Auto Detailing: Top Tips


The following tips will help you get the best from the time and money you spend detailing your car.

1. Preparation
Before you start work, make sure the car is cold and is parked in a garage or in the shade. Allow sufficient time to do the job properly. Detailing takes time. A professional can take a day to complete a car, depending on the level of detailing required.

2. Products
If you want a top quality finish, make sure you use the right products for the surface you are working on. Commercial car wash fluid may cost slightly more, but it encourages dirt to glide off the surface, reducing damage. Vinyl surfaces can be deep cleaned and protected with the appropriate product. Leather and wood need conditioning to ensure that they retain their natural beauty. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you get the best from the product.

3. Washing and drying
Regular washing and drying is the simplest thing you can do to improve the appearance of your car. Start by cleaning the wheels, and then move to the top of the car and wash down. This helps avoid the transfer of dirt to clean areas. Only apply gentle pressure as you wash. Remember that you are removing dirt from the surface; any pressure you apply will drag this dirt across the paint, causing scratching. Use a good quality washing mit; these have been designed to avoid scratching the paint. Avoid using power hoses as these will blast the dirt against the paint causing scratches and swirls. Soft, absorbent synthetic cloths are now available for safe drying. If you use a squeegee, make sure it is paint safe. Avoid letting your car dry ‘naturally’ or in the sun, as this will cause water marks.

4. Claying
The use of clay can have an outstanding effect on a car’s paintwork, giving it a glass-like finish. It is simple to do, takes very little time, and significantly enhances the effect of polishing and waxing, giving you a smooth canvas to work on. Rub the clay gently over the paint surface and make sure the surface remains well lubricated, encouraging the clay to glide, rather than drag across the paint. Replace the piece of clay regularly to avoid scratching from suspended debris. Replace the clay immediately if it is dropped on the floor.

5. Polishing
Car polish contains abrasives designed to remove water marks and oxidation, and to reduce scratches and swirl marks. Whereas clay pulls particles out of the paint without removing the paint itself, car polish actually removes paint. Polish is like sandpaper, but in liquid form. The extent to which the paint is removed is determined by the grade of polish you choose. Remove too much of the clear top coat and you risk permanent damage to the color below. Do not attempt to remove deep scratches; you can only improve their appearance. Avoid polishing edges as the paint here is thinner. Always use the least abrasive polish to get the job done. Modern micro fiber towels are the best tool when applying polish by hand. Always apply the polish to the towel, not to the paint. Polishing is a skilled job. If in doubt, always seek the advice or services of a professional.

6. Waxing
Applying a wax or sealant to your car protects it against the elements, and can help reduce oxidation and fading. It can give the paint the liquid appearance you see in show cars. Work on a small area at a time, applying the product with a foam applicator in a back-and-forth motion. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine whether the wax should be dry before buffing.

Regular auto detailing can enhance the appearance of your car, its resale value and your overall driving experience. Follow the tips above, and your investment in time and money will pay dividends.

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