Attention to the Details – Detailing the Exterior


Anyone can wash a car however detailing a car is a different matter. You may have hosed the mud flaps down but did you scrub them clean? A detailed car will not only have clean mud flaps, these flaps will be shiny!

Detailing a car involves several sections, the interior, exterior, and for the super-picky, engine components. The exterior is the part of the car that the world will see, so it pays to pay attention to the details when detailing your car’s exterior.

Detailing the exterior involves several phases: car washing, drying, waxing, glass cleaning, grill, chrome and bumper cleaning, and tire and trim dressing.

Start by washing the car in the shade using a special detergent designed for today’s car finishes. The old days of squirting dish detergent into a bucket should remain a distant memory. Use a clean sponge or cloth designed for washing cars. You don’t want to damage the paint by adding anything abrasive. If you have a high pressure hose attachment, use that to get the car thoroughly wet before applying the detergent. Gently scrub the car a section at a time, rinse it, and keep it wet as you tackle the other areas. Once the paint and glass surfaces are clean, pay special attention to the grill, headlights, bumper, tires, wheels, and mud flaps. Use a soft bristled brush on surfaces that can handle it. Use a spray-on wheel cleaner to remove residual brake dust from your rims and hose off.

By parking in the shade, using an appropriate car wash detergent, and keeping the car wet as you work, you’ll avoid water spots. Use a soft chamois to completely dry the car. Pay special attention to areas where water accumulates and dry them completely.

Next, use glass cleaner to clean the exterior windows and mirrors. Pull the windshield wipers away from the windshield to clean it. Water will likely splash on the hood when you pull the wipers from the glass so be prepared to dry the drops right away. Use glass cleaner on the headlights and chrome too.

Now take a look at the grill, special spray-on products can clean out the gunk and insects that hang out there. Use as needed.

By now, your car should be ready to wax. It needs to be 100% dry before waxing. Water and wax don’t mix so it’s important that all water drops are gone. Apply and remove an appropriate car wax. New waxes are available that make waxing the car much easier than in the past, including spray-on waxes and waxes that won’t leave a residue.

The final job involves “dressing”. Use a tire dressing product to make the rubber look extra nice. These products are usually safe to use on rubber trim and mud flaps.

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