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I know not everyone wants to spend a fortune like some of us OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Detailers) do, so here I am going to tell you how to properly maintain the finish on your cars precious paint. This is not a fixing defects thing, there is a lot more prep work involved for getting paint to where it should be (abrasives, polishes, etc, etc.). This thread is merely a guide, crash course of sorts to help promote proper technique and products that work on a budget.

Car wash

Most car wash concentrates designated for automotive washing should be fine for the average consumer. However, keep in mind that all of them are different, and have different properties and have different effects. For example, some have gloss enhancers, different levels lubricity, polymers added, etc. Using the DAWN from your kitchen is NOT a good idea. DAWN and related products are rather harsh to the plastic and rubber exterior parts, not to mention the clearcoat health. After repeated washes the finish may start to be come hazy, usually resulting from oxidation of the paint. For tackling this task, cost effectively, lok for deals on the big name car wash soaps, i.e. Meguiar's Gold Class, Eagle One, etc...

*** An additional note. Most fine scratches, a.k.a "swirls", actually are caused by washing. This occurs when minute dirt particles and contaminants are dragged across the paint surface during washing. A good product to have in your bucket filled with water adn car wash concentrate, is a Grit Guard. This item sits on the bottom of your bucket doing the following:
- 1.gives your wash media a place to gently brush up against so that any loose contaminants and dirt particles can be dispersed from your wash media, and onto the bottom of your bucket.
- 2. This product design helps keep the dirt at the bottom of the bucket from splashing around and re-contaminating your wash media. After you are done washing and drain your car wash solution, you'll be amazed at the amount of minute contaminants, left behind that were not there scratching your paint.





Mitts

Chenille is fine, but I use them only on the wheels and wheel wells, I much prefer Sheepskin. My favorite is as close as your nearest Wal-Mart. Eurow Sheepskin mitts are available there for $4-$5 (can't remember the exact price) and one should last the average joe a season. One word of caution: I have noticed that some are softer than others, feel them for the softest one. Occasionally I find super soft ones and I check each time I shop there then buy them if they have them to keep on tap.... they are harder to find. You will know it when you find them, they are super soft. No pic, I can't find one online :(

Towels

I love the Waffle Weave Microfiber towels, but we are doing it on a budget, so while at Wal-Mart find the 27x40 big Microfiber towels (made by Calderon) they have for just under $7. Two of these should dry the entire car. Smaller Turtle Wax MF towels will do ok for some other projects (windows and the like), and go for $6 a 3 pack, pick up a couple.

Wax

I will make two recommendations here: S100 and Collinite. From my research, appears that Meguiar's #16 has been discontinued. S100 is easy to find locally (if you have a Harley dealer near), and costs $15. The jar will last you a while. Great looks, but the down side is longevity.

* Another common and durable set of products revered by many in the detailing community are the Collinite 476S & 845. Both are very cost effective and are very durable. Both are also known for their durability, even in harsh winter climates. They each can be found for around $15.





Misc stuff

Windows: Eagle One 20/20, or Stoner's Invisible Glass, About $3-$4.





Interior Cleaning: Woolite mix, 6 parts water, one part woolite, great all purpose cleaner

Leather conditioning: If you have it... Turtle Wax Around $4



Interior Protectant: Pick and choose if you are going to the auto store.... but this is one I would not bend on and recommend you spend some cash on. You just can't beat 303...there is no substitute, well worth the money. 100% UV preotection. It is expensive, $20 for a 32 oz, but I think they make smaller sizes, I have to check. You can find it locally at hardware stores sometimes, they have a dealer locator on their site. You can get free samples here if you want to give it a try: http://www.303products.com/main.php?infopage=freesample



Tires shine: This will vary on how you like your tires to look, more of a matte or shiny bling bling :lol: I like Stoner's More Shine Less Time, it creates a good balance of matte vs shine IMO, and you can add to coats to make it more shiny if you so wish. Others out there are fine as well, but some sling up on the car. Price is about $3-$4.

 

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Ok, now we have this stuff, how do we do it properly? Methods vary a little, so I will show you how I deal with it.

Washing

I use the two bucket method, one with wash, the other with water to rinse your mitt out in. I use warm water, not too hot. I rinse the car down with a light pressure, I never use higher pressures, no need to. Add you car wash and stir it up with a good bit of pressure from the hose in the bucket. Start at the top and work your way down. Do not use pressure or scrub, use the weight of the mitt or enough on the sides to just hold it against the panel. I do the roof/windows, hood/fenders, sides, back. I do a section at a time then put your mitt in the rinse bucket while hosing off with very low pressure. If your car is well protected (wax), it will sheet off quite well leaving little to dry. I have hard water (although I am filtering it come spring), so I dry each section as I wash it. Once dry, grab the mitt and ring out gently, dip back into your wash bucket, wash the next section and repeat.

Lastly I do the wheels and wheel wells. I use a different chenille mitt for these. After you are done use the tire dressing and spray some up in the wheel wells, makes them look better. Use a smaller MF towel and glass cleaner to do the glass.

Interior

Vacuum with a shop vac or even the attachments from a household one. I use two different shop vacs on the cars. Clean any stains or plastic/vynil with woolite mix, dress with the protect and a MF towel, pretty self explanitory. Don't forget the glass, roll the windows down a tad to get the upper part where crud gets from being rolled up.

Do it often

The biggest key is doing it regularly, once a week is best. The more you keep up on it, the easier it is :)

This is relatively simple, but if you have questions, fire away...and I hope this helps :)
 

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I split this thread up and created a new one for questions so this one doesn't grow into a huge thread that makes it hard to read. If you have questions or comments, I created a new thread for discussion of it, or you can start a new thread :)
 
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