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Car Care & Detailing
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Old 07-09-2005, 10:54 AM   #1
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Ask a professional detailer...

As a new e46 sponsor specializing in automotive detailing supplies, I thought I would open a thread for people to ask their questions about exterior and interior care of their vehicles. There is so much information out there regarding automotive detailing and we've been in the business for years. I have used a majority of products available on the market and have hand selected the products I stand by for our shop, www.detailedimage.com .

Don't be afraid to post up any questions that you have no matter how simple or complex it is. I'll do my best to give you a timely answer.

Here are a few samples of the work we do at Detailed Image. Once again, please don't hesitate to ask ANY question!



Before:


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Great Before and After Pics:
(notice the house faintly thru the swirls and hazing?)




If you'd like to see some more pictures just say the word. We look forward to becoming active members in the e46 community!

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Old 07-09-2005, 01:35 PM   #2
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Maybe you can do a little write up on what products are best for our car's exterior?
I'm on the market for some cleaning products myself, but I've had little time to see what's out there and to compare the products to each other.

Maybe even some recommended products for carpet and mat cleaning.

Other than that, welcome aboard.
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Old 07-09-2005, 01:54 PM   #3
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How about info on claybar? After i heard ppl threaten death if u dotn clay, i went out and got a ripped off claybar, didnt like its results, and went ahead and waxed with meguiars NXT tech with brilliant results. they clay scared me, the way it skidded or slid over paint
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Old 07-09-2005, 05:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emthree
Maybe you can do a little write up on what products are best for our car's exterior?
Other than that, welcome aboard.
Hey, emthree... thanks for the first post I'll post my recommendations and suggestions for each step of the exterior detailing process.

Shampoo & Dry
-Car Wash Shampoo: My personal favorite is P21s Bodywork Conditioning Shampoo, it provides excellent lubrication and provides an excellent gloss, but at $9.99 / 500ml its not cheap. I think bang for the buck Poorboy's Super Slick & Suds is a good choice, again great lather and great shine. If you are following all the steps in the detailing process (clay, polish, wax, etc.) choosing the write shampoo is probably the least of your concerns. It's when you just plan on shampooing and drying where there can be some distinction in product and want a shampoo with proper conditioners that won't strip your wax.
-Drying Towel: Hands down Waffle Weave Microfiber Towels are the way to go! Very absorbant, paint safe, and 1 towel can pretty much dry a whole car. A solid investment if you don't have one already. The ones we sell are 3' x 2' and are good for up to 300 washes. Beware, the wash/dry phase of a detail is where a majority of swirls and micro-scratches occur so don't skimp on a cheap drying towel. I also find these superior in drying quality from a chamois.
-Wash Mitt: My product of choice for washing a car is a wash mitt as it will minimize swirls and scratches, compared to a traditional sponge. Our product of choice of lately is a microfiber wash mitt.
-2 buckets: Washing with the 2 bucket system can help minimize swirling and scratches. Have 1 bucket ready with your suds and the 2nd with clean water. When you wash a couple panels, rinse out your wash mitt in the clean water bucket before dipping back into the bucket with soapy suds.

Polishing & Compounds
Polishing is really what will make the car jump and give that amazing depth you'll find in the paint. This is really where you can make or break a good detail IMHO. There are two general types of polishes, abrasive polishes / compounds, that will wear the slightest amount of your clear away to help eliminate imperfections such as swirls and scratches, scuffs, etc., and there are chemical polishes, which do a great job removing oxidation and ridding minor imperfections.
-Abrasive Polishes / Compounds: One of my favorite combo's is Poorboy's World SSR 2.5 followed by SSR 1. This two step combo does a great job of ridding swirls and imperfections and really brightening up the paint. Another amazing combo I personally love using is Menzerna's two step combo, Intensive Polish followed by Final Polish II. Both brands are roughly the same price give or take a couple dollars and make excellent additions to any detailers arsenal. The reason for the two steps is because the first step (2.5 or Intensive) is rather aggressive and can leave some macromarring and hazing, so you will need to follow it up with a finer polish to clean all that up!
-Chemical Polish: Klasse All-In-One is my favorite 1 coat product out there. It removes oxidation and polishes the paint with ease, there are no abrasives in AIO so you don't have to worry about removing any of your clear coat. The best part about AIO is an acrylic layer of protection that out-lasts traditional waxes. It will give you ~4-6 months of protection with an application (pending weather conditions, storage, etc.). If I only had time to do 1 coat on my car, this would be it!

Glazes
A final polish for your paint that generally has fillers that will mask imperfections in your paint. This is a great step if you are looking for optimal shine and gloss, especially if you are preparing for a show! My favorite glaze so far is by Menzerna Finishing Touch Glaze. Application is an easy on and off and the results are amazing. Another favorite of mine is ClearKote Vanilla Mouse Hand Glaze.

Sealants
Traditional waxes have been overcome by acrylics / polymers that provide higher gloss and longer lasting protection. My favorite sealant hands down is Menzerna Full Mollecular Jacket. Although a tad pricey, you don't need much product at all to do your car and is the absolute easiest application and removal I have found. Durability has held up so far since my first application 3 months ago so I have been impressed so far! A close second is Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze. A little bit harder to remove, but a quick spritz of a quick detailing solution on a microfiber towel makes removal a lot easier.

Carnauba Toppers
My personal favorite topper wax is P21s Concours Carnauba Wax. For a show car finish this is the wax to top with. A great alternative for half the price is Natty's Paste Wax from Poorboy's World. Both very easy to remove and leave you with a super wet look with extraordinary depth.

Tools & Accessories
-Buffer: A Porter Cable 7424 is a great investment for the do it yourself detailer. With an optional velcro backing plate, changing pads is a breeze. Its random orbital movements creates up to 6000 oscilations per minute. Your coats will be applied more evenly and it will cut down on the time of your coats. A solid investment! A+
-Towels: Microfiber towels are a the best investment you can make for your car. They are paint safe and do an excellent job trapping in removing polishes and waxes, and also trapping in dust / debris of interiors. Definately don't skimp when it comes to buying towels for your vehicle.

I know I didn't hit everything but this is a start! I will create a similar post for wheels and interior products as well! All of these products and more can be found on our website www.detailedimage.com . Feel free to contact me for some more suggestions and questions you may have.

Sincerely,

George @ Detailed Image
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Old 07-09-2005, 06:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emthree
Maybe even some recommended products for carpet and mat cleaning.
Interior Cleaning
Upholstery Brush One of the best investments for your interior carpets and mats is a good carpet and upholstery brush. Brushing your carpets and mats down prior to vacuuming and putting any chemicals on them will save you time and produce better results. It will help lift dirt and debris to the surface so you can vacuum them up easier.
Carpet Cleaner / All Purpose Cleaner I have had great luck with 303's Aerospace Cleaner and the best part about it is that it is a concentrate. So the 32oz bottle you purchase turns into about 320oz's of cleaning solution! It works great on vinyl, engine compartments, plastic, and cleaning stains off of leather. An excellent universal cleaner to have around.
Plastic Cleaner The best plastic polish and cleaner I've come across is Plexus Plastic Cleaner and Polish. Works great for gauges, instrument clusters, headlight covers, etc. and the best part is it has anti-static properties so it will help repel dust.
Vinyl Protectant 303's Aerospace Protectant is my choice for UV protection of your dash, consol, etc. It leaves a beautiful matte finish, not like its greasy substitutes that can cause glare and attract dust.
Leather Care Hands down, Leatherique's Rejuvenator Oil and Pristine Clean are the premier leather care products on the market. The Rejuvenator Oil can restore the proper oils and nutrients to help repair hard, cracked, faded leather. Pristine Clean then cleans things up and is used for maintaining your "new" leather.
Vacuum Cleaner Metro Vac designed a vacuum with the detailer in mind. With a wide array of attachments, shoulder strap, and rolling wheels, it is the go-to vacuum cleaner for the detailing enthusiast.

All of these products can be found at www.detailedimage.com

Sincerely,

George @ Detailed Image
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Old 07-09-2005, 08:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomalexm
How about info on claybar? After i heard ppl threaten death if u dotn clay, i went out and got a ripped off claybar, didnt like its results, and went ahead and waxed with meguiars NXT tech with brilliant results. they clay scared me, the way it skidded or slid over paint
I'll try to write a basic FAQ for claybars and answer your questions:

When to Clay? When you're paint feels rough to the touch, it could use a claybar. If you have deposits of rail dust (even from transport on brand new cars) a claybar can help remove them. Tar remains, sap, overspray, and other surface contaminants. A simple test is to put your finger in a plastic bag and run your finger over the surface, this will amplify the contaminations you can feel.

Where do I use Clay in the detailing process? Clay should be used right after washing and before polishing and waxing.

How do I use a Clay Bar? Using a clay bar is easier than you think. Work in 2' x 2' sections. Spray on some clay lubricant (quick detailer or shampoo + water solution). Using light to moderate pressure glide the clay across the lubricated surface. Buff off excess lube with a microfiber towel. Kneed the clay bar into a fresh surface every panel.

My clay is skipping, what did I do wrong? There was not enough clay lube on the surface which caused the clay to skid / skip. Apply more lube in that area to remove stuck on clay - OR - you are using too much pressure.

Will claying my car make it look better? The end result of a detail is directly related to how well the car is prepped before polishing and waxing. So, yes, it will yield a better looking car in the end.

I dropped my Clay Bar what do I do? Throw that piece out immediately and get a new piece. Otherwise you will chance scratching your paint! We suggest cutting up your clay bar into 4-6 pieces (with our 200g bars). They will be big enough to still mold in your hands. Some people convert dropped clay to a clay bar for their wheels, but if you have real nice wheels, you still run the risk of scratching them with the dropped clay.

How often should I clay my car? I like to clay my car twice a year (Spring and Fall) however more will not harm the paint. Studies have shown that claying a car does not effect your layer of clear coat unlike the common misconception some have.

Will Clay Remove Swirls? No, a clay bar does not fill or remove swirl marks. It's main purpose is to remove surface contamination.

Hope that helps!

Sincerely,

George @ Detailed Image
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Old 07-10-2005, 02:23 AM   #7
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George-

This is very, very helpful. Props for your contribution(s) to this section.

Now ... I, like most noobs at extreme detailing (I mean I've used Zymol products in the very distant past, but I'm getting back into it now) am SCARED TO DEATH about claying my car ... Probably even more scared doing this than using my new 7424 orbital polisher.

Any suggestions for quality bars and lubricants at affordable prices?

Thanks again ... your threads are most appreciated. Also, please feel free to update if you come across radical new 'technology' on the detailing front.

hayesboy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Detailed Image
I'll try to write a basic FAQ for claybars and answer your questions:

When to Clay? When you're paint feels rough to the touch, it could use a claybar. If you have deposits of rail dust (even from transport on brand new cars) a claybar can help remove them. Tar remains, sap, overspray, and other surface contaminants. A simple test is to put your finger in a plastic bag and run your finger over the surface, this will amplify the contaminations you can feel.

Where do I use Clay in the detailing process? Clay should be used right after washing and before polishing and waxing.

How do I use a Clay Bar? Using a clay bar is easier than you think. Work in 2' x 2' sections. Spray on some clay lubricant (quick detailer or shampoo + water solution). Using light to moderate pressure glide the clay across the lubricated surface. Buff off excess lube with a microfiber towel. Kneed the clay bar into a fresh surface every panel.

My clay is skipping, what did I do wrong? There was not enough clay lube on the surface which caused the clay to skid / skip. Apply more lube in that area to remove stuck on clay - OR - you are using too much pressure.

Will claying my car make it look better? The end result of a detail is directly related to how well the car is prepped before polishing and waxing. So, yes, it will yield a better looking car in the end.

I dropped my Clay Bar what do I do? Throw that piece out immediately and get a new piece. Otherwise you will chance scratching your paint! We suggest cutting up your clay bar into 4-6 pieces (with our 200g bars). They will be big enough to still mold in your hands. Some people convert dropped clay to a clay bar for their wheels, but if you have real nice wheels, you still run the risk of scratching them with the dropped clay.

How often should I clay my car? I like to clay my car twice a year (Spring and Fall) however more will not harm the paint. Studies have shown that claying a car does not effect your layer of clear coat unlike the common misconception some have.

Will Clay Remove Swirls? No, a clay bar does not fill or remove swirl marks. It's main purpose is to remove surface contamination.

Hope that helps!

Sincerely,

George @ Detailed Image
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Old 07-10-2005, 02:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hayesMpower
George-

Any suggestions for quality bars and lubricants at affordable prices?

hayesboy
hayes, thanks for the positive feedback.

As far as available clay bars... There are really only two types of clay bars out there due to tons of US Patents. The more popular of the two is the Clay Magic brand and feel. That is the style that we carry in our stores. When you purchase one of our Clay Bars the first thing we suggest doing is ripping / cutting the clay up into 5 or 6 different pieces to work with. This way it ensures that if you drop a piece, you don't ruin your $25 bar, rather you just get another piece. At first I wasn't a huge fan until I learned some of the tricks to it which I will pass on to all of you! Biggest thing, when you first get the bar, cut it up and spray some quick detailer in the container the bar comes in. When you first get the bar, it tends to be a little crumbley as it breaks apart, by spraying the lubricant in the container, the clay absorbs it and has a much nicer feel when you go to use it!

Clay Bars Click Here

The clay bars we carry are 200 gram bars. Many clay bars you'll see in retail stores are 50g - 80g bars. Mother's Clay Bar kit runs ~$16 - 20 in retail stores with an 80g bar IIRC. So bang for your buck you're getting a lot more bar for just a few bucks more.

To cut down on cost a bit, you can make your own lube with a nice mix of automotive shampoo + water, rather than going with quick detailer solution. If that's the case, I have a few generic clay bars actually made by Clay Magic, just in a generic casing we are selling for $20 (same 200g bars!) PM me if you are interested in one of those, we don't have them up on our website.

Sincerely,

George @ Detailed Image
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:54 AM   #9
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Detailed Image, as far as drying the car, what do you think about the California Waterblade? Any negatives on using it?
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Old 07-10-2005, 10:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cenarkBMW
Detailed Image, as far as drying the car, what do you think about the California Waterblade? Any negatives on using it?
My biggest fear with those is if you catch a rock, or even big enough debris and your pulling it across your paint, it can cause more damage than good. Personally I would never use one on my car. We had an option to carry them but we decided against it. They would be fine say right after claying your car, knowing there isn't any debris on there. I know some people use it and love it but I just wouldn't take the chance IMO.

George
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Old 07-10-2005, 11:45 AM   #11
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My mom's expedition has horrible swirls on it, and not a layer of wax (it's not smooth to the touch)

Will a 3M polish and a couple layers of wax help it out? Or should I do more? I don't fell that much surface contamination because it's always washed. But not done correctly.

-Ken
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Old 07-10-2005, 12:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpeng
My mom's expedition has horrible swirls on it, and not a layer of wax (it's not smooth to the touch)

Will a 3M polish and a couple layers of wax help it out? Or should I do more? I don't fell that much surface contamination because it's always washed. But not done correctly.

-Ken
3M polishes and compounds are good stuff. If you are shopping at a retail store that's what I'd pick up! Wash & Dry, Compound, Polish, Sealant/Wax. Your going to need an abrasive polish or compound to actually remove the swirls, vs. some waxes or chemical polishes with fillers might just hide them rather than help rid them! If you're not set on 3M check out our Poorboy's specials on our home page, bang for the buck they are one of the best products out there. The SSR 2.5 & SSR 1 Combo would be what you are looking for.

Are you doing it by hand or with a buffer?

George
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Old 07-10-2005, 03:46 PM   #13
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I just washed my car and a few days later, there are little bubble like spots starting to pop up. It's not all over the car but more concentrated in a certain area, i.e. around my front right fender. Is this signs of oxidization? What can I do?
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:22 PM   #14
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Can most of these products you mentioned be bought at a local auto store, if so which one, or do I have to get these online?
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:44 PM   #15
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so for a full detail is this the correct process : wash dry->clay->wash dry->polish->glaze->sealant->synthetic wax->carnuba wax?

and for interior-> wipe down everything -> use vinyl protectant-> leather cleaner->leather conditioner?

how often should i use leather cleaner and conditioner and HOW?


also it seems to me that the california duster will scratch ur car, waht do u think? Thanks

Thanlks
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Old 07-10-2005, 07:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koven
I just washed my car and a few days later, there are little bubble like spots starting to pop up. It's not all over the car but more concentrated in a certain area, i.e. around my front right fender. Is this signs of oxidization? What can I do?
Can you take some pictures to get a better idea of the situation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirKevin23
Can most of these products you mentioned be bought at a local auto store, if so which one, or do I have to get these online?
Unfortunately not many local stores will carry the brands I mention. They are a tad higher end and usually come with a slightly higher price tag. Retail stores generally aim to push more volume of cheap goods.

For interior stuff such as 303 Products, marine stores generally carry that.

For some of the brands, we are one of about a dozen in the US that are distributors for the products. So needless to say, most of the higher end stuff is custom order thru websites or if your fortunate to live near a website like us (Albany, NY) you are more than welcome to stop by our shop

George
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Old 07-10-2005, 07:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OHMYCAR
so for a full detail is this the correct process : wash dry->clay->wash dry->polish->glaze->sealant->synthetic wax->carnuba wax?
No need for the synthetic coat if your doing a sealant prior to, otherwise you got it!

Quote:
and for interior-> wipe down everything -> use vinyl protectant-> leather cleaner->leather conditioner?
Yep, quick vacuum of the interior should be first.

Quote:
how often should i use leather cleaner and conditioner and HOW?
Depends on which brand leather products you are using.


Quote:
also it seems to me that the california duster will scratch ur car, waht do u think? Thanks

Thanlks
I also agree, I would not use a Cali Duster on my paint, same reasons as the waterblade.

George
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:32 PM   #18
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interior

E46's have a rough plastic dash and trim. Mine's black and picks up all sorts of dirt and scuff marks from shoes around the doors and kick plates. Any suggestions on cleaning this off. I tried using water and a microfiber cloth, but it's just not working.

Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2005, 10:11 PM   #19
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Hello George/Detailed Image,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Detailed Image
My biggest fear with those is if you catch a rock, or even big enough debris and your pulling it across your paint, it can cause more damage than good. Personally I would never use one on my car. We had an option to carry them but we decided against it. They would be fine say right after claying your car, knowing there isn't any debris on there. I know some people use it and love it but I just wouldn't take the chance IMO.

George
Thank you for all active and helpful postings.

I have two questions after reading your postings.

1. California Water Blade - I understand your fear/concerns because I have actually seen the damage (a very light scratch that could be removed by polishing, however) using a Water Blade. However, wouldn't it be the same with the Microfibre towels (or any other kind of towels)? That is, if I catch a rock or a big enough debris when drying with my towels, it scratches anyway, right?

2. Purchase & Shipment - do you ship overseas?


Thanks in advance,


Sincerely,
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Old 07-10-2005, 10:42 PM   #20
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thanks for the insight George, I'll be working on the Expedition tomorrow and I'll see what becomes of it.

Now for a couple questions regarding my car, lol.

Basically what I do now is wash with Meguiar's NXT Car Wash, dry, a coat of Meguiar's Show Car Glaze #7, a coat of Meguiar's NXT Wax, and then a final coat of Meguiar's Yellow Wax. I get pretty good results from this. Is there any way I can improve this? In your experience, how do the results of this process compare to that of say, Zaino, etc.

-Ken
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