Well, after my recent mega detailing sessions on both of my GCs (which you've all seen, I think?), I received 50-60 PMs asking for advice, products etc. I answered all those PMs and thought I'd make a list for EVERYONE in case I had more PMs coming my way!
Washing is the process of removing loosely bonded surface contaminants; such as dirt, dust, flies and road salt, from the exterior surfaces of your car.
Foaming and two bucket method:
1 .Lambswool wash mitts and wheels brushes. Something similar to the wheel brush I use is here.
2. Four buckets. One for the suds (shampoo) and one with plain water to rinse the mitt. The same again for when you clean the wheels.
3. Car shampoo! I use Meguiars Shampoo Plus as it doesn't strip any products from the paint. You can also use Poorboys Super Slick & Suds Concentrated Car Wash or Blackfire Gloss Shampoo & Conditioner. Available here.
Just search through the pages for the products you want.
4. Foam lance. This isn't really necessary but helps to reduce swirls. It attaches to the end of your pressure washer gun. You fill it up with car shampoo and water to create the foam. If doing a full detail, I usually use a degreaser instead. Not been able to find this in the US but this
is what it looks like.
5. Pressure washer. I use a Kärcher, but the brand doesn't matter!
6. Glue and tar remover. I use Autosmart Tardis, but any glue and tar remover will suffice. A few here.
7. Poorboys Waffle Weave Towels or The Meguiars Gold Class Water Magnet or The Sonus Der Wunder Drying Towels. Available here.
1. Pressure wash the car to begin with to rinse off any loose dirt.
2. Then foam the car to get more dirt off the car before touching the paint with a wash mitt.
3. While the foam does its stuff, clean the wheels using normal car shampoo or P21S Total Auto Wash (available here
) . If you have tar/glue on the wheels, then you can also use the glue and tar remover but don't leave it on the wheels for long. A minute or two is enough, IMO. If you use the glue and tar remover then rinse the wheels. I usually take off the wheels but depends on how dirty they are.
4. Rinse off the remaining foam on the car.
5. Wash car using wash mitt and two bucket method. The idea is to dip the mitt into the shampoo bucket, wipe a panel, then rinse in the clear bucket. Continue doing this with the whole car. When using the mitt, try to follow the lines of the car and use only back and forth or side to side motions. Circular motions will only make swirl marks more pronounced! Work from the top down. Also clean inside the fenders.
6. Rinse off using a steady stream of water. This helps to reduce drying time.
7. At this stage, you can use a clay bar on the car. The water will act as a lubricant but you can also spray on quick detailing spray. Meguiars Quik Clay is a good starter. Available here.
7.1 You can wash the car again, but this is up to you.
7.2 Dry using a towel of your choice. Pat dry instead of wiping. Again, this helps to reduce swirls/scratches.
8. Dry wheels.
9. Have a quick beer!
Try to AVOID washing your car in the sun. The sun will dry out the car much quicker and cause water spots. In the shade is usually best.
Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels, mitts etc should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally.
Clay bar helps get rid of bonded contaminants. ''Safe for use on all painted and glass surfaces, a clay bar is highly effective at exfoliating firmly bonded surface contaminants such as tar spots, brake dust, industrial fallout and baked-on bug remains, making it ideal for regular use and lighter decontamination duties.'' I use Meguairs Quik clay, available here.
- Clay bar can also be used on the glass, lights etc.
- Can also use it on your wheels.
1. Clay bar and lubricant. Available here.
2. Buffing towels, available here.
1. First you need to warm up the clay. Simply do this by shaping it in your hands. Also mist on the quick detailer to keep it moist.
2. Work from the top of your car down, panel by panel. Working on an area of no more than 2 ft x 2 ft at a time, spray the work area with the lubricant. Rub the clay backwards and forwards across the surface of the panel, following the lines of the car.
3. As you're doing the above, simply wipe with buffing towels.
4. Remember to keep the clay warm by 'kneading' it all the time. Just spray on water/quick detailer and then shape it in your hands.
5. I would recommend washing the car again but this is up to you.
Engine bay cleaning
Cleaning the engine bay is not something most people worry about. This may be because it seems like a lot of hard work when only a few people will see it, but a clean engine bay can add to the value of the car.
1. Cover the 'vulnerable' parts with clingfilm or foil:
-Intercooler (cover with cardboard)
-Intake & MAF housing
2. Spray on a degreaser. I use Meguiars Super Degreaser. Available here.
Or you can use the P21S Total Auto Wash, which I recommended earlier in the washing stage. Work in the degreaser with a stuff brush and leave for around 15 minutes.
3. Hose off the degreaser or just wipe off with a damp towel.
4. Finish by adding protection. I use 303 Aerospace Protectant, availabe here
and/or Meguiars All Season Dressing, available here.
Applied with Microfibre Applicators, available here.
Polishing is smoothing a metal surface, usually by rubbing with abrasives. Sub-surface defects such as swirl marks and scratches are removed by polishing, which is a broad term for a mechanical finishing operation for the purpose of producing a gloss or luster on a surface.
1. An aggressive polish which contains a cutting compound to cut the top coat on the paint. The polish will help to remove sub-surface defects (swirls, scratches, water spots, buffer trails - which are lines of swirl marks inflicted by poor machine polishing technique).
I would recommend Menzerna Intensive Polish for hand polishing and machine polishing. Available here.
Others I use are Menzerna RD3.02, Menzerna Power Gloss Compound S34A, and Poorboys SSR range. Menzerna Power Gloss available here
and Poorboys SSR 1,2 & 3 available here.
With the Poorboys SSR range, they have the following cut and gloss ratings;
Poorboys SSR1 - Cut: 2/10 Gloss: 8/10
Poorboys SSR2 - Cut: 3/10 Gloss: 8/10
Poorboys SSR2.5 - Cut: 5/10 Gloss: 7/10
Poorboys SSR3 - Cut: 8/10 Gloss: 6/10
2. A machine polisher or applicator pads. Machine polishers I would recommend are Meguiars G220 (G110 for USA) - fantastic for beginners, Porter Cable 7424, and Makita 9227C. The latter is more for pro detailers. Just type in whatever you're after in the search bar here.
Pads to use with a machine polisher would be Lake Country CCS pads, available here.
Also buy smaller pads for smaller sections of the car - door pillars, bumpers etc. For hand polishing, use German Applicator Pads, available here.
The yellow side is the one you need to use when it comes to polishing.
3. Paint thickness gauge (PTG), but this is more for pro detailers.
4. Masking tape to cover up the rubber trims, lights, etc.
5. Buffing towels. You will need these to buff off the polish. I use Poorboys Super Thick & Plush Towels but an alternative to these are Blue Perl Buffing Towels, which are available here.
1. Mask up the rubber trims, door handles, front and rear headlights. Basically anything that you want to avoid during the paint polishing.
2. With your chosen pad (yellow side of German Applicator pad if polishing by hand and yellow/orange CCS Pad for machine), you need to prime it first. This means adding a lubricant to the pad, so that dry buffing is avoided. Just use some water or a quick detailing spray, as I mentioned earlier.Next thing is to apply the product (start with a light abrasive polish) of your choice to the pad in an X shape, as this allows the product to spread out evenly across the pad when you begin polishing.
3. This applies to machine buffing... With the pad primed and loaded, the next thing you should do before switching on is spread the product across the work area by pressing it repeatedly against the panel - this helps to ensure that all parts of the work area are evenly polished. With the pad held against the paint, you can now switch the machine on. When you start polishing, you should spend the first couple of minutes on a low speed setting (2-3 on the dial of a G110) applying only light pressure, in order to allow the product to spread out evenly across the pad and the work area.
After a couple of minutes, you can turn the speed up (4-5) and then move systematically across the panel, applying moderate pressure. Slow, overlapping passes are ideal - there is no need to move the machine backwards and forwards or side to side. Knowing when to remove the product depends as they're all different. A good indication is a change in the appearance of the product: many appear to become more transparent
when they have been properly worked. This is the time to buff off with towels of your choice, as I mentioned earlier under the 'products/tools needed.'
4. Continue using the same method on each panel of the car. Remember to work on small sections at a time.
5. Do NOT let the polish dry out. I've seen some people polish the WHOLE car and then try to buff off every panel at the end. This won't work! You probably won't have corrected the paint (cos you haven't seen what you've done!) and buffing off will be extremely difficult!
6.Once you're happy with the paint correction, you can do the same with the glass and lights on the car. Obviously remove the masking tape to these sections which you applied earlier.
7. An abrasive polish usually causes 'hazing,' meaning the paint is not yet perfect for protection. You need a polish which will bring out the gloss/reflectivity in the paint, otherwise known as 'glaze' polishes. Glazes are designed to improve the brilliance and clarity of painted surfaces, and mask or visually reduce the extent of any remaining imperfections. Take it as a thin, glossy coating applied to the surface of food. It's the same for a car.
I usually apply this by hand using the grey/black side of the German Applicator. Can also be applied by machine using the black CCS Pad. I like to use Blackfire Gloss Enhancing Polish for this stage which is available here.
8. Buff of using the towels mentioned earlier but use a new one for the glaze polish!
Compounding can only be done a certain number of times before the integrity of the clear coat is compromised. Compounding should be the last resort.
Try to AVOID polishing in the sun. As before, it will dry out your product(s) much quicker. Also, try to work in a closed space like a carport or garage to minimise dust getting on the car.
Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels and applicator pads should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally. All polishing pads should be scraped off using a blunt plastic edge and then rinsed out thoroughly before being left to soak overnight in a bucket of warm soapy water. A good squirt of washing up liquid is ideal for this purpose, as it cuts through most product residues with ease and does not damage the foam. Let the pads dry out naturally the next day.
Once the paint has been cleaned and polished, painted surfaces require protection against the elements in order to preserve the long-term quality of the finish. There are three forms of protection: natural carnauba waxes, synthetic sealants, and products that combine the two. Protection, commonly referred to as last step product (LSP) can dramatically affect the appearance of your car, as LSPs typically offer varying degrees of gloss, reflectivity, slickness and durability.
How do I know if my paint has been protected?
All types of protection create an invisible layer on paint that repels water and contaminants. Protection causes water droplets to bead on the surface
Unprotected and protected:
The difference is quite noticeable!
Examples of finishes...
On the left, we can see that the paint appears to be richer and wetter looking (i.e. glossier) than in the image on the right. However, in the image on the right, the paint appears to be shinier, and we can see much further into the reflections than in the image on the left. The differences between these images reflect the choice of LSP. A wax was used in the image on the left, while a sealant was used in the image on the right.
1. LSP (last step product). Choose a wax, sealant or the latest LSPs (which combine the two) to protect the finish on your paint.There are hundreds of LSPs to choose from so this really is YOUR choice depending on what finish you want. I apply the LSP by hand.
2. German Applicator Pad to apply the LSP. Use the grey/black side for wax/sealants. Don't mix the LSP with the glaze polish (previous step), so use a new pad.
3. Buffing towels. You will need these to buff off the LSP. I use Poorboys Deluxe Mega Towels but an alternative to these are Blue Perl Buffing Towels, which are available here.
1. Apply your LSP to the grey/black side of the German Applicator Pad in an X shape.
2. Work in the LSP one panel at a time. You could even do the whole car in one go, but read the instructions which come on the product of your choice.
3. The LSP can also be applied to the glass and lights. It acts like Rain-X for your glass.
4. Use a new buffing towel(s) to buff of the LSP.
Try to AVOID protecting in the sun. As before, it will dry out your product(s) much quicker.* Also, try to work in a closed space like a carport or garage to minimise dust getting on the car.
*Some waxes/sealants are okay if applied in the sun. (Read the instructions on the product).
Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels and applicator pads should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally.
'Quick detailing' is a term used to describe how you can maintain the appearance of your car between washes. They are best used after every wash to remove water spots, enhance gloss and add another valuable layer of wax or sealant protection. Great for winter months when you don't have much time to care for your car.
1. Detailing spray (which I recommended in the 'clean' stage). Meguiars are a good brand.
2. Buffing towels which I mentioned earlier in the 'polish' and 'protect' stages.
3. Your car!
1. Spray on quick detailer one panel at a time.
2. Wipe off using a buffing towel.
3. While doing the above, make references to Karate Kid. ''Wax on, wax off.''