Hello car lovers, your friendly neighbourhood Detailer Dan here.
I’ve been requested to write a how to guide for people that want to look after their car but with premium based products.
Before I start ill just say the products and processes I use will not work for everyone in the world. You really need to use this as a guide and find what works best for you. In saying that, I’m not going to get too technical so you will be able to work out what is what very easily. Some of the products mentioned will be off the shelf variants. All the products I’m mentioning I have had personal experience with. All products are available from any good car product supplier/retailer, my supplier is Car Care Products.
Washing the car is the most regular thing we do in terms of maintaince. There is a lot of info floating around regarding what to use what not to use. There are 3 main principles that if followed will see you washing correctly every time. They are:
1. Use two Buckets
2. Use PH Neutral Wash
3. Use Microfiber cloths
Why 2 Buckets?
When you wash the car the dirt from the car gets transferred to your mitt. When you dunk it back into the wash solution that dirt stays in the solution for next time. Effectively what you’re doing is washing your car with dirty water.
When you use 2 buckets one is full of wash solution and the other rinse water.
Once you have hosed down the car (preferably with a HP washer) you get your clean mitt and dip it into the wash solution. Using very light pressure wipe the dirty panel using straight lines, not circular motions.
Once you have done say a guard or half the bonnet, dip the mitt into the rinse water and run your fingers through the fibres to help get the dirt out. Squeeze the water out of the mitt.
Return the mitt to the wash solution and do the next panel. As always do this in the shade, don’t let the shampoo dry etc.
It’s always to go from top down. Personally I do the wheels and tyres last but it’s up to you. I give them a HP rinse before I start and I finish them off by hand. I don’t use wheel cleaners unless they are very very bad and the one I use you can’t buy, however ill still give you some good ones to try.
Dodo Born to Be Mild
Duragloss Cherry wash Concentrate
Aquatouch Microfiber Wash Mitt
Mint Microfiber Wash Mitt
Once the car is all washed, it’s time to dry. To dry there is no better tool than a Microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towel (WWDT). I use the extra large towel, which is able to try a whole Land Cruiser or Discovery without being wrung out. You could most likely get away with a large if you wished but in my opinion the XL is the way to go.
To dry using a WWDT is very simple. I fold it into quarters to start. I then dry the windows to help prime the towel. This isn’t necessary when new but after a while (like a year) it will help them dry.
When drying the paint again use no pressure and slowly drag the towel across the paintwork. If there are trace amounts of water left flip the towel and give it another light pass over.
Once that section of the towel gets saturated turn it inside out and go again.
Waxing or Sealing & Polishing
Waxing is a crucial step in the care if your vehicle. It protects the surface from the everyday nasties like bird bombs, tree sap, water deposits etc.
It’s also very important to note that waxing and polishing are two very different things.
The biggest misconception I come across in detailing is people that don’t understand the difference between waxing and polishing. I can see how they get confused, but here is a rundown of each process and how they are different.
Polishing is used to fix paint defects. Polishes can be either chemical or abrasive. Chemical polishes include things like Swissvax cleaner fluid, Polylack Nano Clean and Zymol HD Cleanse. They chemically clean the surface to remove contaminants and defects. They will not remove swirl marks. For this you need an abrasive polish.
For abrasive polishes there are many brands. The best I have used is Menzerna. But the Meguiars professional range is abrasive as is the optimum polishing range. Abrasive polishes need a machine to reach their full potential. Either a random orbital or a rotary. Abrasive polishes have tiny little abrasives suspended in the liquid. This is what does the work, the size and type of abrasive varies depending on the polish you use. The abrasives round the edges of the scratches and swirls so they can no longer be seen. In the case of swirls and fine scratches they are removed. In the case of deep scratches they are always reduced and with the use of wet/dry sand paper can be removed. Menzerna Powergloss has large abrasives which remove large defects but leave the surface full of marring and quite dull. Then there is Menzerna intensive polish this is between the two but on most colours needs to be followed with final finish. This depends on the pad used. Menzerna Final Finish leaves the surface free from defects and with a great depth and shine. Here are some pics so you can see the difference
After Intensive polish
After final finish
Waxing is the last step you do when washing or detailing your car. That is why you may see it referred to as the LSP (last step product). The purpose of waxing is to create a barrier between your paint and the environment. Most waxes contain UV inhibitors to stop the sun damaging the paint. They also repel water which stops your paint getting etchings from watermarks. There are many may different LSPs out there, both natural or synthetic or even a mixture of both.
Natural waxes tend to give more of a warmth and a glow. These waxes range in price starting at around $50 and up to $19000. Brands include Swissvax, Zymol, P21S, Dodo and many many more. These are the boutique brand waxes. You can get off the shelf waxes but I don’t rate them for durability or look personally. If they are working for you then go for it! Natural waxes also tend to bead water. This means the water forms tight little beads that run off very easily. If you have a freshly waxed car and drive it in the rain you will find the water will just run off. The lower end waxes and off the shelf waxes last 3-5 weeks before needing to be reapplied whereas the higher end can last 6-8 weeks.
Synthetic products do not contain wax. They, for the most part contain polymers or acrylic. These are the two main types of sealers. Sealers include Duragloss 105, Zaino Z2 and Z5, Polylack Nano seal, Optimum opti seal, Klasse AIO, Zaino AIO. Sealants start at around $35 for the boutique brands. I have found Zaino to be the best as it can be layered unlimited times but still remains optically perfect if you use Z2. Z5 will not as it has fillers to hide swirling.
Sealants give a different look to wax. It gives a look that is best described as sterile. The paint is shiny but it lacks the warmness and glow of a natural wax. Some sealants like the Klasse make the car look like it has a plastic coating. Some people love this look so leave it others, like myself, don’t and then top it with a natural wax. Synthetics tend to sheet water. The water wont form beads, rather it will just run off in a sheet is the best way to describe it. Sealants leave a very slick and slippery surface. Sealants also last a lot longer than a wax with most giving at least 3 months protection and up to 12 months for layered sealants.
These have a mix of both natural and synthetic waxes present. These are waxes like Optimum car wax (OCW). They are a good compromise as they give the look of a natural wax and some of the durability of a sealant. Layered OWC can last 3-4 months.
These are waxes like Meguiar’s NXT range. They contain things called fillers which fill swirls and scratches. The fillers also mute the metallic in the paint so it won’t pop as much. As the product wears off the defects return. I don’t like filler products as they wear off and the surface looks bad again.
This car has natural wax (Swissol Scuderia ~$200)
This one has Zaino Z2 Pro layered 3 times and topped with Z8
Menzerna Polish kit
Heavy Duty – Menzerna Powergloss (High Cut, very low gloss)
Medium duty – Menzerna P203S (medium to high cut, medium gloss. Follow with PO85RD)
Light duty/High gloss – Menzerna 106FF (same gloss as 85RD but more cut, use on its own)
High Gloss/ Very light duty – Menzerna PO85RD (same gloss as 106FF but very little cut, use after P203S)
Dodo Supernatural Paste Wax
Dodo Colour Charged Soft wax
(note: the above link if for Orange crush. Look at the other soft wax’s to pick the best one for your paint type)
Dodo Colour Charged Hard Wax
Dodo Lime Prime
Dodo Lime Prime Lite
Optimum Car Wax
Not as long lasting as OCW but it’s applied while the car is wet, is the perfect boost to a car sealed in Duragloss 105. It adds a very nice shine and some extra protection and only takes an extra 3 or 4 mins.
Well, I hope this has been informative for some of you! Until next time …