Car Washing Info by wuyunyi


									OK, here it is, the "how does Kevin maintain his own car" post, I will try to keep it relatively short and easy
to understand. I will also link autopia a lot (since they have great how to's).

First, this post assumes you have a PC; but not that you know how to use it.

The first thing you want to do is evaluate your paints condition. The best way to do this is to put it in full
direct sun and take a look at it. If you see swirls and scratches you need to *compound*. Compounding is
the process of removing paint to level off scratches and leave the paint smooth. If the paint is already
smooth (no swirls or scratches), then you don't need to compound, however a light polish may still help.
This guide will assume you need a moderate level compounding. Swirls like this:

...are what I am talking about. Most people would look at those cars and either say "it's clean" or "those are
just light swirls", they aren't - there about 5-6/10 on the picus "swirl scale", meaning you will need at least
two polishing steps via a PC to get rid of them. So, where to start?

First, wash and clay the car. Now I am going to skip these for now; I will cover wash and clay in my "how
do I maintain my car" section.

OK, so the car has been washed and clayed, time to polish.

First, always start with a less aggressive combination of pad and polish than you think you'll need. I am
going to continue this by refering to Menzerna polishing, however for reference Menzerna polishes are
generally interchangale with poorboys or optimum in the following ways:

Menzerna PG = Poorboys SSR3 = Optiumum OHC
Menzerna IP = SSR2.5 = Optimum Compound
Menzerna FPII = SSR1/2 = Optimum Polish

Also, I use lake county pads, so I will refer to them as yellow, orange, white, and grey. They stack up like

Yellow = heavy vut
Orange = light cut
White = polishing (or very light cut)
grey = finishing

So let's start with a fairly mild combo, say, FPII (or SSR1 or 2) on a white pad. Put a couple dabs of the
product on the pad (which is on the PC), then dab the pad on to the paint in a small area with the PC off; so
put the PC on the paint and make sure it's set to speed 2-3, turn it on. It will be spinning slowly, apply no
pressure at this point and move it over the area you intend to cover. A 2x2 foot area is normally ideal. At
this point you're just spreading the product, not polishing. When the product is spead (only takes 10-15
seconds), turn the PC to speed 5 or 6 and apply pressure. How much? Just enough so that the PC does not
bog at all (so the pad still spins freely), but if you apply any more it will bog. I hope that make sense. Now,
most important; MOVE THE PC *SLOWLY* over the intended area. I can not stress how important
SLOWLY is, I mean 1/2 inch per second *max*, it is a slow process. MOve in overlapping passes like
you're cutting your lawn.

How do you know when to stop? All polishing "flash", that's the term for when all the abrasives in them
have broken down. Most polishes do one of two things when flashed; they either turn clear or start to dust.
Turning clear is obvious, so is dust (dust literally forms and starts to come out of the pad), when you see the
polish go clear or dust, you're done. Turn the PC off and wipe away the reside then evaluate.
Now, this first pass is kind of a test to see what combo you'll need. If you have achieved no results, or very
little, you need to move up in abrasion (or you're doing something wrong). On most cases you will need a
stronger combo to remove even moderate swirls, so lets try something stronger.

Try IP (ssr2.5) on an orange pad, same process. Now, this should remove up to moderate swirls (5/10) with
ease. If you're still seeing no results you're moving too fast or not applying enough pressure. You will
notice as you use a more abrasive pad you will be able to apply more pressure before the PC bogs due to
the density of the pad.

Repeat the combo that works over the entire car. Do small areas, work slowly, take breaks, wipe away
residue thoroughly. Other tips:

Switch pads as they get gummed up/saturated. Why? They become less effective and residue begins to
become harder to remove. This is why I recommend two or even threeof each pad. If you run out, wash one
(soap and water), dry it by putting it on the PC, putting the PC in a bucket/recycle bin etc, and spin it up to
speed 6; the water will flyout into the bucket.

Some more important notes: As you start to use more aggressive combos you may notice *hazing*. Hazing
is basically millions of smaller less deep scratches caused by the abrasives in more aggressive compounds.
By removing more paint they leave the surface rugged; this is why we follow up with a finishing polish on
a less aggressive pad. That's why you'll often see me list my process like this:

Meznerna IP, orange pad
Menzerna FPII, white pad.

IP on an orange (or ssr2.5/OHC) can leave hazing, so it is important to follow up with a less aggressive
combo. If you notice the hazing is persisting even after the less aggressive combo, try polishing a little
differently; often times I will use a grey pad instead of a white (even less aggressive), and will only polish
at speed 4 with little to no pressure.

Here is a good "how to" on autopia:

It's less detailed and assumes the reader is a total novice; that's fine. I know you guys aren't dumb so I may
not explain everything in detail. If you have questions let me know.

OK, so I am done polishing, what now? First, wipedown the car with isa:water. What's that? It's rubbing
alcohol (store bought, 70%) mixed with water in a spray bottle 50:50, spray one squirt on a panel and wipe
off. This helps remove any leftover polish residue. You *do not* want polish residue left on the car because
if you seal or wax over it you'll be left with a gross oily stain that is hard to remove. It also effects the
durabilty of your LSP (for future reference, LSP = last step product, so a sealant or wax).

When you're done this it's time to seal/wax. Which you pick is up to you. *Generally* sealants last longer
than waxes, some people prefer the look of waxes. I think there is a right product for each car, no best. It's a
personal decision. Remember, prep is 95%; the sealant/wax is for protection and some added
aesthetic, but proper clay and polish is what makes a car look good. So spend time prepping rather than
worrying overly about the best wax.

Here is my car after an isa wipedown, no LSP.

See what I mean? It's all about prep, not wax/sealant. Those are for protection.

So pick your sealant and wax and apply as directed. Now, I normally apply liquids with the PC on a grey
pad. Why? I find it applies them more uniformly and much faster. You will use more product this way. I
just do it on speed 1. Paste waxes I apply by hand. Each sealant/wax requires you to buff it off differently,
some require you let them haze, some require you wipe them off wet; use as directed.
OK, so maintenance. Now this is even more important that polishing. Why? Proper maintenance means less
polishing is required over the life of the car. You want to wash and seal/wax in ways that DO NOT scratch
the car, thus eliminating the need for polishing. So, the most important part of car care: how do I wash?

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 microfiber drying towels.
5+ good microfiber clothes.
A good all purpose cleaner and/or bug remover. I like poorboys apc 2:1 with water or bug squash 3:1 with
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.
Something soft basically.

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 nopressure, 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.

Ok here it is. Sorry for the delay; this week from hell seemed to come to a head today.

OK, so claying. Why clay, and how do I do it?

Why - you clay to remove bonded contaminants from the surface of your paint. Now you might be
thinking, eh? Washing does that right? Well, no; they're bonded, meaning stuck, meaning in the paint. You
can see some of them and can't see others; you can sure feel them though. Want to feel them? Get a plastic
bag and put your hand in it then run the tips of your fingers over the paint lightly. Feel the sandpaper-y
texture? That's crap. That's rail dust, fallout, brake dust, etc; it's bad for your paint and it feels bad, makes
the paint rough and gross. You can't get it out by washing, it's stuck; which is why we clay.

Clay removed these contaminants, you can tell it works with the bag trick; after clay the paint should feel
smooth (it will, trust me). How do I clay?

It's easy, and I mean easy. Get a bar of clay and some lubricant (I like a quick detailer cut 2:1 with water),
cut the clay bar in half or in thirds, you don't need it all unless the car is really in rough shape. Also if you
drop it, toss it, so if you use the whole bar and drop it... you lose.

Lubricate an area of paint *well* (lots of lube), then rub the clay over the paint lightly, almost no pressure.
Just move it back and forth in overlapping motions, lubricate more as you go. Top to bottom, never in
circles, always the way the wind flows over the car (which is almost always back and forth from the front
to the back). After each panel re-mold the clay in your hand to get the crud off it's surface. Again, if you
drop it (you will the first time), throw it away. THROW IT AWAY. If you put it back on your paint you
will scratch the paint, period.

CLay is also awesome at removing overspray, product sling, tar, bug guts, etc.. it's really great stuff.

You should clay once per year. White cars or cars in heavily railed areas, twice. (why? white cars you can
SEE the rail dust (little orange dots), it looks bad, so do it 2x if needed).
Clay will also remove your wax and sealant (obviously), so you can use it to strip waxes/sealants, and you
need to re-wax or seal afterwards.

You can clay your wheels too! Next time you have them off clay them, you'll go "WOW" when you see
what it does.

Next, waxes, sealants, lions, tigers, and tire dressing.

So what's all this sealant and waxing business, wtf?

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

Let's start with waxes. Waxes have been around forever; its wax. Today’s 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, and they are intense and very glossy. Some people like this,
others describe it as "wrapping the car in saran wrap". I took some wax off Peter "G-Force's" car today and
put on a sealant, we both commented how the car looked incredibly slick and glossy, the metallic flake was
absolutely popping, but the blue color was a little lighter looking, almost lost in the intense reflections.

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 wax over a sealant, 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

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

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 FMJ 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.

OK, up next, a quicky on glazes.

Alright, so what the heck is a glaze? Glaze is an often mis-used term because it tends to apply to a lot of
products. Generally a glaze is a product that provides no protection AND no corrective abilty, but is purely
aesthetic. These are often filled with oils and deepen and darken paint, their primary function is often filling
marring (filling, NOT removing). They work best in conjunction with waxes, not sealants. Sealants do not
like bonding over glazes (though some will).

When do you use a glaze? Before waxing, after your isa rubdown (the alcohol will strip it, so polish, isa,
glaze, wax). I don't use glazes a ton, but do sometimes. Here is when I do:

1) I am going to use a wax ont he car for sure.
2) The owner doesn't care about durabilty, glaze + wax usually means 4 weeks or less.
3) The car spends a lot of time in a garage *OR* lastly:
4) The car is a black or dark daily driver and has marring that is un-fixable.

Now some guys use glazes a lot to fill marring. I like fixing marring, so I don't use them to fill often, but in
some cases it's just unreasonable to expect to remove all marring, so they have their place. Which glaze you
use depends on what you're trying to accompolish, for example:

My favorite glaze is Clearkote Red Moose (or machine) glaze. It's sister product, Vanilla Moose, is a light
polish and glaze that is also wonderful. Neither of them fill a lot of marring, but both do some filling. What
they do best is make paint much deeper and darker. The first time you apply RMG to black you *will*
notice a difference, it makes it look like black, liquid, oil. It's great. RMG is also laughably easy to use (as
is VM), apply and remove wet or dry, super easy to buff off.

On the other hand if I need more filling, I often use Menzerna Final Touch Glaze. This has more fillers but
less deepening/darkening, it's also very pily and much tougher to remove. The same goes for Megs #7 show
car glaze, it's great, but hard to use.

Should you use a glaze? Well, if you intended on re-glazing and waxing every 4 weeks, then sure. It will
make a difference, but it's a comminitment (basically). I glaze my car because I wax it every couple of
weeks (and re-glaze every month), also because I like it to look crazy good, and also because it's a black
daily driver that was abused for 2 years and it does have some marring which will never be fixed... I use
RMG and top it with Souveran or Nattys Blue. This combo is disgustingly good looking, but it's at the
expense of durabilty.

What else? Oh, dressings, tires, trim, etc.. I'll do that next quickly.

OK, so trim. Trim is funny; I have a lot of it on my car so I've gone through a lot of dressings/products to
restore and maintain it. Surprisingly there are very few I actually like. A couple things before we
restore/dress trim.

First, clean it well with alcohol and water. (same as the stuff you used before), if it's dirty any dressing will
not penetrate it, so make sure it's clean.

Now, if it's stained or dry/greyish you need to restore first before dressing. A couple product I like are:

Poorboys Trim Restorer
Einszett Tiefenpfleger (yes, that's what it's called).
Leatherique Trim Dye

Now the first two are basically oily restorers that re-hydrate dried trim, they are oily and can be a pain to
use, they are hard to clean off paint so be careful. Just apply them with a mf cloth, let them sit, then wipe
any residue off after 10 minutes. Now you may notice the trim looks the same after 10 minutes, that's
because it's dry and is sucking the stuff up. When I got my car I used almost half a bottle of TR on my front
trim peice before it stayed black.

Leatherique Trim Dye is an actual dye, I like it, but be very careful as it literally dyes trim.

Use these products only when needed, not to maintain.

Now dressings. Use these to maintain after every couple washes (or every wash). I like:

Poorboys Natural Look (silicone based)
Meguiars #40 (silicone)
Mothers Back to Black (water)
Aerospace 303 (water).

Now the silicone dressings last longer by virtue of their silicone content, they are also messier and harder to
apply. They steak more too, so apply them then wipe away right away with a clean mf to prevent streaking.
The water based ones are easy to use, but will only last 1-2 washes. All of them will protect from UV.

Before I sign off; where do I get my stuff? Well, I get what I can at Canadian Tire, stuff you can get there
off the top of my head that is good:

Aerospace 303
Some Megairs products (#26 yellow wax, #40 trim dressing, #7 show car glaze)
Mothers Back to Black
Nevr Dull Metal Polish
Megs Deep Crystal soap
Foam Applicators
Quick Detailers

I think that's it. Don't buy their mf's or mitts, they are suck.

I also use (Chris is a great guy, ships fast), and Chris carries almost all the
poorboys stuff, good mf cloths, but crummy mitts (imo), carcaresmart has AWESOME sheepskin mitts.
They also have some Menzerna products. Zaino I get from the Barbers Chair (they dont have Z5pro yet), I
got that from the states, but it'll be in the barbers chair soon.

Lastly, I get a lot of my stuff from George at He's in NY state, however he will ship
USPS to avoid customs and is a great guy, AND ships quick AND has good prices. If you ever need a
product reco, let me know.
Alright, so I'm pretty much only doing winter preps right now, so here is what I basically do, and
recommend everyone do prior to winter (right around the time they put their winters on).

1) First, if you're changing your tires, let's do that first. Get the summers off and put the winters on, before
you put the winters on make sure to clean them well and if you have it, use some Wheel Sealant, Wheel
Wax, or a paint sealant on the mags/wheels/alloys. Put the summers aside for now, more on those later.
2) Wash the car really well. We all know how to wash, there are FAQs on this forum how to do it. I suggest
really getting down and dirty, use a fine brush to clean out body panels, door jambs, polish your exhaust
and use a sealant on it, open the hood and trunk and clean the water gutter areas.
2) Strip whatever sealant/wax you have on the car, you can do this a few ways so here come the options.
- If you have some marring you want removed, skip to #3
- If you do not have marring but will be using a chemical cleaner, skip to #4
- If you do not have marring and will not be using a chemical cleaner, skip to #5.
3) Polish the car. Hopefully you don't have much marring, so lets assume you're using a light polish, there
are FAQs on polishing, so if you're doing that read this. Now if you're using a chemical cleaner next go to
step #4, if not, go to step #5.
4) Wipe the car down with alcohol and water. Assuming you polished and/or are using a chemical cleaner I
will assume you know how to do this. 50/50 alcohol/water, regular 70% off the counter isa alcohol. Apply
your chemical cleaner (Klasse AIO, Werkstatt Prime, etc.), I very highly recommend these before winter
for a few reasons. One, they will remove most waterspots you have from the summer/fall, they will really
help "deep clean" the paint, and best of all they add a sealant base for your sealant, which will only help it
last even longer. Buff off when ready (most are apply to a panel, remove). Go to step #6.
5) If you're not using a chemical cleaner you're going to want to use alcohol/water liberally to strip your old
sealant/wax, clean your trim and windows, and remove any polish residue (if you polished). 50/50 rubbing
alcohol/water, regular 70% off the counter isa alcohol.
6) Apply your sealant. What do I recommend? Well, we want to use something long lasting, there are quite
a few you can choose from. A sampling of the ones I like: Zaino Z2pro/Z5pro, Werkstatt Acrylic Jett,
Poorboys EX-P, Klasse HGSG. How you apply and remove the sealant depends on which you use. Almost
all of them are apply, let haze, remove *except* HGSG, which you want to wipe on/wipe off. Apply over
entire car, including windows.
#7) As the sealant is hazing, do little peripheral jobs, polish exhaust, clean and dress trim, Clean/wax door
jambs and hood/trunk jambs, clean and dress wheel wells.
#8) Buff off the sealant however you choose (some dry buff, some buff w/quick detailer, some buff w/spray
#9) Dress tires if you like that!
#10) If you're not too tired go clean your summer wheels. I like trying to use soap/water first, but if that
doesn't do it move to a highly diluted APC or non-acid wheel cleaner. If that doesn't do it you can try acid,
but make sure you know how to use it. DO NOT use acid or apc on aluminum lips. Use a metal polish or
soap and water. Seal them, cover, and put away.

Any one of the sealants above will last 4-6 months, longer with a sealant base and even longer if you
maintain with a spray sealant.

Now for maintaining through winter you have a couple options, I get questions on "how to winter wash" all
the time. Here is how I answer.

If you're lucky enough to have a garage that is heated and you can spray a hose, wash normally. Now most
of us don't have that, so if you insist on washing in the winter I highly recommend rinseless washes, like
QEW or ONR (more info on them in the FAQs), do this in a garage only. If you do not have a garage and
insist on washing you can find a decent local coin-op and bring your bucket/mitts/soap/towels. Try not to
use auto washes, ok? I know it's hard, but it *so* isn't worth the marring you'll have come spring.

Me? I wash occasionally with rinseless washes, but mostly I do this - when I am back from a long ride and
I have a lot of salt, I will go to a local coin op, put in $2 and spray the snot out of my wheels, wheel wells,
and undercarriage, I will also spray the paint and windows *lightly*, to remove any loose salt/junk. That's
it, no actual touching. Remember, washing = marring, and also remember its winter, so washing is largely
pointless if you use your car. ALSO remember salt will ONLY react with paint when it's over 0c/32f, so if
you park in a garage or its warm, so just make sure to get it off when you can. If you NEED the car clean,
use rinseless, or use your own stuff in a coin op. If someone puts a gun to your head you can go to a
touchless, but don't blame me when I am polishing your car come spring.

Why do all this? Well, the obvious reasons (keep it looking good), UV protection, bird poop, acid rain, also
sealing windows WILL improve visibility, make it easier to wipe them on the highway, and make it much
easier to remove snow from the car (I promise), it'll also help mitigate salt damage.

How to Properly Wash Your Car

What is the best product to use as a car wash? The correct answer is use what you like the best. There are
some drawbacks to certain products and advantages to others. Dish detergents (Ivory Liquid, etc.) may be
used, but realize that these products are designed to remove animal or vegetable fat from fired ceramic.
They look at your nice coat of wax with the same hungry eyes. If you enjoy washing and rewaxing weekly,
then dish detergent is for you. Wax retailers love people who use Ivory Liquid (they send the Ivory
Company Christmas Cards every year).

If you prefer to have your wax last a lot longer, you may consider using a product that is
specifically designed for automotive use. The quality products are based upon detergents instead
of soaps. Most soaps are manufactured from rendered animal byproducts (the stuff the dog food
people reject). They contain trace elements that can actually damage your paint. These trace
elements are the same goodies that leave a ring in your bathtub. The exception is soaps
manufactured from plant fats. (These leave mold in your tub - just Kidding)

Quality car washes/shampoos (same thing - most cars don't have hair) are usually pH controlled,
contain gloss enhancers and some even have small amounts of water-soluble wax for good
measure. Use only enough car wash to break the electrostatic/ionic bond between the dirt and
your car. Start with a clean large bucket (preferably plastic - if you kick the metal bucket, Mr. Paint
Chip rears his ugly head); add a small amount of the car wash and fill with cool water. Avoid hot
water, as it will soften the wax. Read the directions on the car wash bottle and try reducing the
recommended amount by half. I use less than a cap full in 5 gallons. The more car wash, the
more wax you remove. Try to avoid powder car washes as the undissolved granules can lodge
under your sponge or wash mitt and scratch the paint surface. Make sure that your car is in the
shade and the paint surface is relatively cool. Rule of thumb #1: If you can comfortably hold your
hand on the hood, you can wash/wax the car.

Spray the car with a gentle spray to thoroughly wet the surface. Don't use a 200 P.S.I. fire
hydrant spray, it isn't needed and may grind the surface grime into the paint and cause scratches.
Some of the concours purists will not use a nozzle on the hose at all. Start at the top of the car
and work down. Rewet the top; gently wash the top and then rinse. Move onto another section,
such as the trunk or hood. Rewet this area, wash and rinse. Continue on down the car,
completing a section at a time. This way, the car wash does not dry on the paint.

You may use a wash mitt, wash pad or sponge to wash your car. I prefer a wash mitt, as the grit
tends to work up into the long fibers and not scratch the paint. When I redip the mitt into the wash
bucket, I give it a swirl to release the grit and every so often hold the top open, allowing it to fill
with water. I then lift straight up and as the water runs out, it "back flushes" the trapped dirt out of
the mitt. The flat surface of a sponge can sometimes catch dirt and act like sandpaper. The purist
will use two wash mitts, one for the top half of the car (the cleanest) and one for below the trim
line and wheels/wheel wells.

You should dry the car as soon as possible. There are several methods to accomplish this. Lots
of towels are a great drying medium. They should be 100% cotton. Check any towels carefully as
most towels contain polymer fibers that scratch like hundreds of hypodermic needles. Do not
assume that the 100% cotton label on the towel is telling the truth. The only way to check is to
actually set fire to a rolled up corner of the towel. If you get a clean flame like a candlewick then it
is 100% cotton. If you see black smoke and melted fibers, then you got one of the non 100%,
anxiously waiting to scratch your paint type of towels. One person checked 130 towels all marked
100% cotton and discovered that 12 actually were. I love truth in advertising.

Start at the top, lay the towel on the top and then GENTLY blot up the water from the surface.
Change to a dry towel and blot any remaining water. Move to the hood or trunk and repeat. Dry
the sides last, as the water will usually take care of itself on these surfaces. Another method is to
use a chamois. There are two types, natural and synthetic. The natural leather chamois contain
acids, primarily tannic, that strip wax. Most synthetic towels don't seem to do a satisfactory job.
One exception is the P21S Super Absorbing Drying Towel. I have stopped using towels after
trying this goodie and I used to be a "dyed in the wool" towel man. Driving the car to dry it may be
fun, but you are re-depositing dirt on the wet surface and allowing the resulting "mud" to dry on
the paint.
Bird presents are one of the most damaging "natural" disasters that attack our paint. (I have
never seen a Yugo attacked by a bird, but just wait till your brand new pride and joy leaves the
garage, they swoop in like someone rang the free birdseed bell.) I don't know what we are
feeding the birds, but what comes out of the south end of a northbound bird is highly acidic. The
longer we leave these psychedelic bird presents on our paint, the more damage they will cause.
The acids tend to etch a microscopic pond shaped depression in the paint. Removal as soon as
possible will help minimize the damage. Instead of carrying a hose and bucket in your car, carry a
bottle of no salt seltzer water. No salt seltzer water is nothing more than water and carbon dioxide
which will not harm your paint. When needed, take off the cap, place your thumb over the top,
shake well and you have a fire hydrant that will wash the worst of the bird's thoughtful gift from
your paint. Try to rub this area as little as possible. Birds use gravel to digest their food and grit is
one of the major components of their presents. If you try and rub off the solids, you may scratch
the paint. Once you have gotten home and had a chance to wash the area with car wash, rinsed
thoroughly and dried, use a little Meguiar #34 or One Grand Show Off to help remove any leftover
acids. When you have the time, give the area a coat of wax. If the acids have left a slight mark in
the paint, see the article on cleaning your paint. 3M Imperial Hand Glaze will usually remove all

How to Protect Your Cars Paint Finish

A coat of wax is nothing more than a clear, sacrificial protectant for the painted, clear coated, polished,
chromed and almost all other areas of your car except the rubber parts. It is far better to have ultraviolet
rays, ozone, acid rain, tree sap, road tar, and all the other road hazards attack a coat of wax than attack your
paint. The wax can be refreshed with little effort and cost, whereas replacing paint can be somewhat
financially painful. A good coat of wax will also add "depth of shine" and reflective gloss to the finish, but
cannot transform a neglected or abused finish from a pile of rubble into a Pebble Beach Concours winner.
For a wax to be effective, it must be applied to a clean surface, as it will enhance the gloss as well as the
defects of the surface.

Carnauba wax is the protective coating of the leaves of the tropical Carnauba plant. Pure
Carnauba wax is the consistency of a brick. To be useful as a car wax, solvents, lubricants and
numerous other additives must be blended with the wax. If you see a wax advertised to be 100%
Carnauba wax, they are really saying that whatever wax there may be in the can is 100%
Carnauba (one advertised "100%" brand that comes to mind is actually 5.3% Carnauba wax and
94.7% who knows what). There are also numerous grades of Carnauba, and the top grades are
expensive, so a high content percentage may not tell the whole story. The top grades are #1
white and # 1 yellow (no, it does not come in blue). Some of the better waxes on the market are
about 25% to 35% #1 Carnauba. Carnauba will produce, in my humble opinion, the best depth of
shine of any type of wax on the market. You may also apply several coats of a quality Carnauba
wax over a period of time without getting "wax buildup". The downside is that Carnauba is
somewhat sensitive to excess car wash. A very strong solution of car wash or the use of dish
detergent will tend to strip the wax. The use of the minimal amount of car wash in your wash
solution will help your wax last a lot longer.

There are two forms of wax, paste and liquid. They differ basically in the amount of solvents.
Rock hard Carnauba is diluted with solvents to either the paste form or further diluted to the liquid
form. When you apply a paste wax, the friction of application helps melt the wax and evaporate
the solvents. A liquid wax usually contains more volatile solvents that evaporate out when the
wax is applied. The excess wax, left over lubricants, excess bonding agents, solvent residues and
whatever else is left forms the "haze" that is buffed out to reveal the wax.

The polymer-based waxes tend to last longer, yet do not seem to give the same depth of shine,
as do the Carnauba waxes. As a general rule, depth of shine and longevity are opposite ends of
the same scale. Polymer waxes are also usually less sensitive to excess car wash. They do seem
to be somewhat more hydroscopic (absorb water and become cloudy) than the organic waxes. If
you are using a polymer based wax on a German paint and have hazing or clouding of the wax,
about the only thing that will work is to strip the polymer wax and rewax with a Carnauba based
wax. German paints hate polymer-based waxes. I have spoken to paint chemists, the Glazurit
people, Porsche, BMW and M/B people and to date have not gotten a viable reason for this. I
have gotten a lot of mumbling and shuffling of feet, but no hard and fast answers. The American
and Japanese paints can tolerate polymer waxes. The German paints just don't seem to react
well with most of these products. There are also highly advertised Teflon based products on the
market. It is my understanding that it requires a 600 plus degree environment to bond Teflon to
your paint. So, unless you are applying it with a flamethrower, you may not be getting all you paid
for. (In the same vein, just be glad you are not getting all the government you are paying for). The
polymer-based products will also tend to build up with several applications and this buildup may
turn off color over time. The solution to this problem is to strip everything off and start again.

Prior to applying any wax, thoroughly wash the car with a quality car wash to remove any grime,
bugs and tar spots. If washing does not remove all the flora and fauna, then a stronger cleaning
agent may be necessary. There are several quality citrus degreasers or bug and tar removers on
the market. Some of my favorites are P21S Total Auto Wash (a citrus degreaser), Wurth Citrus
Degreaser, Wurth Tar Remover, Sonax Tar Remover and One Grand Tar, Wax and Gum
Remover. I have found that the citrus degreasers work better on the organic type contaminants
such as 100 M.P.H. bug trophies and tree sap splotches. If you have parked under a tree and
found a coating of very, very small hardened dots on your car, this may not be tree sap. It may be
in fact the result of aphids and other little varmints in the trees making anal statements. Try
removing these aphid presents with a strong car wash solution. If this does not work, try using a
degreaser on the remaining spots. The tar removers seem to work better at removing road tar
spots. Rewash and rinse any areas you have cleaned with solvents thoroughly to remove all
traces of the solvents. If you have "tar spots" on your wheels, they may not in fact be tar, but are
probably brake dust residue. This is a residue from the polymer matrix of the brake pads that has
melted and re-polymerized on your wheels. Tar removers may help remove them, if not, Oil Flo
Safety Solvent is usually effective.

Well, it's time to wax your pride and joy. "Honey where is the Pledge? I want to wax the car". Just
kidding, unless you own a '34 Cord Laminated Beachwood Boat Tail Speedster, I would stick with
a quality car wax. One of the keys to applying car wax is to apply it sparingly. Assuming that the
finish has just been washed and dried and is free of grit and does not need glazing/polishing, then
apply the wax with a small piece of 100% cotton cloth or a terry cloth covered sponge or a foam
type applicator pad. An even better method of application for a paste wax is to use your fingers.
Hold your fingers together to form an "applicator". Rub the wax thoroughly into the surface. Your
fingers will give you the tactile feedback to let you know when the wax has been worked into the
surface. The heat of your body will also melt the wax and help it flow onto the surface. This is
NOT a situation where a little is good, so a lot must be better. Your paint will only accept X
amount of wax. If you apply 100 times X then you will have to remove 99X in the form of dried
powder. It will make waxing more difficult, require more buffing and create clouds of white dust.

Make sure the paint surface is cool. Rule of thumb #1, if you can hold your hand comfortably on
the paint, then it is cool enough to wax. Work in the shade, preferably in a garage. Open your can
of wax, get a small amount on your fingers (or cloth/pad) and recover the can (this keeps dirt out
of the can). Apply to the paint surface, rubbing in a linear motion. Work into the paint in a front-to-
back, back-to-front motion (the way the air flows over the car). Don't go around in circles the way
dear old dad taught you. If you are using a pad and airborne grit gets under the pad, you have
made sandpaper. If you are working in a circle, you have made a 360-degree scratch (or swirl
mark). Since a scratch or swirl mark is most visible from a 90 degree viewing angle, a circular
scratch is visible anywhere. If you work in a linear motion, and scratch the surface, the linear
scratch is only visible from a small viewing angle. Using only your fingers to apply wax will give
you the tactile feedback to know when surface grit is about to scratch your paint.
Work the small amount of wax into the surface until all that remains is slight haze. Use of your
fingers will also tell you when the wax has been thoroughly worked into the paint and will help
prevent you from using too much wax. Most waxes work best when this slight haze is allowed to
dry. Complete the application on one section of the car such as the hood, trunk, fender, etc. Buff
this section and then move onto another section. There are some waxes that require you to buff
immediately after applying to a small 12" X 12" section. Zymol or P21S are classic examples of
this type of wax. If you allow Zymol/P21S to dry before buffing, you will need a belt sander to
remove them. Read the directions on the can to determine the proper method. Buff out the slight
haze with a soft 100% cotton cloth. Buff a small section; shake out the cloth to remove any grit
and rebuff with a new section. Keep using new sections of and change cloths frequently. I use old
flannel sheets. They are super soft and produce a brilliant shine. Move onto another section of
the car. Repeat the application and buffing procedures. When the car has been completed, return
to the first section completed and rebuff with another clean cloth. The wax has had time to harden
off and this extra buffing will bring out a rich, deep shine. If there are areas that are hazy or
cloudy, and you are using a Carnauba based wax, the wax has become hydroscopic and has
absorbed a little water. Mist the cloudy areas with a small amount of water (a plant mister works
well) and rebuff. This should remove the clouding. In certain very high humidity situations, the
wax may not dry properly. The cure for this problem is to allow the car to bake in the sun for a day
or so and then rebuff. The heat of the sun will usually dry the excess moisture and the buffing will
bring out a deep shine.

Another trick to buff out any cloudy areas is to mist the area with One Grand Show Off or Meguiar
#34 Final Inspection and buff out. This will usually remove all traces of trapped water and
produce a deep rich shine. These two products are also handy to remove water spots from well-
waxed surfaces. Make sure the surface is clean and free of grit, spray on and buff out. The gloss
enhancers and liquid wax ingredients will restore the deep shine,

All cloths you use on your car should be 100% cotton and should be washed in the washing
machine using only detergent. Do not add any fabric softener to the water. Dry them in the dryer
and DO NOT use a dryer anti-static towel (I think that's what they are called). These dryer towels
contain coatings that are transferred to your car cloths and may cause streaks. If you have ever
had your wax streak and you could not figure out why, your dryer towel was probably the culprit.
You will remove a giant ball of cloths and static electricity from your dryer, but will not have
mysterious streaks.

These are some of my favorite waxes. There are positive and negative attributes to each one.
There is no such thing as the "right" wax. If your car is a daily driver and is left out in the mud, rain
and sun all day, then you may consider Blitz Wax. If on the other hand you have a "garage
queen" that sees sunlight on weekends only, you may consider either the new P21S or Zymol

BLITZ WAX...A quality Carnauba wax that produces a deep, durable shine and protects against
the harmful elements. Contains no cleaners or abrasives. Easy to apply and easy to remove; yet
long lasting. This is my favorite wax for most applications.

HARLY PASTE WAX...Made from the highest grade of Number One Yellow Carnauba, the worlds
hardest and finest wax. Relatively easy to apply, a little difficult to remove. Contains no extenders,
cleaners, admixtures or abrasives. This is a purist's wax.

3M SHOW CAR PASTE WAX...Shines and protects new and like new paint finishes, producing a
high gloss, durable "wet look" finish. Contains both carnauba wax and fluropolymers to produce a
durable finish. For best results, apply to a small area and immediately buff out; otherwise the wax
residue may be somewhat difficult to remove. May cause slight clouding on certain German

MEGUIAR #26 HI-TECH YELLOW WAX...A blend of premium yellow Carnauba wax, polymers
and other waxes to provide maximum high gloss protection while enhancing depth of color. Will
not streak or chalk on any previously cleaned and polished finishes. Available in paste or liquid.
This wax will last on daily driver cars, but does not give quite the shine of Blitz. May cause
clouding on certain German finishes.

MEGUIAR #34 FINAL INSPECTION...A lubricating gloss enhancing spray that adds shine,
slickness, depth of color and protection in one step. Great for spot cleaning and maintaining a
high gloss shine between waxings.

MEGUIAR MEDALLION FOR ALL PAINT...The polymer cationic bonding system produces a
super slick finish. A blend of paint nutrients and conditioners, that lasts much longer and reduces
static so finish is not a "dirt magnet". Some German finishes have had hydroscopic reactions
(clouding) with this product. A great product for very dusty climates.

ONE GRAND SHOWOFF QUICK DETAILER...A solution of liquid waxes and gloss enhancers to
give you car that "just waxed" look. Mist on and buff out for a brilliant shine between waxings or to
remove "water spots" after washing.
P21S CONCOURS LOOK CARNAUBA WAX...A new wax developed to compete directly with
Zymol. Produces, in my humble opinion, the best depth of shine of any wax on the market and
lasts a little longer than Zymol. We are not talking quantum leaps, but has a slight edge. Does not
offer the pina colada experience. My favorite wax for a "garage queen" or a frequently waxed car.

SONAX HARD WAX SPRAY...Same hard wax as the liquid in a pump can. Great for wheels,
wheel wells and other difficult to reach areas that need a coat of wax. Does not chalk or turn

ZYMOL CARBON /CREME WAX...Carbon formula is for dark colors. A totally abrasive free wax
containing nutritive oils, enzymes and pure Carnauba to replenish both new and older finishes.
Can be used on chrome, alloy wheels, rubber or plastic trim and Plexiglas with no chalk residue
or staining. This is the "pina colada" experience in a can. Produces arguably one of the best
depth of shine on the market, but does not last. Some have said it lasts about as long as it takes
to apply it.

How to Properly Care for the Leather Surfaces in Your Cars Interior

The care and feeding of the leather and the vinyl components of your automotive interior are two very
different processes. If you are using one product on both, that is somewhat like using gasoline as a
lubricant. It will work, but not for long. I will cover the care and feeding of leather and vinyl separately.

Leather having once been used to keep the insides of a cow from falling out was designed to
pass moisture through tiny pores. These tiny pores absorb human perspiration and as the water
evaporates, salts contained therein remain to absorb the essential oils in the leather. This
accumulation of salts and other grunge should be cleaned from the leather about twice a year
(more often if the seats get more than their fair share of your leftover sweat). The loss of oils
within the leather is the first step to hardening, cracking and shrinkage. Leather dashes are very
prone to this problem. Your dash is subjected to the destructive UV rays and heat concentrated
by the windshield. The leather (or vinyl) of your dash rests upon a metal backing that acts like a
frying pan. This "frying" drives the essential oils from the leather causing premature shrinkage,
cracking and hardening. Thus a dash should be treated more often than the seats or door panels.

Cleaning leather may be accomplished by using a mild soap and water, or specifically designed
leather cleaner. Of all the products I have tried, I still like Lexol pH Cleaner. It is pH balanced, and
gentle. All cleaners will rehydrate the leftover salts and grime and wash them from the leather
fibers. Use only leather products on leather, do not use vinyl cleaners, as these products tend to
be much harsher and may not be that beneficial to the leather. Any cleaner should be rinsed
thoroughly from the leather. I have tried spraying off with a hose, but that just seemed to fill the
car with soapy water (a hole drilled in the floor was needed to drain it out - just kidding). I went
back to using a damp cloth and repeatedly wiping down the leather. Once the leather is clean, a
conditioner should be used to restore lost oils and emollients. Envision leather as a sponge.
When the leather is new, the "sponge" is full of oil and soft and pliable. Body salts, UV, heat and
other factors drive the oil from the "sponge", allowing the leather to shrink and become brittle. A
quality leather conditioner will help maintain the oil in the leather. There are several conditioners
on the market. My favorite over the years is Lexol Leather Conditioner. It seems to be the most
easily absorbed into the leather fibers and tends to leave a relatively less "greasy" finish than any
of the other products I have tried. Another good product is Connolly Hide Food. This product is
made from rendered animal parts and will turn rancid in about two years. This and the distinctive
"cow" smell removes it from my top two list (I spent too much time milking the south end of a
north pointing cow, so am not a fan of cow smells). Zymol makes a product called "Leather
Treat". It does not, in my humble opinion, do any better job than the much less expensive Lexol.
One Grand Leather Conditioner is a petroleum-based conditioner that seems to work better on
the American and Japanese leathers. Again, do not use a vinyl product as a conditioner on
leather and above all try to avoid raw silicone oil based products. The silicone oil will dissolve out
the leather's natural oils and tend to make the leather sticky. Silicone oil has a very high
electrostatic attraction, so will invite every dust particle within miles to set up camp in your interior.
Apply the conditioner to a soft cloth and work into the leather, allow to be absorbed into the fibers
and then buff off the excess. You may condition the leather as often as you wish. As a rule,
condition your leather 3 to 4 times a year. The leather will tell you if you apply too much or apply
to often. The leather fibers will just not absorb the excess.

If your leather has hardened or needs some intensive softening, there is a really nifty product
called "Surflex Leather Soffener". This product is made from natural and synthetic oils that restore
the natural softness to neglected leather. Clean the leather and then apply a liberal coat of
Soffener and cover with plastic. Allow to penetrate the leather for at least 72 hours. Wipe off the
excess. If it needs an additional application, repeat the above. For really bad areas, cover with
plastic and allow to sit for a few days. Once the leather is sufficiently softened, allow to "cure" for
another 24 hours and buff off any excess. You are done. I jokingly say this product will turn a
dog's rawhide chew into a kid glove. I have had some luck with leather dashes with this method.
Once the leather has softened, I have been able to gently tuck it back under the edges of the trim
and windshield clips. This is a lot cheaper than a new dash and may be worth a try before
spending a ton of money.
If your leather or vinyl has scuffmarks, scratches or areas that the surface color has been
removed, you may refinish it yourself. Most German seats are famous for scuffing on the left
bolster of the driver's seat. This is usually caused by your belt loops as you get in and out of the
seat. The key is another Surflex product. The Surflex Colorant & Finish for Flexible Surfaces may
be matched to the exact color required. Any interior leather or vinyl surface may be refinished. It
is not recommended to spot finish any area. If your seat bolsters have belt loop scuff marks, you
should refinish the entire front of the seat. I usually do from welting to welting. This provides a
visual break that does not make the non-refinished areas appear quite as shabby. But then why
not do the whole seat, dash, or door panel? Start by conditioning the leather to insure that the
leather is fully hydrated with oils. Once the leather is fully conditioned or softened, if needed, then
clean the area(s) to be refinished with a suitable Organic Solvent. I prefer P21S Total Auto Wash
or Wurth Citrus Degreaser. Prior to usage, test all solvents on an area that does not show. I use
the excess on the underside of the seat to test the colorfastness of the finish. Spray the solvent
on a soft lint free cloth, and then wipe down the surface(s). Repeat after a few minutes. Rinse
several times with a sponge or cloth and a couple of buckets of clear water and allow to dry
thoroughly (at least 24 hours). The manufacturer of Surflex says to strip the old finish off using
lacquer thinner, commercial paint remover or C-P Stripper. I don't, because most interiors are not
in that bad a shape and I have never found it necessary (They also recommend lightly sanding
the area prior to usage, I don't do that either - no guts). Mix the Surflex completely and apply with
brush, spray it on or use it like a wood stain. I prefer to use a small piece of lint free cloth and
work the Surflex into the leather or vinyl just as if I were staining wood. Once the desired color of
finish is achieved, allow to dry undisturbed for at least 24 hours. I allow the surface to "harden off"
for about 6 weeks before applying any conditioners to leather or vinyl protectants to vinyl parts. I
have not had a lot of luck refinishing dark leather to a significantly lighter color. The old color
tends to show through in small "cracks" and the whole panel seems to be "muddy". Maybe if you
strip off all the old finish, it would look better. Someday, I will get an old seat and give it a try.

The Surflex Black Colorant works great on black bumpers, black spoilers or black rubber/vinyl
trim that has been severely scratched or badly scuffed and is beyond the help of Black Again.
Clean the entire part thoroughly with P21S Total Auto Wash or Wurth Citrus Degreaser, rinse and
dry thoroughly. Mask off the paint and then stain the area with the Colorant and allow to dry. It will
look like new. After about 3 weeks hardening off, coat with a protective coating of Black Again or
One Grand Exterior Rubber.

Small cuts, cracks or holes in leather may be partially repaired using another Surflex product
called Flex-Fill. This is a semi-flexible cosmetic filling material. You use it like a Spackle
compound. It will take the Surflex colorant similar to leather or vinyl. I have been able to repair
several damaged areas and hide them so they are not visible to the casual observer. Will it make
a three-inch crack in your dash look like new? No, but it may help hide it so that it isn't quite so
obvious. I have found that forcing Flex-Fill under the repaired area and forming an inverted T
patch works best. Once the patch is dry, sand lightly to blend in with the leather or vinyl. Clean
the area thoroughly and refinish with the Surflex Colorant. This is a learned skill, so you should
practice on a test piece of leather or vinyl. Perfect your techniques before you tackle your
expensive interior.

How to Properly Clean Your Cars Paintwork

Cleaning your paint does not mean washing your car, it means removing oxidation and contaminants,
adding emollient oils back into the paint and smoothing out the surface of the paint. There are several
products on the market that will accomplish one, two or all three of these functions. In fact, there are so
many products by so many names, that the correct choice may be confusing. Before we start, let's define
some broad categories of products.

CLEANER: A cleaning agent may be either friction or chemical. A friction cleaner is usually either
a silicate or clay particulate. If you examine your paint through a microscope, it would look like a
mountain range with peaks and valleys. The friction or abrasive (don't get nervous at the word
abrasive) type cleaner will clip the tops of these mountains off and help fill in the valleys, to
approach the optimum smooth plane that offers the greatest depth of shine. Friction cleaners are
usually described as fine, medium or heavy cut. When in doubt, use the least aggressive product.
A chemical cleaner will usually strip equal amounts of hill and dale and thus not help smooth the
paint. A cleaner should also remove old wax and other contaminants in the paint. Chemical type
cleaners are usually more effective in removing the remains of 100 M.P.H. bugs, stains, tree sap
and tars. Avoid silicone-based products as they are not beneficial to paint and can cause
problems down the road. Ask any professional car painter their thoughts on silicone products, and
you will usually get a 30-minute tirade.

GLAZE: A glaze usually denotes a superfine friction type of cleaning agent, usually with essential
emollients and lubricating oils and may even contain some mild chemical cleaners. Glazes will
usually remove mild swirl marks, scratches, refresh the paint with oils and smooth out the finish.

POLISH: A polish is normally a non-abrasive product based on a nutrient oil matrix and may or
may not have a chemical cleaner as part of the package. Most polishes use fillers to help cover
swirl marks.
COMPOUND: A compound is the "coarse sandpaper" of the paint-cleaning world. This should be
used only if the paint is in serious trouble and all else has failed. If you are one step away from 1-
800-NEW-PAINT, then you may consider a compound.

CLAY: Literally a plasticene/abrasive mixture used to smooth new paint and remove over spray.
This type of product must be used with lots of lubricant. The technique of using a clay is a learned
skill. Use too little lubricant, or get contaminants in the clay, and you have moved into scratch city.
This is one product that is the fast lane to trouble if not used with extreme care. I do not
recommend this product as a general paint cleaner. You literally grind off a layer of paint. Should
be used as was intended, to remove paint over spray.

CLEANER/WAX: A combination, one-step chemical cleaner and a wax. I am not a fan of these
types of products, as they are required to perform two very diverse functions simultaneously. A
cleaner should remove old wax, so how does it simultaneously apply a coat of new wax? You
may wish to use this type of product only in emergency situations or on your Yugo.

WAX: There are two broad categories of wax, organic and polymer based. The organic waxes
may be derived from plants such as Carnauba, or varmints, such as bee's wax or some of the K-
Mart specials contain paraffin refined from dead dinosaurs. The polymer-based waxes are usually
collected from specially trained robotic bees that gather the polymer nectar from plastic flowers
(or it may be made in chemical factories).

DEGREASERS/TAR/BUG REMOVERS: These types of products are normally solvents designed
to dissolve surface contaminants such as road tar or bugs. There are two broad classifications of
solvents, petroleum distillates and citrus based. The quality citrus products tend to be gentler on
the paint. Any degreaser/tar/bug remover will remove wax. So after you have rid your car of the
remains of Billy bee, you will have to rewax the area. (What is the last thing that goes through a
bee's mind as he slams into your windshield at 60 mph? ......His stinger.) Be aware that many of
the popular over the counter tar removers are based on kerosene and may cause long-term
damage to paint.

How often should you clean the paint? The correct answer is based upon several factors. If your
car is a "garage queen" and only sees the light of day once a week or so, then once a year is
usually often enough. If it is a daily driver, and sits out in the elements day after day, then twice
maybe three times a year may be required. Your paint will tell you when it needs to be cleaned. It
may scream at the top of its little lungs or it may be more subtle and simply lose its luster and
look dull (you know your paint better than I do). If the finish is subjected to acid rain, and the
effects of highly acidic bird offerings, then you may have to clean specific areas of the finish a
little more often. If someone tells you to clean the paint each time you wax, then they are either
trying to sell you another paint job or have an excess of cleaner they are trying to unload.

Power tools and fine finishes, in my humble opinion, do not mix. There is nothing that a power
buffer can do, that you cannot do by hand. The advantage of power is speed. This also applies to
getting yourself into trouble. The edges of your body panels and raised/creased areas of the
sheet metal have the thinnest layer of paint. When the body is painted, the liquid paint will tend to
flow away from these raised areas. A power buffer will concentrate its energy on the thin paint of
these high points. This is another way of saying hello to your primer or as the professionals say,
"burning an edge". If you must use a power buffer, use only closed cell foam pads and use one
pad for each product. Do not use lambs wool type of pads, as they are swirl marks waiting to
happen. Most importantly, use only a cleaner/glaze/polish type product that is specifically
formulated for use with a power buffer. The frictional heat of a buffer will cause some product's
abrasives to flocculate or clump together and make your hood look like a newly plowed cornfield.
Most people do not appreciate this look.

I have defined some of the major types of cleaners, but realize that the numberless
manufacturers do not all conform to the defined nomenclature. I personally prefer a glaze to a
polish to clean and prepare the paint for wax. The difference is that a glaze uses a superfine
abrasive cleaning agent, whereas a polish usually uses a chemical cleaner. The glazes tend to
smooth out the paint more effectively than the polishes. If the paint does not have any
imperfections, then a polish should be enough. As a rule, if you have swirls or light scratches,
then use a glaze. If you don't then use a polish.

The first step to your cleaning/waxing regimen is to wash your car with a quality car wash and dry
thoroughly. The benefits of a clean surface cannot be over emphasized, unless you are a fan of
swirl marks and feel that hairline scratches are attractive, wash thoroughly before starting.

Pick a section of the car such as the hood, door, top or whatever. Glaze/polish this section of your
car completely, redoing any section(s) that need additional help. The glaze/polish should produce
the deep gloss that you desire. Once this section dazzles you with it's brilliance, then and only
then, apply a coat of wax to this section. Realize that the wax is nothing more than a clear
protectant and will not remove or hide scratches or swirl marks. Once this section of your car has
been completed, move onto another section and begin the glaze/polish and wax process again.

If your paint has swirl marks, acid rain marks or faint scratches, then you may wish to use a
glaze. The definition of a faint scratch is one that you can see but not feel. If you can feel the
scratch with your fingernail, then it is beyond the scope of this article and should be treated as a
paint chip. Rule #1: Use the least aggressive product/technique to get the job done! It is very
easy to repeat an application of a mild product to achieve a result, but is very expensive to
replace paint when you have gotten too aggressive. If your paint does not have swirl
marks/scratches, but has lost some of it's luster, then you may consider using a polish. I usually
prefer glazes to polishes, but that is somewhat subjective and very dependent upon the condition
of the finish.

Any cloths you use on your car should be 100% cotton and should be washed in the washing
machine using only detergent. Do not add any fabric softener to the water. Dry them in the dryer
and DO NOT use a dryer anti-static towel (I think that's what they are called). These dryer towels
contain coatings that are transferred to your car cloths and may cause streaks. If you have ever
had your wax streak and you could not figure out why, your dryer towel was probably the culprit.
You will remove a giant ball of cloths and static electricity from your dryer, but will not have
mysterious streaks.

All glazes/polishes should be applied to a cool surface and in the shade. Never wash, clean or
wax your car in the hot sun. Rule #1, if you can hold your hand comfortably on the surface of the
paint, then you can clean and/or wax your car. Apply with your choice of a soft 100% cotton cloth,
applicator pad, or closed cell foam pad. Squirt a small amount onto your pad/cloth and then apply
to the paint surface. Do not apply any product directly onto the surface, as you will tend to use too
much and may wind up with an uneven result. Work into the surface with a linear motion, front to
back, back to front, the way the air flows over the car. Do not go around in circles. If a piece of grit
lodges under your pad, you have made sandpaper and a circular motion will produce a 360-
degree swirl mark. All scratches are most visible at a 90 degree viewing angle, so a circular swirl
is visible from any vantage point. A linear type scratch is only noticeable from a very narrow
viewing angle. Work the glaze/polish into the surface using moderate pressure until all that is left
is a slight haze. (Read the directions on the bottle to determine the manufacturer's recommended
method.) Buff out the slight haze with a soft 100% cotton cloth. Buff out a small section, shake out
the cloth (away from the car) to remove any grit and rebuff with a new section. Keep using new
sections of cloth and change cloths frequently. I use my wife's old flannel sheets. They are super
soft and produce a brilliant shine. (Try not "borrowing" the sheets from the marital bed, as this
may lead to some spousal discontent.) When the chosen section of the car has been completed,
rebuff with another clean cloth. If you are happy with the shine and deep gloss of the section,
apply a coat of your favorite wax.

I have outlined the types and usage of glazes and polishes, now I will list several quality paint
cleaning agents and give a brief synopsis of each. The most important caveat is "use the least
aggressive product to accomplish the task". It is easy to redo an area with a gentle product; it is
rather costly to replace paint once you have gotten enthusiastic with a very aggressive product.
The list is alphabetical, so infer nothing by the order. You may read between the lines to
determine my personal favorites.


3M IMPERIAL HAND GLAZE: This is my personal favorite (how is that for between the lines?). I
have tried just about every product on the market, and keep coming back to 3M Hand Glaze. It is
gentle on the paint, produces, in my humble opinion, the deepest gloss, yet is aggressive enough
to remove fine swirl marks and scratches. It also "feeds" the paint with emollient oils. If an area
needs a little more aggressive cleaning, soak your pad in the 3M and add a small amount (about
the size of your pinkie nail) of P21S Multi Finish Restorer Polish (don't you just love the
translation of German names?), mix the two together on the pad and then rub out the area using
a linear motion. Buff out and repeat if necessary. This combo works very well on swirl marks and
scratches that can be seen but not detected with your fingernail. Once the blemish has been
removed, follow with an application of straight Hand Glaze to restore the deep shine and then
wax. The recess behind the door handles is a classic area that responds well to this combination.
HARLY PRE-WAX CLEANER: A mild chemical cleaner and polish that does a decent job on
oxidized paint, but doesn't remove scratches that well. It does work very well on oxidized chrome.
MEGUIAR #01 MEDIUM CUT CLEANER: A moderately abrasive cleaner to remove surface
defects including harsh swirl marks, oxidation, water marks, and wet sanding marks. Follow with
a fine glaze (3M or #7) and a coat of wax. This is the "medium sandpaper " of the abrasive
cleaner set, so use only if your regular glaze will not do the job.
MEGUIAR #02 FINE CUT CLEANER: A mildly abrasive cleaner for fine swirl marks, water spots,
and fine defects. Follow with a fine glaze and a coat of wax. The "fine sandpaper" in the abrasive
cleaner family.
MEGUIAR #04 HEAVY CUT CLEANER: A heavy-duty abrasive cleaner for paint that is one step
away for 1-800-NEW-PAINT. This is slightly safer to use than compounds. Should be followed by
an application of #02 and then a fine glaze and a coat of wax. Use with extreme care, or you will
make some body shop person very happy.
MEGUIAR #06 CLEANER/WAX: A one step chemical cleaner with a liquid wax. Use for spot
application when your favorite cleaning/wax regimen is not practical, or use on your Yugo.
MEGUIAR #07 SHOWCAR GLAZE: A hand applied glaze to remove fine swirls and water spots
also adds emollient oils back into the paint. Follow with a coat of quality wax.
MEGUIAR #09 SWIRL REMOVER: This is a polish (chemical cleaner with an emollient oil matrix)
that works well on clear coat finishes that are in reasonably good shape.
MEGUIAR MEDALLION PAINT CLEANER: Another chemical cleaner that contains a fair amount
of polymers. This may not work well with some German finishes. Designed for use with the
Medallion cationic bonding system.
ONE GRAND CLEAN & WAX: A one step chemical cleaner, filler and liquid wax. Will hide minor
swirl marks and apply a coat of wax in one operation. Another spot repair or daily "beater car"
type of product.


ONE GRAND OMEGA GLAZE: A fine water based abrasive glaze. Leaves a nice finish. Seems
to work better on American/Japanese finishes than German paints.
P21S GLOSS ENHANCING PAINTWORK CLEANSER: (another translation from German): A
thick, rich, creamy polish that leaves a deep rich shine. Developed by a German company with
the German finishes in mind. Our favorite product for finishes that do not have scratches. (Did
you read between the lines again?). Produces the best deep gloss finish of any product I have
ever tried.
SONAX POLISH & WAX: A high gloss liquid wax that protects against road salts, acid rain, air
pollution, etc. Easy to apply and easy to buff out. Use whenever you want quick protection. Some
consider this liquid cleaner/wax to be the best-kept secret of single step waxes.
ZYMOL HD CLEANSE: Zymol offers the "pina colada" experience for those who enjoy the
olfactory stimulation while cleaning their paint. A touch aggressive and a touch expensive for my
taste but defended to the death by Zymol addicts. Be aware of a new line of Zymol products that
are made by Turtle Wax and sold under the Zymol label. If you find Zymol in K-Mart, it is really
Zurtle Wax. Check the back of the bottle; if it says Chicago, IL, then it's Zurtle.

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