wiping them with the microfiber cloth. Do not try to polish them while they are still wet. Use a clean, dry cloth to apply the metal polish. Work the polish over the metal in a circular motion until it starts to haze. Then use a clean cloth to wipe it off. You should be left with gleaming beautiful pipes.
Remove Seat Wrinkles
Detailing your Corvette isn’t just about the outside of your car. You need to do some work on the interior also. One common problem is wrinkles in the leather seats. By using these methods you can keep your seats looking fresh so you don’t need to replace them.
Wet Towel Method
Start with a bucket small enough that you can fit it into your microwave. Fill it with water and submerge a few small towels in it. Now put the bucket in the microwave for 5 minutes. Carefully remove when done. It will be very hot! Now place the towels over the wrinkles in your leather seats. Leave them there until they are cool. When you remove them you should see the leather tighten up and the wrinkles less noticeable.
Cleaner & Conditioner Method
There are plenty of cleaner/conditioner products out there that can protect and extend the life of your leather seats. Always use a cleaner first before you use a conditioner. You don’t want to grind dirt into your seats.
Paint Pen Touch Ups
By now you’ve spent some closeup quality time with your Corvette. You’ve probably found a few scratches here and there. You don’t need to pay for a full repainting to fix these minor imperfections. Instead, you can use some touch-up paint and make them disappear. Start by cleaning the area with a cotton swab and turpentine. You could buy a paint pen to trace where the scratch or chip is located. Experienced owners will tell you to use a toothpick instead. Dip the toothpick into the paint and you can control how fine of a line of paint you apply to your car.
Once the paint is dry use super fine sandpaper to wet sand the area. This will even out the paint and make it flush with the surrounding paint. The final step is to apply a rubbing compound or wax. This will seal and protect your touch up paint.
Perfect Your Corvette Detailing Method
When it comes to Corvette detailing, you’ll want to take your time. Start by cleaning your car the right way. Then start on the details like removing water spots, polishing the exhaust tips, and touching up any scratches. Don’t forget to detail the interior of your Corvette too! Looking for Corvette parts? Check out our parts store for everything you need for Corvette years from 1997 through 2019.