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Unread 05-11-2011, 04:04 PM   #1
danielkspencer
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Detailing and Washing your Ride-Properly

Here's a little write up I did on another forum to try to help people out. I'm a pro detailer on the side and I've been doing the car show circuits for some time.
Most of the mistakes that are made in car care come from improper washing and drying of your car. Even if you are using your rig off road and getting it muddy all the time, you can still minimize the damage to your paint if you know what you are doing.



Polishing, Waxing, and Sealing

Let's start with some terminology. Now, there isn't a specific guide to car care terminology. Some companies use different names for products, but these terms are defined as how the general car care specialist uses them.

Polish- Something that has a various amount of an abrasive substance in it that will smooth away scratches and swirling. A true Polish does not contain anything that will protect the paint. It is just used to get rid of surface problems by "sanding" if you will, the clear coat and making it smooth again. There are many different "cuts" of polish. A finishing polish has very little cut while a "rubbing" compound had a lot of "cut".

Sealant- Sealants are synthetic products that protect the paint. They do not contain any waxes. They do usually contain gloss enhancers. Sealants protect longer than waxes, but you usually do not get the depth and gloss that you do from a wax. If you choose to only do one or the other you should use a sealant instead of a wax for the following reasons
#1 You can layer sealants more easily with less ill effects
#2 Sealants last longer than waxes
#3 Sealants protect better than waxes
#4 Sealants are usually easier to apply and remove than waxes.

If you use a sealant and a wax you want to put the wax on last. Some people are under the impression that a sealant should be put on over the wax to "seal" the wax on the car. This is not true. The sealant needs to bond to the paint and cannot do that if the wax is put on first.

I generally use a sealant most of the time and only wax before a big car show to make it really look nice and deep.

Wax- Usually a paste or liquid that contains Carnuba wax. Most waxes that are "synthetic" are just sealants. Meguiar's Tech Wax 2.0 is a classic example of this. They call it wax because the general public is more familiar with the term "wax" and are more likely to buy it. (this info actually came from a Meguiar's employee, it's not just my opinion)

Waxes can build up, there is such a thing as "too much wax" Depending on the brand and application there is no way I can give you a number as to how many coats are too many, it varies a lot.

The car needs to be stripped of all wax at least 1-2 times a year. This should be done using a Citrus based cleaner specifically designed for this purpose. You can get such products online from any car car specialist stores.

Next you want to Clay bar the car. This removed surface deposits and makes the paint smooth. It does not get rid of scratches or water spots, etc. It's pretty cut and dry how to use it, just follow the directions. It's quick and easy and makes a difference especially if you park your car outside. After you clay bar you need to re-wash the car to get all the crap off of it.

Once the car is stripped of all wax and Clay Bared you can polish it to get out any imperfections.

If the finish is bad you want to use an aggressive polish and an aggressive pad.

Pad selection is just as important as polish selection. You can take a light polish and use it on an aggressive pad and get more "cut" and the inverse is also true.

When you are polishing you will want to press the pad to the paint. You want the pad to be crushed against the surface but not so hard that the buffer bogs down. I mark my backing plate so I can see how fast the buffer is spinning. If it starts to slow down, I let up on the pressure a little.

In order to polish a car you need heat and friction. You can not get that from a POS buffer you get a Walmart. You need a real buffer!!! The Porter Cable 7424 is the best bang for the buck, IMO

If you are using an aggressive polish or "compound" (I use Maguire's M105) you want to use either a Cyan or Yellow pad (all my color references are for Lake country pads since they are the industry standard)

The Cyan is a hydrotech pad with will hold more of the polish at the surface and lets you be able to use less polish since it doesn't soak in the foam. That's why I use the hydrotech pads, but the Yellow regular pad and the Cyan Hydrotech pad has about the same level of cut.

If you use an aggressive polish you will then need to follow up with a finishing polish to make the finish smooth and mirror like.

I use Meguiar's M205 and a Tangering hydrotech pad for this. If you don't want to use a hydrotech pad then you can use an orange pad instead for the same effect.

In my opinion the Hydrotech pads are the best value and the only way to fly.

Now if you only have minor swirling you can just start with a finishing polish like the M205 and skip the aggressive polish.

Since I'm very careful with my paint and do proper washing and no driving in the rain, etc. I never have to use anything other than the M205 on my car.

Now, to confuse things even more. . . If you have moderate swirling you can use Meguiar's Swirl remover with a Tangerine or Orange pad or even Meguiar's Ultimate Compound with a Tangerine or Orange pad. Either of these will get out any minor to medium swirls or scratching and are way way way less harmful to your clearcoat than the M105. If you don't want to use the Meguiar's products, there are several other swirl removers out there. A swirl remover is usually a medium grade polish that will cut more than a finishing polish therefore getting the job done quicker, but isn't so aggressive that it has to be followed up by a finishing polish.

M105 is like liquid sandpaper and should only be used if necessary and the paint has a lot of problems. If you use it too much it will eat through your clear coat and that ain't good, lol

I usually turn my buffer on 5 for my polishing. I work in 2 foot square areas at a time. I use a MF to remove the polish after it's broken down. Polish wipes off very easily once it's broken down.

Make sure to keep you pads clean and dirt free or you will scratch the hell out of your car. I use snappy pad cleaner. It's just a pack you put in a couple gallons of water and soak the pads in. Throw them in as soon as you are done and let them be soaking. Then massage the polish out of them and sit them up to dry. Place them against something so they sit at an angle and the polishing surface is facing down so dust and dirt doesn't collect on them as they are drying.

I usually use 2 pads for each grade of polish. So, depending on the car I'll either use 2 or 4 pads depending if I use just a finishing polish or if I have to use a more aggressive polish first.

Once the car is polished you can apply sealant. I use either a blue fine finishing pad, a black finishing pad, or a crimson hydrotech pad. Any will work fine. You will only need one pad for this. Tape off all the rubber, etc. and go over the car one panel at a time with the buffer on about a speed of 3. Wipe the sealant off after it dries with a microfiber. When applying the sealant you are not putting any extra pressure on the car.

Most sealants need time to cure. You need to check the specific product for cure times. I usually wait 24 hours between coats and only do 2 coats max.

Waxes vary a lot and I can't cover all the bases since they are all different from one to the next. Basically, with a wax you apply it last and do it by hand, usually. Some say circular overlapping, some say straight lines, etc. Just follow the directions for the product you are using.

Keep the microfibers you use to remove wax, sealants, and polishes separate and only use them for these tasks to prevent getting them dirty and scratching your paint. Basically, don't use a MF you clean you wheels with to remove polish from you freshly polished paint.

OK, that's all I can think of. You can see a lot of videos of people using buffers on youtube if you don't know how long you should work a specific area. But you basically want to work an area long enough to fix the problems and no longer.

You do want to work in a cross hatch pattern. Go from left to right then right to left as you move down or up in an overlapping patter. Once you have reached the end of your "box" then you go back over the same area in an Up to Down and Down to up motion. This will make for a more even result.



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Washing Tips


Here's a few things to consider when washing your car. Especially if you have a black car that shows micro scratches and swirls easily

Most of the damage to you paint is done by improper washing. If you are rubbing a gritty, dirty sponge all over your car when you wash it you are doing more damage than good.

I use the sheep skin wash mitts. They are about the only thing out there that will not scratch up your car. They have long hair that traps the dirt instead of just rubbing it all over your paint.

Start with a good car wash. I use Chemical Guys Maxi Suds II because it's very slick and very sudsy and smells great. It doesn't strip wax or sealant and that is super important. The slickness is also important since that helps to lubricate the surface and prevents scratching the paint. The Meguiar's Deep Crystal wash is good also, but doesn't suds up nearly as well.

If you have access to a pressure washer, use it to first spray the car with soap then rinse with high pressure to get as much of the dirt and grit off as possible before touching the car. (this is very very helpful to keep from scratching the paint from a dirty mitt) They key is to soap the car up to lubricate it before you increase the pressure to prevent scratching. The pressure washer will get a lot of the dirt off so you're not dragging it all over your car when you start using the wash mitt.

You need a Bucket (or 2) with grit guards in them. The grit guard sits in the bottom of the bucket and traps grit and dirt so it doesn't get back on the car and do damage. You can use a rinse bucket first then the soap bucket to make double sure to get all of the grit out of the sponge. If you car is "dirty" you are going to want to use the 2 bucket method and the grit guard. My car rarely get's what you would call "dirty" I'm usually just get some minor dust off of it and I'm fine just using 1 bucket since I use a grit guard.

Grit Guards make all the difference in the world for not scratching and swirling your paint when you wash your car!!!!

Agitate the sponge against the grit guard to work the grit out each time you put put it in the bucket to get more soap.

Wash the car in straight lines, not circles to prevent swirl marks.

Rinse the car then dry using one of these methods. . .

You can either use the sheeting method to pre-dry the car. To use the sheeting method you use a hose with no sprayer on the end so it's free flowing. Start at the top of the car and fill the top with water so it's running off the sides. Bring the hose down to the edge of the top and move it back and forth to "catch" the water and slowly work it down to the bottom of the car. If you do it correctly it will sheet the water off the car and be almost dry with just a few spots left.

At this point you can just use a Microfiber drying towel to blot (not rub) the little water that is left.

OR, my preferred method is using a leaf blower to just dry the car off which will also get water out of the nooks and crannies that the other method will miss. I do this because in shows I can't have water spots inside my gas cap, trunk, etc. Plus, the less you touch a car's paint the less chance you have of scratching or streaking it.

I try to never touch my paint if I can help it. If I have just dust on my car I would rather pressure wash it and leaf blow it than to try to use a microfiber and quick detailer, which will scratch the hell out of a car. You notice it on a black but maybe not on another color.

When you have a car with a mirror shine like mine you can really see when you screw up with using car dusters, microfibers and quick detailer, etc. However I have found that using the Ultimate Quick Wax as a quick detailer works the best of anything I've seen for dusting the car off if you don't have time to wash it. It is very slick and with very minimal pressure can be used a few times in this manner without much visible damage as long as you keep light pressure and the car is not covered in dirt when you do it. This is for light dust removal only, not washing your car when it has road grime all over it and expecting it not to scratch it up.

Never ever just spray a car off and then dry it with a towel. If it's just sprayed off, even with a pressure washer there is still dirt and dust on it and the towel will rub it around and scratch the heck out of it no matter how careful you are. If you just spray the car off you better use a leaf blower to dry it or you will scratch the paint.

I don't believe in "spraying a car off" without using something to agitate the dirt, it doesn't fully clean the car and just sets you up for problems when you go to dry it. IMHO it's a waste of time.

If I think of more I'll post later. I hope this helps guys. I am very passionate about my car's paint and I'm constantly getting compliments and scoring very high on my finish.

Once you get a good wax job the last thing you want to do if screw it up the first time you wash the car. . .

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Unread 05-15-2011, 08:34 PM   #2
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Thanks for the great write up! I tend to take real good care of my cars as well but I don't have any show cars that's for sure. I know my Jeep should be covered in mud but I also like to keep it clean and protected. I also use the two bucket wash system and dry with a synthetic chamois called the absorber. I like using McGuire's products too. My paint is in really great shape so I usually do a coat of their cleaner wax and then a coat of the gold class carnauba wax. I've been thinking about switching to a synthetic sealer but I'm not sure. I find it interesting that you discourage the use of quick detailer. I find that I get good results with it. As long as you use plenty of it and aren't using it on a heavily soiled car you should be ok.

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Unread 05-16-2011, 08:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the great write up! I tend to take real good care of my cars as well but I don't have any show cars that's for sure. I know my Jeep should be covered in mud but I also like to keep it clean and protected. I also use the two bucket wash system and dry with a synthetic chamois called the absorber. I like using McGuire's products too. My paint is in really great shape so I usually do a coat of their cleaner wax and then a coat of the gold class carnauba wax. I've been thinking about switching to a synthetic sealer but I'm not sure. I find it interesting that you discourage the use of quick detailer. I find that I get good results with it. As long as you use plenty of it and aren't using it on a heavily soiled car you should be ok.

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I don't necessarily discourage the use of detailing spray. I actually use it often. But the general public does not seem to grasp that you can't use it as a car wash. Technique is everything with using it, too. Light pressure, straight lines, etc. I use either Meguiar's Ultimate Quick wax or Optimum and I get great results if I do it properly and the car is not dirty when I use it. It's great for the dust your car gets on it in the garage, not so good for road grime, though. But, with very plush MF towels and proper technique it's fine, especially on light colored, non-show cars.

As far as using the absorber, those work ok, but they don't have much nap at all, and they can be dangerous. I suggest trying a very plush MF towel instead that will trap any debris if any happens to find it's way onto the car from dust, wind, or if you just missed something washing it.

Sealants are great, they last longer and are easier to apply. Black Fire Wet Diamond is the best out there, IMO. It's known to protect for at least 6 month. It's a "show" sealant so it gives a great shine.

I don't use Wax on a car that is not a show car. I don't see the point.

By the way, just in case anyone does not know this. NXT wax 2.0 is not a wax, it's a sealant. Meguiar's just calls it a wax for marketing reasons. It's a decent sealant, not as good as Black Fire Wet Diamond by any means, but it's easy to find and cheap to buy, not that the BFWD is very expensive either when you factor in how much longer it lasts.
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Unread 05-17-2011, 07:38 AM   #4
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I used to detail cars a while ago. We would use a polymer sealant from Auto-Magic called Seal-It. I love it. I will use it twice a year. It gives it a fresh paint shine and the water beads up wonderfully. It can remove over spray and small scratches (like those seen around door handles). I used it to bring out the gloss after my fender project.

It is difficult to get though. The last bottle I bought was off eBay. At the detail shop we would often forgo compounding and polishing for the Seal-It. We called it Super Seal.

http://www.automagic.com/waxes.htm
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Unread 05-17-2011, 07:55 PM   #5
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Willy, what do you use on your Jeep?

Also curious as to what you guys think about tire shine products. I currently don't put anything on my tires but wonder if I should.

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Unread 05-17-2011, 08:12 PM   #6
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Willy, what do you use on your Jeep?

Also curious as to what you guys think about tire shine products. I currently don't put anything on my tires but wonder if I should.

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On my 02 I use Black Fire Wet Diamond Sealant only

On my 08 I'll be using Black Fire Wet Diamond and topping it off with Natty's blue past wax when I want it to look it's best.

I use Meguiar's hyperdressing on my tires. It's great. It's water based, not silicone based like all of the stuff you get at wal-mart, so it won't dry out your rubber and it won't get all over your paint and make a mess.

You buy it by the gallon, but you cut it with water to make it as shiny or as matte as you want.

It's great to use on your engine as well to make all your hoses look new. For the engine compartment I use a 1 part dressing to 4 parts water mix. And for tires I usually use a 1:3 or 1:2 mix depending on my mood.

In the long run, it's cheaper than buying the tire wet, tire foam, etc. stuff and it's much safer on your tires and your paint than silicone products.


Edit: I just realized you were asking Willy what he uses on his Jeep and not me. My bad, but I'll leave my reply in case anyone wants to know.
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Unread 05-17-2011, 08:18 PM   #7
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Here's some of my work.









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Unread 05-17-2011, 08:39 PM   #8
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Thanks again for the tips Daniel. Nice work as well. I guess that is the black fire wet diamond. Looks great in pictures so it probably looks amazing in person.

One more question for ya...
Under the hood/engine compartment of my Jeep is pretty filthy. What is the best way to wash and detail the engine? How do those car stealerships make those engines look so purdy?
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Unread 05-17-2011, 09:00 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the tips Daniel. Nice work as well. I guess that is the black fire wet diamond. Looks great in pictures so it probably looks amazing in person.

One more question for ya...
Under the hood/engine compartment of my Jeep is pretty filthy. What is the best way to wash and detail the engine? How do those car stealerships make those engines look so purdy?
Thanks, That is actually BFWD with Natty's blue past wax on top of it in the hood pix. The other pix are just the car after buffing it with M205 to remove all the swirls. Notice how much more depth the car has after the sealant and wax in the hood pix.

In order to get a perfect finish, you have to start with a good base that has no swirls or scratches. Then pretty much anything you put on it will look 10x better.

As far as cleaning the engine bay, here is a good link to a method that lots of guys use and it works great!!

http://www.moddedmustangs.com/forums/general-car-care-detailing/72337-engine-bay-cleaning-look-here.html
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Unread 05-18-2011, 07:11 AM   #10
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danielkspencer, that does look very good.

JeepScrap, I don't use much for the Jeep. When I first bought I tried keeping it clean and pretty. It didn't work out. Offroad scratches were constant. Generally I will wash it with any soap I have at the time (automotive or Dawn). I chamois it dry and apply the super seal.

With regards to tires I generally leave them without any coating. For mud stains though, I highly recommend Whestley's Bleche-Wite.
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Unread 05-18-2011, 07:49 AM   #11
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danielkspencer, that does look very good.

JeepScrap, I don't use much for the Jeep. When I first bought I tried keeping it clean and pretty. It didn't work out. Offroad scratches were constant. Generally I will wash it with any soap I have at the time (automotive or Dawn). I chamois it dry and apply the super seal.

With regards to tires I generally leave them without any coating. For mud stains though, I highly recommend Whestley's Bleche-Wite.
I suggest you stop using dawn for washing your ride. Dawn even says on their web site that it should not be used on cars. It will dry out your rubber and cause cracking if you use it much. Zanio actually recommends to use dawn to get rid of all old wax before applying it, but it should only be done once or twice a year. If you used it regularly it will cause problems down the road.

There are lots of good washes out there that are cheap and effective. Just remember to look if it's a citrus based wash or not. Use citrus based products to strip wax before a full detail, but use the other milder washes for maintenance washes so you're not stripping off all your protection.

Bleach white is a great product for tires for sure
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Unread 05-20-2011, 07:32 PM   #12
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Wow! Took longer to read the article then it does to wash & wax my Jeep! lol! Good advice for sure though. Pretty much what I did for my Jeep for the duration of the loan payments...after that, I just vacuum it out, spray wash it at the self serve car wash and then drive it dry. I never, ever use a rag to dry my Jeep. That is one thing that I am emphatic about: too easy to get dust/grime on the rag and drag it around the clear coat. Only time a rag touches it is when I wax. For wax I use Meguiars brand paint cleaner and their carnauba. Must be doing something right, folks can't believe its almost 15 years old! Even with the Jersey pin striping from the trips to the woods...pix in the link.

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v4...nt=bumper5.jpg
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Unread 05-21-2011, 08:19 AM   #13
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Wow! Took longer to read the article then it does to wash & wax my Jeep! lol! Good advice for sure though. Pretty much what I did for my Jeep for the duration of the loan payments...after that, I just vacuum it out, spray wash it at the self serve car wash and then drive it dry. I never, ever use a rag to dry my Jeep. That is one thing that I am emphatic about: too easy to get dust/grime on the rag and drag it around the clear coat. Only time a rag touches it is when I wax. For wax I use Meguiars brand paint cleaner and their carnauba. Must be doing something right, folks can't believe its almost 15 years old! Even with the Jersey pin striping from the trips to the woods...pix in the link.

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v4...nt=bumper5.jpg
Nice Rig!! Yeah, people just don't get how much difference it makes when you don't rub on the paint with a rag. I prefer to use a leaf blower myself, but either way it's better than rubbing on the paint unless you're using extremely good technique with a super plush MF towel. And by extremely good technique, I'm talking about literally touching the beads of water and practically not even touching the paint and letting the water wick into the MF. I hate seeing someone using a chamois or absorber and rubbing the hell out of their car to dry it. If it's waxed properly, the water will just jump to the MF towel by letting the towel touch the water.
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Unread 05-21-2011, 10:55 AM   #14
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@ danielkspencer, can you Please make a short list of How to Go, like
Wash
Citrus clean
Sealent
Wox

Been reading the whole thread and understand everything, just a bit confused about which step first and so on.

Thanx
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Unread 05-21-2011, 02:53 PM   #15
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@ danielkspencer, can you Please make a short list of How to Go, like
Wash
Citrus clean
Sealent
Wox

Been reading the whole thread and understand everything, just a bit confused about which step first and so on.

Thanx
Sorry no need, been reading it about 5 times and Really understand it now. Thanks for awsome write up.
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95 ZJ Limited 5.2 Winter Project
Sold 94 ZJ Laredo 4.0 Winter Beater
R.I.P. 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited, 4.7 V8, Quadradrive, Shale Green Metallic, Agate/Carbon interior, Well modded and highly missed :(

Buildthread http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f197/...grade-1813490/

MONEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE THROWN INTO THE RIG UNTIL CONDITION AND SATISFACTION IMPROVES!!!
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