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AW's Resident Smartass
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I am a hardcore detailing junky. My car has multiple toothbrushes. I'm waiting for my mind to be blown.
 

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TireMeltingRSX said:
That is good advice.

The dove strips the old wax
The clay bar removes bonded contaminants
The regular wash gets any of the remaining claybar/quickwax off
Polish readies the paint for wax
Wax makes it beautiful
First of all, save yourself a step and skip the dove. A clay bar will remove old wax, that is one of it's primary functions. Second, wash the car normally before claybaring...you need to remove loose dirt beforehand. A claybar will remove dirt and contaminents that are embedded into your paint. A good cleaner polish will remove heavy oxidation, acid rain marks, swirls, and in most cases, hairline scratches in the clearcoat. If you have deeper scratches in heavily trafficed areas, such as around door handles, etc., you may want to step up to something stronger, like a scratch remover. Polish will make the paint "pure" again, and also add depth. Finish it off with a good wax. I've always used carnaubas and blends due to their nice shine and lasting durability, but recently switched over to full synthetics and am very impressed. Mother's reflections is a very good line, and is much better than anything maguiar's has out on the market.
 

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SuperCoupe93 said:
First of all, save yourself a step and skip the dove. A clay bar will remove old wax, that is one of it's primary functions. Second, wash the car normally before claybaring...you need to remove loose dirt beforehand. A claybar will remove dirt and contaminents that are embedded into your paint. A good cleaner polish will remove heavy oxidation, acid rain marks, swirls, and in most cases, hairline scratches in the clearcoat. If you have deeper scratches in heavily trafficed areas, such as around door handles, etc., you may want to step up to something stronger, like a scratch remover. Polish will make the paint "pure" again, and also add depth. Finish it off with a good wax. I've always used carnaubas and blends due to their nice shine and lasting durability, but recently switched over to full synthetics and am very impressed. Mother's reflections is a very good line, and is much better than anything maguiar's has out on the market.
So how often would you recommend claybarring & polishing?
 

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bitter79 said:
So how often would you recommend claybarring & polishing?
If your car is fairly new, garage kept, and/or cleaned and waxed regularly, polishing and claying may not be something you have to do very often. It also has alot to do with personal preferrence. I know people who polish and clay regularly, and those who do it only every couple years. Since my car is getting up there in age, I usually clay once a year, and polish 1-2 times per year depending on how weathered my car has gotten. If I'm waxing my car, and I notice swirls or oxidation that won't come out, then I know it's time to polish. Your car is basically brand new, so claying probably won't be necessary for a while. You could still polish occasionally though, as it will help to add depth and richness to your paint along with waxing. Basically, clean and wax your car regularly, and you won't need to clay and polish very often. Also, any good liquid wax will have mild cleaners that remove everyday oxidation and soils, so if you stay regular with that, you won't need to polish often.
 

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I like to use Zaino products like Z2,Z5,Z6. Did wonders for 95 Mustang (now totaled) ..made it look brand new again. I also use it on my new car now as you can see in the pic.

Best of luck finding the right product for your car.

 

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Jen03 said:
My boyfriend and I just ordered the Porter Cable 7424 Auto Polisher and we want to know the best techniques to use. One guy told him this...

What you guys think? What works best for you?
You want the best technique for using the PC or the best process to detail a vehicle? For using the PC, check Autopia's How To section. Did you get pads also? Probably need a polishing pad and a finishing one as well.

As far as a detailing process:
1. Wash
2. Clay (removes imbedded contamination i.e. brake & rail dust)
3. Pre Wax Cleaner or Polish (depending on paint condition)
4. Seal (synthetic/polymer product for longevity & durability)
5. Wax (optional - but a lot of folks do it)
Note: As SuperCoupe mentioned, forget the "Dove" step. Claying and polishing will remove any wax buildup.
 

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For cars driven daily: Wax monthly if you use a Nuba, every 3 months if you use a Polymer.
In between washes, use a quick detailer which will prohibit stains on the paint. Monthly, I like to add a Spray Booster like Four Stars Ultimate Paint Protectant Spray, which will help carry the protection over until the following season, when I reapply the full strength product (UPP).
Clay & *polish (*For light swirls) twice yearly, make sure you protect after polishing or **paint cleaning (** for just removing existing protectant, and oxidation, paint brightening).
Your depth and gloss come from polishing and/or cleaning.
Contrary to popular belief, when using all in one type of products, or liquid waxes, its not the "wax" that provides the reflection, its the petroleum distillates used to make the product useable, that removes oxidation and other imperfections.....the wax is there to preserve.
 

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Clapoti said:
Hi everybody... I'm not a huge fan of all those product... I only wash my car with regular car wash and sometimes wax it with turtle wax... but I would love to wash it and wax it and be beautiful this spring when all the snow will be gone.

You seem to know a lot about those product TireMelt... Kev I think.

I would really like if you could give me some advice about all these product and maye even what are the products you use. Maybe if you could take a picture of the product you use It would be great... it realy helps finding what you want when you have an image of it.

Thx
A lot of the products mentioned aren't available OTC like Mothers, Megs, and Eagle 1. These are usaually availble at online sites like Autopia, Autogeek, PAC, Danase, Top of the Line, Exceldetail and a few other places. Every product shown on these sites has a description and a photo. Of course, there are more sites that carry detailing supplies and products, but the ones mentioned have an array of products for the weekend detailer as well as the professional.
 

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AW's Resident Smartass
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I clay bar every time before I wax, if you don't you're just waxing the bonded contaminants into your paint.
 

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I'll probally get a reaming for this one, but I decided to get the "Teflon" paint protection from Acura on my new MDX. After previous experiences with ALL weekend detailing, I felt my time is better spent on other things. If I can buy this stuff and only have to car wash it, that's a convenience I am willing to pay a bit for.

Other ways are cheaper, but do not factor in time and tediousness of it all. So for me personally, I'll pay some up front for this service. If it works like advertised I'm golden, but if not I'll get refund or a lawyer.
 

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AW Detailing Wanker
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Never heard of this Teflon stuff that acura offers. I would rather spend two weekends a year cleaning my baby up than paying someone else to put some magical product on it that I haven't seen tested before.


As far as the process. There are different tiers of detailing madness that each of us have. I would feel comfortable saying that Kev and I are at the top of this list.

The first step is the initial wash. This should be done with a quality car wash. If you have access to a power washer then you should pick up a foam gun to use with it. A power washer is great for cleaning out wheel wells and at a further distance for spraying down the entire car. A foam gun mixes soap with the water through the power washer to create a foam that will sit on the car longer and eat away at the dirt without agitation. There are many options for car wash soap however Tide and Dawn are not one of them if you ask me. These chemicals are not made to be applied to automotive paint and rubber and can damage these surfaces. There are plenty of car washes available from your local parts store that will do the trick. Meguires Gold Class is one of the better ones. If you want to step it up a notch, many companies make premium car washes that you can get via the internet. Since I don't have a power washer I have a tendency to use ONR. It gives a much more lubricated wash than most other soaps I have used and helps to prevent marring due to washing.

When it comes to the actual hands on part of the car wash there is a proper way and an improper way. First of all the car should be cool to the touch and not in direct sunlight. If you have even the least bit hard water then it will spot almost instantly in direct sun, especially in the hot summer months. Secondly you should wash from the top down, and one of the biggest things is that you should only move the mitt in the direction that air flows down the car as it is driven as much as possible. If you wash in a circular motion you are more inclined to cause light scratches in many directions. When all the light scratches (often called swirls) in the paint are going the same way then they are much less visible. Additionally, dust and debris in the air will cause scratches in some cases simply from driving. By cleaning in the same direction these natural scratches are created in you are limiting the visibility of additional scratches. Another important thing to note is that you should NEVER scrub at your car. If there is a stubborn bug or mark on the paint, wash the area twice. If that does not remove the mark then leave it there for the claybar to catch. That is why we use them.

Alright, now that you have washed the car its time to claybar the vehicle. Claybarring isn't a horribly intensive process and it does not usually need to be done at every wash. However if you find that you get stubborn bugs stuck to the front bumper all the time you might just spot clay those bugs off. A little piece of clay can go a long way. Depending on the condition of the car, I can clay an entire car with a 1-2 cm diameter ball of clay. Some cars however might require an entire bar. It is advantageous to start with a small amount of clay so in the event that you do drop it, you don't waste an entire bar. Clay that has been dropped on the ground is trash. It will pick up sharp particles of dirt which will have the same effect as rubbing down your car with sandpaper.
The same as washing, claying should be done in the same direction as the motion of wind over the vehicle when driving. It should also be done in the shade and if possible under cover of a garage or a tent in order to minimize dust and dirt dropping on the car's unprotected paint. Claying will also remove wax so you will have to seal/wax after you clay a car. Alright, the process: you will need some quick detailer or dedicated clay lube to keep the surface lubricated. If the clay has a tendency to stick then it isn't lubed enough. You should clay in smaller areas, 2 foot x 2 foot is usually how I clay. You will be able to hear and feel the clay picking up contaminants as you clay. Its hard to describe the feeling/noise, just something you notice after you've been doing it for a while. Once you are done claying the paint should be smooth as a baby's bottom.

Now that you're done claying I like to wash the car again with the rinsless ONR solution. One of the advantages to this car wash is that you can do it in the garage as long as the car isn't too dirty. A wash at this point will clean up any dust or small dirt particles that have fallen on the car while you were claying. This is especially important if you are going to use a machine to polish the car as it will pick up dirt and can cause horrible swirling.

Polishing via machine: if you want any serious correction then this is the way to go. I've tried it by hand and in most cases its just a waste of time. For the purposes of this 'walkthrough' we won't go into detail on different brand names of polishes. However I will say that I have used Einszette polishes before and gotten pretty good results, it seems that the industry standard is Menzerna polishes. There are an abundance of different kinds of polish with different degrees of abrasiveness. In the same spirit there are tons of different pads that have a different 'cut' to them. The more cut, the more correction they can do and in the same way the more damage they can do. ALWAYS start with your least aggressive polish/pad combo until you have the experience under your belt to know what each can do. Its cheaper to spend an extra hour moving up in aggressiveness than owing the owner of a car or yourself a new paint job because you got too impatient. I generally use 6.5 inch pads on a random orbit buffer, I have not used a rotary yet so I can't comment on their use except that they are supposed to be much more advanced than a random orbit. I will again repeat that 2 foot x 2 foot area that I polish in one shot. Generally three pea sized drops of polish will cover this area. Start with the buffer turned off and smear the polish around the area you are going to polish. You wouldn't want to put straight pad onto your paint, talk about swirl city. After spreading the polish I turn the buffer on its lowest setting and do a quick pass over the area I am going to polish to make sure that the polish is evenly spread over the entire area. Then I'll crank the buffer up to speed 4-6 as needed to get the desired result. Different paints/polishes/pads require different speeds and its just a matter of finding what works. As the polish breaks down it will begin to look less and less greasy and eventually disappear all together. You will also find that the polish begins to turn into a light powder. You want to stop before it all disappears. This is called the flash point. At that point wipe off the residue and inspect your work. If you are satisfied then you can move onto the burnishing/jeweling process or if you aren't happy with the result, change your combo and repeat. Just remember, take baby steps when getting more aggressive.

Burnishing/jeweling: basically this is the same process as the general polish, however this is not a corrective step. Using a VERY light polish and a finishing pad go over the entire car (not at once). This serves to give the paint a little more pop with most paints. Its not a step that is required but I've found that metallic paints and black paints benefit from it greatly. Other solids less so, white the least from my experience.

Wax and sealant: here we get into a whole universe of what product is best, the best way to apply it, wax by hand or machine, by applicator or literally hand, use so-and-so's method or the other guy. Frankly, I've tried a number of methods for waxing but the fastest and easiest way I've found is to throw on a clean finishing pad, put some wax on it (once again, 3 pea sized drops will cover a 2x2 foot panel. This is a general rule for how I wax though, different styles and waxes will alter how much coverage you get out of a drop. I found that it took almost twice as much of the Optimum Opti-seal to cover a lexus IS300 than it did with my Einszette Glanz wax. When applying, wax does not need to be buffed in like polish, just get an even, light coat on the panel and move on. There are some waxes that say you can just spray them on and wipe them off but I would only use those after a quick weekly wash. After a full wash, clay, and polish I want something more substantial. After spreading the wax with your buffer all you have to do is wait for the wax to flash. This is the time from the wax to undergo the phase change to its solid form. It will be like after you have put out a candle, the liquid wax is clear but as it cools it becomes white or whatever pigment color is in it. Once it makes this color change you can buff it out with a clean towel. Make sure to turn the towel often to prevent wax build up in one spot.
Sealants can be a little trickier, some of them require up to 24 hours to cure. During that time I wouldn't drive the car and you can't put any products over the sealant. Generally I just use a wax unless its someone else's car that I know won't be washed as regularly as I would have it.




The process listed above is somewhat flexible. You don't have to clay, polish, or jewel. All a car needs to stay protected is regular washing and waxing. However for that baby bottom paint and a really stunning finish, more steps are needed. I would not polish a car more than twice a year with exceptions for spot polish from things like shopping carts. It IS possible to polish right through the paint. There are tools that will tell you how thick your paint is but they can be fairly expensive. This is also why you use a less aggressive polish when possible, it removes less clear and enables longer lasting paint and more polishing sessions.




That's about it for now, feel free to ask questions. I'm no expert but I've been around the block a couple times and know a good bit on the subject.
 

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S2K2K4, great post.

So to be clear, I should clean my car in this process.

1. Good regular wash: up and down motions, no circles.

*dry*

2. Clay bar: with a lubricant, up and down motions, 2'x2' area at a time. As for the amount of clay to use, start small.

3. Wash the car again.

4. Polish, use the least abrasive.

5. Wax

----------------QUESTIONS----------------------

#2: How will I know when I should discard a piece of clay?

#3: Wash the entire car again with soap? Or just a rinse and dry?

#4: I heard polish can strip a car of it's clear coat, is this true? I can use circular motions here right?


I will be doing all this by hand. No Buffer for me.
 

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AW Detailing Wanker
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Schme,

Discard your clay when you can no longer fold it over and get a clean side.

I was the car with soap again.

You can polish the paint off a car but on most vehicles this would take quite a lot of polishing. On some cars like some race-intended Ferraris the paint is so thin from the factory (to save weight) that it can be dangerous to use anything but the least aggressive polish. Since you are polishing by hand you won't really be able to polish your paint off without years of regular polishing.
 

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Hi all i have no idea about that but If you really want to do some reading on it, this is the best place I've found. Yes the site sells stuff, but reading the 200+ page FREE PDF they offer, it seems to make sense.
 
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