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SoCal Eco-Detail – Dodge Heavy Duty Diesel Truck Interior and Exterior

December 31st, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

This week I cleaned the interior and performed a wash and wax on a client's Dodge truck while he was out of town for the holidays. The truck is his daily driver and he has used it for several cross-country trips, often sleeping inside the truck. The right rear wing had recently had some repair work and had been repainted. The interior was well used, tired and in desperate need of some tlc. 

This was an opportunity not to be missed as the client was away for several days. This will be a surprise for him, although he probably won't notice the changes!  After I dropped him off at the airport I drove his truck to my place. I did a pre-wash walk-around and inspected the interior and the exterior of the truck and took some photographs, especially of the interior, which is where the bulk of the work needed to be done.

The plan was to complete a full detail of the interior, perform an eco-friendly rinseless wash on the exterior, clean and dress the wheels and tires and give the truck a coat of wax. This was an opportunity to refine my cleaning techniques and to identify areas where more efficiencies can be made. I noted the times for different components of the process:

3:30pm Initial inspection and photographs.
3:36pm Began work on the interior.
5:08pm Interior finished and photographed.
5:10pm External wash.
6:28pm Final wipe down completed.
The following day I spent about 30 minutes to clean and dress the wheels and took photographs of the exterior.

Because it was dark and getting late, I left the wheel wash and final photographs until the following morning. The entire process including wheels and wax took about three and a half hours. The goal is to complete a large vehicle like this in under three hours while doing a high quality job. The main lesson learned was that washing in the dark compromises the quality of the work done and should be avoided.



The back seats of the truck were piled high with stuff and I decided to devote most of my efforts to other parts of the interior. I started by vacuuming the front passenger area to remove dust and loose debris from the dash board, the instrument panel and the seat. The floor mat and floor well were left for later.

Passenger footwell and mat. Lots of debris and sticky stuff.


I cleaned some grimy marks from the headliner and visor using ShineSupply's All Purpose Cleaner diluted 1 part APC to 10 parts water. The APC foamed up white as soon as it contacted the grime. I agitated the foam to loosen the dirt with a boar's hair detail brush and wiped clean with a yellow microfiber towel. The grime was gone. Next I cleaned the passenger side window and the passenger side of the front windscreen with Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine (ONR) buffed off with a green MF. The passenger high handle and A-frame were cleaned with APC, stubborn marks removed by light brushing with a stiff bristled nail brush, The dashboard molding was wiped down with ONR and a yellow MF. Airvents and the passenger fascia were sprayed with APC and brushed with a Quickie Auto Pro Wash Brush, which is a large soft brush, and a boar's hair detail brush and wiped down with a yellow MF. The passenger door was sprayed with ONR and brushed with the large soft brush. Stubborn areas were brushed with the nail brush and the panel wiped clean.

Passenger seat and footwell

Dirty passenger seat


I used a Colourlock cleaning brush to remove most of the loose dust and dirt from the fabric seat. I got the remainer out using the crevice tool on my vacuum cleaner. The stains were removed using 1:10 APC followed by a stronger solution of 1:4 APC for stubborn areas. The APC was sprayed onto the seat and agitated using a stiff brush. The dirty liquid was wiped off with an orange MF towel. 


Next the floor mat was removed, shaken and sprayed with 1:10 APC and left to soak while I vacuumed the floor well. Most of the dirt in the floor well was stuck to the bottom by an unidentified sticky gelatinous material that was eventually removed with copius amounts of 1:4 APC and lots of brushing and wiping. The mat was brushed, wiped and replaced in the floor well which had cleaned up nicely.

I cleaned the center arm rest, then repeated the entire process on the driver side. I used 1:4 APC to remove a large stubborn greasy stain on the driver seat. Grubby hand marks were cleaned off the  A-frame and the steering wheel. The mat and floor well were cleaned in the same way as the passenger side. I finished up by wiping down the rear door panels and windows and cleaning all the door jambs. I was very happy with the result and took some photographs.

Driver side before cleaning. You can see a large greasy stain on the seat.

After cleaning

After cleaning


Cleaning the interior took about one and a half hours. Given the state of the cabin and with the tools available this is about as fast as it could have been done. Much time was spent on the seats and the floor. A carpet extractor or a steam cleaner would do a better job and with less effort. I used a more powerful vacuum cleaner than on the last job, the Lexus SUV; this made a big difference. ShineSupply's All Purpose Cleaner was very effective and did a good job of quickly removing most stains and scuff marks from the sills, door panels and most of the grime and body oils from the seats. 



I used the eco-friendly two-bucket method to wash this truck's exterior. I put a grit guard in the bottom of a clean rinse bucket followed by about three gallons of water. I made up a wash bucket with two gallons of water and two capfuls, or 1 ounce, of Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine (ONR) and put a Lake Country Blue Grout Sponge and a couple of blue 16 x 16 MF towels into the solution to soak. I made a stronger solution of ONR for use as a pre-wash in a hand-held pump sprayer. I sprayed the driver side of the roof and the driver side windows first, waited for about a minute before squeezing out most of the water from the wash bucket sponge and lightly wiped the roof and windows of the truck. When the sponge got dirty I turned it over and used the clean side. After finishing the panel I put the sponge in the rinse bucket and repeated the cleaning process with one of the MF towels, essentially washing the area twice, checking to see how much dirt was being lifted onto the towel after each pass. I used a clean waffle weave MF towel to remove most of the excess liquid from the just-washed panels, applying very little pressure and using only the weight of the towel in light movements, with no back and forth rubbing. Next I sprayed Meguiar's X-Press Spray Wax onto the clean panels and buffed with a plush MF towel to simultaneously remove any remaining liquid and to lay down a coating of protective wax. This wash and wax procedure was repeated for every section of the truck. The sponge and MF cleaning towel were cleaned in the rinse bucket to remove as much grit as possible before being reintroduced to the wash bucket. Where appropriate a detailing brush was used to clean around trim, emblems, handles, etc. Because they had grease marks and heavier soiling the underside of the wheel arches, side rocker panels and the rear and front bumpers were left until last to avoid risk of marring the paintwork. The grease and heavier soiling was hit with 1:10 APC before being pre-soaked with ONR. When the dirt and grit had been removed it was safe to use APC and more vigorous rubbing with the MF towel to remove the grease.

The wash phase went smoothly enough. Something had scraped along the side of the truck leaving a couple of blue streaks on the passenger C-frame and on the side of the truck bed. The marks could not be removed using a microfiber towel and APC alone so I used a mild polishing compound to buff them out.



When I picked the owner up at the airport it was getting dark and he was tired after his cross-country flight. He did say in passing: "When I think about my truck I don't think of it being as good-looking as it really is." He didn't notice anything was different until he drove it the following day and realized his mats were clean and that he could see, for the first time in maybe years, the metal of his wheels. In the days since at least two people have asked if he'd bought a new truck! I'd say that was a job well done!

Scuff mark over rear wheel


Long scrape mark


Deeper scratch

Almost all gone

 After washing and waxing the entire truck I performed a final wipe down. I started washing the exterior at 5:10pm when the sun was setting. I finished at almost 6:30pm and it was dark.

Although the truck had been recently repainted there were a few rust spots visible on the roof and there were some areas where the paint was beginning to peel off on the passenger side.

The next morning I took about thirty minutes to clean the wheels using 1:4 APC and the remaining ONR in the wash bucket. The tires and wheels were sprayed with APC and brushed until clean with a soft brush. I used a boars hair brush to clean the wheels and the lug nuts. A wheel woolie came in very useful for cleaning the small holes in the rims. Excess liquid was wiped off using a black microfiber towel. Remaining dirty residue was wiped off with a spritz of ONR and a MF towel. The tires were dressed with ShineSupply's Decked Out mixed with 2 parts of water for a look like-new satin finish. Finally the wheels were hit with Meguiar's X-Press Spray Wax and buffed with an old clean towel.

I touched up a few areas that the light of day revealed to have been missed during last night's cleaning. The main lesson here is that all cleaning must be performed with adequate light to ensure that a quality job is done properly.





Before. Blue streak.




Hood after cleaning



Driver-side bed rear wing. Before cleaning


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