Using Professional Automotive Detailing Skills to Remove Stubborn Brake Dust
A hose, some soapy water, a few microfiber towels, and plenty of elbow grease can often be what it takes to get most of the muck off the average car. Look down to the wheels, though, and you might be surprised to find the task of cleaning and detailing isn’t so straightforward. There, you’ll see brake dust, a dark and resilient coating of particles left over from the gradual grinding away of brake pads during normal driving.
It’s possible, but not easy, to get this type of dirt off of a car. Want to know how it’s done? Here’s what auto detailing pros like to do.
1. Take the Appropriate Safety Precautions Before Getting Started
No professional automotive detailing work should be undertaken without adequate safety measures being followed. It’s a good practice to ensure a car is on a flat surface, with the emergency brake engaged, before starting in on cleaning off the brake dust. There are additional safety steps, too, that should be completed for this particular detailing job.
First, it’s important to wait for the brake pads to cool down. If a car has recently been driven, its brake pads will likely be hot from friction. It’s probably best in this case to hold off on doing the cleaning until it’s had enough time to sit and cool.
Second, it’s advisable to wear eye protection and some sort of mask to cover your nose and mouth. These can help protect you from stray droplets or fumes from the cleaning products you might use.
2. Rinse, Soap, and Scrub to Start the Brake Dust Cleanup
With all the necessary safety precautions out of the way, it’s time to get down to the business of cleaning the brake dust from a car. Hubcaps should be removed at this stage and water should be sprayed through a jet nozzle to remove as much loose dust as possible.
Next, either a solution of soap and water or a specialty cleaning product can be used to clean the dust off of the car, aided with the use of a hand brush or washing mitt. These can all get the job done, so the particular combination that is used tends to depend on the individual doing the work. You might want to check in with your instructors at your automotive training institute to see if they have any tips about what works best.
Whatever you use, the main concern here is that you want to ensure the scrubber you select is strong enough to clean off the dust, but not so stiff and abrasive that it damages the wheel. Strike the right balance, work gently, and you shouldn’t have to worry about causing any damage. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten the dust, just rinse off the residue.
3. Dry and Wax to Preserve Your Work for Longer
After finishing up wish the washing and scrubbing, it’s a good idea to get in and ensure you dry off all the moisture on and in the wheels. This is mostly an aesthetic thing—drying will prevent streakiness and blotchiness—but it’s important. A big part of succeeding in an auto detailing is in being able to make cars look good.
To that end, you might want to apply a wax to your finished job. It’s a good way to help your cleaning job last, and keep dust from building up and potentially causing a bit of damage to wheels’ exteriors. It’s not strictly necessary though, so whether or not it’s done should depend on the detailing package being purchased by the customer. From there, it’s just smooth sailing until the brakes inevitably wear further and necessitate a new cleaning.
Do you want to learn more about the how to succeed in an auto detailing career?
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