Meguiars, Optimum & CarPro vs My Mazda 3
I finally purchased a new vehicle. Five and a half years and 200,000+ miles later (I was responsible for about 145,000 of those miles) the Honda had to go. In its place, I purchased a 2010 Mazda 3 "i." It's not the brand spankin' new BMW 335i I was hoping, errrr, saving for, but it will hold me over until Max agrees to add one more zero to my yearly salary.
After seventeen hours of negotiating (I might be exaggerating just a tad, but it did get intense) I drove the Mazda off the lot with the same mindset I had when I purchased the Honda at the credulous age of 18; I'm going to squeeze every dime, nickle and penny I can out of this car, even if that means I have to inconvenience Meghan by repeatedly asking for a ride five years from now when the car starts falling apart. Fortunately for me, Meghan is one of my biggest fans AND I found a quarter under the floor mat when I got home, so things were already off to a great start with the Mazda.
Naturally, as an Auto Geek, I had to improve the appearance of my new-to-me Mazda (insert "Zoom Zoom" here). Fortunately the dealership had already "wheeled" the paint for me (they didn't charge me extra, either!), so I had my work cut out for me. After all, what's fun about detailing if there isn't a challenge involved? Here's is what I was working with...
The Joys of Buying a Used Car
The Good Stuff
In all honesty, the paint wasn't that bad. Besides a couple burned through edges and traces of compound residue in body seams and on plastic trim, getting the Mazda to look up to my standards wasn't going to be a huge challenge.
I got things started by giving it a bath.
The secrete is out; that's what Nick@Autogeek uses to wash his car before polishing!
Foam Party - You're Invited!
When used in conjunction with a foam gun, Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss creates a foam party. This high-foaming, citrus-based shampoo will remove the heaviest of road films and dealership-applied glazes. I usually spray a little bit of P21S Total Auto Wash (in the Meguiars bottle pictured) as I wash each panel, just to ensure everything on the paint is removed. This is a very effective combination of products and I have yet to find something better.
Lost at Sea
I've worked at Autogeek for nearly three years now and I'm pretty confident when I say that we've never had to replace the trusty Sea Sponge that we keep in the Show Car Garage; these things are indestructible - and soft!
CarPro Iron X
I wouldn't hesitate to call CarPro Iron X one of the single most effective detailing products introduced in the last couple years. This easy-to-use paint decontamination spray opens up the pores in the paint, releasing ferrous iron particles. This means your clay doesn't have to work as hard and the surface will be smoother over all. Remember, shiny paint comes from clean, smooth paint.
As CarPro Iron X interacts with ferrous iron particles, it changes color to purple. (Photo enhanced to show color change.)
After giving the Mazda a much-needed bath, I pulled it into the Show Car Garage and inspected the paint. I started with the baggie test. The baggie test is when you put your hand in a plastic sandwich baggie and inspect the finish for above-surface contaminants (rail dust, industrial fallout, paint over spray, etc). The plastic sandwich baggie acts to increase the sensitivity of your finger tips so you can get a true idea of how contaminated the surface is.
To remove above-surface contaminants, you use detailing clay. Detailing clay contains abrasives and when rubbed across the surface, the contaminants are essentially sanded off and then they stick to the clay (it's tacky). After you clay a section, you fold the clay to trap the contaminants. A clean section of clay is now exposed and you move on to the next panel.
The smoother the paint, the better the gloss and the longer your wax, sealant or coating will last.
This is what the BLACKFIRE Poly Clay looked like after only claying half of the hood.
Paint Polishing - Meguiars D300 & Optimum Hyper Polish
The horizontal panels (hood, roof, trunk lid) had some pretty nasty water spots which is why I decided to go with Meguiars D300 and a Meguiars 5 Inch Microfiber Cutting Disc on a 3rd Generation Griot's Garage 6 Inch Random Orbital for the polishing step. This is a stellar combination for removing moderate paint imperfections. D300 performed flawlessly and was able to greatly reduce the appearance of the (etched) water spots. Even with the immense amount of cut provided by Meguiars D300, it finished LSP-ready.
Optimum Hyper Polish and a Lake Country Hydro-Tech Tangerine Pad was used on the vertical surfaces, which had very light swirls. I've used this combination on a variety of different paint systems and it impresses every time.
CarPro Cquartz UK Edition
I recently moved closer to work and my car is bombarded by two trees at my new place, so I decided to use a product that would hold up better than a conventional wax or paint sealant. CarPro Cquartz UK Edition was the obvious choice.
Cquartz UK Edition has 60% SiO2 with 99.9% purity. That makes Cquartz UK Edition the first ever nano silica coat with such a concentration. The high purity ensures that your vehicle has the most transparent glass coat film possible over the surface. This equals longer lasting paint protection that repels water, dirt, road salt, ice, snow, and other environmental contaminants, leaving your vehicle cleaner for extended periods between washes.
Application of CarPro Cquartz UK Edition is simple. First, the paint must be free of any contaminants and polished to a high-gloss. Next, wipe the paint down with CarPro Eraser. This removes any polishing oils that could possibly inhibit the coating from bonding to the surface. Apply Cquartz UK Edition with the supplied applicator in a criss-cross or circular motion until the surface feels dry. Remove any excess with the supplied CarPro Suede Microfiber Cloth. Use the included CarPro Reload 30 minutes later to prevent water spots from occurring while the coating fully cures.
CarPro Cquartz UK Edition - Glossy Paint Defined
Hmm. Not sure what else I can add to that. Enjoy the pictures!
I've had CarPro Cquartz UK Edition on my Mazda for three weeks now and so far I am very impressed. Water beads up and rolls off better than any other coating I've used. Two thumbs up.
Cquartz UK Edition 30 ml. Kit w/ Reload
Oh, one more thing - Zoom Zoom. ;)
Absolutely stunning. Great job. So, CarPro Iron X is a pre-claybar step? Looks interesting. I've been out of the detailing game for almost 4 years now. Skimming through your website I've noticed many new products, which I have a ton of questions :) so I'll definitely have to call you guys up.
Great job! Good luck with the new car :)
Wow, all that elbow grease paid off big time. The finish on that car is awesome, you could shave in your reflection.....
Looks great man. I have so much respect for detailers. I know how much work it takes. I did it for about 5 years full time. AutoGeek :thumbup:
Thanks for all the comments fellas. :thanks:
Give me a call any time or feel free to create a new thread on this forum in the detailing section. We're proud to be an active sponsor of E46 Fanatics. :woot:
look at that gloss!!! i would love to get my car done by you guys :)
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