Top 7 Steps of How to Clean Exhaust Tips + FAQ

Often, owners do not pay attention to the hardly visible parts of the car. One such part is the exhaust tip. These tips can be fitted, installed, or clamped on the exhaust system’s tailpipe. The exhaust system helps keep the car clean from exhaust gases, making the tailpipe dirty. This is not something that you want. That is why it is essential to clean the tailpipe to look appealing regularly. For this, you can use exhaust tips. Hence, in this article, we will shed light on the exhaust tip? What does it do? Also, you will get a fair idea of how to clean exhaust tips.

What is an Exhaust Tip and What It Does?

If you usually have seen the exhaust system in a car or pickup truck, you might have noticed that it is improbable that the exhaust system’s tailpipe is appealing. It helps push the dirt and harmful gases out of the car into the air. So, it will make the pipe dirty. Furthermore, you can use exhaust tips to improve and add a stylish touch to the car.

An exhaust tip is a piece of equipment that can be installed on the tailpipe, installed, or even clamped onto the tailpipe to enhance the car’s overall look. Also, learn to clean exhaust tips regularly.

“Exhaust tips do not do anything or make any difference in the performance of the car. But they have an impact on the sound of the exhaust.”

There are multiple exhaust tips available in the market. Also, they come in different shapes, styles, colors, and angles. Based on your vehicle, choice, or preference, you can select exhaust tips for your car. Also, you should know how to clean exhaust tips because not cleaning them regularly will make them dirty or rusty.

How to Clean Exhaust Tips?

It is essential to clean the car’s exhaust, and you might ask – why? You pay attention to all parts of the car, whether it is the mirror, wheels, accessories of the car, etc. but not the exhaust tips. The whole car is shiny and has a good finishing, but they are black or grey or look rusty for exhaust tips. This stands out by becoming more visible and ruins the car’s whole appearance.

Also, it shows how much you look after your car. Hence, it would help if you learned how to clean the exhaust tips of your car to enhance its overall look. Mentioned below are some of the resourceful steps on how to clean the exhaust tips judiciously:

Step 1: Learn the type of contaminants

The dirt accumulates on both the inside and outside of the exhaust tip, containing various contaminants. Hence, you should know about these pollutants before learning as to how to clean the exhaust tips. You should also learn about these contaminants because you should know what type of things you are dealing with to clean them accordingly and take necessary precautions.

“Carbon deposits cover the dirt on the inside, and it contains nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. In contrast, the outside of the exhaust has pollutants such as dust, tar, dirt, sand particles, acid rain deposits, etc.”

Thus, it would be best to clean the exhaust tip from inside and outside.

Step 2: Gather the equipment

Now that you know what type of dirt and pollutants you have to clean, gather the necessary tools and equipment accordingly.

“For cleaning the exhaust tips, you need gloves, a bucket full of water, car shampoo or soap, wheel cleaning brushes, rugged towel, wheel cleaner, wire wool, metal polish, and a wheel sealant or wheel wax.”

If you have a tire brush, you can use it or grab a scotch Brite scrub that is a little bit abrasive, ensure that it does not cause any scratches on the surface of exhaust tips. Also, you should park your car at a place where you do not mind staining because the black remains can cause stains on the floor.

Step 3: Clean with soap and water

First, you need to clean the exhaust tips using soap water. This will help in removing less stubborn dirt particles. Spray the soap water on the exhaust tips, and using a wire brush or a scotch Brite scrub, rub it and clean it off. If you want, you can repeat this step once or twice and ensure that all the dirt is removed. The majority of your work will be done at this step. Once you have cleaned it with the scrub, rinse the soap with water and clean it with a towel.

Step 4: Apply wheel cleaner

Just like you cleaned the exhaust tips with soap, similarly, clean it with wheel cleaner. Apply it on the exhaust tips with gloves or brush and rub it again. It is a great way to clean exhaust tips.

You need to apply more force to remove all the stubborn dirt this time. As you keep on rubbing it, you should notice the difference, and it should become shiny and in original-like form.

This will take time; hence, you should buckle up. Slowly and with pressure, keep scrubbing it or if you have a brush, make sure to apply proper force and clean both the inside and outside of the exhaust tip. Once this is done, rinse it with water and wipe it off using a towel.

Step 5: Use wire wool

After completing the above step, grab wire wool and start cleaning the exhaust tips with wire wool. You should know that wire wool starts to disintegrate pretty quickly, so take a good amount of wire wool and again apply some wheel cleaner and start cleaning. This cannot be easy because wire wool disintegrates. With its help, you will get rid of all the dirt that may be sitting for a prolonged period as it breaks down the dirt.

“One great advantage of using wire wool is that you can clean the exhaust tips aggressively as it does not cause scratches.”

This is a time-consuming process if you wish to see perfection. So on each pipe, you might have to spend 15 to 20 minutes; it can vary depending on the amount of dirt, pressure applied, and cleaners used. If you are satisfied with the result, rinse the exhaust tips with water and dry them using a towel.

Step 6: Apply Metal Polish

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the exhaust tips, the next step is to apply some metal polish. Various companies produce this polish; hence, you can use it as per your requirement, exhaust tip material, or preferences. Apply this metal polish using gloves and rub it against the exhaust tip like massaging it.

All fine scratches will be removed using metal polish, and you will get an excellent polished, reflective, and shiny surface, thereby enhancing its appearance. Ensure to cover the whole surface of the exhaust tips adequately and let it rest for a few minutes.

Metal polish will prevent contamination, deter corrosion, and remove oxidation as it contains fine abrasive. Applying metal polish also creates a microscopic layer on the exhaust tip, keeping away any stains and providing a shiny surface.

Step 7: Give finishing touch with wheel sealant or wheel wax

Finally, it is time to give your exhaust tips a finishing touch using a wheel sealant or wheel wax. However, this is optional, but you must not skip this step if you want long-term protection. Your exhaust tips will stay polished and clean for an extended period using a wheel sealant. Also, you do not need to clean it after frequent intervals. Furthermore, if you know how to clean exhaust tips and clean them regularly, then you will not need to go through this entire process every time.

You can also apply wheel wax on the exhaust tips; ensure to coat it thoroughly, leaving no area uncovered. Let it set on the exhaust tips for a few minutes (at least 10 minutes), and then using a microfiber towel, wipe it off. If you want, you can repeat this step and apply the wax again after some time for additional benefits, but it is entirely up to you.

If you are confused about whether to use a sealant or wax, let us analyze their difference and make a choice accordingly. If you want a more durable option, you should go for wheel sealants as they can last for many weeks or even months. A sealant is much more resistant than a wheel wax.

Moreover, covering the exhaust tips with sealant will prevent UV damage and protect road grime and detergents. Also, sealant will resist heat. On the other hand, the gloss and shine provided by the wax are unmatched, and it is an affordable option. Now, whether you choose wheel sealant or wheel wax is your choice.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You might have some queries regarding the exhaust tips, so below are some of the questions related to exhaust tips answered:

How to choose an exhaust tip?

There are diverse options available in the market for exhaust tips. You can select the exhaust tips depending on their material, dimensions, color, style, clamp exhaust tips or weld-on exhaust tip, the shape of exhaust tip – dual, round, oval, square, angled, single wall, double wall, etc. Also, it depends on the length; if you want your exhaust tip to be easily noticed and stand out, you can go for lengthy ones. But you should ensure that it is not too long; otherwise, it can be hazardous for passengers passing by as it gets scorching.

What is the meaning of black exhaust tips?

Black exhaust tips result from carbon, usually because of unburned fuel. If it is in a minimal quantity, it is perfectly normal, and you have to learn how to clean exhaust tips to avoid black exhaust tips. On the flip side, if there is heavy soot, you should check it because it indicates misfiring or rich condition.

The engine needs a particular ratio of fuel and air to function. If the mixture is too rich, it can cause your vehicle to stall, putter, or surge. Failure of oxygen sensors and catalytic converters can also be behind black exhaust tips.

Why does my exhaust smoke during winters? Is it normal?

It is usual for your vehicle to emit grey, black or white color smoke in winters or when it is cold. It happens because of condensation; water is released in the form of vapor, water condenses when this vapor hits the exhaust system, making it visible. Sometimes you might also notice water dripping from the tailpipe; this is also because of a reaction to this condensation process.

Thus, this is normal, but you should know how to clean exhaust tips to prevent any pollutants from sitting in the exhaust tip. However, if you see smoke even after your vehicle is warmed up, it might be because of a mechanical issue, and in such cases, you should get your car checked.

Can WD40 be used on exhaust pipes?

This is not suggested because the remaining oil, if not detached, will be burnt due to the heat coming out of the exhaust.

How can exhaust tips be made shiny?

First of all, you need a metal polish to offer shining to exhaust tips. Some of the excellent quality metal polishes are available in the market are comparatively cost-effective, and this can be applied by hand and taken off with a microfibre towel.


Just like how you like to keep your car clean, it is essential to look after the other un visible parts, such as the exhaust tips. It would help if you learned how to clean the exhaust tips. It is quite a simple process, and when done regularly, you would not need to spend much time cleaning it. You need to gather some equipment and have a reasonable time to clean the exhaust tips. Proper maintenance of the car will ensure its performance, efficiency, and long life.

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