Piston Slap: You Dirty, Dirty Panther You!
You once answered one of my questions regarding my Fusion of Malcontent, a car which NEVER stopped giving us issues even after we sold it: the new owner refused to put it into his name and we got many tickets from red light cameras.
Anyway, last month I purchased a beautiful Panther-platform Grand Marquis. I got a good deal on it and it’s in pristine condition with less than 50,000 miles. There are no issues with the car mechanically, but it was previously owned by someone who lived down a long red dirt road. There is dirt EVERYWHERE in the car. It’s in the light assemblies, the dash, pretty much every crevasse that one can think of.
I’ve begun the long and tiring job of cleaning it, but wondering if you have any tips, suggestions, or ideas about how I should proceed?
Currently, I’ve cleaned the entire outside of the car, the engine bay, and generally the driver’s area…but every time I look up I swear I find something else that’s covered in red dust.
How do I clean this car so that I can stop obsessing and start enjoying the Panther body that I’ve always dreamed of?
Damn son, after your previous inquiry I assumed you’d trade the Fusion for another Camry.
No matter, I’ve seen dusty car interiors during a business trip to Lubbock shortly after a massive dust storm, so let’s get your Panther sorted!
To your query: to remove dirt or dust properly from a car interior, strip out the interior fabrics, rent a steam/carpet cleaner and go to town. One able-bodied person can do it in a weekend (this is a ridiculously easy car to strip!) but help is always encouraged when removing/installing big items like the power seats:
- Interior Door Panels
- Dash plastic and wood trim
- Instrument panel below steering column
- HVAC head unit
- Front and Rear seats
- Rear carpeted parcel shelf
- Sun Visors/Overhead console
- Plastic Trim holding down the carpet
- Trunk Carpet (come on, it’s easy!)
With everything out, steam or carpet clean every non-electronic item. You could wash the Panther’s numerous hard plastic items by hand in a bucket/sink, but steamers are likely as effective and way easier on your sanity.
Also steam the HVAC vents, following up with a towel and skinny fingers/tool to collect any serious buildup. Clean electronic panels and door switchgear like a keyboard, follow up with contact cleaner on rheostats (like the volume knob on older Panthers). Though, speaking from experience, if your switchgear is a bit flaky, you can replace them for dirt cheap: peep this replacement master window switch (2006 CVPI) for $13 with free shipping on eBay. Woot!
Speaking of cheap, install entry-level aftermarket (co-axial) 5×7 speakers: Panthers were rarely blessed with quality audio (i.e, classic Ford beancounting), so play your cards right and you can get a set of four with pigtail adapters for $100-ish. It will make a world of difference.
And now that the dash and floor are mostly exposed, vacuum/mop/dry every square inch: even the door’s guts, as there could be enough dirt/dust to clog the water drains. Also consider lubricating the window regulators.
If the headliner material hasn’t peeled and/or become a foamy goo, clean it with towel/steam or a power tool…and perhaps do that before removing the back seat, so you’ll have a nice place to take a break.
What else am I missing, Best and Brightest?
[Image: ShutterStock user SpeedKingz, © 2018 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]]
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