If you frequently read this blog you know I enjoy computers and I am also fond of cars. For the last 20 years I especially enjoy wasting some time on a Saturday or Sunday detailing my ride. I feel the art of detailing cars has been lost. Most drivers tend to visit the car wash and let the automatic machines pound the dirt off the finish. I’m not saying that the car wash is a horrible place to take your precious ride, however a hand wash and wax in the driveway is the kinder gentler approach to keeping your vehicle looking like new!
The Wash: – Supplies
All soaps are not created equal. When washing your car use a soap that is specifically designed for the task. Dish soap or Mr. Clean are NOT good choices since they tend to strip any wax or protectant that may already be present.
My favorite soap is ArmorAll Wash & Wax. They claim it adds a coating of Carnauba Wax while it washes. In all the years I have used this stuff I have never seen it add a “Wax” coating to the paint, however it at least doesn’t strip the wax off the paint. It’s also relatively inexpensive at about $14.00 for a large bottle.
You are also going to need a good bucket, preferably one that has a segregated wash and rinse side. Or this cool bucket I found. It has a screen at the bottom for filtering out the dirt as well as casters to easily roll the bucket from one side of the car to the other. Automobile paint is easily scratched and the grime coming off the car can easily scratch the paint if not rinsed completely. Its a bit pricey at $44.99, but your cars finish is worth it!
They make plenty of different car wash cloths, hand sponges and Microfiber towels to do the washing. I prefer to use an old T-shirt as my cloth of choice. However if you need a good wash cloth you can’t go wrong with Microfiber. Only $14 for two dozen!
The Wash: – Procedure
I think we are all familiar with how to wash a car so this part is going to be really brief. If possible choose a nice shady spot to do your work. Pour the soap in the bucket and fill with cold water making a nice foamy lather. Rinse down the entire car and try to hose off any stuck on mud or soil. Start from the hood and begin washing the car, I like to do all the top surfaces first and then move to the sides. DO NOT let the soap dry on the pain! In fact don’t let the water dry on the car at all. Most house hold water supplies have mineral deposits that will form water spots if allowed to dry on your clean car. Mr Clean began marketing a product a number of years back that will allow your car to “drip dry” with out causing spots. I tried it, and it works as advertised but I still found an old bathroom towel and some elbow grease worked best. The Mr. Clean kit costs about $50.00
Your car looks good now! But it can look even better
Once the wash is done, its time to put some polish on the finish to bring out a deep beautiful glow. Depending on how much effort you want to put in will determine how long that protective coating will last. I have waxed my cars 100’s of times and used a variety of different products. Below are a few of my favorites in order of easiest to hardest to apply.
Types of car wax:
Spray Wax : This is the easiest to do and you can have a mid sized car ready to go in about 1/2 hour. Simply spray it on and wipe off with a clean micro fiber cloth. I have found various spray waxes can last up to a month or more. ICE is my favorite to use – @ $8.29
For a longer lasting shine the next step up would be ICE liquid wax. Its also very easy to apply and remove. You know the drill here – Wax ON, Wax OFF. The nice thing about this wax is it can be applied in direct sunlight without risk of damaging the cars paint. The kit comes with an applicator pad and a micro fiber removal cloth for about $20.00 I would expect this wax to last 3 to 6 months depending on how many times you wash your car and the time of year (i.e. salt in the winter). You can complete most cars in about an hour or so with this product.
Finally, one of the more difficult waxes however very long lasting is past wax. A good paste wax will last up to a year (again YMMV depending on conditions in your area) This is truly a job for Mr. Miyagi, small over lapping circles as you apply and once dry the same technique to remove. Keep the car out of the sun or it will be 1,000 times harder to remove! The product is relatively inexpensive at only $11 per container.
I just want to also mention using a clay bar on the cars surface before waxing will also remove even more contaminates and make your car as smooth as silk. Just make sure you clear your schedule for the day, because its not easy and takes some time to cover the entire vehicle. Clay bar systems run about $15 to $20
No matter which methods you choose, to have a beautiful end result make sure you follow these few tips.
Separate wash and rinse water.
Use “car” soap and not dish soap.
Pick a nice shady location.
Don’t let the soap dry on the paint.
When waxing Mr. Miyagi was right “Wax on, Wax off”.
Effort in is equal to how long the wax will last.
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