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Car Care & Detailing
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:00 PM   #2221
trippinbillies4
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Originally Posted by Racing.Ray View Post
I'm not sure if this has been asked already, and I'm sorry if it has, but:

What are the basic steps for a halfway decent exterior cleaning/detailing?
-Soaking
-Washing
-etc...

And how often should it be done?
This is kind of subjective on a few different aspects, but I'll try to help out:

First, the amount of steps really depends on what kind of shape the car's exterior is in. If you just recently got it darn near perfect by spending a ton of time on it, and performing a ton of steps, then it might just need a good wash. That would be too easy though, so let's assume the paint looks like poo.

Paint in need of work will have lots of swirl marks, water spots, bird drop etchings, minor scratches, oxidation, etc. It might also have crap stuck to the clear coat like tar and grease.

First step I take is usually cleaning the wheels and wheel wells. If they're caked with brake dust and dirt, it's often easiest to take the wheel off and work one well at a time. Wash the wheel with car soap/water and a microfiber mit to get the brake dust and easy junk off. This mitt should be your wheel mitt and ONLY used for your wheels. While the wheel is cool and damp, spray it down with a good wheel cleaner. Let that sit for half a minute of so, then agitate with a wheel brush. Hose it down again, and you should have a pretty squeaky clean wheel. Hit it with some quick detailer and run a clay bar over it, spray down once more, and barring any curb damage, the wheel should be spotless. Apply some sealant, maybe a quick coat of wax. Spray the wheel well with any standard cleaner. Some people spray brake cailpers and that surrounding area with wheel cleaner and brush that as well. I don't find that necessary unless you have pretty painted calipers. Spray out, looking good! Put the wheel back on and do the other 3.

Now it's time to wash the car. The best method here that most people will use is to wash with two buckets, one soap/water, the other just water. Let the mitt do the work, don't apply much pressure, if any. Rinse the mitt out well in the water, then resoap it and continue. After a good hand wash, if there's any bug/tar splatter, you may consider a spray on bug/tar remover, let that sit for a few and wash it off (light pressure washing helps here).

Now that the car is washed and most of the grime, grease, tar, and bug juice is off of it, it's time to get the microscopic junk out of the clear coat. Use a clay bar and some quick detailer for this. This step is important so you don't end up picking junk up on your polishing pads later and swirling them all over your paint. Spray some quick detailer on half a panel,glide the clay bar over it, rekneading it after each panel. I like to rinse the car once more after this to get rid of the excess quick detailer. I haven't mentioned it yet, but I prefer to dry the car with ultra soft microfiber towels.

Now, the surface is ready for polishing. The idea here is to start with the minimum harsh polish you need to remove the surface imperfections. This will be determined by how bad the paint is, and how hard the clear coat is. Knowing what to use will come with experience. If you're serious about making your car look pretty, pick up a Porter Cable 7424 from Greg and George at www.detailedimage.com (click link in my sig). This will help speed up your process, while being very safe. The PC random orbit buffer is a great buffer for beginners as it is much harder to damage the paint then using a rotary buffer.

If the paint has deep swirls, and it's for a BMW which has a pretty hard clear coat, you'll probably need something pretty aggressive to get them out. I would recommend Menzerna Intensive Polish, or Poorboy's SSR3. Use a yellow heavy cutting pad with either of these. You'll have to be slow and meticulous on this step, as the PC is not as fast at breaking down the polish as a rotary buffer, but that's the price you pay for the added safety. 8-10 passes at speed 6, 1-2 inches per second, and 10-20lbs of pressure is a rough starting point. This step should bring rish color and no imperfections back to your paint, but may leave a slight haze.

To remove the haze, switch to a lighter polish. Menzerna final polish or Poorboy's SSR1 on a white polishing pad will work here. This wll remove any marring and haze created by the heavier polish. Paint should be looking pretty good at this point!

To bring out the color and help hide any major imperfections, I like to use a nice glaze. Menzerna Finishing Touch Glaze is my preffered product here. It REALLY hides anything that may be left, and gives a great depth to the paint. You can use a white polishing pad here too.

Finally, it's time to start protecting the paint. Menzerna Full Molecular Jacket might be my favorite step, because the paint comes out SOOOOOOO so smooth and slick after applying this. Spread a thin coat at a medium speed on a blue or black pad. If you really want to have some fun, wait a few hours and give it another coat.

Last step is waxing. You can spend all sorts of money on wax. I use P21S carbauba. $50 may seem expensive, but compared to waxes in triple and even quadruple digits, it's not too bad! Leaves a great shine, dries very hard, and leaves long lasting protection.

Clean the windows up with some stoners, and you're all set!



If you want to see what all is possible, search for the threa about the 55 hour long detail on the lambo gallardo. That's a weeeee bit more involved than what I just said, hehe.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:10 PM   #2222
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Greg,

Great thread and great to have someone like you on these forums!! Much learned and apprecaited!

I have 2 questions that might have already been covered, but hard to search through the hundred pages, so pardon me if I ask a question again.

I have a 2001 330ci Vert. My black cloth top has some spots that are faded, especially where the corners are where you would expect the fabric to be pulled the tightest around corners. What do you recommend to fix this? A fabric dye? I'm afriad to dye it and create a really dark spot that again, won't match up.

My second question is the plastic-ish material that is the convertible top compartment cover. It's a large black plastic piece that raises so the roof can fold down, and then it covers up the roof compartment when it closes. It gets really dusty and dirty and brownish. I've tried different kinds of interior cleaners but it contiues to have this dull black that just looks dirty/dusty. Is there something you recommend to bring back a shiny, glossy black to this piece?

Thanks so much again!
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:33 AM   #2223
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Glad to hear you found the information and products you wanted! Thank you for your support. Your order has shipped and you should see it shortly!

Greg @ Detailed Imgae
I know it's been 20 days, but what can I say, I'm a slacker.

I thought that I would provide a quick update. This past weekend I took the time to wash both Jeeps and then used the M-Seal on each.

Pros: Easy to apply. Incredibly easy to remove, which was great to see. Of course, we had a tropical storm this week, so I can safely report that the beading of water is MUCH better than any of the waxes that I have used. They are small, pea-size beads covering the entire car. Maybe this doesn't technically mean anything, but visually it looks like it provides better protection that the NXT that I was using. And hell, after spending as much time as I did, it makes me feel good to say that it worked.

Cons: In order to cover each panel of the car, it felt like I had to use more product than described on the website. However, after sealing a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Jeep Liberty, both decent sized vehicles, I still have most of the bottle left. The cost is comparative to the other carnauba waxes that I have used, so it's really not a big deal.

Now the big test - let's see how long it holds up to the Florida sun.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:40 AM   #2224
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On to another question (although it may have been covered in one of the 110 pages of this thread already, my apologies!) - I have a sheepskin mitt that I use to wash the cars, and it is starting to fall apart.

Does the Utili-Mit really channel away dirt and debris? Just looking at the picture, it looks like the sand that is on the Jeep may get trapped between the squares and the paint and scratch it. Does that make sense? There are no reviews, so I can't compare other's opinions.

Maybe I'm just better off getting another natural sheepskin mit to alleviate any fears?
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:41 AM   #2225
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Originally Posted by Racing.Ray View Post
I'm not sure if this has been asked already, and I'm sorry if it has, but:

What are the basic steps for a halfway decent exterior cleaning/detailing?
-Soaking
-Washing
-etc...

And how often should it be done?
trippinbillies4 brought up a lot of good information to help decide what steps you want to do and some other good instructional tips. I'll try and provide some additional insight. I would highly recommend you also read our Detailing Guide for more info about each step and with specific step by step instructions.

Washing and drying safely and thoroughly is an important step to start off with. You can use a clay bar next if you want to deep clean the paint.

Polishing would easily be one of the most important steps I would suggest you use. I'm assuming you would only want to use one polish so I would suggest a light polish like the Menzerna PO106FF or the Menzerna Final Polish II. It helps remove fine swirls, oxidation and other imperfections. It is easily one of the most important steps that provides the most dramatic improvement.

Another step I highly recommend and is arguably the most important is applying a sealant. Quality sealants last 3 - 6 months for durable protection. They apply with ease and look great as well. Lastly you could apply a wax on top of the sealant if you really want more depth, gloss and protection.

In short I would at least recommend wash/dry, polish and sealant for a really nice quick and easy detail. I would use the polish at least 1 - 2 times per year and then at least wash and seal the paint every three months or so. Here are some other steps and products I would recommend as well:

Wash/Dry
Clay Bar - Clay Magic Fine Grade Clay Bar 200g and Poorboy's World Spray and Wipe (Clay Lube)
Polish - (Menzerna PO106FF or Menzerna Final Polish II)
Sealant - (Blackfire Wet Diamond - August Special)

Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Old 08-20-2008, 11:14 AM   #2226
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Greg,

Great thread and great to have someone like you on these forums!! Much learned and apprecaited!

I have 2 questions that might have already been covered, but hard to search through the hundred pages, so pardon me if I ask a question again.

I have a 2001 330ci Vert. My black cloth top has some spots that are faded, especially where the corners are where you would expect the fabric to be pulled the tightest around corners. What do you recommend to fix this? A fabric dye? I'm afriad to dye it and create a really dark spot that again, won't match up.

My second question is the plastic-ish material that is the convertible top compartment cover. It's a large black plastic piece that raises so the roof can fold down, and then it covers up the roof compartment when it closes. It gets really dusty and dirty and brownish. I've tried different kinds of interior cleaners but it contiues to have this dull black that just looks dirty/dusty. Is there something you recommend to bring back a shiny, glossy black to this piece?

Thanks so much again!
Good questions but tough questions. If the fabric has actually faded then I'm not sure how to easily restore it without dying it. You could try cleaning it but I would think that has not worked thus far. In the future you may also want to use the 303 Fabric Guard to help protect the surface.

I'm not exactly sure why it has turned brown in the first place. It would seem to me that it was UV fading or staining from chemicals (cleaners, soaps, etc). If it's just dirt or build ups you should be able to remove them. I would try cleaning the area with the 303 Cleaner and Spot Remover. I would also protect it with the 303 Aerospace Protectant to prevent UV fading, etc. This product is on sale this month as well at Detailed Image as one of our August specials.

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Old 08-28-2008, 01:00 AM   #2227
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Acid Rain Spots

Is there a specific polish that will get rid of acid rain spots on a jet black vehicle?
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:53 PM   #2228
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I'm assuming your seeing some sort of etching in the clear coat which could be from acid rain or mineral deposits in water. Removing these marks depends on just how bad the marks are. If there is an extremely light build up on the surface you can sometimes remove it with washing, clay bar or the Chemical Guys Water Spot Remover. Unfortunately if you are easily noticing the marks they probably have etched in to the clear coat a fair amount requiring polishes. Knowing what polishes to use again depends on how deep the marks are, therefore there is no one right product. I typically start off with a light polish and progress to a medium and heavy polish as needed. A buffer will greatly help this process so you can maximize the results. If you would like some suggestions please let me know.

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Old 08-28-2008, 01:22 PM   #2229
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My black 328Ci has some nasty water spots in it. It takes some heavy pad/polish combos to get big swirls and water spots out of the rock solid clear coat BMW's have. If you get a buffer, I'd start with at least a heavy polish and a light cutting pad. You may have to switch to a heavy cutting pad as well.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:38 PM   #2230
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Thanks, the spots aren't that bad as the car is garaged most of the time. When I wax it (with p21s first then FMJ) the spots seem to disappear so that no one really notices it, but if I look very closely I can still see the out line of some of them. I've NEVER actually used polish. My Dad gave me a bottle of Kiwi (black) color match auto poslish so I thought I would give it a try. Thank god I only did the trunk lid because it left it streaky as hell not to mention it made my hands black as tar.
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:51 PM   #2231
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Thanks, the spots aren't that bad as the car is garaged most of the time. When I wax it (with p21s first then FMJ) the spots seem to disappear so that no one really notices it, but if I look very closely I can still see the out line of some of them. I've NEVER actually used polish. My Dad gave me a bottle of Kiwi (black) color match auto poslish so I thought I would give it a try. Thank god I only did the trunk lid because it left it streaky as hell not to mention it made my hands black as tar.
Yea that polish may not be what you are looking for. I generally recommend a medium and light polish combination like Menzerna Super Intensive Polish (PO83) (medium)and Menzerna PO106FF (light). This is my favorite combination and another good combination is Menzerna Intensive Polish (medium) and Final Polish II (light). This will help permanently remove the marks (and remaining haze) instead of just covering them. I would also recommend applying the FMJ first and then apply the P21S Carnauba Wax. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Old 09-07-2008, 01:50 PM   #2232
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My car is silver gray metallic. Do metallic paints not shine as much as regular paints after a wax?
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:00 PM   #2233
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My car is silver gray metallic. Do metallic paints not shine as much as regular paints after a wax?
Typically flat and darker paint will look deeper and glossier than lighter metallic colors, generally speaking. Metallic paint looks like it has varying depth therefore it often doesn't quite look as deep. Conversely metallic paint can hide imperfections better, as does lighter colors.

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Old 09-12-2008, 11:03 AM   #2234
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Final Decisions

Hey Greg,

Thanks for taking the time to discuss my detail process last month. Upon our conversation I have decided on a few products but still unsure on others. thats where I'd like your help again.

This would prob help out other noobs as well.

Car Color: Carbon black
Looking for: Good protection and remove light swirls
Experience: Noob
Comments: All done by hand, PC or Flex will come later......

Steps and Products:
Wash:
1) Poodboys Superslick suds
2) DoDo Born to be mild
3) Chem Guys Maxi Suds
4) Chem Guys Citrus Wash and Clear
?) CG CWC seems most harsh, would this be good to use when I
do a full detail , polish,seal,wax or just stick with one of the more
mild soaps? Which do you recommend and why?

Clay:
- Will buy best priced Bar and QD, looking at Chem Guys Bar and Luber, ClearKote Combo, Clay Magic and some/what QD
?) Any recommendations and why?

Polish:
Again, applied by hand
1) DoDo Lime Prime
2) Chem Guys Creme Glaze
?) Which do you recommend and why, or something else?

Sealant:
Poorboys EX-P

Wax:
Poorboys Natty Blue

Thanks for your help and knowledge!!!

Last edited by ///Mayhem; 09-12-2008 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 09-12-2008, 03:33 PM   #2235
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I'm happy to help you and others so don't hesitate to ask questions. I especially don't mind when someone takes the time like you have to provide some background information and important details about the situation. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

Wash
The first three shampoos you listed are all pretty similar because they leave will not strip protection and are quality shampoos. You can't go wrong with any of them, I really like them all.

The Chemical Guys CW&G is designed to strip protection. I like to use this before a full detail as you suggested. I like to know that the paint is bare and I'll get the maximum results from my clay, polish, etc.

Clay
The clay bars and lube all work great and there is not any large differences between them. Again you can't go wrong with any of the products, we've selected only the ones we like best. I tend to use the Clay Magic Fine Grade Bar and Chemical Guys ones the most. For lube I like the Poorboy's World Spray and Wipe, Chemical Guys Luber and the Clear Kote Quick Shine/Clay Lube. All three work excellent for me and double as a quick detailer. Sorry for not being too specific here on differences but I assure you all of them work great!

Polish
My answer here depends somewhat on your personal preference. In my opinion polishing is the step where you can really do the most improvement. Polishes will work best with the buffer and I know you said that may be a future purchase. In the future I would suggest two step polishing process when yo have the buffer. For now I would suggest just doing a one step process. For this step you can use chemical polishes or cutting polishes, or a combination of both. Chemical polishes help remove light oxidation, surface contaminants, etc and shine the paint. Light cutting polishes will do all of that and they help remove some lighter imperfections like swirls, ultra fine scratches, while making the surface smoother. I personally would suggest using a polish with cutting/polishing particles that will remove swirls. I think these polishes provide a more dramatic improvement. For best results take your time and apply good pressure with this step during the application.

For product recommendations the Dodo Juice Lime Prime is nice because it has both chemical polishing particles and light cutting polishing particles. This is a good option that will definitely help you get a deeper shine. I think a product that is just a light cutting polish will help you the most. The Menzerna Final Polish II or Menzerna PO106FF (personal favorites) would be my top choices.

Sealant and Wax
I think both products you selected are some of the top quality products at a great price (Natty's Blue on sale this month). Apply the EX-P and Natty's Blue nice and thin and you'll love the results and value.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Old 09-25-2008, 01:31 AM   #2236
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:42 PM   #2237
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Anybody have recommendations on a decent OTC wheel cleaner? I have some brake dust and I need to get rid of it. I am gonna totally detail my car in a few weeks and throw some sealant on them to help get rid of this in the future. But wanted to get something inexpensive on the way home tonight.

Meguiars?

Mothers?
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:50 PM   #2238
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How difficult is buffing out your car with the Porter Cable? What types of pads should i buy, how many and what kind for what step? (I.E. Wax Abbrasive Polish, Polish, Sealent) thanks this is a really good form and i'll be buying the porter cable for you soon.
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Old 09-26-2008, 10:40 AM   #2239
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How difficult is buffing out your car with the Porter Cable? What types of pads should i buy, how many and what kind for what step? (I.E. Wax Abbrasive Polish, Polish, Sealent) thanks this is a really good form and i'll be buying the porter cable for you soon.
A buffer basically provides a lot more heat and pressure which is necessary to break down a polish and really work it in to the surface. The Porter Cable 7424 can do 6,000 Oscillations or orbits per minute. Where as hand applications you can maybe do a couple hundred OPMs per minute. Therefore it's really difficult to replicate the results of the buffer. If you have a buffer I generally recommend doing two steps or more, where as with hand applications I sometimes it's more realistic to do just one good coat. I would just apply one good light polish by hand with a good amount of pressure for best results. Polishes are the step where you actually correct the clear coat where as glazes, sealants and waxes can only enhance what is already there. Most detailers would argue that the prep work (cleaning and polishing) is where the real shine comes from. I'm not sure if you need recommendations for the entire process but I'll provide them just in case. Here are my recommendations:

Wash/Dry
DI Washing and Drying Starter Kit

Clay Bar
Clay Magic Fine Grade Bar and Poorboy's World Spray and Wipe

Polish
Menzerna PO106FF (my fav) or Menzerna Final Polish II (best value)
Yellow Foam Applicator
(White Polishing Pad w/PC 7424)

Sealant
Chemical Guys Jetseal 109 (my fav) or Poorboy's World EX-P (best value)
Red Foam Applicator
(Blue Fine Finishing Pad w/PC 7424)

Wax
Any Dodo Juice Wax, Chemical Guys 50/50, Poorboy's World Natty's Blue or Red Paste Wax (best value)
Red Foam Applicator (hand app only)

If you want a buffer get the DI Porter Cable 7424 Starter Kit, it's a great value! For more information about each step you can read our Detailing Guide. If I can help you any further please let me know.

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Old 10-02-2008, 04:43 PM   #2240
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Hey Greg, I have a few questions:

Can I use JetSeal109 to seal my windows/glass? Also, my car has some pretty heavy swirls and bad water spots, would PO106FF be able to get rid of it or should I use a more intensive polish followed by a final polish? If so, what intensive polish/final polish combination do you recommend?
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