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I would like to say hello, and offer you my detailing guide that i have used on several of my cars, including my current E46 - M3 and my 2006 Civic Coupe.

I also posted this over at Temple of VTEC, if you use that sight more.

Washing Your Vehicle

Use a soft, CLEAN wash mitt and a pH balanced car wash such as Mothers or Meguiars, or your preference. Don't use anything harsh!

Never use dish washing detergent or a wash brush on your car! The dishwashing detergent damages the finish, stripping it of vital oils causing it to dry out. The wash brush scratches the paint leaving millions of hairline scratches.

Hand washing is MUCH preferred over an automated car wash. If you happen to have a truly touchless type car wash in your area - become a regular there. Touchless car washes use high-pressure water and special clean agents to clean the vehicle without damaging the surface or stripping wax. They aren't as good as a hand wash (no automatic wash is IMHO), but are are less likely to scratch the paint or violently rip off radio & celluar antennas!

I use 2 methods that work great!

1st Method- "The 2 bucket Method"
Using 2 buckets, one for "the suds" and one for "the rinse". Wet the entire vehicle washing away anything that can be removed with water pressure.

Wash one section at a time, using car wash of your choice and a wash mitt, as they are great for cleaning and you use less pressure on the finish, decreasing the chance of adding any marring to the finish. Remember, use ONLY the weight of the mitt on the surface you are cleaning. Again, you do
not have to use pressure, virtually eliminating the possibility of adding the
infamous micro-marring from washing the car using outdated methods.

After washing each section (always working from the top down and keep
the car wet), rinse the mitt in the rinse bucket, as this will keep your washing solution clean and free from debris (remember to keep the vehicle wet as you are washing). When you are finished washing the vehicle, switch to your second (older) wash mitt#2 (you NEVER want to use the same wash mitt for your tires/wheels as you use on your paint, as brake particles and road grime can and will get embedded and can cause swirls to your finish, use another mitt, brush or rag of your choice).

2nd Method- This is my favorite method- Using only one bucket with a car wash of your choice, use the same method as above, except when it comes
time to rinse the mitt, use the spray jet to "pressure wash" the mitt clean. It is faster and less bending and stooping.

Another great "trick" is to use a 1-3 gallon bug/weed type pump-up sprayer, add car wash of your choice diluted to the manufacturers recommendations (1/2-1oz/gal.) and spray on as a "pre-soak" before washing.
After soaking for a few minutes, rinse off with a heavy stream of water from your hose using a good sprayer that will give you a fair amount of pressure. You will rinse all the heavy dirt off your finish, the pre-soak will loosen up the road grime and you will have MUCH less debris on the paint to wash off, thus lessening the possibility of adding scratches/marring when hand washing.


Car Drying
There are 2 methods that work great for drying your car after washing-
This is my favorite method

1st Method- I use an electric leaf blower to remove the majority of water from the surface, from around and in the mirrors, the door jambs, trim,
windows, etc,etc.
It works great and there is absolutely no harm to the car (just be carefull to keep the air on the vehicle and do not point at the ground).

I always stressed out when I thought I was finished drying only to notice water dripping from "hidden" locations on the vehicle. This eliminates that scenario.

After using the leaf blower and removing most of the water, it is time for the "final dry". I use a large 24"x36" waffle weave microfiber towel.
The correct way to dry is to either "blot or pat" the water with the towel and allow it to soak up the water (you never want to "wipe" with ANY type towel, as this could cause swirls or micro-marring if anything has been trapped between the towel and surface of the car).

One other way that works well is to hold the waffle weave towel by the corners and "dragging" the towel along the surface, using ONLY the weight of the towel.

2nd Method- If an electric leaf blower is not available- After washing, turn off
the water, remove the water sprayer, turn on the water about 1/2 way and use the water to dry the car... This may sound strange at first, however, using a sweeping motion, working from the top down, it will sheet the majority of the water off the car. Follow-up using the waffle weave towel as described above.


Waxing

This needs to be done (depending on where you live & how much you drive) about every 3 months.

Prepping the Paint. (step 1)

Prepping is necessary to get a clean, smooth surface ready to receive sealer/glaze. This also removes mild oxidation, some that you can't even see with the naked eye, as well as some swirls and very minor scratches. There is a rule of thumb with scratches "if you can feel it with your fingernail, it's permanent short of re-painting". I recommend Dark Magic by The Wax Shop. It's mildly abrasive and clearcoat safe. Apply this just as you would wax. Meguiars also makes a good prep product. I recently tried out No.7 Clearcoat Compound and was very satisfied with it. It's cheap and does a good job removing small scratches and swirls. Look for the grey can with a green label. The Meguiars product line has excellent prep products as well.

A note about oxidation. Essentially you can think of oxidation as dead paint. The sun and other natural elements have reacted with the surface of the paint causing a chemical chain-reaction called oxidation. This is the most common flaw on paint, but happily it's almost always curable, some restrictions apply. Basically my 3 step approach will remove mild oxidation, but many people are faced with a more serious problem. Not to worry. Clearcoat oxidation can be removed with a clearcoat-safe compound, such as those made by Meguiars or 3M. For standard finishes you can step up to some more serious compounds such as polishing compound, which is mild but still too harsh for clearcoat, or just regular red compound which can do damage in the wrong hands. If you feel this oxidation is too much for you to tackle, I strongly advise you to take it to a professional to be safe. 3M and Number 7 make some good compounds. Whenever you compound you MUST seal the paint after. Wax alone is not good enough. You commonly see most oxidation on the tops of vehicles since that's where the sun hits direct. Other flaws in the paint can cause similar problems such as oxidation which may not be curable. Also, sometimes oxidation can be so severe, so deep, you cannot remove it without going down to bare metal. If the paint is crazed, many hairline cracks going in all directions, don't bother compounding or waxing because the paint is shot. Places like Maaco can be a cheap fix but you have to use your best judgement. Many people have had mixed results with them, but it depends on how much prep you do cause they don't do much at all - that's a whole other story. A good paint job relies on excellent prep work, and skill with a paint gun of course. You can be good with a paint gun, but bad with prep. Bad prep=bad paint job.

Sealing The Paint. (step 2)

Sealer/glaze is just what sounds - almost. Since the surface is ready and the paint is basically exposed you'll need to seal the pores of the paint. I recommend Meguiars glaze/sealer for this. Apply this just the same as the prep. Use soft towels to remove it after it has hazed over, 5-10 minutes. 3M makes a good glaze also. It's just hard to find! Many times a glaze will contain some silicone/wax as well as clay powders and can be used as a cleaner wax. A sealer will usually contain no wax/silcone, or at least very small amounts.

Waxing Your Car! (step 3)

The paint is sealed and prepped, you're ready for wax. The wax will add depth and shine to the paint, and even more durability. I recommend Mother's Pure Carnuba Wax or Ziano for this. This has some of the most carnauba wax in it than anything else on the retail market. After applying this, don't let it sit more than 5-8 minutes before removing, it's tough after more than that! Two thin coats of this is much better than one thick coat, and apply it with a side to side motion instead of circular to prevent swirls. Again, only apply to a cool surface. A hot surface causes rapid evaporation of the wax and cause it to bond to paint leaving nasty streak marks. Also, pre-dampen your applicator pad before waxing. If you do get some streak marks, go over the surface with a damp cloth and then buff it up.

Tips and Tricks
A "california duster" is EXCELLENT for getting the dust that some products leave behind, not to mention very minor dust settlement. Don't use it instead of washing your car - you'll only ruin the duster and scratch the paint.

Most newer cars can get by with a high-quality one step wax, such as Meguiars or Mothers. But cars that haven't been waxed in a while need much more TLC.

After removing it all, go around and remove any excess from the cracks and emblems using a tooth brush and a towel, buff it up with a real soft towel and you're almost done! Cloth diapers are exellent for buffing up a shine!

Avoid detailing in the sun, especially on a hot surface.

A word about electric buffers, rotary and orbital: An orbital buffer is safest for the inexperienced user and can achieve the same results as a rotary. An orbital is heavier than a rotary though. The rotary buffer is much faster than orbitals but in the wrong hands can easily damage paint. I mostly do all my waxing my hand, and heavy oxidation removal with a buffer. Rotarys should be used only by experienced users and not by your average at-home detailer. Severe paint damage can occur!!!!

List of things i usually use:

1. Rags/towels. You'll need upwards of 8-12 good-sized clean towels to do the the job. One or two will be used to dry the vehicle off, others to remove wax, and still more for the interior windows etc ... Some small towels are handy also. If you can find the old diaper type cloth use them because they make excellent rags for polishing the finish to a bright-shiny glow! They also are great for windows.

I also like to use Microfiber to remove wax, sealer, and just in general detailing as they are soft on everything.

2. Brush's. You'll need a few different varieties and sizes. First a tooth brush. Next a stiff bristled tire brush. A 1" round semi-firm bristled brush. A long handled wheel well brush is a good idea. If you have an old toothbrush you may want that too. For "tough to remove" brake dust, you may want one of those green scrud pads, but be gentle!

3. Big wash bucket - five gallon type is fine.

4. Spray bottles. The 32oz type are most beneficial here. Fill them with glass cleaners, vinyl dressings, etc...

5. Large, soft cotton wash mitts. (never use a dirty wash mitt!)

6. Synthetic chamois. (Such as the "Absorber")

7. Bug sponge and regular sponges. Available in your local super market.

8. Power Washer. Karcher makes a nice 1100psi unit. (not mandatory - but nice if you have one) These are getting very affordable now. Check www.northern-online.com for pricing.

9. Wet/Dry Shop Vac or equivalent. The stronger the better.

10. Rug steam cleaner. This isn't totally necessary, but rug steam cleaners can really provide a deep clean to your auto carpets.
 

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Sounds great 06ex

I've been using Meguiars gold class car wash. Though I haven't really tried other washes I swear it is the bomb!

You can also get some relatively soft and affordable microfiber towels from your local costco. I think it's like 10 bucks for like 20?
They're great for soaping and drying.
 

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anyone have any good tips on how to wash a car often in a winter climate?

i don't care that it has a showroom shine really during the winter, and water spots aren't really something i'm going to worry about until spring/summer/fall.

i just want to wash the road grime/snow/slush/salt off my car whenever it accumulates (sometimes this might be almost every day sadly). so far i've just hosed it down in our underground parking garage, but that doesn't get a lot of the grease/dirty off.

it'd be ideal if there was some sort of soap that i could spray on to cut through the dirt/grime then just rinse the car down, but seems like any option like that i'm going to have to use a mit or something to wash the car. i'm not opposed to that, but it'll be tiring to do that every few days throughout the winter.
 

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I live in SF so I'm definitely not the expert on car washing in the winter, that is, if you're dealing with snow and salt.

I'd say the best thing you can do is focus detailing on the main areas:

I used to detail the whole car but that got time consuming. Now I mainly polish and wax the front of the car, lets say 5 times a year, and the rest of the body I'll only do twice a year. This is because it's the front that gets most of the oncoming dirt and rocks.

I put a thick ass layer of wax on the hood and front bumper so I can hopefully avoid rock chips. You should also consider protecting the lower body from dirt that's kicked up.

You can always invest in that clear sticker stuff that goes over the front of the car, buy some mudflaps or get a bra.

Dirt isn't really permanent but chips are. If you can at least have a protective layer on the front of the car that will last you til the spring then you should be good to go.
 

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use Optimum QEW (quick and easy wash) if you want to wash your car in your garage. All you need is a bucket of water, a wash mit, and a drying towel.
 

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solace said:
anyone have any good tips on how to wash a car often in a winter climate?

i don't care that it has a showroom shine really during the winter, and water spots aren't really something i'm going to worry about until spring/summer/fall.

i just want to wash the road grime/snow/slush/salt off my car whenever it accumulates (sometimes this might be almost every day sadly). so far i've just hosed it down in our underground parking garage, but that doesn't get a lot of the grease/dirty off.

it'd be ideal if there was some sort of soap that i could spray on to cut through the dirt/grime then just rinse the car down, but seems like any option like that i'm going to have to use a mit or something to wash the car. i'm not opposed to that, but it'll be tiring to do that every few days throughout the winter.

I feel you man its only been a week over here in alberta and i've washed my car twice already.....convenient thing i do is to find a car wash that you can do yourself for a few bucks. One of them "loonie" washes where you get the pressure wand and wash it yourself, that way you can get deep into the fenders and underbody to get all that salt out. Plus timing is everything...if you notice the weather changing and see that the roads are dry one night, and the next day will be freezing, wash your car then because the roads wont be slushy/messy the next day cuz everything will be frozen!
 

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thevelourfog said:
The car wash I go to does none of the things this guide recommends. Should start doing it myself I guess.

Absolutly!
I know if you dont have time that you would go to a car wash but it would be better if you took the time and washed it and waxed it and detailed it on your own. You get a better feel of your car and for me it just makes me happy so see her clean the way I would want. Plus at car washes they could scratch or maybe dent and you wouldnt be a happy camper.

Washing it on your own ensures you are using the materials you want
 

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A little story...

An interesting story I have..

I am a detailing maniac. I've never taken my car ('03 MB C230 at the time) through the tunnel type automatic car washes. Well, living in Rochester, NY...we had a snow spell that last about a week. I really really wanted to wash the car, but it was 8 degrees outside. Took it to the local car wash, ran it through for the FIRST TIME. Almost through without a hitch..until the pickup truck decides to hit the brakes in front of me and jumps over the tracks, causing me to run into it...pissed I was. :xyxnervou

To this day I will never go through one of those again. I will wash it myself in the 8 degree weather, run a hose from the laundry room for hot water. I even purchased a propane heater for the garage to dry in. If I need to do a quick wash, I take it to one of those bays with the automatic touchless car wash, where no one can hit my car from those stupid conveyor belts.
 

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thevelourfog said:
The car wash I go to does none of the things this guide recommends. Should start doing it myself I guess.

LOL, funny ****, I like the people who go to those 20 dollar wash places where there are 25 guatemalans drying with used rags in rough circles lol.
 

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I think you should also suggest previous to washing your car washing the ground underneath so that when you are drying your car with the leaf blower you do not blow dirt onto your car.. high powered ones will pick up dirt even if not pointed to the ground or when pointed away from the car. so just hose off the ground around your car in a nice big area give yourself some space. (if you have it)
 

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06ex, great detailing guide, I 'm gonna use some of it. I usually use a 5 gallon bucket and a micro fiber mitt for washing. I constantly flip the mitt, hoping that the dirt don't scratch the black paint. My friend sold me a swirl/scratch remover called spider and I just used it yesterday. I know it removes some paint to make the scratches disappear, like most scratch remover, so I'll use it once in a great while. I'll be using Meguiars glaze most of the time. I then applied two coat of Meguiars Clear Coat, the box with the fancy gold. I applied one coat per day. My black Si looks awesome for a couple of hours only though. Driving around, it attracted dust like a magnet.

As careful as I am, there are still scratches. Not the swirl marks, straight ones made probably from the wash mitt. Oh well.
 

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Has anybody used Meguiars NXT Generation car wash with NXT tech Wax?
Is it possible to apply the wax after the wash, or is there a step in between I'm missing
 

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Robinho said:
Has anybody used Meguiars NXT Generation car wash with NXT tech Wax?
Is it possible to apply the wax after the wash, or is there a step in between I'm missing

claybar.
If you have scratches or other blemishes, try to polish it out.
then wax.


btw, i just put 4 coats of NXt today. feels silky smooth.
 
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