Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Detailing101: The Handbook

First things first, what do I need? Again, this is going to change vastly with each person, and shop. For me, I prefer to mainly stick with Meguiar’s and Mother’s products as I’ve found (especially with Meguiar’s Professional Series) that it works A LOT better than normal off the shelf products. (Such as Meguiar’s 3-step system.) However, I cannot recommend these products to everyone; more on these later. Most of the heavier duty scratch and swirl removers and polishes really need to be applied mechanically rather than by hand. For that machine, a random-orbital buffer is going to be more than sufficient for 99.9% of the population. For that, only one comes to mind, the Porter Cable 7424 Random Orbital Buffer. Now that we have the main tool out of the way, once you put the product on, it obviously must be taken off. For this I hit up my local Costco or Sam’s and find the 24 Microfiber towels for $8.24 deal. This is a GREAT deal, as you’ll find by trying to compare that price to just about anywhere else.

Now, onto the products. One of the most important things, (and often the most neglected) is the car wash. If you have previously detailed your car, but want to strip all the wax off COMPLETELY, use dishwashing detergent. If this is not your case, I would recommend some Meguiar’s (or any other well known brand). The first thing I do is a two-bucket wash. Now, for those of you who do not know the importance of the two-bucket system, it is so that once you need to ring out your wash mitt (Microfiber, or chenille is my preference), ring it out into an empty bucket, and keep all of your good suds and soap in one bucket.

Once you wash it once, this is the best time to clay it if need be. For this I recommend Mothers or Clay Magic Clay systems. I find the Clay magic to be a little more aggressive and should only be used on brand new cars, or the extreme opposite of cars that have been neglected for many years. When you are claying, you have the option of either using the provided “Lube” (haha), or just the FRESH soapy water you used to wash with. When you are claying, fold it into a pancake like shape, and then do about 3 sq. ft at once, and go in a back and forth motion, but switch the directions so you are sure to remove all contaminants that may be embedded in the paint.

For the next step, repeat the two-bucket car wash system and dry thoroughly with a, you guessed it, Microfiber towel.
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