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A few tips before getting started:
1) Make sure you have ample time; it may take 6 hours or more.
2) Make sure you have all the necessary products to start with.
3) Help (in the form of a family member or friend) can make it go much quicker.

4) Perform all the steps in the shade if possible. If not, I suggest washing the car outside then drying it in the garage and performing all other steps in the garage.
5) Use only 100% made in the USA cotton, all other materials (with the exception of micro fiber) will scratch the clear coat.
6) If you drop any sponge, mitt, towel, don't use it again. It'll just inflict scratches.
7) Always default to the product instructions if they differ from mine.
Basic Detailing Outline

I. THE WASH
When washing the general method to avoid scratches is to use two buckets. One with just water and the other with car wash shampoo. Always rinse your washing tool (brush/mitt/sponge) in the water bucket before going to resoap. Also rinse the car frequently to avoid drying out the soap and leaving soap residue.

Wash first with Dawn. Buy the blue original formula. Use a few squirts in three gallons. This step effectively removes old carnauba wax (not synthetic wax). You will not need to wash with dawn every week, as it is meant to be a twice yearly wash to remove built up wax. Any more frequently, and it can quickly dry your paint out. Rinse immediately to avoid residue buildup.

Follow up (without drying off the water from the dawn wash) with a wash with a regular car shampoo. I like to use higher end car shampoo products because they are very mild, will not strip wax excessively, will often help sheet the water off your car, and contain oils to help keep your clear coat/paint from losing the oils in the paint. Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo, Meguiar's Professional Hi Tech Wash, Meguiar's Gold Class shampoo, and P21s Shampoo are some examples of such good car wash shampoos.
Immediately dry your car.

II. CLAY
Clay your car. Make sure you follow instructions, use enough lubricant, and NEVER drop the clay bar. It will take out the grime, bird feces, water spots, particulate matter that can build up on your paint (before and after claying, stick your hand in a zip lock bag and run it over the surface of your car... you should feel decreased particulate matter on the car after claying). If you do drop the clay bar, use another one and throw that one away. Both Pinnacle and Mother's make great clay bars, but I would have to recommend the Mother's clay bar because of its low cost.

PAINT PREPARATION
Most detailers would agree that this is the most important step of the whole process. Properly done, it should remove grime, heel marks, oxidized paint, and other contaminants while renewing the paint's shine. It provides the basis upon which your shine will glow. At the very least, this step involves using a nonabrasive polish. However, if your paint suffers from severe swirl marks or light scratches, I'd suggest adding an abrasive polish to remove such defects in the paint.

ABRASIVE POLISHING (if necessary)
Apply the polish one panel at a time. Use just enough to cover the panel and work the polish in until a thin haze is left. Use only foam applicators to apply. This step effectively removes many swirl marks or light scratches by removing less than 1mm of your clear coat. If done less than 2 times a year, this will not hurt your paint/clear coat. I can only recommend a few products: 3m Perfect it II (or 3m Finesse it II although more abrasive) and Meguiar's Professional series fine cut cleaner. Always follow up with a nonabrasive polish.

NONABRASIVE POLISH
Same technique as with abrasive polishes. This will strip free all previous wax (carnauba and synthetic) that hinders your true paint color from coming through while helping to remove the residue, film, or very fine scratches that abrasive polishing can leave behind. I recommend Pinnacle paint cleanser, HD Cleanse by Zymol, Meguiar's Professional swirl remover no. 9, Meguiar's Premium Medallion Paint Cleaner.

GLAZE
Again, apply as with A and B. This step will help gloss your paint to bring out more shine while helping to fill in some of the swirl marks or scratches you couldn't get out earlier. I use and recommend only 3m Imperial Hand Glaze for this step.

WAXING
Wax has evolved over the years, and the selection that it has generated can be quite daunting. Simply put, there are really two types of waxes: synthetic and carnauba. Synthetics are often made from polymers or acrylics. The benefits of such a wax is that it can last long, it can withstand greater abuse, and it can lock in the shine that step III has brought you. Its downside is the fact that it tends to give more of a reflective shine (mirror like). While some like this shine, I prefer the deep, rich gloss that carnauba waxes give. Carnauba is a Brazilian wax that is normally rock hard. To make it suitable for cars, companies will often combine chemicals that will raise lower the melting point of the wax, making it easier to apply. A downside to carnauba is that in dry or very hot climates, it will last 4 weeks or at most 6 weeks in less severe climates. If you are like me, I put both on. I first apply the synthetic for the long lasting protection. Then I add the carnauba to give the rich, deep gloss I prefer.

SYNTHETIC WAX
Apply with a foam applicator pad. Apply and remove as stated in the product instructions. Generally, this is the same as the techniques listed in step III: polishing. There is great variability on what people would use here. I use an expensive German acrylic called Klasse that is imported and was made because of German cars' finicky paint. I love it. A very nice shine and it can be layered. I usually add on two layers for extra shine. It also protects from uv rays, acid rain, some small chipping and can help prevent swirl marks somewhat. It also does not yellow. I would also consider Meguiar's polymer no 20. That has been used with success also and is cheaper. Zaino is another, but I will comment on this at the end of the article.

CARNAUBA WAX
Apply similarly to A. Note that this needs to be applied at moderate temperatures. Too cold and it won't settle correctly. Too high, and it doesn't solidify fast enough. Remember, it only lasts for 6 weeks, so I tend to relayer it every six weeks or so. It only takes an hour which is not much time for the great return you get. Products I recommend: hands down best is Pinnacle Souveran. I use this occasionally if I feel my car needs to be pampered. One Grand Blitz is cheaper but very nice! Others include Meguiar's No 26, 3m Show Car Paste, and Zymol Carbon.
 

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Nismo1997 said:
A few tips before getting started:
1) Make sure you have ample time; it may take 6 hours or more.
2) Make sure you have all the necessary products to start with.
3) Help (in the form of a family member or friend) can make it go much quicker.

4) Perform all the steps in the shade if possible. If not, I suggest washing the car outside then drying it in the garage and performing all other steps in the garage.
5) Use only 100% made in the USA cotton, all other materials (with the exception of micro fiber) will scratch the clear coat.
6) If you drop any sponge, mitt, towel, don't use it again. It'll just inflict scratches.
7) Always default to the product instructions if they differ from mine.
Basic Detailing Outline

I. THE WASH
When washing the general method to avoid scratches is to use two buckets. One with just water and the other with car wash shampoo. Always rinse your washing tool (brush/mitt/sponge) in the water bucket before going to resoap. Also rinse the car frequently to avoid drying out the soap and leaving soap residue.

Wash first with Dawn. Buy the blue original formula. Use a few squirts in three gallons. This step effectively removes old carnauba wax (not synthetic wax). You will not need to wash with dawn every week, as it is meant to be a twice yearly wash to remove built up wax. Any more frequently, and it can quickly dry your paint out. Rinse immediately to avoid residue buildup.

Follow up (without drying off the water from the dawn wash) with a wash with a regular car shampoo. I like to use higher end car shampoo products because they are very mild, will not strip wax excessively, will often help sheet the water off your car, and contain oils to help keep your clear coat/paint from losing the oils in the paint. Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo, Meguiar's Professional Hi Tech Wash, Meguiar's Gold Class shampoo, and P21s Shampoo are some examples of such good car wash shampoos.
Immediately dry your car.

II. CLAY
Clay your car. Make sure you follow instructions, use enough lubricant, and NEVER drop the clay bar. It will take out the grime, bird feces, water spots, particulate matter that can build up on your paint (before and after claying, stick your hand in a zip lock bag and run it over the surface of your car... you should feel decreased particulate matter on the car after claying). If you do drop the clay bar, use another one and throw that one away. Both Pinnacle and Mother's make great clay bars, but I would have to recommend the Mother's clay bar because of its low cost.

PAINT PREPARATION
Most detailers would agree that this is the most important step of the whole process. Properly done, it should remove grime, heel marks, oxidized paint, and other contaminants while renewing the paint's shine. It provides the basis upon which your shine will glow. At the very least, this step involves using a nonabrasive polish. However, if your paint suffers from severe swirl marks or light scratches, I'd suggest adding an abrasive polish to remove such defects in the paint.

ABRASIVE POLISHING (if necessary)
Apply the polish one panel at a time. Use just enough to cover the panel and work the polish in until a thin haze is left. Use only foam applicators to apply. This step effectively removes many swirl marks or light scratches by removing less than 1mm of your clear coat. If done less than 2 times a year, this will not hurt your paint/clear coat. I can only recommend a few products: 3m Perfect it II (or 3m Finesse it II although more abrasive) and Meguiar's Professional series fine cut cleaner. Always follow up with a nonabrasive polish.

NONABRASIVE POLISH
Same technique as with abrasive polishes. This will strip free all previous wax (carnauba and synthetic) that hinders your true paint color from coming through while helping to remove the residue, film, or very fine scratches that abrasive polishing can leave behind. I recommend Pinnacle paint cleanser, HD Cleanse by Zymol, Meguiar's Professional swirl remover no. 9, Meguiar's Premium Medallion Paint Cleaner.

GLAZE
Again, apply as with A and B. This step will help gloss your paint to bring out more shine while helping to fill in some of the swirl marks or scratches you couldn't get out earlier. I use and recommend only 3m Imperial Hand Glaze for this step.

WAXING
Wax has evolved over the years, and the selection that it has generated can be quite daunting. Simply put, there are really two types of waxes: synthetic and carnauba. Synthetics are often made from polymers or acrylics. The benefits of such a wax is that it can last long, it can withstand greater abuse, and it can lock in the shine that step III has brought you. Its downside is the fact that it tends to give more of a reflective shine (mirror like). While some like this shine, I prefer the deep, rich gloss that carnauba waxes give. Carnauba is a Brazilian wax that is normally rock hard. To make it suitable for cars, companies will often combine chemicals that will raise lower the melting point of the wax, making it easier to apply. A downside to carnauba is that in dry or very hot climates, it will last 4 weeks or at most 6 weeks in less severe climates. If you are like me, I put both on. I first apply the synthetic for the long lasting protection. Then I add the carnauba to give the rich, deep gloss I prefer.

SYNTHETIC WAX
Apply with a foam applicator pad. Apply and remove as stated in the product instructions. Generally, this is the same as the techniques listed in step III: polishing. There is great variability on what people would use here. I use an expensive German acrylic called Klasse that is imported and was made because of German cars' finicky paint. I love it. A very nice shine and it can be layered. I usually add on two layers for extra shine. It also protects from uv rays, acid rain, some small chipping and can help prevent swirl marks somewhat. It also does not yellow. I would also consider Meguiar's polymer no 20. That has been used with success also and is cheaper. Zaino is another, but I will comment on this at the end of the article.

CARNAUBA WAX
Apply similarly to A. Note that this needs to be applied at moderate temperatures. Too cold and it won't settle correctly. Too high, and it doesn't solidify fast enough. Remember, it only lasts for 6 weeks, so I tend to relayer it every six weeks or so. It only takes an hour which is not much time for the great return you get. Products I recommend: hands down best is Pinnacle Souveran. I use this occasionally if I feel my car needs to be pampered. One Grand Blitz is cheaper but very nice! Others include Meguiar's No 26, 3m Show Car Paste, and Zymol Carbon.
I was just woundering, when you listed this did you mean do it in this order. Like first, Dawn wash then shampoo, then Clay then the abrasive polish, then nonabreasive and so on. Is this the correct order to making your car nice and shiny? If not what is the right order
 

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Thumbs up for Blitz Wax for me as well. Have used this brand for several years. My F150 (Black) was still like a mirror after 5 years -- no garage! -- and reasonably regular care. I used the Cali Duster most evenings. Wax Shoppe detailer took care of the between-wash little dusties and marks.

Erazer also makes a great clay.
 

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A lot of people wash again after clay bar just to get the left over clay off the vehicle. I guess its a matter of personal preference but i always do it. I've used both Mothers clay bar and four star and both work well.
 

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I would strike the use of dish detergent on your cars' finish. Dish detergent is pretty strong. It used to be that the suggestion of dish soap was a mild soap, like Ivory, but it was discovered that even mild dish soaps harm auto finishes. I know you suggest only once or twice per year but I still wouldn't. I would get a soap made for cleaning car finishes.
 

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well, If you're using products like Klasse, or other Paint Sealants, I WOULD recommend using Dawn, JUST to make sure you get all of the old wax/residue/grease/etc. off of the paint before applying, since these chemicals will NOT bond to waxes (carnubas or otherwise). I'll make a writeup later to expand upon this one; this writeup is A+!
 

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I use denatured alcohol on a towel.... but be sure not to rub at all just smoothly go over the sap until it is all gone... and dont be affraid to use as much alcohol on the towel as you want
 

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I use denatured alcohol on a towel.... but be sure not to rub at all just smoothly go over the sap until it is all gone... and dont be affraid to use as much alcohol on the towel as you want
denatured alcohol

interesting

thanks

is there another name for this alcohol ?

methal hydrate for example ?
 

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Question

Hey There,
I'm new to this forum and have been reading your suggestions. Such good information to follow. My question is for quick wash and wax jobs what would you recommend? I had a friend recommend the glosser? Any thoughts. Thanks for your help!
 

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Hi, I was absent for a long time but I just want to share my ideas in caring for our car. One important thing that we must know in taking care of it , is not merely cleaning the interior and exterior only but to check its necessary parts like brakes, oil, tires and others especially before travelling. This is very important for our own safety and protection while we are on the road.
 

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Keeping The Body Nice And Shiny

Hi, I think, everything has been suggested here in taking care of our car's outside appearance. Anyway, one thing , to get your car really clean and to reassure that everything is okay, the best is to go to a car wash or a gasoline station for maintenance especially if you are too busy to have it done.:)
 
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