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ikellen
 
An unofficial, non-expert guide to cleaning and maintaining the appearence of a car

Part 1 - Washing and Drying
Part 2 - Claying
Part 3 - Polishing and Sealing
Part 4 - Interior and Misc Odds and Ends


This is by no means the definitive method, but one that has had widespread success and it relatively easy. The sky is the limit when it comes to this stuff. You can do as little as wash and seal, or do a full wetsand/polish/multiple layers of sealant job that will leave you with dead arms but mirror like paint. There are lots of way you can expand on this.

Step 1: Evalution/Planning
Look at your car. Does it look clean to you, or dirty? This is relative to what kind of eye/perspective you may have, but use your own judgement. Now consider what your goals are - do you want a show car shine, or just a nice clean look that 98% of people will appreciate? This really affects what your detail job will involve.

Step 2: Washing
First off, if you can, wash your car in the shade on a cool day. Otherwise the water on your car will dry up and can leave spots.

Most weekend warriors use standard household brushes and sponges to clean their car. There are two problems with this - first, both of these items will put scratches and marring into your paint. Second, these items will drag the dirt you got off your car along the surface of your paint and marr it even more. Most detailers swear by Sheepskin or Chenille wash mitts. These items are just as they read. Big mitts that go over your hand that have long fibers that pull dirt away from the surface and keep it off your paint.

Now let me explain what is known as the two bucket method. You should have two buckets - one with your water/shampoo combo. There are lots of good auto soaps out there, and deciding on one is based mostly on preference. Meguiars gold class is a good overall choice, but it doesnt create a lot of suds. Megauirs NXT creates lots of suds, but sometimes leaves residue and streaking. YMMV. Its good 98% of the time though, so its usually a good bet if you like big suds. Mothers soap product is pretty good as well. In general I do a capful (based on the cap from the gallon jug of Gold Class) to about 3-4 gallons of water. A good dollup is usually safe. You may want to double that quantity if the car is REALLY dirty.

Now your second bucket contains straight clean water. You use it to rinse your wash tool to rinse all of the dirt out of it. Then you can dip your clean wash mitt back in the suds. This is to keep your wash mitt from filling up with dirt and scratching your paint. So your wash process is:

-Rinse the car down well. Dont just get it wet, but thoroughly cover the car in water, making sure to walk all the way around the car and get the roof. This will help to get rid of the majority of dirt and prevent the car from drying quickly.
-Dunk wash mitt in soapy mixture and wash a panel or so. Go over every inch - it makes a difference.
-Dunk the wash mitt in the clean water, then move to the next panel.

Do this to every panel of the car. Try to work somewhat quickly. If you are working outdoors in the sun, you may need to rinse half of the car before you start working on the other half. Just make sure to keep the car somewhat wet. Just dont let the car bake and then come back and complain about water spots.

Drying
This is where a majority of people put a bunch of marring and finute scratches into their paint. Most weekend warriors grab that old bath towel that sat in their garage for months and aggressively dry their car. Now consider this: Most bath towels are mostly cotton, but have a base of polyester, which, by weight, is stronger than steel. So you are basically rubbing a steel panel with some worn, moldy cotton fibers on it over your paint. Not a good idea. If you only invest in three things to clean your car, get a Wash mitt, good auto shampoo, and a waffle weave micro-fiber drying towel. These things are great.......they hold like 10-12 times their weight in water, and will not scratch your paint. I reccomend a 24" x 30" one or bigger if you have bigger than a standard mid size sedan. I can dry my outback wagon with one 24x30 without having to ring out. Just go around your car and blot up water. Don't "scrub" the paint. The WW-MF towel is super absorbent and will suck water right up. Just lay the towel on the paint and then pick it up. Again, work quickly so the water doesnt dry and spot.

<->

So at this point, most people will be happy with the results they see. Your car is clean and has no exterior dirt on it, and the surface (if you used a good wash mitt and auto shampoo) might even have a little slickness to it.

This is part 1 of 4 in a series of posts. I will post the rest of them in this thread, but the above will help quite a few of you out, and to he honest, my fingers are tired. Sorry if this a repeat, I tried searching.
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Last edited by ikellen; 10-30-2005 at 09:43 PM..
Old 10-22-2005, 12:23 AM ikellen is offline  
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Nice write up!

just a note, i'd remove the bar of "-" you have. I didn't even read what was below it, thinking it was your sig...
Old 10-22-2005, 01:08 AM Airbase-Seven is offline  
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Randle2I
 
Not a bad start to a clean car. As a side note you may want to put a list of acronyms. Some may not know that WW-MF is waffle weave - micro fiber, etc. That may help once you get into more detail later on in the thread.
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Old 10-22-2005, 07:05 AM Randle2I is offline  
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thewhiteguy
 
Oh come on, people like you need to get a life or hobby other than your car. Two fscking buckets? A sponge isn't good enough? Rocks on the road are going to do far more damage than you will with an inferior towel.
Old 10-22-2005, 07:12 AM IM A FAGGOT AND I <3 COCKS IN MY ASS is offline  
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Major Fudge Packer
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Originally Posted by thewhiteguy
Oh come on, people like you need to get a life or hobby other than your car. Two fscking buckets? A sponge isn't good enough? Rocks on the road are going to do far more damage than you will with an inferior towel.

The appearance of their car matters to some people. Apparently not to you.
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Old 10-22-2005, 08:18 AM Major Fudge Packer is offline  
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good notes, i do all of that except the two buckets thing. I wash my car every saturday and wax it with meguires gold class every 4 weeks. My big problem is the interior. I do look forward to some great tips

I'm big on keeping my car clean
Old 10-22-2005, 08:36 AM Kase is offline  
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z32tt
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ok now we just need a detailing thread or tack on a detailing section to your post
Old 10-22-2005, 08:41 AM z32tt is offline  
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raastin
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The problem with trying to get youre car to be perfectly clean is that you can start to see imperfections, rock impacks and swirl marks on youre paint job the more you try to clean youre car. Easiest way to keep youre car looking clean is to buy a color on which dirt doesnt show.
Old 10-22-2005, 08:52 AM raastin is offline  
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z32tt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raastin
The problem with trying to get youre car to be perfectly clean is that you can start to see imperfections, rock impacks and swirl marks on youre paint job the more you try to clean youre car. Easiest way to keep youre car looking clean is to buy a color on which dirt doesnt show.

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Old 10-22-2005, 08:59 AM z32tt is offline  
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lopoetve
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thewhiteguy
Oh come on, people like you need to get a life or hobby other than your car. Two fscking buckets? A sponge isn't good enough? Rocks on the road are going to do far more damage than you will with an inferior towel.

Do you like posting in this forum?
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Old 10-22-2005, 09:38 AM lopoetve is offline  
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ikellen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thewhiteguy
Oh come on, people like you need to get a life or hobby other than your car. Two fscking buckets? A sponge isn't good enough? Rocks on the road are going to do far more damage than you will with an inferior towel.

You'll figure out why some people do this when you try to sell your car and dont even get close to blue book for it because the paint is shit. Keeping your car clean is one of the best ways to keep the value of your car up, and it is almost always the first thing prospective buyers notice.
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Old 10-22-2005, 10:25 AM ikellen is offline  
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ikellen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedoman
ok now we just need a detailing thread or tack on a detailing section to your post

in progress.....
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Old 10-22-2005, 10:49 AM ikellen is offline  
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Bolix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ikellen
You'll figure out why some people do this when you try to sell your car and dont even get close to blue book for it because the paint is shit. Keeping your car clean is one of the best ways to keep the value of your car up, and it is almost always the first thing prospective buyers notice.


A rather large chunk of my clients for detailing are trying to sell their cars. Also my buddy whom I work with takes his car to shows and stuff(concourse et cetera) so its ALOT easier to keep it clean all of the time and just really crack down on it every once in a while instead of having to do a hardcore job on it more often. I sold my `85 Caprice for about $1500 becuase I took very good care of it, espeicially the cleaning aspect.
Old 10-22-2005, 11:49 AM Bolix is offline  
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thewhiteguy
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikellen
Keeping your car clean is one of the best ways to keep the value of your car up, and it is almost always the first thing prospective buyers notice.
No shit. I keep my car clean and waxed. What I'm saying is that using things like fancy towels and sponges amounts to zero difference in the end when you account for other sources of paint damage that you can not avoid unless you never drive.
Old 10-22-2005, 12:10 PM IM A FAGGOT AND I <3 COCKS IN MY ASS is offline  
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Arby
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thewhiteguy
No shit. I keep my car clean and waxed. What I'm saying is that using things like fancy towels and sponges amounts to zero difference in the end when you account for other sources of paint damage that you can not avoid unless you never drive.

Look at most 5-10 year old cars. There are thousands upon thousands of tiny scratches.

I've been doing the two bucket and nice towel thing for two years now and the only scratches are from when I let the dealer wash it.
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Old 10-22-2005, 01:09 PM Arby is offline  
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