The TC Pages – Detailing

UPDATED 06/12/02

The following is only a primer on the art and science of detailing your TC. A worthwhile book on the subject, Auto Detailing-The Professional Way by James Joseph, offers a thorough step-by-step look at detailing, including some interesting interviews with detailing pros. Each task is itemized, along with a time estimate and a list of the products he recommends (I prefer my product choices). It’s like a detailing procedure list and whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned weekend detailer, this book can be a real help.

Detailing is more than a quick wash job and a coat of cleaner/wax. What I’m refering to is a maintenance regiment that will help insure the preservation of your TC’s irreplaceables: the original paint and interior. For the initial detailing, the degree of difficulty will always depend on amount of care that the car has had over it’s life. Once everything is clean and shiny, maintaining this pristine level of condition really isn’t that difficult or time consuming.

I can’t emphasise too strongly the need for silicone-free products! Silicone will remove essential oils from paint and damage tires, leather, vinyl and rubber seals. It will also cause enormous problems if you have to have any paint work done on your TC.

My rule of thumb: avoid the use of any kind of product containing petroleum distillates, alcohol or silicone oils no matter what claims the label makes. These chemicals are known degradants and can be detected by an oily finish or by label warnings about flammability or toxicity. Leave the use of silicone-based products to the ‘used car lot’ detailers. Note: all the items on my product list are silicone free.

Part of the trick for achieving outstanding results is choosing the right product. I’ve mentioned a number of brands that I use and that work well for me – they’re underlined in the text. There’s also a list of suppliers at the bottom of the page and a link to a ‘product list’ you can print out if you wish.

The products and techniques I talk about here are by no means the final word on the subject. They are however what I’ve found to work well and therefore feel comfortable recommending. These products will always cost somewhat more than bargain or store brands found in auto chain stores because they’re silicone-free, contain superior ingredients and will give you better and longer lasting results than the cheaper products. Whether yours is a concours show piece or a daily driver, it’s appearance and value will benefit from your use of superior maintenance products.

Your TC doesn’t have to be a trailer queen to look like one, and with a regular schedule of detailing, it can look nearly new for as long as you own it.


The TC uses a two part PPG-brand paint, consisting of the base (color) coat and a clearcoat. I’ve found the clearcoat to be more generously applied (thicker) than normally found on late-80’s Chrysler production cars. This means that even a serious surface defect may often be removed via sanding or compounding without going through the clearcoat into the base. The TC also doesn’t seem to suffer from the clearcoat peeling problems so prevalent with other late-80’s Chrysler products.



Begin by rinsing the entire car with a gentle water stream to soften and flush away surface grime (an aggressive spray can actually grind surface grit into the paint and cause minute scratches. For this same reason, I avoid the’quarter car wash’). I use a fan-shaped ‘garden-sprayer’ nozzle designed for watering flowers (about $3.00). At full spray, it approximates a gentle rainfall. Keep everything wet during the process in order to avoid water spots.

When washing (or waxing) the surface, always move the mitt in the direction that air flows over the car – front to back, never circular. The reason is that a straight scratch in the clearcoat is far less visible that a circular one.

I use synthetic ‘lamb’s wool’ wash mitts because they’re softer and less apt to trap grit or particles. I recommend the ‘two mitt’ system, with one reserved for washing the upper body panels and the other always used for the ‘dirty’ areas from the door mouldings down. (mark the cuff of the mitts so you’ll be able to tell them apart). This way, any grit trapped in the ‘lower’ mitt won’t be able to cause scratches on the upper panels.

I also use the ‘two bucket’ system, with one bucket containing the wash solution and the other plain water to rinse the mitt before immersing it in the wash solution. This rinsing will help to prevent contamination of the wash solution and reduces scratches in the finish.

Use a vegetable-based car wash detergent / shampoo. I like Meguiars #00 Professional Wash, and P21S Bodywork Shampoo works well. The cheaper store-brand carwash soaps may strip the wax and can contain animal fats, silicones, petroleum distillates and other nasty things we don’t want anywhere near our paint. Do not, under any circumstances, use dish washing liquid, since it will strip the wax and diminish essential oils within the paint. Anything designed to remove burned lasagna from pots and pans certainly shouldn’t be used on the paint of your pride and joy.

In a clean plastic bucket, use cool water (warm water will soften the wax) and the minimum amount of soap necessary to lubricate and help float the dirt and contaminants off the surface. The less detergent you use, the less the wax barrier is diminished. Try starting with about half the amount recommended on the container. Caranuaba waxes are more vulnerable to being stripped by detergents than polymer-based waxes.

Start at the top of the car and work downward. Using a gentle stream of water, rinse off the convertible top (see cleaning in CONVERTIBLE TOP section). Rewetting each panel, use the ‘upper’ mitt and lots of soapy solution to wash the windshield, windows, hood and trunk, rinsing as you go. Rinse the mitt in the second bucket each time before going back into the first bucket for more washing solution. Wash/rinse around the sides down to the door mouldings / bumpers. Use the 2nd ‘lower’ mitt and wash around the car from the door mouldings / bumpers down, rewetting and rinsing each panel and rinsing the mitt like above. This process takes a little more time, since you’ll have to go around the car several times. It pays off by minimizing scratches.

When finished, rinse both mitts thoroughly and hang until dry. Store in plastic ziplock bags.

Wash the wheelwells and inner fenders next. Spray a detergent solution in the inner fenders and scrub with a long handle chassis brush or a toilet bowl brush (PLEASE buy a new one for this purpose), then rinse thoroughly. I use a diluted solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle (don’t get this on painted body panels since it will remove wax).

To clean the wheels, use a quality wheel cleaner made for clear-coated alloy wheels (Meguiars #36 or P21S wheel cleaner), and follow the instructions carefully. Use a soft wheel brush, dipped in soapy water, to remove brake dust and rinse thoroughly. I then use a shoe-polish dauber to clean the wheel cavities A citrus-based tar remover on a soft cloth or Q-tip will remove any tar and road oil.

Clean the tires with a stiff tire brush, soapy water and a tire cleaner (I use Wesley’s BleechWhite).


To dry the painted surfaces, use a SYNTHETIC chamois. I’m currently using an ‘Absorber’ brand with good results. I’ve had good reports on the synthetic (made-in-Holland) ‘WaterSprite’ and Griot’s sells a synthetic ‘drying cloth’ that looks promising. Leather chamois dry out with age and will cause minute (and sometimes not-so-minute) scratches in the clear coat. Oils used in the tanning process can also diminish the wax barrier. Cotton bath towels can be used for drying bumpers, etc.but should never be used on painted surfaces. No matter how soft they may seem, they’re far more abrasive than even a leather chamois and will, over time, dull the finish.Use lint-free paper towels to dry the door jambs, wheels and tires. Wash and rinse the chamois thoroughly and hang until dry. Store in a plastic ziplock bag.


It’s first necessary to remove all the old wax and contaminates from the surface, then polish to remove oxidization and microscopic scratches in the clearcoat.

After the car has been washed and dried, I first mask off trim and rubber parts that I don’t want polish or wax on.This makes final cleanup a lot easier and actually saves time.

Although many people skip this step, I use a wax & grease remover (DuPont PrepSol – used by bodyshops) to remove old wax and soluble contaminates. This requires two SOFT cotton cloths; one saturated with the wax remover and another to dry the surface and remove loosened wax. Use a back and forth (front-to-rear) motion.

I prefer a citrus-based Tar & Bug Remover to dissolve any stubborn road oil, tree sap and bugs. Most tar remover preparations contain petroleum distillates (kerosene) as their principal ingredient and can damage paint.

Although they’re hard to find, I use only 100% cotton diapers with cotton edge stitching (not polyester) for polish and wax. Another choice is to buy a 100% cotton flannel sheet and cut it into squares of about 16″x 16″. 100% cotton cloths for this purpose are also available from Griot’s.

Whichever you choose, take care of them (they’re kind of pricey) and use them only for polishing and waxing.Wash them several times when new and twice after each use, using liquid laundry detergent and 4 oz. of white vinegar to help dissolve residual wax in the cloths. Machine dry (don’t use fabric softener sheets) and store in plastic zip-lock bags.


Once the surface is free of wax, you must decide, before waxing, whether the surface just needs polished or if it requires a more aggressive oxidization remover, also refered to as a cleaner.

I’ve found that unless a car has been fanatically maintained since new, a cleaner is almost always initially necessary to achieve a brilliant shine. Always start with the least aggressive product that will remove the surface scratches / oxidation and use a front-to-rear / back and forth (never circular) motion. I’ve used Meguiars Crystal System Paint Cleaner with good results. You can first CAREFULLY use Meguiars #02 Fine Cut Cleaner on scratches and environmental damage. I use the foam hand applicator pads, but the terry-over-foam variety also work well.

If your paint has heavy environmental damage (from acid rain, bird droppings, scratches, etc.) it may be advisable to wet sand the defects and machine buff the entire car. This is best left to a body/paint facility, since a rotary buffer takes a high level of skill to use and is best left to a professional.The cheap variety of random-orbital buffers are fast and easy to use, but won’t really remove surface defects in the paint. If you use one, use ONLY foam bonnets – never the terry cloth variety. The Porter-Cable DA orbital used with foam cutting/finishing pads is fast and effective; Griots and Meguiars both sell the unit and the pads.

If you insist on using a rotary buffer, read the chapter regarding their use in Auto Detailing-The Professional Way. Use either 3M brand (my favorite) or Meguiar’s foam cutting and buffing pads, and make sure that the product you’re using is designed for machine use. I use a 3M foam cutting pad and 3M Fine Cut Compound, followed by Meguiars #02 Fine Cut Cleaner with a 3M foam buffing pad. Finish up with a VERY small amount (start with a few drops) of 3M Machine Glaze with a 3M foam buffing pad to remove any swirl marks.

AVOID ANY USE OF WOOL BUFFING PADS; wool is very abrasive and can burn or buff through the paint in a heartbeat. The least damage that you’ll do with a wool pad is to create deep swirls that will take a lot of time and effort to remove.

On the subject of cleaners, avoid the ‘new’ cleaning clays. These aren’t new at all, having been around for about 50 years. They were once used for paint overspray removal in body shops, but have gained popularity recently as a new kind of ‘paint cleaner’. They’re tricky to use and can easily cause clearcoat damage if a proper amount of ‘lubrication’ isn’t used. Any contaminants trapped in the clay may also cause scratching. I recommend avoiding their use, unless you want to form a much closer relationship with your body/paint person.


The next step is to use a ‘glaze’. I prefer 3M Imperial Hand Glaze over anything else I’ve used. This product will micro-polish the surface, remove swirl marks and fill in microscopic irregularities. Doing one panel at a time, wipe it on in a thin layer with an applicator pad, allow to dry to a haze and wipe off with a clean diaper, (using the front-to-rear / back and forth motion). Since the glaze is UV sensitive and will quickly dissipate in sunlight, I glaze, then wax, one panel at a time.


Once the paint has been cleaned and the glaze applied, it needs to be protected with one or more coats of wax. I’m currently using MOTHER’S PURE CARANUBA PASTE WAX . It’s a little expensive and hard-as-a-brick, but it goes on and buffs off easily and I like it’s combination of durability and depth-of-shine. The new P21S CONCOURS LOOK CARNAUBA WAX provides the deepest shine for garage queens and oft waxed cars, while ONE GRAND BLITZ WAX is the the most durable for daily drivers. Pastes contain more wax and less solvent than liquid wax and endure longer. Avoid all-in-one cleaner-wax (except for the door jambs and underhood) and any product containing silicones.

Working on one panel at a time, apply a thin coat of paste wax with your fingers (body heat helps the wax melt and flow out on the surface) or foam applicator. Let it dry to a haze and buff with a clean cotton cloth, using a front-to-rear / back and forth (never circular) motion. Shake out the cloth frequently while buffing and change it often. While you’re waxing, keep the container closed to avoid airborne grit or moisture contaminating the wax.

Once the entire car is waxed, use a clean cotton cloth to re-buff the surface. Since the wax has had an opportunity to harden, this will produce a deeper shine. As a final step, I use a spray bottle filled with distilled water and a clean cloth to ‘set’ the wax. Spritz a fine mist on a small section and gently rub (back and forth) with a clean cloth. Any excess wax will ‘fuzz’ up and be removed by the cloth, eliminating swirls and smears.

If you find cloudy areas, it means the wax has absorbed moisture during application. The use of a ‘detail’ spray like Meguiar’s # 34 Final Inspection will draw the moisture from the wax and produce the shine you’re looking for.

Clean and polish the chrome and stainless trim with a metal polish like WENOL or AUTOSOL and apply a coat of wax for protection (see the Stainless Trim section).

After waxing, use cotton swabs and/or a horsehair detail brush to remove any wax around trim, in seams, etc. A toothpick can be used to remove wax in crevices that you can’t reach with a cotton swab. Another useful tool is a soft, high-quality 3/4″ paint brush with the bristles trimmed to about 1″. Avoid using a tooth brush around painted surfaces, since it will cause scratches.

Applied and maintained correctly, the wax should protect the surface for about three months – longer for garage queens. To decide if it’s time for re-waxing, use the ‘water bead’ test. When doing the pre-rinse before washing, note how the water beads up. If the drops are larger than a half inch diameter, or if the water forms « sheets », it’s time to wax. Between waxings, the shine can be touched up after washing with Meguiars #34 ‘Final inspection’ detail spray. Dust can be removed with the GENTLE use of a mop-like ‘car duster ‘ sold under several different brand names.


Most of the trim on the TC is stainless steel and can be polished using a metal polish like WENOL or AUTOSOL. Areas that have dulled, notably the bumper covers and the window mouldings on the doors, can be masked off and machine-polished using stainless buffing products. Stainless and aluminum should be buffed at about 3,500 rpm. I use a small right-angle grinder motor with a speed control to reduce speed to 3,500 RPM. I use Eastwood’s buffing compounds and buffs; their stainless buffing kit (#13106) contains 3 tubes of compound and 6″ buffs.

After masking off the piece, polish in three steps: begin with emery compound and a sisal buff to remove scuffs and scrapes, 2) polish using stainless compound and a spiral sewn buff and 3) finish with white rouge compound and a loose section buff. Buff in a back and forth motion, turning the wheel 90 degrees. When finished, remove compound residue with PrepSol, then apply wax.


TAKE CARE OF YOUR LEATHER! Replacement cost is unbelieveable, so treat the leather in your TC as irreplaceable. If it’s in good shape, maintain and protect it. If it’s dried out, use a heavy duty conditioner to rehydrate it. If it’s faded and cracked, it can generally be repaired and refinished by trim shops specializing in leather upholstery. Do-it-yourselfers can repair-refinish the leather using ColorPlus’s products (read on).

All the upholstered surfaces and steering wheel in the TC are covered in extremely delicate Italian Pasubio leather and are susceptible to drying and cracking. Unlike domestic leathers, they’re not ‘coated’ and require frequent application of a 2-step cleaner / conditioner to renew the oils in the leather and retard UV damage. Any products that say ‘for leather or vinyl’ will be too harsh and should be avoided. Don’t use ANY of the silicone based products, since these can actually remove oils in the leather AND clog the leather’s pores, accelerating drying and cracking.

To prevent (further) deterioration, condition the leather surfaces often, especially the seats and dash top. My long-time favorite for maintaining leather surfaces is Lexol ph Cleaner and Lexol Leather Conditioner and ColorPlus sells a SuperCleaner and Surflex Quick Formula that work extremely well. On the seating surfaces, after a thorough cleaning, I spray on a heavy coat of conditioner and, using a thin cotton glove (a drug store cosmetic item), I spread and work it into the leather by hand. Cover with plastic and allow the conditioner to soak in overnight. Repeat if necessary. For the other leather surfaces, use a cotton applicator pad to spread an even coat of conditioner. Buff with a soft cloth after it has been absorbed.

If the leather on the seating surfaces and dash top are severely dried out, use ColorPlus’s Soffener Original Formula. This unique product will soften and re-hydrate even severely neglected leather. It contains more natural oil conditioner and less water than other available leather treatments and absorbs deeper into the interior layers of the leather, replacing the moisture that has been lost from use and oxidation.After a thorough cleaning, apply Soffener per the product instructions, cover with plastic and leave for 48-72 hours. Repeat as necessary.

DIY’ers can refinish the leather using the Surflex Colorant and Finish System for Flexible Surfaces , a permanent (when dry) water-bourne dye that can be custom mixed to match your interior color (available at the ColorPlus website). Cracks in the leather can be repaired with ColorPlus Flex-Fill.

This is one of those rare products that I unabashedly endorse. I recently refinished the seating surfaces and steering wheel with Surflex and the results are spectacular – the color match and finish are perfect. This is an easy-to-use product that will render great results by simply following the instructions and will save you, at the very minimum, hundreds of dollars in refinishing costs.

Visit the ColorPlus website for a thorough explaination of leather care and refinishing, where you can also order their nifty free book ‘About Leather‘.


Clean and condition the few pieces of interior vinyl with Lexol Vinylex. This product has no silicone, contains a UV protectant and buffs to a soft shine. Products with silicone, in addition to all the other reasons not to use them, build up a static charge and make vinyl surfaces a really effective dust magnet.

Around the instrument panel, heater vents and console, use a cotton swab and all-purpose glass cleaner to remove grime in seams, etc. A horsehair detail brush will remove loose contaminates and dust. A toothpick can be used to remove dirt in crevices that you can’t reach with a cotton swab. Another useful tool is a high-quality 3/4″ paint brush with the bristles trimmed to about 1″. Avoid using a tooth brush, since it can cause scratches.

Speaking of dust, I use a painter’s ‘tack rag’ to dust interior surfaces. The ones I use are loose-weave cotton treated with bee’s wax. These do a fantastic job of removing dust without putting any chemicals on the leather surfaces.

For carpets, I pre-treat heavy soil or spots with Resolve carpet spot remover, followed by an application of aerosol Tuff-Stuff foam carpet cleaner (you can use any product that works on your carpets at home but test first for color-fastness). When necessary, I remove the seats (5 bolts per seat and unplug the electric seat harness) to really clean the carpets. When dry, vacuum then use a stiff brush to raise the carpet’s nap.

Clean the doorjambs and hinges with a detergent solution (I use diluted Simple Green in a spray bottle), a sponge or soft cloth (and a soft brush where necessary) then apply wax. Oil the hinges with a micro-oiler – don’t indiscriminately squirt or spray lubricant on the hinges. I clean and wax the door jambs ever time I wax the car, using Meguiars one-step cleaner wax.

For all the ‘live’ rubber gaskets on the doors and trunk, use Wurth Rubber Care. This product is easily the best I’ve found for this purpose. It’s silicone-free and contains UV protectant and glycerin to feed/protect the rubber. Continued use will make the rubber gaskets almost new.


Wurth Glass Cleaner is my favorite and does a fantastic job of removing the film (caused by gasses released from interior carpet and vinyl) on the interior windows and leaving everything streak free. I ‘ve also used a DIY ammonia-based glass cleaner on the interior and exterior glass. You can find the recipe for glass cleaner in the Miscellaneous section. I sometimes use sheets of newspaper to buff the surface of dry windows, and it seems to work.

To polish the exterior glass, I use a damp cotton pad with a paste of Barkeeper’s Friend and water. For deeper scratches or acid rain damage, Eastwood sells a glass polishing kit (#40011) designed to remove surface damage and Griot’s sells a glass polish (#11177) for hand or machine use. I’ve had excellent results using Rain-X on the exterior windows.


Rinsing the (black) Harrtz-fabric soft top on the TC will often suffice to remove surface soil. When it needs cleaned, use Porsche Cabrio Top Cleaner and a soft brush. Very careful use of a toothbrush will remove stubborn stains or deposits. Once a year, use Porsche Cabrio Top Protectant after the top has been cleaned and dried. It’s VERY IMPORTANT, when using this product, to completely mask off all surrounding surfaces, including the glass. Not protecting the surrounding surfaces will give you an opportunity to use that ‘cleaning clay’ to remove the overspray.

The optional Saddle top is vinyl, so use car wash shampoo and occasionally use a vinyl protectant (Lexol Vinylex).


Whatever you do, avoid using the ‘quarter car wash’ approach to cleaning the engine bay. The high pressure spray WILL force moisture and greasy residue into the electrical connectors, solenoids and the (SMEC) engine computer, causing interesting electrical gremlins and other unpredictable problems. Also avoid using petroleum-based aerosol ‘engine cleaner’. It’s principal ingredient is kerosene. It smells awful, leaves an oily residue on the engine and nasty stains on the garage floor.

To begin, let the engine idle a few minutes until warm. I use aluminum foil and (if necessary, bits of duct tape) to cover the distributor, all the electrical connectors, solenoids and the SMEC (located on the fenderwell behind the battery). The rule of thumb is: if it looks electrical, cover it up.

Working bottom to top, use a spray bottle to apply one of the bio-degradable detergent solutions (I use full strength Simple Green) and a cloth, 1″ paint brush with the bristles trimmed, a tooth brush and/or a round parts cleaning brush to loosen the grime. Use cotton a swab dipped in cleaner to reach into tight places. Clean the engine, then the fenderwells and firewall, taking care not to get the detergent solution on the fenders or cowl (it’ll remove the wax). Clean the hood hinges with a toothbrush dipped in detergent and oil with a micro-oiler when dry. Repeat the cleaning process as necessary, then rinse with a gentle mist of water . After using paper towels to dry all reachable surfaces and soak up puddles, remove the foil coverings, start the engine and let it reach operating temperature to finish drying.

You can use Eastwood Co’s. extensive line of aerosol underhood touchup or refinish components. Over the years, I’ve used their underhood black, cast aluminum, cast iron, cadmium plate, stainless steel and underhood clear with great results. Most components can masked, sanded, cleaned (PrepSol) and painted without the need for removal. Small areas can be touched up using a cotton swab or paper match dipped in paint sprayed in a small paper cup.

Use a one step cleaner/wax (or a spray-on wax) on the fenderwells, firewall and other painted surfaces. Dress the rubber hoses and vinyl shields with Rhino Industries Black Again.


A couple times a year, I remove the wheels to clean and detail. Start by spraying the inside surfaces of the wheel and tire with a detergent solution (Simple Green or equivalent) and scrub with a wheel brush dipped in warm soapy water. After rinsing, follow with an application of wheel cleaner (Meguiars #36) and scrub again, using a citrus-based tar remover on oil or tar spots. Use a stiff tire brush and rubber cleaner (Wesley’s Bleechwhite ) to clean the tire sidewall. Repeat on the other side, using a toothbrush, shoe polish dauber and cotton swabs dipped in wheel cleaner to reach and clean all the wheel cavities. Rinse thoroughly, then spray/scrub the face of the tire with Bleechwhite and the tire brush. (See Tire Dressings below).

When dry, polish the front face and rim with 3M Imperial hand glaze and protect with your choice of paste wax.If the clearcoat is dulled, begin with the careful use of Meguiars #02 fine cut cleaner and/or #0000 steelwool to polish. Wax the inside of the wheels (on the TC, they’re painted black) with a one-step cleaner wax.

Put a thin coat of waterproof grease or anti-seize on the wheel studs and the inside mouth of of each wheel before reinstalling.

Take care of your wheels. They’re unique to the TC and nearly irreplaceable. Clearcoat damage from curb rash or balance weights (insist on the weights-inside-the-wheel balancing) will result in having to strip the clearcoat, refinish the wheel and reapply clearcoat. This is generally not a job for home detailers, and while there are companies that specialize in this, having it done correctly is expensive.


While the car is up on jackstands to detail the wheels, I clean and detail the underside. Wear old clothes and use a creeper to navigate under the car and stay off the wet floor. Spray everything (except the CV axle boots) with full-strength Castrol SuperClean and allow it the soak for a while. Then use a long handle chassis brush or a toilet bowl brush and hot soapy water to scrub everything. You may need to repeat the process around the bottom and the rear of the engine to get it really clean. Once everything is clean and dry, you can touch up any flaws in the undercoat with aerosol undercoat. Eastwood Company sells a line of aerosol chassis and exhaust paints if you want to refinish or touch up any components.

While the underside is still damp, you can finish by lightly spraying the underside with an automotive water-soluble spray-on wax. This will keep help keep everything cleaner, making the job easier next time. Don’t let the wax get on the brake rotors or the exhaust system.

Carefully clean the CV axle boots with a mild detergent and a soft cloth, than apply a light coat of Lexol Vinylex vinyl protectant (this is for abrasion protection rather than appearance).


Avoid any silicone-based ‘tire dressing’ sold to make tires and rubber trim shiny. Silicone will attack the anti-oxidants in the rubber and promote premature aging. Use 303 Protectant on tires and Rhino Industries’ Black Again on bumpers and exterior rubber. 303 Protectant and Black Again are polymer-based dressings with UV protectant designed for exterior rubber and vinyl that buff to a soft shine.


Paint chips and nicks are a fact of life and touchup is a life-long endeavor. It’s a fairly simple but time consuming process.

Avoid the little ‘touch up’ paint bottles with the applicator brush; the paint in these is always too thick and the brush too large. You’ll find aerosol touch-up paint in your color (or a close match) and aerosol clearcoat at most auto supply stores. Duplicolor has universal aerosol clearcoat and an extensive range of aerosol colors for Chrysler going back ten model years.

Start by washing and drying the surface, then clean the chip and the area around it with PrepSol. Mask tightly (1/16″) around the chip and calefully clean with a fiberglas tipped sanding ‘pen’ and lightly sand the edges of the chip with a scrap of 3M #1000 wet n’ dry sandpaper. Spray a little color into a small paper cup (I use little paper catsup cups from a fast food restaurant) Use a tiny sable artist brush, toothpick or a paper matchstick (trimmed to a point) to flow a little paint into the chip. Let it dry for about a half hour then flow in another thin coat of color. Allow to dry overnight.

Next, spray a little clearcoat into a paper cup and flow several thin coats into the chip, allowing each to dry between application. The idea is to build up the clearcoat slightly higher than the surrounding area.

Allow the clearcoat to dry at least a week (it takes that long to sufficiently harden). When dry, I carefully  use Eastwood’s ‘run razor’ (an inexpensive micro-plane) to make the repair level with the surrounding area and to minimize the amount of sanding needed to make the repair flush with the surface. Next, clean with a cotton swab and PrepSol, then mask 1/8″ around the repaired area. Sand gently  in a ‘cross hatch’ pattern with 3M #1000 grit paper and finish sand with 3M #1500 wet n’dry sandpaper and water.

Unmask and gently polish with Meguiars #01 Medium Cut cleaner to remove the sanding scratches, followed with Meguiars #02 Fine Cut cleaner . Polish with 3M Imperial Hand Glaze and apply wax.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to quickly repair several chips at once. If you’re patient and take your time, you’ll be rewarded with an nearly invisible repair.


Everything described above can be accomplished in a total of 18-24 hours. If all this sounds like a daunting task, remember that many of the procedures are only done periodically. I’ve developed this routine of detailing on several show cars that I’ve owned and also apply most of the same routine to our daily drivers. You’ll have to decide how ‘perfect’ you want your TC to be and adjust accordingly.

I find it a good idea to detail in multiple sessions rather than all at once. If I try to do everything in one session, I start to cut corners on some procedures. When I’m washing the car on a Saturday morning, I’ll pick one additional area that I want to detail and spend the time to do it right.

Also keep in mind that having all this done by a professional detailer would cost a fortune. Once you gather the proper products/tools and the car is detailed the first time, it’s much easier to maintain on a regular basis.I find it an enjoyable hobby (hey, some people collect beanie babies).

Hopefully this will help you maintain your TC to a degree that will increase it’s ‘oooh and ahhh’ factor and allow you to enjoy it more than ever. If there’s anything that’s not clear or if you’ve questions, feel free to e-mail me.


Car Care Specialties @  stocks most of the above products – available online.

3M brand and Meguiars products can be found at many automotive chain stores.

DuPont PrepSol Wax & Grease Remover (or equivalent) is available at automotive & autobody supply stores.

Eastwood Company @ is a supplier of automotive restoration supplies.

Griot’s Garage @ offers concours-grade products similar to many mentioned above.

ColorPlus @ offers the complete line of Surflex leather care and refinishing products.

303 Products @ manufactures 303 Protectant for rubber and vinyl

Auto Detailing-The Professional Way by James Joseph

Published by Chilton Book Company

167 pages – ISBN: 0-8019-8196-4
Available in bookstores or online at



© The TC Pages 1999-2002



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