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Old 02-26-2006, 07:28 PM   #1
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How to detail your car for real.

I get alot of questions about how to properly detail a car. Ive been in the business just under 5 years and I consider myself good at what I do. Cleaing your car isnt a once a month thing, it takes proper matainence often, using the right tools, and proper prep. This isnt a read on how to be a professional detailer, but more a good guide on how to keep your ride presentable.



First and most importantly, The car wash, touch free wash or dusting will not clean your car...in fact you are just adding to the daily pain your cars paint is so helplessly trying to fight.

Go to a Pepboys, Autozone, general store dealing in car "stuffs" you will find the basic tools. A great start is: (and these are what I have been using for years)Car wash, Good Hard Carnuba, Wax Applicators, Bucket, Wash Mitten, Terry Towels, Microfiber Towels, Shammy, Shop Towels, Stoners Invisible Glass Cleaner, Wheel brush, Eagle One Quick detail spray, and the California duster.

Always remember to pre soak your car before washing!!!!

Car wash: (look at the soap, if its thick and slimy thats your soap) You dont want anything with super detergents or teflon or whatever flashy things they want to advertise, Dish soap is also a no no. Reason being, Too harsh a soap and you will eat away at everything you put on, thus deteriorating what is protecting your paint and your finish. Pour enough to put a layer about half an inch thick along the bottom of your bucket and make it sudsy.

Wash Mitt: Any wash mit will do, one with a seperate side for bug removal is also great. Should always be soaking wet during use, if not the fibers WILL damage your paint.

Carnuba wax: (I recommend a hard carnuba paste) you will find this in a tin can about 5 inches in diameter. Liquid carnuba will make your car soft but lacks staying ability. Generally the harder the wax is to get off the better it is. Eagle1, Black Magic, Mothers, Turtle Wax, 3M are all great choices as long as it is a hard carnuba. Carnuba is also a cleaner wax so as you remove it from your cars paint you will also be taking off other contaminants that washing doesnt. So using a wax applicator found in the same general area that your products will be, dampen your applicator and spread over paint, small swirling motions and excess force will damage paint. A little wax will go a long way so spread your wax in long wipes gently. To remove the wax, you can use a soft terry towel like one you would find in your bathroom or a MICROFIBER towel which can also be purchased at the same stores, make long swipes the same way you applied the wax. Again carefully or you will damage your paint. Be sure to do this in proper light or you will look dumb with wax on your car.

Window Cleaner: (this is the tricky part) I cannot stress this part enough. Choosing the right method to do your windows will make or break your detail. I only only only use a product called "Stoners Invisible Glass" It comes in aerosol form or spray form. You also need two towels for this job. (shop towels, News paper, anything thin and absorbant. Terry is a bad choice) Spray a light spray in the middle of the window and wipe the glass spreading as much as needed, use your one towel to wipe the window cleaner off and the other to follow up. This is called the wet and dry method. Also remember to roll windows down a little to get the top two inches. Subie owners just open your doors lazy.

Tire dressing: Again any tire dressing is great in moderation. If you use too much it will be all over, use too little and it will be gone before you finish. This is trial and error, all people have differnt size tires so making generalizations wont be good for anyone.

Wheel Cleaner: Honestly if you let the brake dust build enough to make your wheels black... you shouldnt be reading this. Most cases a wheel brush and some soapy water work fine. For the people who spend less time washing and more time driving you probably will need a wheel acid and should let some one else clean them for you.

Vaccuming. This is where most people make their biggest mistake. A quick run through with the vac will not solve anything. You need to move your seats, get inbetween them and pull the mats out and really really vac them.

Dash and trim treatment: Armorall is a great product... for show cars. Its not a good idea to use it on a daily driver. It is a thick oily residue thats left on surfaces that WILL attract more dust that is even harder to remove. So the best method is a lightly dampend towel. Wipe and dust where needed, try not to leave anything wet.

Now if you have used all of these products when you have washed, quess what, unless its poured rain, or snowed or you have gone off road. More than likely (i make no promises) you will only need to use your quick detail spray and a micro fiber to get ready for the next Tristate meet.

Feel free to ask questions.
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Last edited by Buster; 02-26-2006 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:51 PM   #2
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Nice.

Now if only I had time and a place to do this.
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:51 PM   #3
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Excellent THREAD! You could of not said it any better! THAT'S A VERY CLEAN CAR! Thankyou for the input!
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:53 PM   #4
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Any tips on how to clean the backs of mirrors well? I kinda have 1 new mirror to put on, but it's uber shiny compared to the other side...
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:56 PM   #5
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A glaze with an applicator will work good but probably wont be as nice as the new one, is it painted or gloss black?
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Old 02-26-2006, 07:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by SPEC-V Keith
A glaze with an applicator will work good but probably wont be as nice as the new one, is it painted or gloss black?
Gloss.

So basically, deposit this money and get another one for the other side.

Ever hear of removal of the "Objects blah blah blah" badge on the mirror? Is it possible, since you may have come across it once or twice in your detailing experience.
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Old 02-26-2006, 08:02 PM   #7
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I beleive thats etched into the mirror itself, i could be mistaken.
If the mirror wasnt expensive I would grab another, But since its gloss I would try and glaze it with a stage two polish and see what happens.
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Old 02-26-2006, 08:22 PM   #8
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Great Thread! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to write it all up. You sir are what helps makes this forum better than others. 50 forum bux for you!
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:07 PM   #9
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nicee!! yea all i need is time to do it..
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:10 PM   #10
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Where is the clay bar?

One of the best car products, and you don't even mention it. Removes tar spots/bugs in a heartbeat.

Canuba wax is good for a short time, but loses out for people who drive a lot, or don't wax frequently. Canuba does have more luster and is better for shows, however.

Zaino is probably the best of both worlds with respect to waxing, but you have to mail-order the stuff.

Good write up
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Old 02-26-2006, 10:47 PM   #11
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At the risk of sounding ignorant, the claybar isnt the best product for most people. In fact I deal with more cars in my shop on account of improper use of the product. The claybar is also Not good for tar removal, or bugs. And for the sake of costs not very cost efficent. The claybar I use personally cost about $20 a pop.

But this is how I expain it to the newbies:

The claybar is a hard putty like block, It picks up the surface contaiminants that the washing and waxing alone cannot. It works best after the intial wash when the surface is semi clean.

To use it first make up a solution of water and carwash and dilute it 10-1. Spray it on the surface and slide the bar gently, then wipe clean with a micro fiber. This should be done one panel at a time. As you work the surface be sure to knead the bar as it will become dirtier and dirtier.

The clay bar is natually only good for one or two uses and should not be used if it becomes excessively dirty or is dropped on the ground.

As far as Zaino is concerned, some like it others dont. My policy has always been that if it sounds easy or is... its not working.

Detailing your car is not something that should be taken easy. Your car for most people is the most expensive thing they own and should be treated with respect.
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Last edited by Buster; 02-26-2006 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 02-26-2006, 11:17 PM   #12
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keith how much would u charge for a detail if you would be willing to do it? I'm too lazy to do it to tell you the truth? this prob wouldnt be for a little while but lemme know if ud be willing
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Old 02-26-2006, 11:19 PM   #13
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thanks for the writeup, now i'll move it to the appropriate forum, exterior/interior...
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Old 02-27-2006, 12:49 AM   #14
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Great write up.

What do you recommend for drying the car? I know you said to buy a shammy but is that all that you use? If it is, what kind do you generally buy?

Thanks.
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Old 02-27-2006, 12:52 AM   #15
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I've been detailing for 3+ years, heres some tips i learned:

always put tire shine on before you wax your car.
wash microfibers with micofibers, NOTHING else.
Armorall cracks dashes, don't use it.
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Old 02-27-2006, 12:53 AM   #16
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I dry my car with the same towel's I dry myself off of when I get out of the shower.
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Old 02-27-2006, 01:04 AM   #17
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i heard that normal towels are not good for cars... i mean i use them but i'm just stating what i heard. microfiber and terrycloth only for your car.
and i hear a lot that armorall isnt good for interior, but what is? i've heard the 303 stuff is good?
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Old 02-27-2006, 01:05 AM   #18
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Atleast at the detail shop I work/worked at, we used regular towels. Never had any problems with them.

You could be right though.
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:37 AM   #19
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What are your thoughts on those "three step" waxes?

I have a set from Meguires (paint cleaner, some wax, and final/carnuba wax), which I have used since I got my car, but truthfully it is a PITA to do the full three steps.

I like the sounds of your process better!
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:57 AM   #20
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Very nice right up I like it indeed.
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