- coolskillrex remix
- Jan 1, 2007
Autopia is a pretty good website for information about technique. For cleaning cars for CL I wouldn't recommend spending the money on most of the high-end products they recommend. I generally stick to things I can get locally.
Meguair's NXT Tech Wax for easy application and good durability
Stoner's Invisible Glass is the simply the best glass cleaner
I like the gel-style tire dressing since it sticks better
I like the Griot's clay bar because it is bigger and costs the same as other brands.
Microfiber towels are the most important key to good results IMO. I get mine in big packages at Sam's Club.
As for interior detailing I mostly use wet MF towels. On my own cars after everything is clean I spray some vinyl dressing on a MF towel and wipe everything down a second time. For cars I am selling I skip this step because of time and because I find that the dressing can attract dust which I then have to wipe off again when I show the car.
I like the Absorber synthetic chamois for drying the car off after a wash. They are cheap and pretty much infinitely reusable. If I use a clay bar I don't dry the car until after I am finished with the clay bar since I hate doing the same work twice.
I have a trigger-activated spray nozzle thing for my hose. I don't really like it but it saves a lot of water.
Griot's is a mail order product but there is a specialty store in my city that sells their stuff.
For more serious work you can get into machine polishing with all kinds of polishes, glazes, waxes and sealants. If you are polishing turds for CL this is probably a waste of time and money. I have dabbled with this stuff and I seriously doubt any of the specialty brands of polishes are any better than Meguiar's pro line (tan bottles) or the 3M stuff they sell at most auto body & paint supply stores. Polish boils down to liquid super fine grit sandpaper.
For cars I sell the most I ever do is wash, clay and inexpensive off-the-shelf wax. If you go that far you are ahead of what 99% of people ever do to their own cars anyway.
When you are done washing the car grab a grungy towel and clean out the door, hood, trunk, and fuel filler jambs. After you dry the car off open and shut all the doors several times to push out any water stuck under door handles or trim that could drip and leave water spots later.
Vacuuming is the first thing to start with because vacuuming will kick up dust, and it would be a shame to get dust all over a freshly washed and waxed car. When you vacuum use a powerful vacuum and take your time. If there are places the vacuum can't reach don't be afraid to use your hands or better yet a brush to kind of stir up the dirt and push it somewhere the vacuum can get it. Most front seats are only held in with four bolts and maybe an electrical connector so if things are really dirty sometimes I pull the seats out.
I like to clean up the underhood as one of the first things when I get a car. It makes it easier to track down problems later on. I keep it simple. I drive the car to a pay and spray. I spray pretty much everything under the hood with Simple Green or Purple Power. I have found the stuff in aerosol cans just doesn't work as well. I agitate everything I can reach with a brush that I throw away afterwards because then end up pretty gross. Walmart sells toilet bowl brushes for about a dollar that work pretty well for this sort of thing.
I let everything sit while I go get change. Then I start the car up, roll down one of the back windows (don't want to get locked out, and weird poo poo can happen with unfamiliar cars) and then spray everything under the hood with high pressure water. Then I make sure to drive the car ten or fifteen miles and then park with the hood up. If the spark plug wires are easy to reach I pull them out and let any water in the spark plug wells boil out. Don't forget to spray the underside of the hood and the front part of the radiator/ac condenser. And definitely don't forget to spray all those leaves and twigs out of the windshield cowl.
I usually pull out the floor mats when I do this and hang them up and spray them with high pressure water at the same time. I don't bother vacuuming them beforehand. You would be amazed at how much filth comes out of a clean-looking floor mat. You can vacuum them out with a shop vac or just let them sit out in the sun or in front of a fan. If you have a car with really messed up carpet you can apply this trick to the whole carpet. Generally speaking you have to remove the front seats, sometimes the bottom cushion of the back seat, the center console and some trim pieces and you can remove the carpet from the car entirely.
It is less about the products and more about the effort and attention to detail, especially in the interior. Just clean everywhere and look at everything from every conceivable angle. Move any and all of the seats all the way through their range of motion and clean everything you can see and reach.
Clean the glass last. On anything I'm going to drive much I put Rain-X on the exterior glass except for the rear view mirrors. It is impossible to see anything through mirrors covered with tiny water bubbles. Don't forget to clean the interior rear view mirror and the vanity mirrors. You have to use cloth towels with Rain-X, it will not work with paper towels. I find that it is really easy to buff off if your MF towel has the tiniest hint of moisture on it, like one pump from a spray bottle filled with water.
This is all info for making an every day street car look as nice as it can without spending too much time or money. I'm sure detailing a garage queen for a concourse involves a completely different set of tools, products, and techniques, but that is not at issue here.
The one flourish you might want to add is polishing up faded plastic headlight housings. There are lots of products out there and lots of info on how to use them. Some housings just need a quick polish, some need wetsanding and beyond.
In terms of clay barring what detailing spray do you use? i got a mothers clay bar kit with their detailing spray and i find it takes forever to work even a small section to buttery smoothness. also you dont dry the car off at all you just go straight into putting detail spray and clay bar?? Maybe thats what im doing wrong, i dry off the whole thing with the synthetic chamois then start clay barring it..
I remember checking out a used 98 GT that the guy entered into car shows with flawless paint that he clay barred and wax and being blown away by how smooth and flawless it looked (drat i wanted that car...). I basically just want to reach even half the smoothness of his paint. I bought some gold class meguiars wax that i want to try but i dont quite understand if the clay bar is supposed to make the surface extremely smooth or the wax is doing most of that.
coolskillrex remix fucked around with this message at Aug 22, 2010 around 11:53
Aug 22, 2010 11:48
- coolskillrex remix
- Jan 1, 2007
Not sure if this is a regional thing, but the "Mother's" kit here has gone from the single claybar, bottle of cinnamon smelling detailing spray, and a small cleaning wax bottle to TWO claybars, a bottle of detailing spray, and a microfiber cloth.
So, it's not really halfsized anymore, on a technicality. I like having the two bars for the same size because I am a clumsy dumbass and sometimes drop poo poo.
Edit: I hate shiny poo poo, but I like clean, and I have a car that sits outside (again). I have recently discovered that my half-assed-protectant, Armor All "Low Shine" no longer exists.
Do you have an alternative that isn't Vinylex? It's amazing how easily the soft plastic shows small dings, and again, I detest the fake "shiny poo poo" look.
i dropped a bit of a claybar when i was pulling it apart and molding it into a wider rectangle the first time using it... but now im just going to combine the two bars that came in the kit.
then im probably going to buy one of these:
maybe even these... looks a little sketch though
The griot clay bar is $20 on auto anything BUT i dont have amazon prime with them so...
I guess i should make a general car detail/cleaning thread since i think its a subject that obviously has some interest and stop hijacking this thread
Aug 23, 2010 02:54