Part 1 of 3 of a Wheel, Wheel Well & Tire Care [DIY]
-How to clean a fabric wheel well liner-
What can I say about the fabric wheel well liners used in the Tesla Model S that owners don't already know? They get filthy and retain grime easily and can be a real pain to get properly clean. ...but you already knew that. This piece will feature how you can properly and safely clean your wheel well liner so it stays looking nice and lasts longer.
Why oh why did they use fabric?!!
One of the big reasons these fabric liners are used instead of the old school plastic liner is because fabric liners are wonderful at deadening road noise which makes for a more comfortable ride. But along with this benefit comes the negative of the debris clinging to the fabric. As debris clings to the fabric, it gets imbedded and more difficult to clean. There are a few reasons folks tend to find cleaning these fabric liners difficult. The first is the lack of a proper brush to agitate the surface followed closely by attempting to clean the fabric liner with a water hose.
The use of a cleaning chemical assists with cleaning a fabric liner. But a chemical alone is not enough to knock embedded debris loose. This is where a brush excels. Using a chemical and a brush together is very effective at breaking down grime and knocking it loose.
Here is a list of cleaners we keep on hand and encourage others to use:
p21s Total Auto Wash
Meguiar's D101 All Purpose Cleaner
Other cleaners will work as well. These just so happen to be our favorites.
In terms of using a good brush for reaching inside the wheel well and agitating the surface, we like the EZ Detail Brush. Other brushes may work fine. The idea is to use one that is not aggressive and/or not too short.
Begin your cleaning by spraying a healthy dose of cleaner on the fabric wheel well liner. Make sure you spray the upper areas as well as the easier to see lower areas.
Using a long and fluffy brush will allow you to agitate the surface just enough to knock debris loose. Ensure that you agitate the uppers too!
It's been sprayed and agitated. How do I get it out now? It still looks filthy!!
If you've thoroughly sprayed and agitated the surface of the fabric liner, it will probably still look rough. A principle that should be common in detailing is the idea of flushing or decontaminating surfaces. Until you've flushed the fabric liner with water, you will still have a chemical slurry in the liner and it will not look good.
Moving forward, a water hose or one with a sprayer attachment will probably not give you a good job at flushing the fabric liner. A pressure washer (known by some as a jet wash) will give you the penetration needed to flush the liner. Extreme pressure is not necessary and could actually cause damage if not careful. We operate with about 1200-1400 psi and maintain complete control of the tip at all times. If you're working with low enough pressures, you really only have one major threat to causing damage to your car while using a pressure washer; hitting the car with the tip. By being cautious and taking precautions like keeping a grip somewhat near the tip, you will control the wand better. With precision control of the wand/tip, it will allow you to get close enough that you can thoroughly flush the fabric liner, whether on the lower and easier portions or above the wheel.
At first, you will probably notice a thick slurry of water and filth coming out from the fabric liner. This is normal. Even for this Tesla that was only a few weeks old the liner had much more filth than one could see when it was dry. For cars that have never, or rarely, have ever had the fabric liner cleaned, you can expect this initial cleaning to be a bit time consuming. But if you stay on top of this process moving forward, you will notice that it goes quickly.
My advice is to wet the whole liner and then slowly and methodically work your way downward while flushing. This way you do not clean the lower and then flood it with slurry from above. Depending on how much cleaning product you used, which cleaning product you used and how dirty the liner is, this can be a 1 minute job or a 10 minute job. Again, if this is the first time in a long time that this process has been done, you may need to spray, agitate and flush a number of times to get it 100% clean.
When the water that is being flushed out from the liner is clear, you will know you are done cleaning.
With the overcast skies, I had to shoot with a lower aperture resulting in a narrow focus. But even then, you can notice the brown slurry dropping out from the bottom. The white part where the water is hitting the liner is the chemical flushing out.
Notice how Tim maintains control of the wand by keeping a hand near the tip.
Not pictured is Tim getting even lower and spraying at a vertical angle to get the tight area at the top flushed.
If you take the time to properly clean your liners, they will stay in great shape for many years to come. Sure, the first time you clean them it will take a bit of time. But the effort is worth it! Not only will they last longer, but they will also look great! Taking steps like this to keep your Tesla Model S liners looking great translates to a car that you stay loving for longer.
A major goal of mine is to provide tutorials that are easy to follow by using straight forward images and directions. I appreciate feedback that can help me grow as a teacher of my craft. Feel free to leave your .02.
All done! How do properly cleaned liners look?
In part 2 of 3 we will take a look at how one can thoroughly clean and dress tires so they do not sling dressing. Stay tuned!