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Cruisin': Getting ready for another season
In Jan. 30 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

The weather may not look like it now but in just a few weeks everyone is going to be pulling the covers off those antique and classic cars and getting ready for another summer season of Cruise Ins and Car Shows and summer activity.

Getting a car ready to show can take a long time if you do it right. I have had people ask me what’s the best way to get a car ready to show.

I would imagine everyone has their own way of cleaning and detailing their car so all I can do is tell you how would clean my cars if I were going to show them in a show where I really wanted to make an impression. There was a lot more to it than I though. Just being around car people you learn a lot of the tricks.

Here is a basic run down of what to do if you are getting your car ready for a show. Judges do look at how clean even the smallest places are.

I would start with the interior and work my way to the outside of the vehicle. Start by wiping and cleaning the interior surfaces, including the dash and give all the leather and plastic surfaces a good cleaning with Armor All or a similar cleaner of your choice.

Get a small paint brush clean out all those hard to reach places like your dash vents, behind the ash try. Even if you don’t smoke in the car there is a lot of dust and dirt that can build up in those tiny places. Get around the radio and the dash in those tiny little cracks.

Not only vacuum the floor mats but the under side of them also. And then vacuum the carpet itself. I flip the mats over in the car and drive to the event with the mats upside down, then when I get there I turn them right side up. That keeps them really clean for showing and gives them that just vacuumed look.

Wash the inside of all the windows and try drying them with crumbled newspaper. (black print only). This will give you a fog free finish. Once you finished the interior, go over everything, and double check that you didn’t miss anything.

Next step for me is the engine compartment. Degrease the engine and make sure you left none of the cleaner on the motor. Dirty motors can cost points in a show. If you have chrome on the engine make it shine like new.

Make sure the fire wall and strut towers are clean. Clean the battery terminals. If your belts are showing age, cracks etc. replace them with new ones. Nothing will impress a judge like using OEM parts.

Look for any leaks in gaskets, hoses, valve covers, water pumps and the radiator and fix them before you even start the cleaning. A lot of times we forget the underside of the hood also. Wash it down and make it shine.

Check the wiring to make sure everything is in it’s place. There are some shows where you will loose points for that also.

Once you think it’s ready to go, give it that second going over to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Next wash and chamois the outside of you car, don’t leave any water spots. Washing your car with soft water works best for not leaving those nasty looking water spots.

Check your car over for any small chips of paint and touch them up. If you even think your car does not need wax, WAX IT!

Make sure you don’t leave any wax residue behind in any small cracks or places on the car. Be sure to use a lint free cloth to remove any swirl marks from buffing.

After you have finished washing and waxing the outside of the car then wash the outside windows. I usually do that just before I leave for the show and then again when I get there in case I picked up a few bugs along the way.

Make sure all your light lenses are in good shape and not cracked or broken.

Next get those wheels and tires. Put the shine back on them and make them look brand new.

Use a tire cleaner to give them that new tire look also. There are plenty of good cleaners on the market that can be used.

Use a fine steel wool to clean any little bits of surface rust that might have gotten on the wheels.

Once you think everything is perfect start back at the beginning go over everything one more time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Take a small container with your cleaning materials in it, in case you need to do a little touch up when you get there. You’ll be proud of your car and so will the judges. If you are thinking I have an hour before the show, forget it!

One very important thing you need to get your car ready that we haven’t mentioned yet is time… It takes time to do the job right.

On a final note, last week I did the article on the “old days.” I really enjoyed them, so that’s why I shared it with everyone. I wanted to thank everyone who called and stopped me on the street and told me those memories brought out a big smile. Sometimes it’s just fun to look back and remember when.

Till next time, Keep Cruisin.

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