Paint Correction and Protection Is My Pride Quispamsis, N.B.
What are proper washing and drying techniques? My detailing mentor, Kevin Hamill in Toronto, who I learned a great deal from posted some awesome information on a car forum that I am a member of......I'll just post it here. I'll start with proper washing and drying. I wash in two ways, either the regular bucket + hose way, or with a rinseless wash. I will go over both.
First, bucket and hose. OK, products I use: One or two buckets, both with grit guards. You can get them at CT (red, $15.99) At least 2 sheepskin wash mitts. Why 2 or more? you'll see. A good automotive soap. What's good? Most are; Meguiars deep crystal is cheap, locally available, and good. JUST DONT USE TOO MUCH OR IT WILL STRIP WAX. Use the quantity directed, don't just pour a bunch in the bucket. Remember, as nice as suds are, too many = too much detergent. 2-3 good microfibre drying towels. 5+ good microfibre clothes. A good all purpose cleaner and/or bug remover. I like poorboys apc 2:1 with water or bug squash 3:1 with water. A wheel cleaner and sealant So, so let's start:
First, the wheels. I only use a wheel cleaner if there is a significant amount of brake dust. What wheel cleaners do I like? The best, imo, locally available are Eagle One All Wheel & Tire Cleaner (caustic), or for less acidic/caustic, their aluminum wheel cleaner. A lot of you have P21S cleaner; use it when needed, it's great stuff.
Put the car in the shade. This is important. If you're using two buckets, fill one with soap and water and the other with just water.
If the wheels are dirty go to step 1, if not, step 3: 1) Hose wheels off (make sure they are not hot). Spray wheel cleaner on wheels and let dwell. Agitate with a brush (a wheel brush, not a tooth brush or a carpet bursh) or an old wash mitt, or an old mf cloth. Basically something soft. 2) Hose off, if there is still dust repeat. Go to step 4 3) Wash with soap and water (the automotive soap) and an old mitt. 4) If you washed with your bucket water, dump it out and re-pour it. Wheel dust in the water = don't put it on the paint, EVER. 5) Soak one mitt in first bucket with soap. Not all of them. 6) Rinse the car. If it's very dirty/buggy, apply liberal amounts of diluted APC/bug remover to effected areas and let sit. 7) Get the mit and start washing. Use almost no pressure, start at the top and move down. So roof, front and rear window, side windows, upper side panels and fenders, hood, rear deck lid, trunk, lower side panels and fenders, and finally rockers. Why? The lower part of the car is almost always dirtier, you don't want to use the mitt on them then move it to the cleaner areas. Now, don't do this all at once. Do it like this: 8) Wash roof and front and rear window. Put the mitt in the clean water bucket and thoroughly rinse it out. Put it back in the soapy bucket and wash the side windows and upper side panels (doors, fenders), then back into the water only bucket, rinse... see the pattern? Dirt gets rinsed out. As the mitt gets more and more dirty put it aside and USE A NEW ONE. I use 3 per wash almost always. One for roof, windows, upper side panels, one for hood, read decklid and trunk, and one for lower side panels and rockers. 9) if its hot, rinse the car often; keep it wet at all times. 9.5) Put the hose over the roof and let the water flow freely over the car. This will "sheet" water off and make for about 80% less water on the car to dry. 10) Now dry. How to dry? Take one towel and spread it on the roof then slowly move it the same way you washed (top to bottom), DO NOT worry about getting the car dry at this point, you want to remove most of the water but leave it damp. 11) get towel two and finish any areas you missed, then re-dry the entire car to clean up the dampness left behind by towe one. You will be amazed how much easier this makes drying. 12) Now, if your waxing or sealing, do it. 13) Dress trim while wax/sealant is hazing, also dress wheel wells, tires, dry wheels, polish chrome, and clean door jambs. 14) If you're using a spray wax/sealant for maintenance (highly recommended) then go from step 11 to this step and spray seal/wax, then do #13.
Why Use Claybar & How To Use It
What can I clay? You can pretty much clay any hard, smooth to mostly smooth surface. It is generally meant for use on the painted surface of your vehicles body, but you can use it for the windows, plastic trim, wheels, headlights, taillights, etc… I have been caught claying scuffs off my hardwood floor and dirt particles off of my counter tops. lol
How often should I clay? For your own daily driven vehicle, twice a year is common. Once at the end of summer and once after winter. However, it wouldn’t hurt to clay your vehicle every time you wax. I know people that clay once a month. There is no maximum for how many times you can clay your car, but you should at least clay it once a year. If you are detailing for money, it is a good idea to clay before you polish or wax because chances are, the vehicles surface has never seen a clay bar. As mentioned above, claying before you polish is a good because it removes particles off the surface that could potentially get trapped in your pad and cause unwanted surface marring. It will help aid in the wax on/wax off steps and it will also help boost the appearance with little added work. You can also “spot clay”. If you get some overspray on your paint and the overspray is still somewhat fresh, then claying will take it off easily. If you get a stubborn bird bomb on your roof and a QD and wash will not completely remove it, you can generally clay it off. Anytime you get a stubborn contaminant on your paint, trying to clay it off might be a solution.
Do I have to do anything after I clay? Yes. Not only does it strip contaminants off of the surface, it will also strip waxes/sealants that you have previously put on. People generally clay before applying wax anyway, but even when you spot clay, it is a good idea to wax that area.
Which Clay is best to use? This is personal preference. People chose clay for different reasons including, price, brand, availability, etc… There really isn’t a clay that is superior to another. I have used 8 different clay bars from different companies and they all have performed the same. From all the research I have done, most all, if not all, automotive clay is made the same way out of the same ingredients. There are different colors and strengths, but that is about where the differences end. Most locally available clay is a mild clay. You typically can only get aggressive clay by ordering it. The three most common over the counter brands are Meguiar’s, Mothers and Clay Magic. All three work perfectly fine.
How many uses can I get out of a clay bar? You can typically get 3-4 whole car safe uses out of an over the counter bar. A lot depends on where you use it and how dirty your car is. If you keep you car fairly clean and you only use the bar on the body, you could get more uses. If you car is ran like the Dukes of Hazzard Charger, you only wash it once a year and you decide to do your wheels also, you may only get one use before it becomes unsafe. Always remember, if you drop it on the ground, chuck it and count your losses.
Where in the detailing process do I clay? The best time to use a clay bar is after a wash. If you do it before a wash, you are going to scratch the surface of your car everywhere and you will fall asleep that night crying. If you do it after you wax or polish, it is to late. There are really only two times you should clay. During the wash or right after the wash/dry. I don’t recommend claying while you wash because of two reasons. There can potentially be particles still suspended in the suds on the body panel and some car soaps break some clay bars down. If you decide to clay while you wash, I recommend that you wash the panel, rinse it, wipe soapy water on it again and then clay. You also need to make sure that the soap and your clay bar are compatible.
How do I use a clay bar? If you buy an over the counter clay bar, make sure you read the instructions before proceeding. Thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle. Remove the clay bar from the packaging. Tear the clay in half. I do this just in case so if I drop the clay, I haven’t lost the whole bar. Take one half and flatten it into a pancake. When claying the whole car, a good rule of thumb is to clay from top to bottom, front to back. I usually do it in this order: roof, hood, rear deck lid, front bumper, front fenders, front doors, rear doors, rear quarters, rear bumper and I finish up with the side skirts/rocker panels since they generally get hit with the most debris. Lube. Most over the counter clay bars come in a system that includes a spray lube. Try to stick with that lube. Never just use water. Always use a proper clay lube when using a clay bar. To start, mist the first panel with the spray lube just like you would if you were using a Quick Detail spray. For larger panels, divide them in half. You don’t need to soak the panel to make the clay work, but you need to make sure there is enough to make the clay glide. Mist the area and try the clay, if it doesn’t move freely, squirt another mist on the area. Once the panel has been lubed, rub the clay bar across the surface. You will hear and feel gritty sound that will scare you the first time. This is completely normal. It is all the contaminants being removed from the surface. Rub the clay across the surface until you stop feeling and hearing this sound. You will also feel the clay beginning to glide more easily. This is when you know that you can move on. Once you have clayed the panel, wipe the lube dry with a quality Microfibre towel. After you have completed two small or one large panel, knead the clay. Fold it in half and reflatten it into a pancake before moving to the next panel. Complete this over the whole vehicle and you are done and ready to polish or wax.
Sealants vs Waxes, which one should I use?
So what's all this sealant and waxing business?
Sealants and waxes are two very different products which are intended to serve the same purpose; the protection of your paint. They protect from UV damage, bird bomb etchings, acid rain damage, water spots, and make the car easier to clean in general. As a side benefit they also enhance gloss, slickness, wetness, depth, etc...
So which is the best? I hate this question; I will only say this once: THERE IS NO BEST. This is like saying "So I'm golfing tomorrow and only want to bring one club, which is the best?" or "which is the best wine?". It doesn't work that way. I can tell you what the differences are and some attributes of popular ones.
Let's start with waxes. Waxes have been around forever; it's wax. Todays waxes are actually only 1-10% wax (most of them), the rest is oils, silicone, etc... Generally waxes will last on a car 2-6 weeks, so you need to re-wax pretty often. Waxes TEND to give a more subtle "carnauba glow" type look; wet, deep, darken color... They can also mute metallic flake and tend to make the paint look soft, like water. Waxes come in liquids and pastes, neither is better, just different. They are mostly applied in the shade by hand, you let most of them haze then wipe off.
Sealants are synthetic polymers which do the same thing as a wax, but longer (generally). Sealants are always liquids, and last normally between 3-6 months. In general sealants give a more reflective "harsher" look, they make your clear coat look thicker, they are intense and very glossy. Some people like this, others describe it as "wrapping the car in saran wrap".
Which is better? Neither. It's which is better *for you*. If you don't want to wax or seal often, then sealants tend to be a good choice. If you like the way sealants look, then again, good choice. If you don't mind waxing every 4-6 weeks and like the look of a wax, go with a wax. Make sense, right? If you want an easy to maintain protection sealants are generally easier because you apply them less AND there are many spray sealant boosters that are incredibly easy to apply.
Now, you can combine them, you can put a wax over a sealant and get the best of both worlds; however your wax will still fade after 4-6 weeks. You will still have the protection of the sealant but will need to re-apply wax for the "wax look", also, you can not apply a sealant over a wax, so when it comes time to re-apply it all you will need to start from scratch (no big deal).
What do *I* think about them on different colors? Well here is a little rundown. Remember, this is MY OPINION ONLY.
Non-metallic dark colors (black, blue, green). On black I like waxes, period. I find sealants take away too much of the black color; they make it looks grey-ish from a distance because they are so reflective. Which waxes? Nattys Blue is a great $20 wax, easy to apply, easy to buff off, looks very wet, glossy, and deep. Another is Clearkote Carnauba; less wet, more depth and deep dark black color. Another is Souveran, it's expensive, and lasts only 2-4 weeks, but it looks incredible. Another option here is to add a glaze to the mix (next section).
If I went with a sealant on black it would be Z5 pro or Poorboys EX. Z5 pro sealant looks the most like a carnauba and gives 6 months of protection and fills minor marring. It can also be "boosted" easily with the spray sealant, Z8. EX actually has carnauba in it so it looks very much like a wax, and can be applied in full sun.
Non-metallic red: Again, I like waxes. Nattys Blue looks absolutely awesome on red. Especially over a glaze (next section). So does Souveran (it's made for red), but it's pricey.
For sealants on red I would go with Z5pro if you have some marring, or FMJ + HGAS if you don't. FMJ + HGAS are incredibly wet, reflective, and glossy, plus it's easy to maintain and it looks very wet on red.
Metallics, all of them but silver/white: I like sealants here. Why? You don't loose as much color as dark colors, so the added reflectively and metallic "pop" is nice. Waxes tend to mute flake. Which one? Z2pro with Z8, Jeffs Werkstatt Acrylic Jett (which AJ trigger) or Power Lock with HGAS, all these are liquid sealants with their respective spray booster. All last 4-6 months, all look incredible and are easy to maintain.
If I went with a wax on metallics it'd be P21S, since I find it's the "clearest" wax.
Silver/White (metallic or non). Either 4* UPP or Acrylic Jett, period. Why? I don't know; both of these just look awesome on silver and white, so wet, so glossy - something about them just works on these two colors, IMO