Undercarriage Detailing Secrets You Need to Know

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 | Posted by:

Car Care, Griot's Garage, Tech

You take care of the obvious stuff… Paint, interior, glass, wheels and tires. But what about your wheel wells, suspension parts, frame rails, and all the other bits tucked away on the underside of your vehicle? Big or small, high or low… any car will benefit from giving the undercarriage some attention. Here’s how.

I’m always surprised by how much of the undercarriage can actually be seen when simply walking around a car. Sure, trucks and SUVs are almost designed to show off their suspension and frame, but even sedans and sports cars show a little inner fender. With a few tricks you can easily bring these often faded and dirty areas to life!

Undercarriage Spray

Quick Tips for the Weekly Wash

If time is of the essence, Undercarriage Spray is your best friend. Some refer to it as their “clean little secret” but I just call it smart. It’s a dressing that clings to all the various surfaces in your wheel wells and along the underside of your vehicle; even if they are dirty. Just a light mist and all the dirty, discolored and faded areas turn to a nice, rich, even black.

Even though the surface doesn’t need to be clean before applying Undercarriage Spray, it never hurts to do a little clean-up to remove some of the dirt and grime, giving it a better surface to enhance. The easiest trick is to simply blast these areas with water when rinsing the car. This removes all the loose build up of mud and rocks that get caught up in the various crevices of the wheel wells. If you want to take this one step further, mist the area with a little Rubber Cleaner to break down the various dirt and oils, then give it a quick scrub with our Wheel Well Brush and rinse clean.

Wheel Well Brush

Tips and Tricks for Car Care Perfectionists

If you’re on your way to earning a Car Care Perfectionist merit badge, here are a few tricks that’ll get you a few steps closer. I try to do this on each of my cars once a year to prevent long-term build up, plus it gives me a chance to check my car for leaks and wear items that may need to be addressed.

Start by getting your car off the ground and removing all four wheels (always be safe here, use a good set of jack stands or, if you’re lucky enough, a lift) This will give you better access to reaching up into the wheel wells and behind the brake rotors. From here, the actual cleaning process is pretty simple.

As talked about above, the general cleaning can be knocked out with Rubber Cleaner and the Wheel Well Brush, but it’s likely that you’ll run into a little more build up and might want to do more focused cleaning. I’d use Oil & Grease Cleaner to attack any build up that doesn’t come loose, as it is specially-formulated to soften things like road oils and other greases. 3M Specialty Adhesive Remover is another handy product for stubborn residue.

Wheel Cleaning Tools are the real secret to detailing your undercarriage. With all the intricacies in the engineering of suspension and brake components, reaching every inch can be tough, but the vast array of products for cleaning wheels should have your covered. They are sturdy enough to adequately loosen the dirt while still being gently enough for the various surfaces. A few of my favorites are the Lug Nut Cleaning Brush, Foam Swabs, and Lambskin Mitt, but you may find some of your own favorites for your car.

Once everything has been cleaned, rinse thoroughly, dry, and dress with a light misting of Undercarriage Spray. You can allow it to air dry, but you can speed up the process by towel drying or using a blower.

Now you’ve got the knowledge to keep your undercarriage looking great… daily driver or garage queen. Did I miss something? Got a secret of your own? Share it in the comments!

Have fun in your garage!


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10 Responses to “Undercarriage Detailing Secrets You Need to Know”

  1. Dustin Says:

    Great write up Derek! No need to remind me to use Undercarriage Spray, it’s been my favorite product since day one! Excellent info in this post!

    Reply

  2. Steve Hackenberg Says:

    I’ve always been a fan of undercarriage spray for my show car. (10th anniversary Pontiac Firehawk). At my last show, (Pontiac Southern Nationals) 4 of us tied for first place. So, the judges went around for a second look to find a tie breaker. I got dinged on wheel wells because I’ve never paid much attention to them other than the undercarriage spray. The judges ran their fingers under the outside edge of the well and came up with black sooty like residue. So, I came in 4th. For that reason, I am ordering the brush, and a new bottle of spray, and cleaning the underside. I have the rubber cleaner, the oil and grease cleaner etc, yeah, even GUNK. I’ll try those and I’ll bet it only takes a few minutes to have it sparkle. Lesson learned.

    Reply

    • Derek Says:

      A great testament to how good Undercarriage Spray can make dirty wheel wells look (tied for 1st!), but also a good reminder as to why a good scrubbing is important, especially when showing your car.

      I bet you’ll have the cleanest wheel wells at the next show! ;)

      Thanks for sharing, Steve!

      Reply

  3. Glenn Says:

    Reading the comments about the undercarriage spray. I have never used it. On the average, how long will it last/stay looking good/black. I currently use what I use on my tires. You know the spray stuff in the can, some of it foams, some not, and you get it at Walmart. It has worked well for me and seems to last. So I guess my real question is, why should I switch??

    Thanks for any opinions,
    Glenn

    Reply

    • Derek Says:

      Undercarriage Spray lasts a couple weeks, depending on weather conditions (severe rain/wet will reduce the life a bit).

      When it comes to application compared to an aerosol, you’ll likely end up using a lot less product since a wheel well is covered with Undercarriage Spray in just a few pulls of the trigger. Undercarriage Spray is also pretty competitively priced at $13.99 for a 35oz bottle. Most aerosol products come in a 15oz can, so you’ll be needing to pay well under $5 to beat it on price. (Plus, you can refill with ours gallons at an even better price!)

      Without knowing much more about the product you’re using, you’ll pay less, use less, and get better results with Undercarriage Spray.

      Reply

  4. zkeeper Says:

    I also use the UCSpray, but only after good and regular cleaning. Here is something I have not seen mentioned [mixed metaphor there but you get the idea]–I spray it on conservatively…and I then reach in and wipe it down, thereby spreading it even, and thinning it out. It dries up a bit better and looks better IMO. Now I keep my wheel wells clean, and usually use more often, Spray on Wax…it keeps things black obviously, and puts a sacrifice barrier in there…BUT the surface needs to be clean and grit free for it to be effective. Love these prods, makes things nice and easy.

    Reply

    • zkeeper Says:

      Forgot to mention what might be the obvious…if using the SoWax in wheel wells, I do spread it, and buff it off with some clean older towels dedictaed to the purpose. Gives a nice sheen and dirt does not stick as much.

      Reply

  5. Irene Says:

    I never heard of undercarriage spray. This is great. When I bought my car (second-hand) it was full of sand in the undercarriage and it took twice through the car wash and more time with a hose to get it somewhat clean.

    Having the undercarriage clean is not just nice but really vital to the car and transmission and everything else that is in the undercarriage.

    I’ll have to try this spray and see how it improves my car.

    Thanks for posting! I like your helpful articles.

    Reply


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