The Do’s And Don’ts Of Detailing Your Car
When it comes to car detailing, there can be no shortcuts. It all starts with the wash. The products and techniques used can make all the difference.
Don't use a sponge
Don’t: Use a sponge. The motoring shelves in supermarkets and high street motor factors are groaning with products to wash a vehicle, including sponges. Yet, as any car care professional will tell you, sponges are not a good idea because inexpensive artificial car washing sponges tend to be flat-faced and quite dense. This can be the cause of swirl marks in car paintwork.
Bringing the shampoo-engorged sponge to the car bodywork and commencing washing using the usual circular motion, means that any grit on the car gets trapped in and beneath the sponge. Although minute, these grit particles can be abrasive and the result is swirl marks; those fine hairline scratches that mar the surface and spoil the shine.
Do: Use a purpose-made deep-pile wash mitt. These can be of cotton, lambswool or a soft microfibre material and any grit gets absorbed into that material, away from the paint, helping to minimise swirls. Rinse often and there’s a method for that too.
Wash Your Car Using The Two-Bucket Method.
Don’t: Use a single bucket. During the process of washing dirt and grit can get transferred from the car into the wash bucket and this can result in the contamination of the water. Any grit in the bucket can potentially be carried back to the car.
Do: As suggested by the heading, the two bucket method uses two buckets, one for the shampoo solution and one for the water rinse. Soak the wash mitt in the solution and commence to washing. Returning for the next load, first immerse the mitt into the rinse water to wash away any dirt and detritus. It is possible to find grit guards that sit low in the buckets to trap any grit at the bottom as a further safeguard.
Always Use A Good Quality Car Shampoo
Don’t: Be cheap. There are plenty of car shampoos on the market that promise much but they are not all ideal. Some contain detergents which can strip away previously applied wax and the biggest culprit is household washing-up liquid. Leave it on the kitchen window sill!
Do: Use a premium shampoo. This will have a silky, soapy feel thanks to added lubricants which help draw contaminants away from the paint and into the mitt, ready to be rinsed away.
A Good Car Wash Technique
Don’t: Blast the bodywork with a powerful direct hose or pressure washer. It could embed grit more firmly and cause scratches.
Do: Be gentle. A light, indirect water stream from a hose is all that’s needed to rinse away any loose contamination.
Don’t: Use the paintwork wash mitt and shampoo on the wheels. Alloy or steel, they are all the same, contaminated as they are with road grime and brake dust, even oil. Use a good purpose-designed wheel cleaner and a wheel brush. Don’t forget the tyre either; deploy a tyre dressing to make the rubber look like new. Car detailing is all about the little extra touches, after all.
Do: remember to wash not just the exterior bodywork but also the door jambs, sills and undersides. Boot and door seals are not always perfect and can allow water ingress.
Don’t: Forget to use the correct ratio of shampoo and remember the two-bucket method to ensure any swirl marks are kept to an absolute minimum.
Do: Be gentle when shampooing, remembering to rinse the mitt often. A top tip is to use warm (not hot) water, especially in chilly weather: if nothing else it helps to prevent freezing hands! Finally, rinse away the shampoo from the top down with fresh, clean water.
The Finishing Touches to Washing Your Car
Don’t: Leave a car to air-dry. It won’t hurt obviously but it could leave drying marks, spoiling all the good work that has gone before. Also, harsh cheap towelling could impart swirl marks too. Use the best product possible.
Do: Use a clean drying towel. The best are constructed from a sandwich technique. The outer layers; front and back, use a ‘Diamond Weave’ Microfibre with a highly absorbent microfibre inner layer. This makes the material very soft and absorbent.
The Next Step: Protecting With Car Wax
Step back and admire the handiwork, safe in the knowledge that if a job is worth doing then it’s worth doing well: Remember though that automotive detailing is about going the extra mile. Finish the job with a coat of ceramic coat that will enhance the shine and help protect the car bodywork. An added bonus is the fact that any interim washes are made easier thanks to that additional protection.