Care Guide for Stainless Steel Auto & Truck Accessories
Posted by Craig Hanley on March 09 2020
The 3 Steps You Need to Know to Maintain a Perfect Polished Finish
If you own or are considering purchasing stainless steel automotive accessories, here's an informative guide to help you protect and care for your investment so they can deliver years of looking their best at the car shows or driving down the road.
Here are some important tips about maintaining and caring for highly polished stainless steel automotive accessories. First and foremost, attention must be paid regarding the protection of the surfaces. American Car Craft uses 304 #8 machine-polished stainless steel in variable thicknesses ranging from 24ga to 16ga depending on the product.
It is important to know that #8 polished stainless has a perfect machined finish. This finish cannot be matched by hand polishing. Although stainless steel, like regular steel, can be polished, the difference between a machined finish and a hand finish is noticeable. So, to maintain the original finish of your stainless automotive accessory, you must learn how to prevent it from being damaged.
Under any normal circumstances, your stainless steel car and truck accessories will be subject to driving contaminants, sand particles, dirt, road grime, dust, oil, and water stains. Each of these has a method of cleaning specifically designed not to damage the surface. We will go through each of them, one by one, breaking down the most common cleaning procedures into three basic parts:
PreparationThe most significant issues that will compromise the stainless finish are dirt and/or sand particles. The best and most effective way to deal with these types of contaminants is to remove them from the stainless surface with air. At home, an air compressor will be an invaluable tool to blow away any dirt and sand you may have picked up during your travels. Blow away all dirt before starting the cleaning process, this will prevent any possibility of you picking up a loose particle and dragging it across your auto accessory. This can also be done very effectively using a can of compressed air such as a computer keyboard cleaner.
CleaningNow that you have removed any and all loose particles you can proceed to clean with an increased level of confidence that your car accessories are safe from abrasive particles. The process of cleaning the surface is a very strict yet easy procedure to follow. It is an absolute necessity that you do NOT wipe the surface in a back and forth or circular motion. Wiping the surface in this manner will increase the chance that you pick up a rouge particle or contaminant, which may have been missed during the preparation and dragged it into the surface causing a scratch. Additionally, rubbing in a back and forth motion will also create swirls and streaks in the surface which over time will build up to an unsightly finish on your vehicle accessory. To avoid this possibility, you must train yourself to swipe the surface in one direction at a time with a lifting motion. We recommend that the main cleaning product should be American Car Craft's Waterless Wash and Detail Spray. This is what our fabricators use every day. This cleaner works great for our automotive parts since it was specifically formulated for our purposes and will dissolve any oils and fingerprints with a streak-free finish, plus it has a great scent!
Never spray the cleaner directly on to the stainless steel car part when performing a general cleaning. Instead, spray the cleaner directly on to an automotive microfiber towel. Microfiber is the #1 choice for all cleaning due to its non-abrasive nature but even still avoid wiping the surface in a back and forth motion. The microfiber cloth is an indispensable tool when dusting and cleaning your vehicle or stainless steel accessories.
ProtectionFinally, we highly recommend applying a wax glaze to the surface of the cleaned polished stainless steel automotive accessory because it offers a beautiful sheen and prevents dust from sticking to the surface of your stainless accessory. It is absolutely imperative that the wax is applied to a clean “dirt-free” surface. Only an instant quick wax such as American Car Craft's Meta Glaze Stainless Steel Wax should be used for this. These types of waxes wipe on and wipe off leaving a nice brilliant shiny clean result. The microfiber cloth is great as a general surface duster and dry cleaner when contaminants are not an issue.
REMOVAL OF TOUGH WATER STAINS: The most common stubborn water stains are caused by excess calcium in the water that dries into the stainless steel accessory, which sometimes cannot be simply wiped away. Follow the below steps to deal with it.
- Calcium is a mineral that can be softened and removed by a common chemical called "CLR" (calcium/lime and rust remover) which can be found in your local grocery or hardware store. Apply a small amount to a quality paper towel or microfiber and apply it directly to the stains. Allow the chemical to saturate the stain, do not start wiping it.
- After a few minutes, gently wipe the area with your paper towel in a single direction manner until the stain has been removed.
- The CLR will leave a slimy residue. So, you will need to proceed with the above care and maintenance step to get that residue removed.
IMPORTANT TECH TIP TO REMEMBER: You must care for the surface of this type of stainless steel just as you would care for the paint on your car. The metal is not a harder chrome finish but a relatively soft surface just like your paint. Keeping this in mind and following all the cautions and procedures listed above will result in your enjoyment of stainless steel car, truck & Jeep accessories for years and years to come.