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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, since I know a lot of you want your car looking at it's best, and are always coming here for help, I wanna try to clear stuff up. Almost every time I read a post about something detailing related in the section I have to stop, do a faceplam, then continue reading. I know you all mean well, but this should just be a decent place to start before asking your questions.

Great places to get detailing info:
Autopia.org
Autogeek.net
detailingworld.co.uk

Let's start out with some vocab:

Shampoo- This is obviously a product meant for washing your car. It's usually concentrated and uses only an ounce or so per couple gallons of water. Dawn dish soap is not car shampoo.

Clay Bar- Literally a piece of specially formulated clay that is rubbed across teh surface of your paint to remove bonded contaminants. It's used in conjunction with a lubricant of either water, detail spray, or a specially designed clay lubricant. Bonded contaminants are things such as rail dust from when the vehicle is originally transported, water spots, sap, pollen, and just some dirt in general.

Compound- Deep scratch and oxidation remover. Should typically be followed up with a less aggressive polish to remove micro marring. Almost always applied with a rotary or dual action polisher using a wool pad or cutting pad.

Polish- Swirl and light to moderate scratch remover. This is your work horse for basic paint correction. Comes in many different stages of aggressiveness. Lighter for swirls, heavier for scratches. Use this to clear up micro marring from compounding. Typically used with a rotary or dual action polisher with either cutting or polishing pads. Can be used with wool pads on heavier scratches before resorting to compounding.

Sealant- Synthetic wax. Man made chemically created protective coating for your cars paint. Typically has high duration and good protection. Often described as a deep look.

Wax- Combination of naturally occurring products to create a organic coating for your car. These are typically made from Carnauba wax and have other waxes and oils blended in to add durability, color preference, ease of use, etc etc. Durability can be quite long. Often described as a warm look.


Now that we have that down, you can take a look at the products you have and hopefully get a better understanding of what they are. Also it's to be noted that a lot of over the counter (OTC) consumer brands don't follow this standard naming regiment and to read the description of what it does and determine it's true use.

So you may have noticed that I ordered that vocabulary in a non alphabetical way. That's because it's the order of how a car should be "Detailed" A detail can go several different ways, however, there is still a standard outline in which it should attempt to follow. Here I'll list my process for detailing a car with a few steps omitted as most of you won't have the same products I do, and if you did, wouldn't need to be reading this.

First things first, you'll need to wash the car. Simple right? Well, I'm going to make it complicated.

You'll need 2 buckets, anywhere from 2 to 5 gallons is good. usplastics.com is a great place to get them. You'll need a good wash mitt or sponge. I'd recommend a good sheepskin mitt, or a 100% natural Sea Sponge. Microfiber mitts are also acceptable. I know there is cheap stuff out there, but please try to resist the urge to buy them. Anything in the 10 dollar range is going to be pretty decent. Next up, a shampoo. Meguiar's Gold Class is an excellent starter, and can be bought virtually anywhere. If you're near a Carquest, go grab a gallon of Duragloss 902 or the smaller bottle 901, they're the same thing (This is what I use for my routine washes) Next up a drying towel. Chamois(shammies) are a thing of the past. What you want is a Microfiber Waffle Weave towel. Go to Target and pick up a Vroom brand one, as a matter of fact, while you're there, pick up the 12 pack of Vroom MF towels as well. And finally a nice trigger sprayer for your hose. I have a nice Virgo one from Home Depot that switches between a bunch of different settings but stream and shower are the 2 we're interested in.

Ok, now that we have our stuff, we're ready to wash. Fill up both buckets with water. Read on your shampoo how much per gallon you're supposed to use. Its not a lot usually. Mix that amount into one of the buckets. Hose your car off using the stream setting to help blast off the dirt and crud that is stuck there. Now take your Mitt/Sponge and get it nice and soaked in your shampoo bucket and wash off a panel or 2 of the car. For the Tib I'll usually do like the roof and hood for the first go. Always start at the top and work your way down. Now rinse out the sponge or mitt in the bucket of regular water. Hose off the parts of the car you just washed to get off the soap and prevent it from drying on there. Now do what you just did for those panels on the rest of the car. give it one good last rinse, then take the trigger sprayer off the hose and just gently run a stream of water over the car. This step is called sheeting. It takes a lot of the little beads of water and sucks them off the car when the large amount of water hits them. It'll save you time in the drying process. Bust out the Waffle Weave and dry the remaining parts of the car that are wet. As usual, top to bottom.

Now there are two parts to a car wash. The paint, and the wheels. I usually do the wheels first since they'll end up making your car wet again if you do the wash first.

What you'll need for wheels is a good wheel brush, can be bought in pretty much every car wash aisle at any store. A decent wheel cleaner Eagle One A to Z is good as well as Meg's All Rims wheel cleaner. A tire shine, Meg's Endurance, usually found at Autozone is my personal fav as it lasts forever and is easy to use. A tire brush is nice to have. And tire shine applicators, Eagle One makes pretty good ones, but feel the package first, you want the foam to be soft, not stiff. The applicators are key to making the tires look good as they prevent splotches or streaks.

So if you maintain the car pretty well, then your wheels may not even be dirty enough to need the wheel cleaner, it's worth a shot to hit them up with it for the first time, then the regular shampoo with your brush should work on it no problem unless it's been a while and they've gotten bad. I can attest that Duragloss 901/2 works great on mildly dirty wheels. Cleaning them is pretty simple, use your brush to get into the spokes and on the surface and clean them off. Wheel cleaner can be sprayed directly onto the wheels then agitated with the brush then rinsed off. Tires should be brushed off with soap, and then use the applicators to put on your tire shine nice and evenly. Dry wheels off with a MF towel when the car is cleaned to prevent water spots.

Now after all this is done, you should have a shiny nice looking car, but wait, it could be shinier. Next step would be clay barring. Get a claybar and some detail spray which may come with the claybar if you bought a kit. Sided note: Meg's bars like detail spray, not water as it tends to make them crumble sooner. Tear off a piece of your claybar and knead it flat in your hand. Spray the bar with the detail spray, and also spray the surface you're going to clay. Rub the clay on the surface in a back and forth side to side motion. You should feel it start to drag less and feel smoother. Once it's smooth, move onto the next area. Once the whole car is done, wash it again. This time you can do it slightly faster than the first since it's going to be relatively clean.

At this point you might really be loving how shiny the car is, but there's one more step.

Last Stage Protection (LSP). The step that really brings out the shine and helps keep the car's paint nice and healthy. Notice I didn't call this step waxing? That's because it depends on what kind of LSP you use, a wax or a sealant. Both do the same thing, and both have some pros and cons. Typically though they are close enough in application that it's personal preference to which one you use. Either way, you'll need an LSP of your choice, an applicator pad(foam or MF) and some MF towels. Read the LSP's directions on how to apply, and do so lol. There's only so much I can tell you here. Some sealants need time to cure, and most waxes are an on and off in 30 minutes type thing. It varies though by manufacturer so do what they recommend. Use the applicator to put the LSP on the car, and the MF towels to take it off once it's dry.

After this you can take the detail spray you purchased with the clay and use 2 MF towels to go over the car one last time. This should really make the car glow and it'll be sure to get rid of any wax residue that you may have missed.

At this point you're car should be at it's shiniest without going into the realm of paint correction. I'll expand on that later. For now, this should do.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Ok, so now that the outside of the car is clean, you'll want the inside of it to match. This isn't as complicated a process as the outside, but having a well cleaned interior completes the look of the car.

What you'll need is a Vacuum, I prefer wet/dry shop vacs, but as long as yours has a hose and attachments you should be fine. Some MF towels, an interior cleaner spray, Meg's Quick Interior Detailer is awesome, and it smells great too, and some glass cleaner, Stoner Invisible Glass in the aerosol can is my favorite.

So it's good to start with the Vacuuming since it'll probably blow some dust around and such. Take out all your floor mats, shake them out, or beat them against something to get most of the ingrained dirt out of them, then vacuum them normally. Now it's time to do the carpet, vacuum that as normal, make sure to move the seats all the way forward and all the way back. Next vacuum the seats. You'd be surprised how much crap can get stuck in the little mesh holes on the Leather/Cloth seats Tibs have. So now you're done vacuuming, it should have been pretty easy. Next up is to wipe off all your interior panels. Get out an MF cloth and your Interior Detailer and mist the panel you want to clean and wipe it off. Just like dusting your home, except in your car. Pretty easy. The back seats are often overlooked here, I'll detail a car and go into the back seat and in a coupe like ours there will literally be a layer of dust covering the little sill for the back window. So don't forget to clean the back, it's bad enough people have to cramp up back there, don't make them do it in a dusty gross backseat haha.

If you have leather seats, simply fill a bowl with warm water, grab an MF towel and wipe your seats off with it. The vinyl seats in our cars are a pretty durable thing so teh warm water will get pretty much all the dirt off and help moisturize them at the same time. If you really feel the need to use something other than water, check out a product from Lexol called Vinylex.

Finally window time. Grab your glass cleaner and 2 MF towels and spray the window, wipe it off with one, and dry it with the other. That'll help prevent streaks. I find it easier to just do the interior and exterior glass at the same time. Now here's a tip, when I do the inside I go up and down with the window, and when I do the outside I go side to side. This way if I do get streaks I'll know which side they are on by the direction they are going.

So that's your basic interior detail, like I said, not very complicated, but there's stuff that can be missed.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
ADVANCED DETAILING: Paint Correction. Watch the videos, they are awesome.

So I've seen a lot of posts lately asking about how to remove something from the paint and a lot of answers have been "Oh just wetsand that." While this method will get rid of paint defects, it should be said that it's a very dangerous thing to do without any prior knowledge of wetsanding automotive paint. Now I'm no expert at wetsanding as I've thankfully never needed to do it, however I've retained this knowledge for those Just In Case scenarios. This is meant to give you a general idea of how wetsanding works. I'd still highly recommend practicing before doing it on the real deal.

Some facts on wetsanding:
Wetsanding, when done properly will remove defects faster and more uniformly than polishing and compounding.

Wetsanding never leaves a clean finish, so polishing or compounding is an absolute MUST after doing it. Be prepared to have to do this before wetsanding.

When wetsanding Automotive paint a specific automotive wet paper should be used. This is because certain wet papers have tracers in them which are grits of material that are larger than the rest of the abrasion material attached to the paper. These Tracers will leave deeper scratches in the paint and you'll be left off where you started. Meguiar's UniGrit wet paper is one of the best on the market, I'd suggest that if you feel you must wetsand.

Typically a backing pad should always be used. This prevents irregularities in the pressure being applied to the paper thus causing a uniform removal of clearcoat.

It doesn't take much. Typically for most scratches it'll never take more than 8 passes with medium pressure applied using a 2000 grit paper. Do about 3 passes then wipe the spot or squeegee it and look to see if the scratch is removed. If not, make 2 more, etc etc.

Always start with the least aggressive grit. Chances are 3000 grit can remove the scratch. If it looks really bad, it might need 2500, or 2000.

Proper soaking of the paper is a must. Most papers say 15 minutes to soak is good, but the people who regularly use the product report better results from soaking overnight or at least a few hours. Some guys add a drop or 2 of dawn dish soap in their bucket as well.

And now, here's some videos on it. They also go over Rotary and DA Polishing as well and are good videos to watch for paint correction information in general.





 

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Good writeup. Should make it a sticky!
 

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Nice writeup WS....I was wondering when one of us would break down and do it lol.....there has been an increase in detailing questions here lately. This thread should definitely get stickied. I will probably add a few comments in here myself here and there.....one being that I think the 2-bucket method is probably a step forward for most average Tib owners out there, but to REALLY do it right I believe a grit guard is important inside the rinse bucket. They cost about 10 bucks at any online detailing supplier.
 

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props to you, i cant put experience in words, and as great as your guide is, ppl have to get off their butts and get out there and practice. again great info, i wrote something like this for a couple of members on here.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nice writeup WS....I was wondering when one of us would break down and do it lol.....there has been an increase in detailing questions here lately. This thread should definitely get stickied. I will probably add a few comments in here myself here and there.....one being that I think the 2-bucket method is probably a step forward for most average Tib owners out there, but to REALLY do it right I believe a grit guard is important inside the rinse bucket. They cost about 10 bucks at any online detailing supplier.
You know, I've been doing this for a while without grit guards, and I've never really found them necessary as my pre-foaming step gets a lot of the actual thick dirt off. I totally get how they work but have never really emptied my rinse bucket and seen a lot of dirt floating around in the bucket.

Plus grit guards only work for 5 gallon buckets as well, and some people may not wanna gut that huge of a bucket. I personally use 2 gallon ones.

All in all though if people wanna spend the money, they definitely don't hurt. I think the biggest point of the 2BM is that you rinse the mitt/sponge clean before re-soaping it and putting it on your paint.

And by all means, other detailers feel free to add any tips they may have.
 

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Good points on that Grit Guard. I guess not everyone wants to be swinging around 5gal buckets. I don't have a foam gun yet myself, but I do plan to have one soon. Gotta do some research on that and get the best option for the least amount of money, being the budget detailer that I am lol.

But yeah, GG or not, the 2BM is way better than using just one.
 

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Claybar and some bug and tar remover will work well.
 

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If your interior is dirtier than just dust and other loose dirt sitting on top, then I highly recommend the Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner concentrate (the green stuff!). I detail cars at a used car dealership and it has brought the interior of some mid 90's beaters back to life. I do want to add that we do use a stronger mixture for the older cars though!

:3_nosthum
 
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