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A Guide To Detailing

Claying, polishing, waxing... share your secrets in here.
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coldel
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Sun Nov 26, 2023 3:47 pm

I have spent a good 10+ years obsessing over keeping my cars as clean and cared for cosmetically as possible. I have spent...well lets not even try and think about that for now! I have done a little write up on the basics of looking after the exterior of the car. I am not claiming I am a guru, and I am sure there are bits I have missed but I wanted to put something together for someone who really wants to step up their game and go for the shine!

Generally a good process is something that goes along these lines:

General cleaning, remove most surface dirt and debris
Polishing, to correct paintwork blemishes and bring up a shine on the car
Sealant, to finish and protect the two stages above

There are a lot of other things that can be done before, between and after each stage which we will come on to, but ultimately you are looking to clean, polish and protect the car. So lets cover the basics and then talk about what else you can do.

Cleaning stage.
A good process is the two bucket method. You want if you can to have grit guards in the bottom of the buckets, failing that be careful not to swirl your wash mitt in the buckets as it will pick up debris. One bucket will contain your shampoo mixture and the other some warm water to rinse. A bit of a myth is that suds are important, they are not, at all. Dont get hung up on how many suds your bucket has, it is irrelevant! As mentioned use a good wash mitt, ideally you will have two, one for the car body work and one for the wheels. Do not use sponges! Sponges collect debris and when dragging it across your car will cause lots of micro scratches (generally referred to as swirl marks). If you have access to a jet wash or hose do rinse the car prior to a wash as best you can to remove any large bits of debris. When cleaning the car with the wash mitt start at the top of the car and work your way around, usually I do the top half then go around again doing the bottom half. Finish by cleaning the wheels ideally with a different mitt. Rinse with your hose/water source. To dry the car I usually have two large microfibre towels, just throw them flat over the car surface and drag them back, try to avoid excessive scrubbing, throw and pull them across the surface. You can use a drying aid to help with the process, spray it on and it will help lift the water

Products:
Two good sized bucket, with grit guards
Wash mitts either lambs wool or microfibre mitts, avoid sponges and noodle mitts
Gyeon Bathe+ or Mothers CMX Ceramic shampoo
A good towel are the Kent Brand yellow microfibres or any good GSM towel, large+ sized
Sonax BSD is a great drying aid

Polish stage.
There are two ways to polish, you can do it by hand of by using a dual action polisher machine. If doing it with a polishing machine I would really recommend the clay stage further down in this post to ensure the surface is silky smooth. By hand you will get a nice shine to the car, but paint correction will be an absolute minimum, Those swirl marks and some of the more tougher to remove marks like bird poo etching etc generally will only come out with a machine polish. There are millions of polishes to choose from, if you are doing the basics aim for a one step polish, but if you have a lot of swirling generally go for two steps and get a cutting and finishing polish. If working either by hand or machine you want to work the polish in using circular overlapping motions. Try to avoid doing it in direct sunlight, and also dont be tempted to throw lots of polish on, if in the application process you end up with easily visible polish on the car you have used too much, generally it should disappear to leave a dull look to the paint. You then want to buff it off with a good soft microfibre, make sure to have 2-3 of these to hand to do the whole car. Work panel by panel around the car, dont be tempted to load a lot of the car up in one go. Also in terms of product, read reviews on what you are using, fillers are used in many polishes but more so in some brands than others, Autoglym is loaded with it, so it might look shiny for a bit but its not going to do the job properly. Polishing is as it says on the tin, the polish stage, this is where the final shine comes from (not the wax) so make sure if you are going to put in the hard yards, it comes here.

Products:
Have some good clean applicators, these are relatively cheap you can usually get a pack of 5-10 for about £10
I usually periodically invest in a pack of 10 edgeless microfibre towels, usually around 40cm by 40cm
Scholl S20 or Menzerna 2-1 are good one step polishes
I've found Menzerna and Gyeon do good multi stage polishes, Scholl again is good but quite expensive
If you want to go machine polishing (the results are just so much better) then get a wired dual action (not rotary) machine, Kestrel are a good brand as an entry point

Sealant stage.
Often referred to as when you apply your 'LSP' which is the last stage protection. Before going on to seal the good work you want to wipe the car down with a panel wipe/IPA to remove residual polish you havent buffed off. There are a number of routes to go for here, you can use a traditional hard wax or you can go to a spray on sealant. If using a wax again avoid doing it in direct sunlight and go panel by panel. Use a clean applicator and rub in a circular overlapping motion. Dont use too much, if you see lumps of it on the paint you have used too much it should go pretty much invisible/dulled. Buff off as before with more of your clean microfibres. There are other ways to finish, you can use a spray on wax, similar in that you spray on and wipe off with a microfibre. Something I have tried recently is a spray on whilst the car is wet and rinse off product. All these methods will have differing results depending on the product you use, but ultimately this is what will seal the work. Some will last months others weeks. You can add wax to the wheels but Ive found I can keep them clean find with a regular wash.

Products:
Bilt Hamber Double Speed wax, a good easy to use hard wax with reasonable durability
I did once treat myself to some Victoria Concours wax, its absolutely brilliant, but very expensive
Gyeon WetCoat which is a spray on and rinse of sealant, initial results look good but havent tested durability - very easy to use

Then what?
You really want to keep on top of the car with a good maintenance wash around once every 1-2 weeks depending on storage and usage. Dont use any aggressive cleaners and try to avoid any 'quick detail' products as these affect the LSP durability. I tend to do the bigger process every 3-4 months depending on the condition of the car.

What if I want to go all out!
There are additional stages you can add, its more time and money but will give you incremental improvements to the condition of the paint.

Snow Foam. You can snow foam the car as a first stage before washing. You will need a shampoo style snow foam product, either a jet washer or hose, with the soap attachment. First up rinse the car with water, then snow foam the car starting at the top and cover the car. Let it drip down and clean up the surface of the car before rinsing off and getting to your washing stage. I've used both Auto Finesse and GTechniq snow foam products and both perform well. If using a hose, you can buy a snow foam lance for around £15 off amazon, it doesnt foam as well but does the job around 80% as good. Do not use a mitt on the snow foam, this only works as a pre wash soak. Spray and rinse off.

Claying. This is a technique designed to remove surface particles that wont come away with cleaning. And as they are stuck to the surface of the car, if you machine polish you will be effectively dragging them about, which can cause further problems. It sounds a terrifying idea to drag clay across your car! And done incorrectly indeed it does marr the paint, so you need to be careful, you need lots of lube! This stage sits between washing and polishing. You have two product routes, a clay bar or a clay mitt. The bar is very effective, but is harder and much slower to use. The mitt works about 80% as well but is much easier and faster. WIth either route, you need to clean the car fully and rinse, do not dry the water off though! Its a natural lubricant and can be used alongside a lube spray. With the bar you need to mould it into shape, get it soft, and with a lube spray do small parts of the car at a time, keep the paint very wet and dont push the bar too hard. You will see the particles of dirt on the bar, when you do, fold it and reveal a clean bit and repeat. The mitt is my preference, again same process, lots of lubrication and then wipe it across the paint. For both once you have wiped it across a panel, wipe dry with a microfibre. Its worth testing the difference once you have done part of a panel, just run your finger tips lightly across the surface, one bit will literally feel like silk the other you will feel lots of tiny bumps. Megeirs do a good clay bar option/pack, for the clay mitt I would actually recommend the G3 Clay Mitt from Halfords! A good quick detailer works well for the extra lube.

Cleaning the Shuts. Your hard work will result in some of the water and soap getting into the shuts. You just need to be armed with your Sonax BSD and some micrfibres for this bit. Open the doors and boot, spray on wipe off, it makes such a difference to open the car door and see the door shut panels clean.

Blacking the Plastics I would really advise doing the plastics. They go a very horrible grey shade in the sun. A very effective product I have used before is something called Solution Finish. You only need a small pot and it will last months. So colour the scuttle panel, the wing mirror mounts and even the window surrounds. It makes a huge difference to the look of the car

Spot Polisher. For around £50 you can get whats called a spot polisher, it looks like a little drill and would recommend a cordless one. The atttachment area is usuall sized for 3 inch sized polishing pads. You will invariably pick up little surface scratches/marks. Grab your polish and your spot polisher, wipe down the area affected, then use the spot polisher to work on the marks. This polisher will usually be an orbital, so you in effect have to do the dual action part yourself, so always keep it moving in circular motions do not just press it down onto one area.
Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

Special Kay
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by Special Kay » Sun Nov 26, 2023 4:56 pm

Great guide. As a spot polisher, I use a rotary extension bar that I can attach a 3 inch backing plate and polishing pad. Not for everyone I guess, but it works for my needs. I've never used Solution Finish Restorer, I think I may give it a try :thumbsup:

coldel
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Mon Nov 27, 2023 9:54 am

Its a really good product, make sure to mask up if you havent got the steady hands of a brain surgeon!

If anyone has additional stuff to add please do, always good to learn tricks of the trade :thumbsup:
Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

coldel
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Posts: 630
Joined: Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:52 pm

A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Wed Nov 29, 2023 4:53 pm

Thought I would do a proper list out of products I would advise you have a go at that I have tried:

Snow Foams
Auto Finesse Avalanche
GTechniq Auto W4
Car Gods Arctic Storm

Out of the three, I definitely like the AF one the best, it seems the most effective and gives great coverage. The GTechniq one came up on deal on Amazon and being overnight delivery was worth a go, a good option but not as good as AF. The Car Gods one I have used once and it works well, like the AF one, but smells much better as it is fruit flavoured lol Auto Finesse generally is found on car detailing sites like polishedbliss and slimsdetailing rather than sites like amazon so you dont get that fast delivery

Car Shampoo
Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo
Gyeon Bathe+
Mothers CMX Ceramic Wash

The AG I used purely just to get the car washed, I used to do it regularly and a Halfrauds just up the road was easy to replace when needed. It is a reasonably good shampoo, does the job, by hydrophobics are poor it doesn't do much to help layer protection. Bathe+ is amazing and I used it for years, its highly dilutable so you get a lot out of a reasonably small bottle. It is famed for its hydrophobic properties and to be honest I wouldnt use a shampoo that doesn't add that extra layer any more. I recently had an opportunity to buy the Mothers CMX on discount so went for it, it has appeared on Amazon now so you can get it next day which is handy. Its as good as Bathe+ but you get a lot more bang for buck, in terms of ml to wash count. As mentioned in the guide, suds mean nothing, so dont get hung up on the Bathe+ not sudding up, it doesn't make a single bit of difference

Bodywork Polish
Scholl Concepts S20
Menzerna 2-1
Gyeon Q2M Polish

I bought a range of three Gyeon polishes a while back for a car that I bought that had heavy swirling. I had tried using my trusty Scholl S20 1 step but it wasn't quite cutting deep enough. The Gyeon stuff did cut well but the finishing product wasn't that great, in fact the Scholl 1 step gave a better finish. Scholl is really good but also quite pricey, I saw the Menzerna 2-1 in a deal (also a one step solution) and found it had pretty similar results. Menzerna generally arent that well known in the UK but their product range is broad and the finish is great for the cost. I would really recommend Menzerna for the occasional detailer

Sealant
Victoria Concours Wax
Soft99 12 month
Gyeon WetCoat
Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro Spray on Wax

I mentioned above but the Victoria stuff is fantastic, its a premium price but it enhances the polish stage and protects really well. Great professional level product. Soft99 makes all sorts of claims across its range for longevity but I definitely didnt see that in the Soft99 12 month wax I had. It does come in a huge tin so price wise is really good but the level of beading and seal definitely dropped off considerably after around 3-4 months on my car, you could tell it still had something on it, but the quality of seal had dropped. I wanted to try a spray on wax and the TW hybrid range had a load of deals and advertising going on, so I took the plunge, and wasted my money. Despite following the instructions to the letter the product smeared badly and was very hard to work with, I didnt even test how well it worked I ended up using a panel wipe on the car and starting over, very disappointed. Gyeon WetCoat was an utter delight to work with, 5 mins literally to do the whole car. Hydrophobic properties are very noticeable and a week or so in still seeing good evidence of seal. Online says its lasts around 12 weeks which given the easy of application, is probably going to be my go to LSP for some time
Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

SkinlessGorgon
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by SkinlessGorgon » Thu Nov 30, 2023 4:18 pm

A good list of products there :)

I'm new to the Z4, just bought one that needs some work done, well, pretty much all over, but have spent 8 years on detailing.

I'm surprised you didn't list Bilt Hamber Auto Foam or Touchless as Snow foams. I love Bilt Hamber products, very powerful cleaners but gentle on the paint, and probably the best cleaning I've had out of a snow foam, next to Auto Brite Direct Magifoam. Not a foamy or shaving foam-y one, but doesn't hang about on the drive like some of them do.

I love the Bilt Hamber auto wash, shampoo. Works as good as any of them, but the sheer value for money a 300ml bottle gives is incredible as the mix ratio is 5-10 ml in a 20l bucket.

For sealants and waxes, probably my favorite is Meguiars Liquid Ceramic wax. Use the Prep before hand and the gloss and finish is incredible on a black car, but pricey. I've put Fusso Coat from soft 99 on as a base coat, with Mirror shine wax on top, and using speed and barrier as the maintenance for both these. This is my usual winter combo, if you don't like washing your car in the winter, but want it to look good from Sept - Feb :) If your looking for a good paste wax that's cheap as chips then Bilt Hamber Double Speed is my go to in the spring as it lasts about 3 months, and can outlast more expensive waxes. If you want the cheapest then Turtle wax Hydrophobic sealant (Seal and shine ?) is what I use when I do other peoples cars, but doesn't give that extreme water beading that some of the others do, but it easy on and off, much like BH double speed.

I went for the same deal on TW Hybrid pro. The flex wax is OK, if you put it on thin enough. I didn't have problems, but you can use a damp towel for removal. This makes it so much easier to work with, even in the heat. I tend to use the TW flex wax or hydrophobic sealant on the door shuts. I find Sonax BSD not that great to work with, unless I water it down 2 parts sonax 1 part water. It does make a good drying aid, and a decent rinse less wash at 1/3rd bottle in 16L of water.

Turtle wax have a new back to black that's £12 in halfrauds. Its about the same as Solutions Finish, except on the price. Just glove up and tape up before using either of these.

Machine polishing is a bit of a luxury, and you always need to be careful, especially around your budget :rofl: SPTA polishers can do the job. Turltewax Hybrid Pro one and done is very good, (but can be pricey buy if you can get it cheap enough)and doesn't need a solvent prep. just a wipe off will do. For work in the heat definitely S20, as its more oily and has a longer cycle time than most I've used.

What ever you doing in the cleaning department, make sure you enjoy it, as sometimes you feel like your a car janitor For me its a hobby and it gets me away from the kids :tumbleweed:

coldel
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Thu Nov 30, 2023 6:33 pm

Great post, and good to know I have a companion in the detailing world here lol

Yes sorry I seemed to miss out some of the Bilt Hamber products - I probably have bought over the years 200+ different products, the ones above I put in as recent ones.

The Double Speed Wax actually I was using prior to using WetCoat on recently, it is sooooo easy to use and decent performance. I also used Bilt Hamber Auto Wheel as a iron out spray for the alloys, it does though absolutely reek and you cant shift the smell off the road underneath for ages, given I am on the road cleaning I wouldnt inflict that on the neighbours lol

I do cheat and use rinseless washes on the family wagon (an old Qashqai) sometimes, actually found the Megs option a really good one. Although having bought two bottles from two different places found the spray action failed on both bottles!

Machine polishing you just have to be a bit brave, and with a DA and if you keep it moving you cant really go far wrong. The pads make all the difference so Lake Country are my go to brand.

And totally agree with the last bit, for me its a hobby. Something to get me out the house, and just enjoy something that takes my mind off things. And the final outcome is always great to see and very satisfying.
Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

SkinlessGorgon
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by SkinlessGorgon » Fri Dec 01, 2023 11:29 am

Indeed its nice to know that someone on here can keep up with the detail chat lol

I agree that the reactive wheels cleaners and iron fallout removers are a but smelly, but The Bilt Hamer Korosol and the wheel cleaners have been probably the quickest to react, and give the strongerst reaction. I really only use a wheel cleaner if the wheels are pretty bad, or once every 3-4 washes. Most of the time I'll use Garage Therapy Zero decon shampoo or their wheel shampoo in a foamer sprayer. The are non reactive but still break down that brake dust, and I'll team that with a PU infused cloth, it just wipes off the grime that the cloth or the mit can't shift.

If your looking for a better user experience in iron fall out remover the I can definately recomend Turtle Wax Hybrid Pro Wheel decon (black bottle) Its reduced the pong considerably, and is gentle enough to be used on paint, but still gives a quick and strong reaction.

I am a rinseless convert, especially in the summer for the inbetween washes. I can get 3 cars washed, dries and protcted, from the 1 bucket in under an hour. The one thing about rinseless is that you absolutely have to trust the technique totally. You can even though in a clay mit to the process if your not too fussed about micro marring for a deep clean (usually on someone elses car lol). I find I get a better clean when I switched out my grit guards from the standard ones to detail guardz turbine dirt lock, even in a normal wash.

I can;t argue with Lake counrty pads. Orange is a workhorse :) I'm tending to favor the Rupes blue and yellow wool pads since last year. The yellow is like a half step up from the yellow foam and the blue is half a step down from a urofiber 50/50. I polished out a mk7.5 Golf GTI with rock hard paint with a rupes wool yellow. Every panel on this car was hollogrammed up I couldn't even see the minor defects. Looked like the dealer went to town with a rotary on high speed :( I managed to get all of that finished out in 1 set with Rupes uno polish, which left a bit of protection.

A couple of my black friday deals arrived and have a few new products to try on the interior (if the weather gets out of sub zero temps lol). Looking forward to using TW inside job, hybrid fabric cleaner/protector and their hybric glass cleaner. Going to try to restore the Z4 cardboard hard leather seats with leatherique in the summer(sounds made up but it a product made in the 1960s that they couldn't get the formulation better than the origonal. Company is still going today), and a Geist leather repair kit for the wear on the bolsters. But no one likes to do interiors, and there isn't that wow factor when someone looks at the car lol

coldel
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Mon Dec 11, 2023 10:28 am

Actually I like having a go at interiors now I have a soft top, makes the job a lot more enjoyable, less sweaty and practically means I am not crouched in a bizarre position trying to get to stuff! For my old VX220 I had a fair few black plastics inside the car and really would rate the Gtechniq C4 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gtechniq-C4-Re ... B00IOMDUN0 it really pulls the plastics back without actually needed to dye them black. Talking of Gtechniq the C5 isnt half bad either if you have heavy brake dust issues, it really does a good job of making wheel cleaning easier. I also tried Gyeon Q2 Rim which I would say is better, but also takes a little more skill and care to apply (as well as being more expensive).

I recently bought a few EZ Car Car products on sale and have to say for the money if you are starting out on your car detailing journey its not the worst place in the world to start. I would say quality wise they are about average, probably on par with the Autoglym stuff you get from Halfrauds but half the price. The only pain with it is that delivery can take up to ten days (and generally does!) so its a case of buy it, forget it, and be pleasantly surprised by it turning up.

I also had a go at this on the weekend https://www.amazon.co.uk/Car-Gods-54-Sh ... B07QF5HZ9N and have to say I really liked it. Really picked up the surface grime (you could clearly see it in the foam gathering at the bottom of the car) and foamed consistently and thickly. Should get 5 uses from the bottle. Ive seen it cheaper on other sites but wanted it next day so paid a bit more via amazon.

Washed the car with the Mothers shampoo and then rinsed and the Gyeon WetCoat https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gyeon-FBA_GY-1 ... B00OORR2N8 is still going strong (as it should be its only been a few weeks). I used about 15% of the bottle doing the whole car so can see myself topping this up regularly say once a month I am so far really impressed
Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

coldel
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Posts: 630
Joined: Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:52 pm

A Guide To Detailing

Post by coldel » Mon Dec 18, 2023 5:04 pm

Gave the roof a good seeing to today, nothing better than seeing the grime appear in the suds. I used some Megiuers Roof Cleaner, actually for a rather generic brand full of average products it does the job quite well! Have a really nice soft horse hair hand brush for the agitation work. Really worked on the folds and crevices.

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Currently BMW Z4 E85 3.0si
Previously
BMW Z4 E86 3.0si
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
Toyota Celica ST205 GT4
Nissan R33 Skyline GTST
Vauxhall VX220 NA
Nissan 350z

w1ndsurfnut
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A Guide To Detailing

Post by w1ndsurfnut » Mon Dec 18, 2023 5:37 pm

This is a great post. Thanks for taking the time.

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