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Detailing and cleaning advise (dos and donts pros and cons)

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Detailing and cleaning advise (dos and donts pros and cons)

Postby Dereksjoint » Sun Apr 11, 2010 11:48 pm

I would imagine there are quite a few people on the site that think detailing just seems like too much effort and money to bother with. And in a way you would be right :lol: Detailing is not for everyone but if you like having a clean looking car and you want it to stay that way for up to 6 months at a time even with daily use then this post might just win you over.

Let’s start with the amount of effort required, now I'm not going to lie you're in for a bit of a shift if you want to do a proper job of it. But it's only as labour intensive as you make it for example if you use the right products (not always the most expensive ones) then the job will be a lot easier. Also if you have an electric buff then polishing, sealing and waxing will be a whole lot easier, faster and will give a better finish while using less product than doing the job by hand.

The costs involved don't have to be rediculas but if you want the finish to last the 6 months then you will need to spend decent money on a good wax although 30 to 50 bucks max will supply a product that will do that and trust me you'll never empty the pot. Some products are worth spending a little more on just because they make life that bit easier when it comes to cleaning too and there are quite a few products that have multiple uses, it's just knowing what to buy.

Now let’s take a look at what’s involved in detailing as there are several key stages that you'll have to go through to get the desired finish but don't worry if you only want to give the car a quick wash, polish and wax then please read on and just delete the steps as required although some are worth the extra time and effort.

Washing the car
Now the simplest job in the world but there are quite a few do's and don'ts when washing your car. I posted a video in this section about the 2 bucket washing system but whatever way you do it there a simple rules to follow.

Never use washing up liquid unless you want to strip the wax off a car even then there are better products on the market. Household detergents are very aggressive so try not to use them on your paint work unless you’re starting completely from scratch to detail. But NEVER again after that or you’ll undo all your hard work.

If you can buy a good wash mitt preferable a microfiber jobbie normally about 8 quid for a good un but it will be far kinder on your paint than a sponge as most of the paint swirling on your car is caused by sponges. It will also use less water out of the bucket and will be easier to clean than a sponge as you wear it over your hand like a puppet so you can feel all the contours of the car. Also if you’re a clumsy git like me then you won’t have to worry about dropping the sponge while you’re cleaning and covering it with small gritty stones. I always keep a sponge handy though when I don’t want to get the mitt thilthy lol

As for car shampoo, anything’s good that isn’t going to undo all your hard work so something that’s kind to wax. Some products help replenish your wax while still cleaning the car look at the chemical guys range for this although as always with any brand you’ll need to pay a little more.

Now that I’ve told you how to suck eggs lol we’ll move onto Clay Barring
Again there is a post in the detailing section all about clay barring it’s worth a watch. If you’re looking for a very clean glass like finish to you paint work then you need to clay the car. It is extremely easy and you’ll use very little effort, the only down side is it’s a little time consuming and if you’ve got a white car like me then your eyes will hurt after a while lol Just a white car thing though I believe.

When it comes to clay bars there are many on the market same with detailing spray but I’m of the opinion that clay bars clay bar lol the same with the spray you don’t need to spend big money. You will get a couple of bars off ebay for well under a tener no worries and chemical guys are reasonably priced for the detailing spray but if you’re really hard up and stuck put some water in a sqooshy bottle and use that as lube.

While you’re claying you’ll come across several things stuck to the car, tar for example can be a real pain and if you’re having a bit of trouble shifting it with the clay then there are other ways. Petrol is probably the cheapest and most effective way of removing just about anything that is stuck to your paint work but there are obvious risks like no smoking while using it lol and keep away from rubbers and seals ect. NEVER use the petrol thing again though as above you will undo all the hard work strip all the wax off ect ect.

After claying you’ll need to rinse the car off again and definitely if you’ve just washed it down with petrol rags, rinse it off a couple of times at least lol.


Then we move onto polishing the car, now there is a common myth that polishes contain wax and some do actually contain on averge0.00000001% of carnauba wax lol but in general polish and wax are 2 completely separate things. Some polishes do contain a small amount of cutting compound for removing swirls ect. But again if you want to cut into the paint work then you’re better off not polishing and buy the proper products for the job. A polish is generally used to clean the paintwork before using a sealant or a wax. If you are polishing using an electric buff then make sure you use a pad that only gets used for polishing.

Scratch and Swirl Removing
If you’re looking to remove swirls and scratches then you’re looking at paint correction. Now this is a little advanced for a novice and normally left to the professionals so if it’s your first time then take great care doing this. It is also advisable that you use an electric buff as it’s almost a pointless exercise by hand and you will be knackered. Just remember keep the buff at a Low speed 1 or 2 will be fine maybe venture to 3 if you’re feeling insane lol but slower is better for a novice. Another key piece of advice is keep the buff moving all the time, NEVER hold the buff on any one area as this WILL burn the paint or at least leave big buff mark swirls always moving. And last of all stay away from stone chips you’ll only make them worse, plastic trim, seals and rubbers and the edges of panels as this is where the paint is thinnest.

The most well known cutting compound is T-Cut everyone’s heard of it but T-Cut is really quite abrasive. When cutting into the paint you always want to start using a light cutting compound, work your way round the car a panel at a time making sure that you’re not cutting the paint too deep. The key here is using 2 pads, 1 for light cutting compounds and 1 for deep cutting and remember don’t get them mixed up lol. As for products there are many on the market from Chemical Guys, Poor Boys, Meguires, G3 + G10 and many many more.

Paint Restoration
For Extreme cutting you need to rub the car down with ultra fine 2500 grit wet and dry to remove the scratch then use the relevant cutting compound and the buff to polish the paint back up. Remember to stay away from the edges of panels both with the wet and dry and the buff. If you are brave enough to try this on your car then I would advise that you at least watch a how to video on You Tube just to give you an idea of what exactly is involved before you let yourself loose on your pride and joy.

The next stage is one that I do not do but this is where you would apply a Glaze to the car. I’m not 100% on what exactly the Glaze does but I’ve heard that it is normally only applied when a panel is freshly paint and like all the steps above and below it help the life time of the shine and finish to the car.

After a Glaze you would normally apply a coat of sealant, I used Chemical Guys Jetseal 109 and it’s fabulas stuff. Very easy to apply even by hand although a buff would be quick just remember and use a fresh Jetseal only buff pad and remember don’t mix it up with the other polishing pads. A sealant is designed to prolong the life of the wax finish and it does a very good job of it. You can also use Jetseal on alloy wheels, chrome bits, stainless steel bits, polished alloy bits you name it. If it’s metal or painted then get a coat of jetseal on it and keep the dirt from sticking to it for a long time.

Applying a sealant is very easy even by hand, simply squeeze a small amount of sealant onto an applicator pad or onto a microfiber cloth. Work it into the paint work small areas at a time then leave until it has cured normally about 15 mins. You can tell if it’s cured my rubbing a finger across an area that you’ve worked. If you rub and it smears then leave it but if it rubs away then it’s time to get a clean microfiber cloth out and polish the panel up. For longer lasting effects apply 2 coats of sealant to the whole car.

Finally we come to probably the most important part the wax. This is what will give your car a great shine and a waterproof, dirt proof barrier for up to 6 months. As mentioned before you don’t to be too tight here as a £12 wax will only last a month or 2 but a £30-50 wax will last up to 5 or 6 months.

Most modern waxes are very easy to apply even by hand, although I would advise that you get yourself a small wax applicating pad to work the wax into the paint. Work small areas at a time using only a small amount of wax on the pad. Once you’ve finished an area leave until it has cured normally about 15 mins. You can tell if it’s cured my rubbing a finger across an area that you’ve worked. If you rub and it smears then leave it but if it rubs away then it’s time to get a clean microfiber cloth out and polish the panel up. For longer lasting effects and a better brighter shine apply 2 coats of wax to the whole car.

Maintaining you’re newly waxed car
Once you’ve waxed the car the only true way to keep the shine is to wash the car yourself. Use a good car shampoo that is wax friendly and wash as per normal. You will find almost all of the tar spots and other debris pretty much falls off your new waxed car and it will continue to do so for some time. It is alright to use clay bar on your waxed finish to remove any more stubborn debris.

Avoid car washes at all costs as most use industrial strength soaps to clean and this will strip the wax straight off the car again meaning your pretty much back to stage 1 again. Also NEVER use the likes of washing up liquid as mentioned before this will also strip off your wax coating.

Cleaning under the bonnet
If you’d like to freshen up your engine bay then you’ll need a good degreaser check out my post in the detailing room. The great thing about that degreaser is that it’s great on pretty much everything as its 100% biodegradable. You can use it on thilthy panels, the engine block, silicone or rubber hoses, your taped wiring loom anything and everything. If you have any chrome, stainless steel or polished alloy parts under there then you’ll need some Autosol metal polish. Then feel free to apply any of the above detailing steps like clay barring the panels, polishing, sealing and waxing although it’s a lot of hard work lol. To bring a shine to your rubber or silicone hoses use Chemical guys New Look Trim Gel. A great product that also covers many purposes it can be used on plastics, rubbers, seals, hoses and tyres and it has a long lasting effect.

Glass Cleaning
Normally the first job I tackle when doing the inside of the car and the last job when I’m doing the exterior. I tend to use any old spray on glass cleaner first it doesn’t have to be anything fancy it’s just to get rid of the loose dirt and stains. Then I’d clay bar the outside of the windows to remove the more ground in debris. After this I normally use Autoglym glass polish on both sides of the windows. It’s a cream which once applied cures much like the wax and sealant afterwards remove with a microfiber cloth. Once I’ve polished the glass on the outside I apply a coat of Rain X to give the glass a waterproof coating much like the wax does with the paintwork.

Alloys and Tyres
When it comes to cleaning your wheels you want to get something that’s not acid based. A lot of alloy wheel cleaners contain acid which usually eats away at centre caps and it will tarnish any chrome parts that you have on your alloys. If there are still tar spots and marks on your alloys once you’ve cleaned them then try a bit of old clay bar on them to remove the rest of the crap. Once your wheels are shiney clean looking it’s a really good idea to use a sealant and a wax on them. The stuff you used on the car will be fine and it will give them a good protective layer meaning future brake dust and tar spot will jet wash off with ease. For better longer lasting results apply 2 coats of sealant and wax.

When it comes to tyres there’s only 2 that I would recommend, Chemical Guys Look Trim Gel or the daddy Meguiars Gold Class Endurance Tire Gel. Both very easy to apply, steal one of the wife’s sponge scouring pads from the kitchen, apply some gel and rub on. I’m not 100% on the longevity of the Chemicals Guys stuff although I hear it’s good but the Meguiars keeps the tyres looking new for Months a great product.

Well that it from me sorry if I’ve bored you to death reading this post lol I’m fairly new to the detailing side myself so if there’s any information above which is false please post up and put me straight lol.

Happy detailing troops ;)
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Re: Detailing and cleaning advise (dos and donts pros and cons)

Postby swordfish » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:55 am

good post derek , think it should be stickyed and locked .. as it covers most of the FAQ when your new to detailing etc ...

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Re: Detailing and cleaning advise (dos and donts pros and co

Postby Mark_rs2k » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:27 am

Fancy doin a red 51 zetec s full of swirl marks and oil stains on the bonnet :lol:
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