Mustang Detailing Guide

Written By John Linden
Mustang Detailing Guide

The Mustang is a powerhouse worthy of its popularity in American culture. Despite the power beneath the hood, the first thing that always catches the eye is the appearance of the vehicle. It's natural for many car enthusiasts to first admire the paint job, wheels, and presentation of your Mustang before inquiring about the mechanics underneath the hood. 

This is one of the reasons why detailing your Mustang is essential. Look at it this way -- What you put under the hood is essential for the overall operation of the vehicle. However, detailing is essential for how your Mustang is perceived.

Why carwashes can be the enemy of your Mustang

Taking your Mustang to a carwash may seem like a good idea at first, but more often than not you're getting exactly what you're paying for -- a car wash. Even if you pay for the "detailing" package, an extra coat of wax and a thorough vacuuming of your interior doesmean your Mustang has been truly detailed.

Furthermore, taking your Mustang to a carwash could very well leave your vehicle damaged either due to a machine or an overzealous carwash employee. It doesn't take much to scratch your paint job or snap an antenna!

Carwashes are fine for washing your car, but if you want to detail your vehicle like a professional you'll likely have to do it yourself. Thankfully, we've assembled an in-depth guide on how to detail your Mustang. We guarantee if you follow this guide to the letter your Mustang will look like it just rolled off the showroom floor!

What you need to know before you begin

Before you begin you need to identify why you're detailing your Mustang. Are you doing it for an upcoming car show or are you detailing your Mustang for the sake of looking good while you're driving? Knowing this will influence how much effort you put into detailing your vehicle.

Another factor you need to consider is the condition of your Mustang. Analyze the surface of the vehicle and purchase the appropriate cleaning agents that will make it sparkle like new. Depending on the condition of your Mustang you may need to purchase a number of deep cleaning agents that will both clean your Mustang and remove imperfections such as swirls and light scratches. With that being said, let's delve into the guide.

Wheels and Tires

Wheels and Tires

To begin, coat your wheels and tires with a spray-on cleaner and use a brush with thick thistles to really get into the grime and dust your wheels and tires pick up while you're driving. Make sure you select the correct cleaning agent for this step or else you may end up damaging your Mustang.

For example, if you were to use aggressive cleaning products, such as those designed to clean chrome wheels, on an anodized or highly polished wheel, there's an excellent chance you'll end up doing damage. Therefore, be careful about which cleaner you use.

To apply the cleaner, we recommend using a brush that's specifically designed for cleaning wheels and tires. Some brushes have a unique shape that allows it to easily access the areas between the spokes of the wheel as well as the other nooks and crannies.

Next, use a high-pressure water sprayer or a hose to wash away the chemical solution from the wheels and tires. Now you're ready for the next step!

Washing the body

For this step, you should begin by rinsing down your Mustang with a hose. Doing this should loosen up the muck and grime you've likely picked up during your travels. When you've finished rinsing, you should wipe down the body of your Mustang with car wash solution moving from the top of the vehicle and working your way down. Save the beltline of the body for last because it's often the dirtiest part of your vehicle (besides the wheels and tires).

Pre-drying

Here's a quick tip for pre-drying your Mustang -- allowing your water hose to openly trickle until it builds into a flood will save you a lot of time when it comes to drying your Mustang. It works surprisingly well, so makes sure you give it a try!

Drying

There are a few ways to go about drying your Mustang. A good microfiber towel is the best option by far due to itsabsorbency which allows you to soak up more water at a single time. For the best results, make slow, even passes over the body until dry.

Even with a microfiber towel you're bound to miss a few droplets. To ensure maximum dryness, use a compressor (if you have one available) to dry out hard to reach corners such as grilles, louvers and other hard to reach areas.

Detailing Your Interior

Detailing Your Interior

Naturally, the next step is to detail your interior. When it comes to tackling your interior, you need to be clear about your intentions. Are you focusing more so on protection or do you want to focus on cleaning and conditioning?

With that in mind, be aware of the type of material your interior is composed of. Material such as vinyl, carbon fiber, plastic, and suede have products that are suited for specific tasks (such as protection or conditioning). Therefore, it's very important you read the instructions on any cleaning agents you purchase to minimize the damage you can potentially do to your interior.

Getting started with your interior

For your first step, remove the front and rear floor mats. With your mats removed, use an interior brush with firm bristles to lift the fibers of the mats which in turn loosens any dirt and debris. Now vacuum the mats until they're clean thoroughly.

Next you'll want to clean the front and backseat of your interior. When you're cleaning the backseat, push the front seats forward as far as they can go and use the firm-bristled brush once again to loosen any dust and debris. You can then vacuum until clean. Now push the seats back so you can repeat the process for the front seat.

Unfortunately, we don't have a special technique for vacuuming your interior, but using a vacuum with different types of attachments that allow you to clean those hard to reach places between and underneath your seats is highly recommended.

The next step involves using an all-purpose cleaner (or an interior cleaner of your choice) to clean the appropriate surfaces of your interior. This should remove the oily residue that's often left behind by your fingers and arms, and it also protects your interior from UV rays. We recommend using a microfiber cloth as you're wiping down your interior.

Once again, it's important you use the right type of cleaner for the appropriate surface in your interior. You can easily damage any type of interior surface with the wrong type of cleaner. You can even wipe away the white lettering that comes standard with most wiper controls, so be careful!

For the next step, you should use special brushes to clean sensitive areas in your interior.  Take A/C vents for example, which can be easily damaged if you use the wrong type of brush. Small soft-bristled brushes should be more than sufficient to get the job done properly.

Removing contaminants

Now that you've finished detailing your interior, run your fingers over the body of your Mustang. Even if your vehicle technically looks clean, there might be small contaminants such as above-the-surface defects such as tree sap and gravel as well as below-the-surface defects such as oxidation, swirl marks and scratches that you can detect by feel.

Remember this lesson well. Your eyes may not always reveal everything you need to know when it comes to determining whether or not your Mustang is completely clean. Performing this step is very important because if you wax your vehicle with the aforementioned defects still buried in the paint of your Mustang, you may very well end up damaging the surface of your vehicle.

Therefore, you should remove any defects you may find with the appropriate products. To help you out, we've gathered a few examples of the types of products you need to clean your paint thoroughly: 

Polish - removes fine scratches, light oxidation, and swirl marks

Pre-Wax Cleaner - removes all light contamination and dirt

Glaze - a fine polish that enhances the surface gloss rather than remove contaminants

Clay Bars

If you do identify any contaminants, you should use a clay bar rather than a microfiber towel to apply the appropriate solution. Clay bars are a mixture of clay base and other abrasives that are primarily used to restore smoothness to your vehicle's paint. Clay bars are typically able to remove the vast majority of above-the-surface contaminants without damaging your Mustang's clear coat, so this is an essential step you should not skip.

If you end up dropping your clay bar, you should throw it away and use a fresh bar. Otherwise, you'll simply end up working more dust and grime into the paint job you've been trying so hard to clean!

Keep in mind you only need to apply the above cleaners if you identify any contaminants. If your Mustang is free and clear of all contaminants, you can simply move on to the polishing phase.

Polishing

Polishing

When it comes to polishing your Mustang, it's highly advised you use a dual-action polisher (as opposed to a single-action). Simply put they're more effective. Now, with the appropriate paint cleaner applied to the buffing pad, begin working your way over the body of the vehicle with your polisher using moderate pressure.

Go over each area of your Mustang meticulously until you've worked out all of the swirls and light scratches you can find. After the paint has been cleaned thoroughly, you should apply a coating of wax (or two) which will not only make your Mustang shine like new but will also add an extra layer of protection.

Determining when to remove wax

There's one very good method for determining when wax should be wiped off from your Mustang. This involves using your finger to determine whether or not the wax has dried. If you can run your finger across the wax and it doesn't leave a mark behind then it's ready to be wiped away.

Applying Wheel Polish and Tire Dressing

We've finally reached the final step! As you select your wheel polish we want you to once again be careful about which polish you use specifically.

For example, chrome wheels should be wiped down with chrome polish. Otherwise, you may end up damaging your wheels. Once you've found the appropriate polish you can use a microfiber cloth to apply the solution until the wheel shines like new.

When it comes to tire dressing, the amount you use is completely determined by your personal tastes. The more polish you use, the better the presentation. Tire dressing comes in multiple forms. It comes in a gel-like substance you can rub into the tires, or they come in aerosol type sprays. It all comes down to personal preference whichever you choose.

Let's not forget the windows!

But of course, you shouldn't forget about using the proper cleaning agents to clean your windows! Keep in mind that if you have tinted windows, most household cleaning agents simply won't do the job properly. Look for a glass cleaner that's safe for your tinted windows and use the microfiber cloth to clean the glass.

Finishing the job

You can apply one more layer of detailing agent that you can wipe away with a microfiber cloth. Once you've done that you're all finished! Now you can sit back and admire your work. If you followed this guide diligently the entire detailing project likely  took you a few hours to finish. Now your Mustang should shine like new. Don't be surprised if your Mustang garners stares and you start raking in the compliments! If you will be storing your Mustang. Investing in a Mustang Car Cover will help maintain the beauty of your Mustang for many years to come.

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