First of all i would like to thank michealb21 from 3.8mustang for letting me use this write up. this write up is NOT mine but i asked him if i could use it and he gave me his permission.
A Word About Detailing
First of all I would like to say thank you for reading this. Second, I am not responsible for any damage you may cause to your car while following my guide. With that being said, I’d like to talk about detailing for a moment.
First we need to establish why it is a good idea to detail your car. The simple answer is money. Your car is an investment, one that you want to take care of. You will get more for your car when you go to sell it if it is in good condition. Other reasons, of course, include your own personal satisfaction, obsessive compulsive disorder and a myriad of other subjective reasons. In my mind, however, the biggest thing is protecting what you have worked so hard to earn.
There are many products on the market that claim to do wondrous things. Unfortunately for us, not many of them come through on their claims. Many companies put more effort into designing a cool looking package then they do creating a good product. It is my belief that a lot of the show cars shown on these packages have never seen the product being sold. With that said, I hope to show you guys products that follow through with their claims, instead of tricking you into believing your car will look like a show room Ferrari.
In my guide, I will be mostly covering my two favorite brands: Meguiars and Zaino. I am in no way, shape or form saying that other products such as Blackfire, Klasse, 3M and so on are no good. I am just going with the products I use and am familiar with.
Without a doubt, “did you just wash your car?” is the most common question when someone is awe inspired by your awesome shine. Consequently, “you need to wash your car” is the most common insult when it comes to car care. For this reason, I’m going to put a lot of emphasis on the way you wash your car and what products.
For starters, make sure you have all of your supplies ready to go. Time is of the essence when you are washing your car, especially if you aren’t washing it in the shade. Having your towels, wash mitts, leaf blower and everything else hooked up and ready to go will help your washing and drying process go much smoother, I’ll get to the reasoning behind this later.
It is an absolute must to have two wash mitts (100% sheepskin wash mitts only), one for wheels and your exhaust pipes and the other for the paint/glass and so on. Do not ever use your mitt for wheels on your paint, unless you want to create an ice skating rink.
It is also a good idea to have two buckets, one for your wheel mitt and the other for your paint. Please heed my advice on this, do not use the same mixture for both wheels/tires and the rest of the car.
The first thing you need to do is identify just how dirty your car is. Try to think of it in the following terms: dusty, dirty, pigsty.
These are the products I prescribe to use depending on how you rate your cars condition:
Dusty – Meguiars #00, Zaino Z7
Dirty – Meguiars NXT Wash, Zaino Z7
Pigsty – Meguiars #62
Complete Make Over – Dawn Soap
Use Dawn Soap only when you plan on redoing your car completely. You only need to use Dawn once and only on that particular occasion, at least until you want to redo your car entirely again.
Use one of the washes I have suggested once you have identified just how dirty your car is, or isn’t.
Follow the directions on the bottle, the company that manufacturers these products knows best. If it says three capfuls to one gallon of water, then do it that way.
Always fill your clean wash bucket with hot water, this will active more suds and hot water cleans much more efficiently then cold. You can use cold water to rinse, as most of us don’t have the luxury of having a hose that sprays hot.
It may sound like common sense, but put the product in your bucket first, then fill with hot water from the bottom up. Many people complain about being too sudsy and not enough water, the reason for this is because they filled it from the top up, which just creates more suds. Filling from the bottom or the middle will get you a nice blend of water to suds. Again, make sure your bucket is clean, even if that means rinsing it out.
You now have all your supplies out and ready to go. The first thing you should do is wet the wheels, tires and wheel wells. Then, using your wash mitt designated for these areas, start with your rims. Scrub them thoroughly to get rid of any brake dust. Make sure you get behind the spokes. Rinse them thoroughly when finished. Then move to the tires, not only should you get the side walls, but you should also get the tread. In other words, wash the entire tire. Again, rinse very thoroughly. Then move onto the wheel wells. Same deal, make sure you get every inch of the wheel well, as they are focal points for a car believe it or not. Rinse them out when finished. Using this same mitt, scrub your exhaust pipes as well and rinse. You especially want to do this if you have a nice dual exhaust setup and you want to keep the tips shiny.
Now that your wheels, tires and wheel wells are nice and clean, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Open your doors and trunk, using a spray bottle (or barley pulling the trigger on the hose) spray down the water catcher in the trunk, door jams and door sills. Take your wash mitt for paint and scrub them, and rinse. Take a microfiber towel and quickly run it through to dry the water. Door jams and so on are focal points to your car, and if you ever want to be in a car show, they have to be clean. You will lose major points over it.
Wet the entire car with your hose. Then grab your wash mitt and bucket that you have designated for the paint and begin at the top. Use a back and forth motion, avoid going in circles. You will not be as likely to get swirling in your paint this way. Use medium pressure while scrubbing, you may need to apply more if you come over a tough spot. Remember to keep your mitt well lubricated (meaning dunk it in the bucket every so often).
Work your way down to the bottom of the car. I personally like to divide my car up into sections. In my particular case, I wash the roof and all the glass and then rinse. Then I move onto the trunk lid, spoiler and rear bumper. Rinse that, then the entire side up to the end of the door, rinse. Then finish off with the hood, front bumper and quarter panels, and of course rinse. Find a method that works for you, I think that you will find that dividing it into sections will be best for you. This also helps you keep in mind where you have washed and what you still have to do.
Rinse the entire car again, just to make sure you got all of the suds. This process should not have taken you very long, especially if your car was not that dirty. Remember, time is of the essence when you wash, especially if your weather is hot out or you are washing in the sun (which I recommend against).
Quick tip – if you find your wash soap dying, grab your hose and shoot a jet into it, that should revitalize the suds. If not, you may need to add more wash to the mixture.
So let us recap:
-Have all supplies ready
-Supplies include your drying utensils (microfibers, terry cloths, leaf blower and so on), two 100% sheepskin wash mitts, two wash buckets containing your wash filled with hot water and of course your hose.
-Wet your wheels, tires, wheel wells and exhaust pipes with your hose.
-Wash your wheels, tires, wheel wells and exhaust pipes (and any other incredibly dirty area that is not paint) first. Rinse them thoroughly.
-Switch to your other mitt designated for paint.
Wet your door jams, door sills and the water catcher in the trunk, scrub and rinse.
-Wet the entire car.
-Wash from top to bottom, dividing the car into sections, rinsing each section as you go.
-Rinse entire car again.
I hope that clears up any problems regarding washing your car.
Drying is something everyone complains about. No body likes to do it, most feel it takes too long. Hopefully I can convince everyone the importance of this step.
If you were smart, which I assume you are, you would have had all your drying supplies ready to go so that when you finished washing and rinsing, you would be ready to dry the car right away.
The first thing you should do is grab your leaf blower (if you have one) and blow all the water off. The nice thing about having a very well waxed/sealed car is water beads and just goes flying off the car when the leaf blower turns on. It really is a nice thing that makes drying even easier.
Much like washing, you want to start from the top. If you have the advantage of having a leaf blower, make sure you get all the cracks and crevices of your car as water likes to try to hide in them. Work your way down until the car has most of the water off it.
Also use your leaf blower to blow all the water out of your rims, tires and wheel wells. This is extremely useful as having dry tires and so on will not splatter water all over your car the second it moves more than a mile an hour.
Safety comes first, when using a leaf blower (or any other electronic) in a wet area make absolutely sure you have a GFI attached to the plug-in. A GFI will kick the power off instead of having that power routed into your body and killing you.
Now switch to your microfibers/terry cloths/chamois to get any other water. I personally recommend PakShak microfibers (more information on them later).
Right now you may be saying, “Michael, I don’t have a leaf blower! What do I do?” My advice would be to use the Absorber, it is basically a huge chamois. Just remember to make sure it is absolutely clean! Do not put a dirty towel or chamois on your paint, even if you dropped it for just a second. Get a new one in the event of that happening, and promptly wash the one you dropped. You should always have extras of towels and chamois.
Do not let your car air dry, this is a fast way to get water spots. If water spots are left on the paint too long, they can become etched into the paint and take a lot of extra work to get out and sometimes even professional assistance.
One good trick to make sure you get all the water off your car is to open your doors, hood and trunk and slam them shut. Not hard enough to break anything, but hard enough to rattle water out of its hiding spots. If you have a hood scoop on your car, then this is a must if you don’t have a leaf blower.
Here is the inevitable scenario: “I washed and dried my car as fast as I can, and I still got water spots. What do I do?” To this I will share a valuable secret, one that I discovered pretty much on accident.
Have you ever heard the expression, “The best way to cure a hang over is to drink more?” By now you are thinking, “you must have been drunk while writing this” but the truth is the same idea applies to car detailing. You have water spots, add more water! Grab your PakShak microfiber towel, dip a small part of it in clean water and rub at the fresh water spots (this will not work on old water spots). Simply rub them away and use the dry part of the towel to remove the water and before you know it, your fresh water spots are gone! If for whatever reason they refuse to leave, dip part of the towel in some clean soapy water (car washing soap only) and they will certainly leave. I call this trick the “just add water” method.
PakShak towels will not scratch your surface, ever. Unless they have dirt in them, in which case it is your own fault. That is why you can perform the “just add water” trick safely without problems if you are using a PakShak towel. I do not recommend doing this with any other towel. Yet another good reason to buy a few from PakShak.
Now for the recap:
-Dry immediately with your leaf blower, if you do not have a leaf blower, use your absorber or microfiber towels. I’m not big on terry towels, but you can also use them. Leaf blower is hands down the best drying tool known to man.
-After your use your leaf blower, grab your microfibers, chamois or terry towels and clean up the remaining water.
-Open and shut your hood, trunk and doors a few time to knock out any hiding water.
-Perform my “just add water” trick that I recently outlined if you have any fresh water spots.
-Make sure your tires are dry before you start driving anywhere, as they will kick water and possibly dirt and mud on your freshly washed and dried car.
-If at any point in time you drop a towel/chamois, pick up a new one and wash the one you dropped. Do not use a dirty towel on your car ever.
-Do not let it air dry, ever.
Surface Prep Part 1 – Clay Bar
Before I get into the clay bar step, I’d like to make it clear to everyone the importance of surface prep. It does not matter how good your wax or sealant is, if your surface is flawed, contaminated, oxidized or scratched up you will not have a good looking finish. It is absolutely vital to have an excellent surface.
Now onto the clay! It is asked all the time, “What is a clay bar? Why do I need to use it?” The truth is your car is nailed day after day by air born contaminants that get stuck in the clear, so small you can’t see them. Yet these contaminants are big enough to cause major damage. When you want to apply something like a wax over your clear, you need to make sure your surface is clean. Otherwise, you are just sealing all these terrible things in and damaging your car in the long run.
So to answer those questions, a clay bar is a piece of clay designed to remove these contaminants from your surface. For a clever analogy, clay is to your car as an epilator is to hair. In other words, it pulls it out, leaving the surface smooth as glass. I already explained earlier the damage you can do by not claying before you wax your car.
Remember, this does not mean every time you apply a layer of wax you need to clay. Quite on the contrary, clay removes wax as well. You only need to do this step one time (with possible spot jobs in the future), as it is the first step to your awesome surface.
There are many good brands of clay, my favorite are Meguiars Overspray (C-2000) and Zaino’s Z18 clay bar. The Meguiars clay is a bit more aggressive and leaves more residue, where as the Zaino bar is virtually residue free. The Zaino bar is also easier to mold, but either bar you choose will yield excellent results.
While on the subject of brands, Mothers and Clay Magic also make good ones, or so I have heard. I have never used them, but I hear a lot of good things about them as they are both popular products.
Anyhow, the key to a good clay job is the lubrication (that felt really odd to type, sorry). It is a good idea to spray the clay with your lube, as well as the surface. Remember, you are claying after you have washed and dried.
Lets talk lubrication for a moment, for the Meguiars C-2000 bar, use Meguiars #34 Final Inspection for lubricant. For Zaino, throw a capful of Z7 Car Wash Concentrate into a spray bottle and fill the rest up with water and shake it. This will provide adequate lube for the Zaino bar.
How much lube do you use? In the simplest terms, enough to make the clay glide over the surface, but not so much that it can’t detect any contaminants and yank them out. Usually one spray to the surface to every two or three sprays to the bar will be fine.
Run the lubed clay over the lubed surface, if you encounter any rough spots, you’ll know where to spend extra time on.
As you are going over the car, keep an eye out for defects in the paint, extremely stubborn spots and scratches. Write them down if you need to, you want to come back to these spots later when you get to using abrasives (providing you are using Meguiars).
Remove the residue and lube with a microfiber towel. Feel the surface, it should feel like glass. If it does, then you will know that area is clear. Another good test is if it is squeaky clean, literally. Rubbing your finger tip against it (no nail), should create a squeak noise, which means you are good to go.
Do this process over the entire car. One very important part of claying is to make sure you knead (or mold) the clay every so often. Take a look at the clay every so often, if you see any dirt in it, mush it up real good so you reveal a clean side.
To get the most out of your clay, cut the bar into about three to four pieces. Each piece can do one car, one time. Discard the bar after you are done.
Once your surface is squeaky clean everywhere, you will be ready to start taking care of any scratches and swirls in your surface.
-My favorite clay brands are Meguiars C-2000 (from the Professional Series) and Zaino Z18. Mothers and Clay Magic are supposedly good brands; don’t be afraid to try them out.
-Lubricate the bar and the surface with Meguiars #34 or Z7 Car Wash Concentrate as needed. Just don’t use too much or too little, happy mediums are important here.
-Remove the residue and lube with a microfiber towel.
-Knead, mold or mush the clay up as needed. If you see dirt in it, then you will know that you need to reveal a clean side.
-Write down defects, stubborn spots and scratches as you go, you will be coming back to them later.
-Your surface should feel smooth as glass, if it isn’t, then you missed a spot. Rub your finger tips across the surface with a little bit of force, if the paint squeaks, then it is clean. If not, then it might need some more work.
-You will only need to do this process once, not every time you wax.
Surface Prep Part 2 – Polishing
First thing is first, we need to define the term “polishing.” There is no industry standard for the term “polish.” If you are talking polish in terms of Zaino, it is going to refer to a non-abrasive filler or a polymer sealant. If you are talking in terms of Meguiars, it is going to mean an abrasive designed to remove flaws from the paint, rather then filling them in. I see it all the time, people saying they polished their car when they really don’t understand what they are saying.
For all intents and purposes, I am merely going to define polishing as the step prior to your final layer(s) of sealant.
It is not a good idea to leave your paint unprotected for very long. Once you finish claying, you’ve got to move into the next step as soon as possible.
You have just finished claying your car and it looks great. The paint is smooth as glass, but chances are it lacks luster, and worst of all, it is completely open to the elements. At this point in time, your paint is at its most vulnerable point. On the same token, it is also at its cleanest, purest and ready to be worked on.
Now let us discuss just what polish we want to use. The two I am going to discuss are Zaino products and Meguiars Professional Series products.
But first, the question is “what one should I pick?” Here are the differences:
-Can be applied in sun.
-Application is by hand.
-Takes less than half an ounce of polish to do an entire layer.
-Requires more time to dry.
-Hard, glass like shine.
-Abrasives remove scratches completely.
-Application is best by Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher.
-Requires less time to dry.
-You will go through more of the bottle.
-Deep and soft shine.
Either way you are a winner, the choice is up to you.
-Fillers level your paint, giving it an even appearance although in reality the scratches are still there.
-Abrasives are designed to remove the scratches completely.
-There is no industry standard for the term polish. I simply define it here as being the step you do before the sealant.
-After you have clayed, your paint is at its most vulnerable, as well as its cleanest. Don’t leave it vulnerable very long.
-Zaino gives a harder shine while Meguiars gives a softer shine, it just depends on your preference. Zaino is also more durable, but that isn’t to say Meguiars isn’t durable.
Polishing with Zaino Products
If you have chosen to go the Zaino route, then you are going to want to give your car a layer of Z5 Swirl Remover. I strongly suggest getting the cure accelerator for your Zaino products, so you don’t have to use Z1.
Zaino products are very easy to apply by hand, and less than half an ounce can put an entire layer on the car. Here is the trick to do that: grab a spray bottle that just has water in it and mist your applicator pad (use the Zaino pads only). Then put a dab on the pad and mist it again.
Then apply it to the car and work it in. You will find that it stretches out quite a distance for only using a small dab of the substance. Re-dab as needed and re-mist as needed.
You will know the Z5 has gone to work because the area you applied will be a bit hazy, indicating that you did in fact get the polish on it. Let it sit for half an hour (this is going under the assumption your weather is at least 60 degrees and you are using the cure accelerator).
Zaino can be applied in the sun, so if you feel like working on your tan then by all means move your car into the sun. Zaino can also be applied in extreme heat. If your weather is below 60 degrees it may take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours if you are using the cure accelerator.
Once the wait is over, simply grab your PakShak towel and remove it. It will come off very easily and leave behind a nice and even shine to your paint. The product fills in swirls, so it essentially “levels” your paint, effectively hiding swirls.
Apply another layer if you like. The great thing about Zaino Z5 and Z2 is they can be used one after the other as many times as you like. It is advised you finish with Z2, though. In other words you can go Z5, Z5, Z5, Z2, Z2, Z5, Z2 or any other combination you want to do, just make sure Z2 is the last one. You can also throw Z6 in the mix, but we will get to all that later. Some people have 50 plus layers of Zaino on their car, and it shows.
You are now ready to apply the sealant, which in this case would be Z2 Show Car Polish. But first, a look at your options with The Meguiars Professional Series.
-Z5 is your weapon of choice from Zaino, it is an excellent filler.
-The nice thing about Z5 is you can always apply it anytime you want, as long as you have washed your car first to remove any loose dirt and grime.
-Zaino can be applied in direct sunlight without problem.
-Misting your pad with a spray bottle will help spread the product much more evenly, and enable you to use less than half an ounce of the product to do the entire car.
-Always use the cure accelerator to save time. It is well worth it.
Polishing with Meguiars Professional Series Products
Unlike Zaino, we do not want to apply in sunlight. Get your car into a shaded area or at least out of direct sunlight.
Hands down, the best way to get results out of the products I am going to mention (and depending on the product, the only way) is to use a Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher equipped with a yellow cutting pad (more info on products later). Using one will take less time, better results and less “layers.”
The reason I quoted the word “layers” was to put emphasis on the word because I used it for lack of a better term. These products, when removed, are gone. They go in, do their job, and leave. Just an FYI for you all.
Here are the products you can safely use by hand:
#9 Swirl Remover 2.0
#82 Swirl Free Polish
#97 Medallion Premium Paint Cleaner
The following need at least a Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher:
#2 Fine Cut Cleaner
#83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish
A word about the #2 Fine Cut Cleaner. The directions say rotary only. I have discovered this to be not so true. I did some research and found that back when they first made the product, a dual action polisher was all you needed. Nothing has changed as far as I know. I’ve had no problems using it with my dual action polisher. It is definitely not for hand, though.
Regardless of if you are applying by hand or by machine, make sure you work the product in very well. Almost to a point of where you can’t even see it anymore. You want to break the abrasives down as much as possible.
Much like washing your car, you want to separate your car into sections while working on it. For example, do your roof thoroughly, wipe it off with your clean microfiber towel and then move to another section. It just helps you keep in mind where you have been instead of jumping all over the place.
Out of the products I have recommended, here is what I strongly recommend you do:
Remember in the clay bar section when I told you to write down or remember defects and what not? Well, the following is going to tell you why:
Grab your #83 or #2 with your DAP and get to work on those areas, this is called “spot work.” You do not need to use such abrasive products over the entire car. The key to abrasives is to use the least abrasive product possible, but abrasive enough to get the desired results. This ensures safety. Once you have taken care of your spot work, it is time to move onto the entire car (including the spots you just did).
I suggest using #9 next. Go over the entire car, slowly but surely. Make sure you work the product in nicely, and remove it just as well. Change your towel as needed. Your cars paint should feel even more squeaky clean. Your surface should also look a lot smoother to the eye, without so many scratches or swirls.
Now switch to #82 and do the same process. Your surface should have more depth to it now, as #82 tends to remove any haze the #9 may have created.
You are now ready to seal the deal!
-These products should be applied by Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher with a yellow cutting pad rather then by hand.
-#9, #82 and #97 can be applied safely by hand, if you so choose.
-#2 and #83 cannot be applied safely by hand, don’t get any bright ideas.
-Do spot work over stubborn areas and paint defects with #2 or #83. Work the products in very thoroughly with your DAP.
-Go over the entire car thoroughly with #9, separating the car into sections. Remove the product before switching to another section.
-Same deal as above, just use #82 to give the paint some depth and to remove some of the haze that may have been created.
Everybody’s favorite step, and with good reason! People always ask, “man that is a shiny car did you wax it or something?” and other comments. However, you have to remember that the surface prep you just did is what is going to give you that good shine. No surface prep means no shine.
Your surface prep is done and your car is probably looking better than ever, especially if this is your first time through. Now you are ready to seal the deal with your Zaino or Meguiars products.
Sealing with Zaino
So you have just used your Z5 and the cars surface is smooth and the paint looks deep. Now you want to take it to the next level and apply one of the most durable products known to man, Z2.
Z2, much like Z5, only needs a little under half an ounce to give the car a layer. Again, use the cure accelerator.
Your method of application is the exact same, mist the Zaino pad, dab the product on it, and mist again. Apply to one section and let it sit. Then move onto the next. After you finish and the car still has the product all over it, let it sit for about half an hour. There is no such thing as waiting too long with Zaino, it can sit for days and come off like butter if you want.
The cure accelerator eliminates the need to wait days, though. Remove it with your PakShak towel to reveal a very superior shine and an incredibly slick surface. Pretty amazing given the ultra thin layer you put on, huh?
Apply another layer of Z5 or Z2 if you want. You can even put Z6 on if you want. Z6 is just a spray that you remove immediately after spraying on the car. Don’t let it dry.
Remember, no matter what you do, Z2 should always be the last layer applied. But you can always put on a layer of Z5, just put the Z2 on over it after you finish going through the process.
-Application is the exact same as Z5.
-Z5 and Z2 are interchangeable and can be applied in any order you wish, just make sure Z2 is the last layer (or top layer) applied.
-Congratulations, you have just applied the most durable paint protection system ever made.
Sealing with Meguiars
You are going to be doing this by machine as well. However, these products can all be applied by hand if you don’t want to invest in a machine (although it really pays for itself).
First you are going to be adding a layer of glaze to your car, this will really make your sealant shine. When using a dual action polisher, you want a white foam pad to apply with.
#7 Show Car Glaze
#81 Hand Polish
#7 is good all around, #81 tends to be best on dark paints.
You want to apply a thin layer of whatever product you choose. Let the product haze before you remove it. Don’t let it sit too long, or it will take a lot of effort to remove. After you remove it, your paint should look very deep, especially if you have a dark paint. The surface will no longer squeak either; it will be very oily and smooth.
Now that the glaze is done, it is time for the sealant! Use a grey pad with your DAP.
Here are your choices:
#20 Polymer Sealant
#26 Hi-Tech Yellow Wax
#98 Medallion Premium Paint Protection
NXT Tech Wax
NXT is in the list with good reason, although it isn’t part of the Professional Series, it is still a great product. Like Zaino, it has a good swirl filling capability.
Apply the same way you did the glaze (by hand or machine), letting the products haze and removing with your clean microfiber towel.
Out of all the products listed, I like #26 the best. The depth of it is amazing and the surface is unbelievably slick after you apply it. It isn’t as durable as the #98, though. #20 is great on silvers and whites. NXT is good for pretty much any color.
-Glaze first with #7 or #81, #81 is best for dark paints. These products use white foam pads on a DAP.
-All of the sealants (26, 20, 98 and NXT) use grey pads on the DAP.
-Seal with #26 for a deep and soft shine.
-Seal with #20 if you have a lighter colored car.
-Seal with #98 if you want pretty good depth and a lot of durability.
-Seal with NXT for pretty much any color, it is good all around product.
Your paint should now feel slick and look excellent regardless of which product you chose. Congratulations on making it through such a tiring process! Now all you have to do is maintain it!
Maintaining – Zaino
Maintenance with Zaino is very easy. Regular washes with the Z7 Car Wash Concentrate and a thorough drying job are all you need to do. Water beads off the car very nicely with Zaino products, which makes drying that much easier. The second you turn on your leaf blower, the water scatters like water bugs and it is dry before you know it.
After you wash it, use the Z6 Ultra Clean Gloss Enhancer if you like. It is often called “slickness in a bottle” for obvious reasons. You don’t have to put Z2 over it, although you can if you want.
Simply spray the Z6 on and wipe it off right away. If some dries, simply re-spray and wipe and it will be gone.
Maintaining with Zaino is that simple!
-Wash regularly with Z7 Car Wash Concentrate.
-Apply Z6 Ultra Clean Gloss Enhancer and remove.
Maintaining – Meguiars
Much like Zaino, Meguiars makes water bead very easily. Regular washes with #00 Hi-Tech Car Wash or NXT Car Wash are going to give you excellent results. Meguiars also offers other alternatives to washing your car everytime you want to see it clean.
You can use either Meguiars Quik Detailer or #34 Final Inspection if your car is only dusty. If you have any dirt caked on, then you are going to want to wash it. Otherwise, you can use one of these two products with one of your microfiber towels to take care of it. You might find yourself doing this several times in a day, as the more you do it, the more obsessive you become.
-Regular washes with #00 or NXT Car Wash are a good way to do it.
-Meguiars Quik Detailer or #34 will also work well if the car is only dusty, not dirty. Dusty includes things like pollen; it does not include mud or grime.
Make Over – In Simple Order
Some of you may be feeling “that is too much to read!” or “cliff notes!” So I will lay it out like this for you:
Meguiars Professional Series Route:
-Spot work with #2 or #83 (yellow pad, DAP only for this step)
-#9 (yellow pad or by hand)
-#82 (yellow pad or by hand)
-#7 or #81 (white pad or by hand)
-#20, #26, #98 or NXT (grey pad or by hand)
Zaino Route (all by hand):
If your glass has rain spots etched into the paint then your prayers have been answered. Zaino Z12 is one of my favorite products, ever. This stuff cleans glass better than anything I have ever seen. I have not found one problem with my glass that product could not remove.
It even cleaned up my dads 1964 Corvette window very nicely. This stuff is the real deal.
All you need to do is put a dab of it on an applicator pad or a towel and work the product into the glass. You’ll see the spots disappear before your very eyes. Let the product haze and then remove it with a clean towel.
This product can also help remove small scratches in the glass, it is that good.
You also only need to do this process once, after that, a good product like Stoners Invisible Glass or Sprayway Glass Cleaner will be all you need to maintain it. Of course you can always use the Zaino Z12 again if you find a spot the regular stuff won’t remove.
When using a product like Stoners or Sprayway, it is not a bad idea to use newspaper to remove it. Yes, newspaper. The only problem is you can get ink from the paper on your hands, so wash them before doing anything else. This works better than a towel, as towels tend to leave lint on your glass. Paper towels can be used as well, but newspaper is still the best.
Use Zaino Z12 on your side mirrors as well. They come out very nicely.
-Zaino Z12 is the best glass cleaner I’ve ever used. It will remove any rain spot or stain you have.
-It can also help with scratches, although if they are too deep it can’t do anything about it.
-Apply the Z12 with an applicator pad or a towel, let it haze and remove with a clean part of the towel.
-Maintain it with regular glass cleaner like Stoners or Sprayway. Use newspaper instead of towels when using your regular glass cleaner. Paper towels are also okay, but newspaper is best.
-If you use newspaper, wash your hands before touching anything else.
-Z12 your side mirrors.
Trim and Exterior Plastics
A lot of us have white residue from the times we have waxed and accidentally got it on our trim. There are a few ways to go about fixing this problem.
The first is to get one of those white office erasers. For one reason or another, it is able to remove the residue. I have also heard peanut butter does the trick, but I’ve never tried that myself.
Zaino Z14 contains mild abrasives that will also get rid of the white residue and clean your trim and plastics. This can be used on any of your plastics. Simply follow the directions on the bottle and you’re set.
After you use Zaino, you can add more shine to your trim and plastics by applying Meguiars NXT Tech Protectant to it. Between the two products, your trim should come out looking great!
It isn’t a bad idea to use all three of these methods on the same piece of trim, in the order I listed them.
If you have a honey comb grille or any other outside plastics (such as the mirror casings and weather stripping), Mothers Back-To-Black is a great product to use. Apply it with a small paint brush if you can.
-White officer erasers can remove white residue from your trim.
-Zaino Z14 is a good product for this as well.
-Follow with NXT Tech Protectant for more shine.
-The three methods can be used together for best results.
-Other plastics, such as your grille, look great when you use Mothers Back-To-Black on them, I like to apply it with a small paint brush.
Tire Dressing, Wheel Polish and Wheel Well Detailing
So now you have your paint looking amazing, your glass clean and your plastics shiny. However, your tires look stale, your wheels dull and your wheel wells are ruining the appearance of the car. There are a number of ways you can go about getting these areas up to par.
First we will discuss the tire dressing. Your tires should be clean from when you washed, especially the side walls. Only apply dressing to the side wall.
My favorite tire dressing is Zaino Z16 Perfect Tire Gloss. The reason I like it, is because it isn’t too shiny. I’ve never been a fan of overly glossy tires, just nice black ones with a dull shine. This product delivers on my particular needs.
If you want a shiny tire, then try this: get some Meguiars #40, spray it on a cloth, apply and remove. Then get some Meguiars Hot Shine Tire Spray and spray evenly over it. Let it sit for a few and then remove. Your tires should be very shiny.
Avoid products like Armor All (Harms-It-All). They will choke the life out of anything you put it on, the silicones dry it out making it thirst for more. If you switch products, it goes into shock and cracks. Armor All is heroin for your car.
Now onto polishing your wheels, my favorite polish is Meguiars #28 All Metal Polish. This stuff gives such a great shine and not to mention the smell of it is awesome. You only need a dab as a little bit goes a long way. Simply apply it with a clean cloth and remove it. Try to get it everywhere you can, including behind the spokes and be sure to get the lip of the rim. Your wheels should be clean when you do this.
For your wheel wells, I have found that Mothers Back-To-Black works very well. You can put some of it in a spray bottle, fill with hot water and shake it up to create a spray out of it. Or just apply it straight out of the bottle. Simply apply and remove, your wheel wells should, at the very least, look black and no longer sticking out like a sore thumb.
-For a black and dull tire, use Zaino Z16 Perfect Tire Gloss.
-For a black and shiny tire, use Meguiars #40 followed by Meguiars Hot Shine Tire Spray.
-Polish your wheels with Meguiars #28 All Metal Polish.
-Use Mothers Back-To-Black on your wheel wells.
Now that the outside of your car is completely done, you are ready to work on the interior. You can also do your interior before your exterior if you like, but the way I do my car it doesn’t matter either way.
The first thing you are going to want to do is clean your interior glass. Use a non-ammonia based cleaner. Your glass shouldn’t have any real problems on the inside that your average cleaner can’t handle, so there shouldn’t be a need for the Zaino Z12. Use newspaper again, just be careful to not touch your seats or anything like that with ink on your hands.
Be sure to clean the glass on your rearview mirror as well.
Next step for your interior is all the plastics. If you have any stains in them that won’t come out, use Zaino Z14 Plastic Magic to get them out.
After you do that, it all comes down to your nose. Do you like a sweeter smell or a “new car” smell? Meguiars NXT Tech Protectant offers a nice sweet smell that isn’t noxious at all. Meguiars #40 offers a more “classy” and new car smell. Either way, it will clean and protect your interior plastics very nicely. Don’t forget to get the plastics that cover your gauge cluster! They also won’t dry out your plastics or make them dependent on the product, such as Harms-It-All.
Take a Q-Tip and clean out your heater vents, as dust and dirt seems to settle in them. Also be sure to pull off your AC control knobs and clean them up, and behind them if needed.
Next, vacuum your carpets and seats. If you have any stains, use Meguiars Heavy Duty Carpet Cleaner or Blue Corral Dri-Clean to lift them out. If they are horrible stains, they may require an actual dry cleaning or carpet cleaning.
If you have leather seats, you have two good options: Zaino Z9 & Z10 or Meguiars #96 Medallion Premium Leather Care.
If you are using Zaino, clean your leather with Z9 first, then apply the Z10. Z10 will soften it up and make it feel brand new.
For Meguiars, apply the #96 over a clean seat and remove.
Either way, your leather should look, feel and smell brand new. We all love the smell of new leather and you can have it at your disposal with these products.
Do all this and you will have a very comfortable interior, one of which you will not feel embarrassed to sit in or go out in a date in.
Maintain your interior by simply pulling out your carpet mats and shaking them out. Clean the glass and plastics as necessary. Using interior wipes from Meguiars isn’t a bad idea.
-Clean interior glass with a non-ammonia based cleaner, as well as rear view mirror.
-Clean your plastics, dash and what not with Z14 Plastic Magic if they are stained. If not, use NXT Tech Protectant or Meguiars #40 depending on your preference of smell.
-Use a Q-Tip to clean out your heater vents.
-Pull off AC knobs and clean them.
-Vaccuum your seats and carpets.
-Use Blue Corral Dri-Clean or Meguiars Heavy Duty Carpet Cleaner to lift stains.
-Clean leather (if you have any) with Zaino Z9 & Z10 or Meguiars #96.
-Maintain your nice and clean interior by shaking out your mats every now and then and cleaning the glass and plastics as needed. Feel free to use Meguiars wipes as needed.
Detailing Tools and Products – Where To Buy
In this section, I will point you in the direction of what tools and products you want and where to get them.
Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher
– The ultimate detailing machine! If you are going to be using Meguiars, this thing will be your best friend. You can use it with Zaino (and a million other products also) but you will waste too much of it to be worth it.
Yellow, White and Grey Pads
– Yellow is for your abrasives (such as #9), white is for your glazes (#7, #81) and grey is for your sealants (#26, #20, #98, NXT).
PakShak Microfiber Towels
– The best towels your money can buy. Punch in “autopia” for your discount code when ordering! The prices will be adjusted manually, so don’t panic when your invoice online does not show a change in price.
Meguiars Professional Series Products
– One of my favorite product lines can be found here. You can order anything you want from them. You can also use their search function to find out who in your area carries their products so you don’t have to pay shipping.
– Home of Zaino Products! Not many places carry Zaino products, as it is largely based online. No matter how big your order, your shipping is a fixed rate. Don’t be afraid to buy these products!
– The best car detailing page on the net. They have many product reviews and tutorials on car detailing, amongst a ton of other great info. I learned most of my tips and tricks from them.
Mr. Nice's Detail Guide
– The original guide can still be found here.
A Few Words
I hope you have enjoyed reading my guide. I hope that it was not too dry of a read and answered any questions you may have had. Of course you can always feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them. If there is anything I have forgotten or you would like to see added to this guide, I will take it into consideration. Naturally, comments and criticisms alike are welcome.
Remember, there is not any one “right” way to detail your car. Different people have different eyes, and not all of us can see swirls, scratches and other things as well as others. For some people, a simple cleaner wax does the trick. For others, like myself, it takes multiple steps to cure the itch. Either way, it is a completely subjective experience with varying intensity depending on what kind of person you are. The bottom line is this:
We can all appreciate a car that has been well maintained!
Good luck and happy detailing!