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Cleaning Black Carbon Buildup Off Exhaust Tips

It seems that if you just start the engine on your car or truck, your exhaust tips get black with carbon.

Example photo of cleaning exhaust tips

After combustion, carbon and other particulates are carried out of the engine with the exhaust gas, and some of those are deposited on the exhaust tips. Most high-performance vehicles put out quite a bit of carbon, and it builds up quickly making a black ring around the edge of the exhaust tip.

This hot black soot bonds onto the metal exhaust tip, and a normal auto shampoo and wash mitt won’t be able to fully remove the carbon buildup.

Best Product for Cleaning Exhaust Tips

In our experience, the best, fastest, least-expensive way to scrub exhaust tips is to use a soap that includes a mild polish abrasive. Our favorite product for this task is P21S Polishing Soap.

P21S Polishing Soap contains a mild abrasive polish that’s perfect for the carbon on exhaust tips.

It’s very easy to use and extremely effective. All you need to do is wet the sponge with water, wring it out a bit, rub it onto the soap to pick up some polish on the sponge, and then start scrubbing the exhaust tip.

Watch the Video Guide

In this video, Troy explains how to get the best results with dirty exhaust tips and P21S Polishing Soap.

The exhaust tips start with a ring of black carbon buildup around the edge. The carbon deposits are easily scrubbed away with the P21S Polishing Soap and its polishing sponge.

Directions for Using P21S Polishing Soap

Cleaning black carbon buildup from edge of stainless steel exhaust tip

  1. Open the P21S Polishing Soap and remove the sponge.
  2. Dampen the sponge with water.
  3. Scrub the sponge onto the P21S Polishing Soap to pick up some soap on the sponge.
  4. Scrub the sponge and polishing soap on the exhaust tip. No special technique required here. Work the sponge on the metal to agitate and remove the black buildup.
  5. Clean the entire exhaust tip with the polishing soap, not just the buildup on the edge.
  6. Rinse the soap off with water and inspect for any areas that require more scrubbing.

Advanced Tips

  • If you’re dealing with heavy buildup and the polishing sponge is not sufficient to clean the metal, upgrade to a fine 000 or 0000 steel wool. Put the polishing soap on the damp steel wool and work the exhaust tip until clean.
  • To increase your cleaning power, use a wheel cleaner like OBSSSSD Wheel Cleaner to break down the carbon buildup before scrubbing with P21S Polishing Soap.
  • P21S Polishing Soap is good for stainless steel, aluminum, chrome or chrome-plated steel.
  • The sponge and soap are abrasive. Do not use this on painted bodywork.
  • We do not recommend using this product on painted or powder coated exhaust tips. The polish will remove the paint.
  • To brighten the metal even further, try a metal polish like P21S Finish Restore metal polish. This is an easy-to-use metal polish that you can use to give your exhaust tips a bright, reflective finish.
  • Keeping the tips clean is easier if you apply a metal sealant after washing.

Recommended Products for Exhaust Tips

Auto Obsessed is Canada's largest detailing supplier. We have selected this group of exhaust tip cleaning products to make it easy for other detailing enthusiasts and professionals to acquire the best tools.

Browse these recommended detailing products for your exhaust tip detailing projects:

Exhaust Tip Cleaning Products

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