An impromptu saltwater soaking of the C30 called for some coastal decontamination and salty water spot removal.
The murky Mersey’s winter waves had well and truly saturated mine in salt and by the time I’d parked the car up following my impromptu jaunt, the white stuff was abundantly clear for all to see as was some swirl inflicting sand which had also been chucked up.
Unless you’re an idiot like me, corrosion causing saltwater should obviously be avoided at all costs, however it isn’t actually that difficult to remove from a car providing you have some basic detailing provisions as you shall hopefully now see.
Before attending to the contaminated paintwork, I wanted to give the wheels and arches a good going over to remove any salty spray that might have been flicked up by the tyres, as it’s the exposed components underneath the car that would most likely begin to corrode first.
The arches and tyres were first liberally hit with a citrus degreaser before being left to soak for a minute but in order to preserve any protection on them, the wheels themselves weren’t degreased and were instead just given a simple pre-rinse once the other parts had been decontaminated.
All areas of the beach buggy’s wheels including the nuts, spokes, barrels, calipers and tyres were then thoroughly tended to with a gentle bodywork shampoo as well as a selection of soft bristled detail brushes and a wash mitt, to gently remove any coastal contamination prior to receiving a final rinse off.
With the wheels and arches sorted it was then time to tend to the poorly paintwork starting with an extra thick blanket of snow foam to help gently dissolve the salt and dislodge the sand.
I’ve always said I believe the pre-clean to be the most important part of the wash process in terms of swirl prevention and that belief didn’t waver here. The more dirt and contamination you can remove prior to touching the less damage you’ll inflict when you do, so with a potentially gritty job like this, the longer the initial layer of foam is left to sit the better in my opinion.
After the best part of ten minutes dwelling the snowy suds were thoroughly rinsed off from top to bottom to remove most of the dissolved salt and hopefully encapsulated sand particles. Particular attention was payed to the various panel gaps and anywhere else I thought corrosion causing contamination could have stealthily worked its way in.
Pre-clean complete, it was then onto a two-bucket contact wash with a fibrous microfibre mitt to help physically access all parts of the exterior as well as condition the paintwork to return it to its former glory.
There’s a certain balance that has to be attained during a wash like this, on the one hand you want to be gentle enough to prevent unnecessary scratches being inflicted yet on the other, you want to give all areas a good going over to ensure the contaminants are properly removed. I’m yet to polish this Rebel Blue paintwork and so thankfully could afford to be fairly hands on here but assuming you give it a decent enough pressure wash down afterwards, things like sand and salt should be relatively easily removed without the need for excessive scrubbing.
Once all of the C30’s painted R Design panels had been sufficiently caressed with the wash mitt, the inner areas of the flared arches were given a once over with a secondary item to ensure that any concealed contamination was properly released.
Contact washing complete it was then on to the final thorough rise to remove the suds, sea weed and spongebob squarepants prior to drying off. This would be it for the wet decontamination stage so even though it’d already been thoroughly pre-rinsed, it was important to do it all over again following the contact cleaning to ensure any small dirt particles the washing may have dislodged were removed prior to a towel being dragged over the surface.
Once the exterior bodywork had been sufficiently rinsed down the shuts were also sprayed off at reduced pressure as these are the kinds of concealed areas corrosion can quickly set in. On a relatively clean car like this I’ll usually just dry them off with a damp microfibre towel but following the swim in the sea a pressure wash was definitely in order.
The T5’s exterior was then finally dried off with a plush microfibre towel, working from top to bottom to ensure as much moisture was effectively removed from the surface as possible without any unnecessary marks being inflicted. With an additional stage to perform and film after this one, I didn’t have time to grab any multi-angle drying shots but it’s a pretty self explanatory process to be fair; you dry a panel, wring the towel out if necessary then move onto the next being as gentle as you realistically can.
A separate couple of towels were used to rid the shuts of any remaining rinse water and while I don’t generally bother opening the bonnet after a routine maintenance wash, it was important to give the surrounding painted panels of the engine bay a quick wipe over here considering the amount of salt water the car had previously been exposed to.
Although that little lot should technically be enough to rid the car of any excess salt and sand, I wanted to take advantage of this finish spray from ‘Koch Chemie’ which helps remove stubborn water spots while simultaneously preserving the finish.
After being decanted into an empty Autosmart trigger, the product was carefully spritzed onto each panel before being worked over with the plush side of a fresh microfibre towel and then buffed off with the other to give a nice slick finish.
Despite how unsightly the paintwork looked at the beginning, the salt itself shouldn’t cause any lasting marks however because the car lives outside it does suffer from some periodic water spotting, therefore I thought a product designed to combat this certainly wouldn’t hurt.
The FSE’s formula makes use of the citrusy limonene extract to break down stubborn mineral deposits and although it can technically be used on all areas, because it’s essentially acid-based, care should be taken on any sensitive surfaces.
While out filming the turbulent footage, much to the amusement of the guy sat safely in the car behind, I couldn’t manage to get back inside mine without being splashed and so parts of the driver’s side interior were also quite heavily contaminated with salt.
Much like the exterior it looked allot worse than it actually was but with this surface being textured, unlike the smooth paintwork if left it will progressively dry out the interior and so needed dealing with sooner rather than later.
The synthetic seat material (that had only been cleaned a few days earlier) was wiped over with some Auto Finesse ‘Total Interior Cleaner’ which seemed to shift the salty residue just fine, while the plastics were treated to a healthy dose of Auto Finesse’s ‘Dressle’ product.
Following the quick clean and dress, the driver’s window was then given a good going over with some glass cleaner and a lint free cloth to remove any cleaning product overspray and saltwater spotting of which there was a fair amount.
The low profile ‘Yoko’s’ were then coated with some Hybrid V7 dressing applied with a foam applicator to finish off the job and help give the impression the car hadn’t been through such a traumatic experience.
And that was it, a sketchy seawater soaking followed by a nice satisfying safe decontamination wash. Nothing hugely different from a standard clean if I’m honest but I thought the salt water theme would make for some pretty unique intro and before shots.
The C30 now thankfully looked as clean and crisp as ever and if you hadn’t seen the sacrilegious footage from earlier, you’d be hard pushed to tell I’d taken it for a swim!
The Koch Chemie detail spray really helped to lift the finish following the initial contact wash and I’ll definitely be using it again to maintain the car up until the point it gets properly polished and protected.
So, I hope you enjoyed the salty shots and appreciate me saturating myself and the car for the sake of some unique content, I’m now just keeping my fingers crossed the job was thorough enough to prevent the radioactive River Mersey water from causing any future corrosion!