Getting to grips with the C30’s filthy four-inch tips.
Done to death or not, in the two years I’ve had it I’ve never actually pointed the camera at its tailpipes so thought while they were looking a bit worse for wear I’d put something together and while this is about as neglected as they’ll get on my watch, they were still sooty enough to justify a spruce-up.
The priority was the insides of the tips as I have polished the exteriors once before so a quick wash over usually brings them back to life but I’ve never shown the inner areas much love so was interested to see how they’d come up.
I generally treat exhuast tip cleaning like wheel cleaning so aim to get them done before tending to the body and if caked in carbon (as they usually are), often reach for a strong wheel cleaner right off the bat to help cut through it.
Once the inside of the first chute had been treated with the potent product then, it was scrubbed with a couple of stiff(ish) bristled brushes to remove the first loose layer of soot.
The exterior was also spritzed with the wheel cleaner before being washed over with a small wheel mitt to remove the light traffic film, then both inner and outer parts of the tailpipe were thoroughly rinsed off at reduced pressure to prevent unnecessarily driving water into the system.
While the brushing removed some of the soot there was still fair amount of caked on carbon and discolouration so I stepped up to scrubbing with some wire wool to hopefully cut it back further. I spent a good five minutes giving the inner-chutes a heavy going over before rinsing off again and while the results weren’t as good as I’d hoped for from a initial cleaning perspective, they were definitely better plus there was a few subsequent stages to the process that would hopefully improve things further.
Before moving on to those subsequent stages though, the same cleaning process was repeated for the opposing tip albeit from a slightly different perspective and now I knew what could and couldn’t be achieved with cleaning could avoid wasting time endlessly scrubbing to no avail which is what would likely happen if I went straight from scrubbing the first to the second before rinsing and checking my work.
With both pipes having been been sufficiently cleaned and scrubbed both inside and out, the rest of the car was then cleaned (mostly off camera to save some time and because you’ve seen it all before), as there’s no point in having a nice shiny set of poo-chutes on display if your body’s a mess.
Once washed and rinsed then, the T5 was fired up for a moment to blow any excess standing water out of the pipes before they were dried off with an old towel.
With the ‘wet’ cleaning complete then it was time to ‘dry’ clean the inner areas with the wire wool once more but this time using some metal polish instead. I like to apply the polish with my finger first then work it in which helps ensure no areas are missed.
Again, I spent a good five minutes or more wire-wooling the inside of the tips until my fingers hurt before buffing the blackened residue off and repeating the process on the other side until my fingers hurt even more and while most of the stubborn carbon lifted off with the three stage clean, there was still some staining and considerable pitting to the surface which unfortunately was going nowhere but to fair, being a few years old and having ejected many a pop, bang and flame in their time it wasn’t really surprising, however there was still an improvement in shine that could be achieved, so…
… It was on to a whizz-over with a cordless drill and a few foam polishing bits to hopefully breathe some life back into the exhausted inner-surface. Some fresh polish was once again spread over the metal before a red polishing ball was used to work it in at high speed to brighten it up in a far more effective manner than my hands alone ever could.
Now I’ll be honest I’m not actually a fan of shiny inner tailpipes, I prefer a sooty inside so long as the outsides are clean as I think it makes them look more aggressive and appear slightly bigger, whereas a super shiny inner, dare I say looks a little tacky but I wanted to give it a go on the T5 before I thought about getting rid so persevered!
A second cone-shaped polishing bit was then used to access the areas the ball couldn’t including the awkward join where the rolled lip meets the inside of the tip which can accumulate stubborn soot and look particularly unsightly.
Once I’d pretty much run the battery flat then, I buffed off any remaining residue with a fresh microfibre towel to reveal a still heavily pitted but now somewhat shiny inner poo-chute. Worth all the effort? Meh, not for me but it was still a novelty seeing the insides shining in the sun.
I then moved on to brightening up the exteriors of the tips by hand with a different metal polish and a microfibre applicator pad. Again I smeared a healthy amount of the creamy product over the surface first to ensure even coverage before working it in. As with a lot of exhaust tips, fully accessing all areas can be an awkward affair, I have detached the lower section of the bumper once before to provide better access but here I was just happy to slot the pad between the pipe and plastic as best I could.
The same polishing process was then of course repeated for tip number two with the chute first being drilled before being fettled by hand to bring about a uniform shine inside out, and yes I know my parking sensor needs painting but it’s glued to the inside of the bumper and will be pain in the poo-chute to remove so will have to remain flakey for now.
The final stage of the process was to protect the freshly polished metal to help repel any fresh soot and make future cleaning more straight forward. With no dedicated metal sealant to hand, I went with a wheel sealant which to be honest, being able to withstand high temperatures I find tend to work just as well.
The first tip was treated with some old school Poorboy’s wheel sealant which was applied to both the inner and outer parts of the tailpipe with a foam applicator pad, while the second was coated with some sweet-smelling Autobrite Hell Shine sealant just to mix things up a bit.
Once a generous amount had been applied to each, it was left to haze over for a few minutes before being buffed off. Sealant’s like these can and arguably should be layered up especially on areas that see a lot of heavy contamination but because I give them a wash every week or so, a single layer to add a little bit of extra pop for the sake of the video was more than enough here.
After one final buff to remove any remaining residue (including from the surrounding bodywork which is kind of inevitable in this situation then), I left it at that as I know the second you start the car up the insides are only going to get dirty again.
So overall, better than how they looked at the start, the outsides of the tips were pretty much as good as they could be without removing the lower bumper and hitting them with a machine and the inners, while still pitted and stained in places, definitely looked better.
As I said earlier I actually prefer carbon caked inner poo-chutes so long as their exteriors are kept clean but it was still nice to see mine shining for once. Assuming you keep on top of your tips with regular maintenance washing you really only need to do this once so you could argue it’s time well spent as a super clean set of tips can help distinguish your car from the next.
It’s also probably worth mentioning that after job like this, especially one that’s involved wire wool, I tend to bin my towels and applicator pads to eliminate the risk of metal fibres contaminating anything in the future so its probably a good idea to assign some generic or downgraded ones for a poo-chute polish to save spoiling your fancy ones.