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There were a couple of requests for detailing tips after seeing my truck in the members pics section. So here you go ;)

Detailing Tips

Over the years I have come up with some ways to get a good-looking vehicle quickly. Some of these tips have been things I have found and some of them are tips I have received by reading up on the Internet. So read on…

Washing- You have heard it before but I will say it again. Don’t use dishwashing soap. It strips the wax you work so hard to put on your vehicle. I usually use a car washing liquid that has a little wax in it. This way you are sort of replenishing the wax on your car a little every time you wash it. I tend to wash my vehicles often. Weekly washings will help keep your vehicle looking nice and clean. I used to know a guy that washed his vehicles every day after he got home. Needless to say he had the cleanest cars I have ever seen. Plus he rarely had to wax his cars because he was washing all of the pollutants off every evening. When I wash the vehicle I start on the wheels and tires with something like Simple Green (I dilute it a little cause it is really strong stuff) or 409. I scrub the tires with a stiff bristle brush and wipe down the wheels with a bug scrubber sponge that is not too abrasive. After washing and rinsing the wheels and tires I start washing the vehicle from the top down. In other words I wash the roof and windows, wash the hood and trunk lid(for cars) and then start in on all of the sides working from the front to the back(usually cleanest to dirtiest areas. After making sure that I did not miss any spots I will dry the vehicle off with a chamois. I like the synthetic chamois like the absorber that you can get from Wal-Mart. They tend to last a really long time and dry the vehicle really well. I may take some paper towels to the wheels and tires to dry them off.

Prep- The status of the paint will decide what you need to do next. If it is heavily oxidized or has a lot of scratches then you will need to spend some extra time to make it look good. For oxidized or heavily polluted paint I suggest using a paint cleaner. Mequir’s makes a really good paint cleaner. It is a liquid that you put on a hand or machine buffer and work into the paint. The pollutants will actually start to let go of the paint and start to stick to the buffing pad. You will want to stop occasionally to wipe some of the gummy stuff off with a towel. Keep working it till you can start to see a shine in the paint or till you are no longer getting the gummy pollutants off of the paint. Next you will want to inspect the paint for etching due to acid rain, bird droppings etc. If you find any scratches then get some 3M fine scratch remover and start rubbing. It is a really good product. I usually try and do this by hand even though it is tedious and tiring. I have this fear of burning through the clear coat by using too much pressure or too fast a speed on the buffer. But use your own judgment on this. Also for the front of the vehicle and the rear fenders make sure that you use some bug and tar remover to remove and bugs and tar J

Polish- I usually do this every time I wax the vehicle. I think it adds some depth to the finish and nourishes the paint. The best polish that I have found is made by Mother’s, but Mequir’s makes a really good polish too. This is the fairly easy portion of the detail. Just rub the polish on either by hand or by buffer, and then wipe off with a soft cloth. You will want to work section by section (i.e. hood, roof, fender etc).

Wax- Waxing your vehicles is extremely important. If you keep a good coat of wax on your car or truck it will keep you from having to do all of the fun things in the prep section. I usually use a buffer to put the wax on and then rub it off by hand after it has dried. Usually I will try and do the whole car and then go back and wipe it off. But only do that if you have the vehicle in a garage. Leaving it on while in direct sunlight can be harmful to the paint of just make it extremely difficult to get the wax off. By far the best commercially available wax is Zymol. I have a Black 95 Impala SS and nothing can make it shine like Zymol. And it lasts a long time too ;). But just make sure to use a quality wax by either Mother’s, Mequir’s, Zymol or 3M.

Engine – I only clean the engine occasionally because it is a tedious and doesn’t last real long. But I try and not let it get real dirty either because it takes that much longer to clean when it gets really dirty. I also make sure to clean the engine first before washing the car so that any dirt from the engine can be washed off of the car. To clean the engine you need to first identify all of the parts that should NOT get water on or in them. So identify the distributor, cruise control module, ECM and any other parts that should not get wet. You can cover them with a sandwich bag and rubber band. To clean the engine I use Simple Green or 409 on the engine as well. Lightly mist the engine with some water and then spray the cleaner on everything. Pay special attention the hoses and intake parts. Wipe the dirt off of these parts with a bug scrubber sponge. If there are any really dirty parts then scrub them with a stiff brush of the proper size. Also wipe down the underside of the hood(if no hood liner) and the inner fenders. Make sure to rinse everything really well. Go back and clean anything you missed. After rinsing really well I start the vehicle up and let it run for a couple of minutes just to make sure I have not fouled anything up J If it does not want to start then let it sit till after washing the car and see if it will start again. I will use some towels or clean old rags to dry the engine compartment, but I usually don’t dry it till after washing and drying the car. That way it does not get wet during the car washing process. After it is dry I go back and polish any aluminum or chrome. I also use Tire Wet on all of the hoses and black plastic parts. DO NOT get any of this stuff on your belts. It will cause them to slip and is a real pain to get them back to normal. So having said that I usually use a hand buffer pad to wipe the Tire Wet on the parts that need it.

Finishing up- To finish up I usually wipe all of the windows down with windex. Make sure to roll them down just a bit so that you can get the tops that go up into the doors. And wipe some Tire Wet onto the tires.


By now your vehicle has probably undergone a complete transformation. I hope you have found this write up to be helpful.

Marcus Neto
[email protected]
 
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