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D.I.Y. Car Detailing

Old 10-Aug-2006, 12:16 AM
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D.I.Y. Car Detailing

Detailing products FAQ

There seems to have been quite a number of threads in the past few months regarding different products, where to obtain them, and which is "the best". My goal with this thread is to provide some insight about detailing and to answer any questions that you guys may have.

I once read a post over at Autopia stating "the perfect finish is a process, not a product". There is no such thing as "the best" when it comes to detailing- it's very subjective. You have to find products that works for you and gives you the results you want.

Materials
# hose
# nozzle
# bucket(s)
# washmitt (I prefer sheepskin or microfiber)
# various brushes (for cleaning rims/wheelwells/interior)
# drying cloth (chamois/artificial chamois/waffleweave microfiber)
# terry cloth towels
# microfiber towels (for removing products)
# drinking water/snacks (it's always good to stay hydrated and take breaks, especially in the summer heat)

WASHING

Generally you'll want to wash your car in the shade, but as we all know, that isn't always possible. Start out with the basics- a hose, nozzle, bucket, soap, and sponge. I'd recommend a sheepskin washmitt since they reduce chances of scratching the paint. As for the soap, pretty much any carwash soap will do. What you don't want to do is use a harsh dishwashing detergent such as Dawn- the only reason that Zaino recommends it is because Zaino will not bond unless the paint is completely clean, and dishwashing soap strips the paint of any wax that's on the surface.

I like to have two separate buckets- one full of soapy water, and the other full of clean water. Wash one panel at a time, working from the roof down. After washing each panel, rinse off the sponge in the "clean water" bucket, squeeze out the remaining water, and then dip the sponge in the "soapy water" bucket. This helps reduce the amount of dirt in the "soapy water" bucket. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. One thing you might have to watch out for if it's a hot day outside is the soapy water drying on the paint while you're washing other panels. In this case, just rinse off each panel after you finish washing it, and try keeping the whole car wet while you're working.

For rims, I just use a separate sponge and some brushes along with the leftover soapy water. Don't use the same sponge for the rims as you use on your cars paint. For stubborn brake dust stains, you may have to spray on some wheel cleaner.

After you're done with the rims, I'd suggest one final rinse of the entire vehicle. This time, take the spray nozzle off of the hose, and use low water pressure. Start rinsing the car at the top, following the flow of the water so it "sheets" off. This will make it easier to dry the car.

Now it's time to dry the car. I used to use a synthetic chamois called The Absorber religiously- that is, until I discovered waffle weave microfiber towels. Once you use a WW towel you will never go back- IMO at least. I had to wring out my Absorber several times when drying my Integra, but I never have to wring out my WW towel. You may want to follow up with a leaf blower or compressed air to get all the water out of the doorjambs/door handles/emblems/etc.

There is also a product called Quick and Easy Wash by ProtectAll. It basically provides for a "hoseless" carwash, needing only a bucket and water. It's a very convenient product that you may want to look into if you live in an apartment or condo, or if you want to wash your car inside your garage during the winter months.

CLAYING

Detailing clay is used to remove embedded dirt, grime, overspray, etc from the paint without the use of abrasives. After washing your car, run your hand over the paint. If the paint has a gritty feel to it, you need to use a clay bar. There are several different claybar kits on the market, including Clay Magic, ClearKote, Meguiar's, and Mother's. Just follow the instructions on the package and you should be fine.

You can also clay your car as part of the washing process, using the soapy water as a lubricant instead of the quick detailer included in many claybar kits. Just make sure that you wash and rinse the panel before you clay to get rid of any dirt that may be on the surface.

PAINT CLEANING/SWIRL REMOVAL

Cleaners and compounds are made to remove serious paint defects such as oxidation, scratches, and paint transfers (from other cars). Swirl removers are used to smooth the surface after using a cleaner/compound and to remove any swirl or scratch marks made by the cleaner/compound. Always start with the lightest cleaner or compound, and use a stronger one only when necessary.

Products from Meguiar's and 3M seem to be the most popular- I personally use products from Meguiar's Professional Body Shop line. Menzerna also makes a product called Intensive Polish that is also well known. For heavy swirls and oxidation, I like to use Meguiar's #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish. I use #82 Swirl Free Polish on lighter swirls or to follow up after DACP.

There are more agressive products on the market, but you can easily cause damage to your paint, especially if you're using a buffer.

As for chemical cleaners, a crowd favorite is definately Klasse All-in-One. AIO is a non-abrasive cleaner that will get rid of oxidation and leave a smooth finish. A good analogy would be that AIO is like Neutrogena, whereas DACP is like Fast Orange.

Application

By hand: Use a terry cloth towel, folded into 1/8ths size to form a thick pad and so you can apply even pressure. Work on a small section at a time (2'x2') using moderate pressure (enough to build up some warmth on the towel) and work the product into the paint until it looks nearly clear and dry. Wipe off immediately. Refold the towel and move on to the next section.

By orbital: Choose a pad of your liking (I almost always use a Lake Country yellow cutting pad with my Porter Cable orbital). Work the product into the paint until it looks nearly clear and dry. Wipe off immediately.

By rotary: If you're using a rotary, you should already know what you're doing, so I'll leave it at that

POLISHING

Polishes and glazes are used to add oils to the paint for more shine and smooth the surface for more reflection. They will, up to a certain extent, fill in some minor swirlmarks, but will not remove serious paint defects - that is not its purpose.

There are several different products out, including Clearkote Vanilla Moose Wax, Poorboy's Polish w/ Carnuba, S100 Shine Enhancing Cleanser/P21S Gloss Enhancing Polish Cleanser, Menzerna Final Polish, 3M Imperial Hand Glaze, and Meguiar's #7 Show Car Glaze. I've found that the first three leave a slicker surface than the last three, which leave more of a "squeaky clean" surface.

For the price, you can't beat S100 SEC. It can be found locally at some Harley Davidson dealerships, and is the exact same thing as P21S GEPC.

Application

Follow the instructions on the bottle- some polishes say to work the product into the paint and remove immediately, while others say to apply the product, let it sit for a while, and then remove. Use a microfiber or foam applicator to apply by hand. With a PC, I use a white Lake Country pad.

SEALING

There are polymer sealants, and there are carnuba waxes. Both are used primarily to seal and protect the paint. Popular sealants include Zaino, Klasse Sealant Glaze, Platinum Ultimate Paint Protection, Poorboy's EX Sealant, and Meguiar's NXT. Popular carnubas include S100/P21S, Clearkote Carnuba Moose Wax, Pinnacle Paste Glaz, Pinnacle Souveran, and One Grand Blitz.

Sealants last longer than carnubas alone- however, many detailers follow up a sealant with a carnuba wax. If you religiously detail your car, a sealant is generally not needed. For best results, it is recommended that a sealant be layered, but there is usually a 24 hour curing period to let the sealant bond to the paint before each additional layer can be added. The law of diminishing returns also plays a factor in this, so think before applying 100 coats of Klasse SG on your Civic

MAINTENANCE

A quick detailer spray along with a microfiber can be used to maintain the shine of your paint. I personally use Meguiar's Final Detail, but there are several other quick detailers on the market. Just be sure that the surface is dust free- if you're using a California Car Duster, wipe the surface gently (don't scrub the paint) to remove the dust.

INTERIOR

Use a vacuum on the carpet/floormats/seats and use a mixture of Woolite w/ water in a spray bottle (approx. 6:1 water:Woolite) on stains and leather seats. Use a plastic brush to work the mixture in and dry w/ a clean cloth.

VINYL/RUBBER/TIRES

It depends on the type of finish you want- some products leave a glossy/shiny finish, and others leave a black matte finish. I personally prefer the black matte finish on everything including the dash and the tires. One thing I would recommend against is using a glossy product on the dash- it could reflect against the windshield at some angles. I personally use 303 Aerospace Protectant.

GLASS

I personally use a wet microfiber to wipe down the glass, and then follow up with a dry microfiber. I have heard good things about Eagle One 20/20 glass cleaner, but have yet to use it. Another tip is to use newspaper instead of paper towels to clean your glass.

ENGINE BAY

# Make sure engine is warm, but not hot. Cold engines are harder to remove grease and oil from.

** Check the directions on the engine cleaner/degreaser you are using, though. Some specifically say to clean the engine when cold only. **

# Cover your distributor (if you do not know what or where it is, get a manual for your car), alternator and fuse box. Most electronics under your hood are adequately sealed for rain water splashing up on them, but high pressure water is another story.

# Spray your favorite degreaser liberally all over your engine and engine bay (I've had good success with Greased Lightning's Orange Blast and Simple Green.) Let it sit for about 5 minutes. If your engine is really dirty, then after the 5 minutes, spray it down again and wait an additional 5 minutes.

# Spray the engine and engine bay with high pressure rinse water - but even though your distributor may be covered, still use lower pressure around it to be on the safe side.

# Any remaining grime, spray again with degreaser, and use a stiff brush if needed. Rinse again.

# Remove the plastic coverings and start the engine. Let it run until it is dry. You will have to dry the painted surfaces in the engine bay and the underside of the hood with a towel.

# Dress any hoses, etc. you want with rubber/vinyl dressing.

MISC

The three-step products from Mother's and Meguiar's are not bad products- however, there are better products out there.

When applying a product, there's no need to use a lot. Using excessive product on your pad only makes removal more difficult, and there is no advantage to doing so- remember, only a small amount makes contact with the surface of the paint.

You may also want to apply a sealant or wax on your rims. You wax the rest of your car, why not your rims as well? It will definately make it easier clean your rims the next time around.

For the most complete PC thread ever known to man, visit this thread.


That's about it for now... hopefully this is worthy of a sticky here in this forum. Thanks to Scottwax and EMTFirefighter at Autopia for letting me use their post as a reference. As always, questions/comments/corrections/flames are welcome.

Source : (Thanks to B U N M A N G O)Click Here
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Old 28-Aug-2006, 03:32 AM
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nice car wash write up
i suck at washing my car, i think its time to use different soap hahaha
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Old 02-Nov-2006, 12:33 AM
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very nice write up! Thanx
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