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How to Properly Detail a Vehicle

Discussion in 'Detailing' started by Dave333, May 6, 2015.

  1. May 6, 2015 at 7:12 PM
    #1
    Dave333

    Dave333 [OP] New Member

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    Hey guys, I posted some info on Facebook today when I was detailing my truck and had a lot of friends ask questions because they read this or that on forums and then talk to one body shop or a detailer and get different information so I thought I'd post how it's done at the shop I work at which is also the way ASE teaches.

    Some general rules:

    1) The vehicle needs to be completely clean.

    2) Don't compound and polish unless it's necessary. Basically what compound does is it takes an aggressive paste and helps to strip off the oxidized clear and minor scratches and swirls. Then you polish/glaze to remove the swirls you put in while compounding. There are varying degrees of compounds so if you go this route, choose the least aggressive first. If you do decide to do this, make sure you use a paint film thickness gauge to gauge the thickness before compounding. Typically from the factory the paint will be between 4-7 mils. This is broken down into about 1-2 mils of ecoat/primer; 1-2 mils of base coat and 1-2 mils of clear coat. So if you take a thickness gauge to your truck and it reads 5, I'd highly recommend skipping compounding as you may burn through the clear coat. And if you do decide to and have never worked a random orbital before, try it out on a junk car first, not your expensive truck. Also tape all edges and do those by hand.

    3) If you drop an applicator pad, micro fiber cloth or towel or clay bar on the ground it's done. Put it in the pile to wash and if its clay throw it away. If it gets one spec of grit and you wipe on the finish it will ruin your day. Not worth the price of a clay bar or cleaning a towel.

    4) Pick a product line and stay with it. If you choose Meguiars, use all their stuff, from wash to clay to wax. Only exception is with the Dawn, this stuff just out performs everything else and is way less. By going with the same line, you're sticking with what engineers who are way smarter than most of us decided would bond well together at a chemically molecular level.

    5) Do not do this in direct sunlight. Either find a garage or wait until the sun goes down or do it early in the morning.

    So let's get to it.

    Materials:
    Dawn dish soap
    Clay bars, heavy duty, mild duty and light duty
    Clay bar lube (as with everything in life, lube makes all the difference)
    A quality sealer (Chemical Guys, Meguiars, 3M, etc.)
    A quality automotive soap (see above)
    A quality paste wax (see above)
    Lots of microfiber applicators and towels.

    So start by using the dawn and a microfiber mitt. Wash the vehicle with the dawn soap using a two bucket method, one bucket with clean rinse water and one with the soap solution. Both should have grit guards on the bottom. Dawn is used in many professional shops because of its ability to strip wax and grease without harmful detergents.

    Dry it off using a microfiber towel or compressed air. I prefer the air because it limits the amount of contact on the exposed surface.

    Now to test which clay bar to use. Take a sandwich baggie and put your hand inside it. Using palm down with fingertips on the surface, rub back and forth and see if it feels like grit. If it feels like rubbing sandpaper, you'll start with heavy duty clay and go through the series, if it feels really smooth, light duty and it won't take long at all. If you're unsure, light duty and then switch to medium duty if it still doesn't feel smooth.

    So now to clay. You warm up the clay in your hands like silly putty. Then spray a 3 x 3 section generously and the clay. Rub it back and forth until it glides across smoothly. If the lube starts to dry, reapply. Fold the clay as it gets dirty. Once you're done with that area, wipe the residue with a microfiber and move on until the vehicle is finished. Basically what you're doing is removing contaminants trapped in the pores of the clearcoat. These will be filled in later with sealer.

    After completely claying it, it's time to rewash. This ensures all the clay residue as well as contaminants are removed. This time when you rewash, use the automotive wash as it has some protection properties built in.

    Dry again.

    Time for sealant. Using a microfiber pad, use a small amount and go over the vehicle. This should be a thin film, not a thick white cloud. You should almost not even be able to see it. Read the bottle for cure time but most are within 30 minutes. So let it cure based on the maximum amount of time recommended by the manufacturer and then wipe clean with a new microfiber cloth. Repeat a second coat, when you wipe this one clean again use a new microfiber cloth.

    Allow the second coat of sealant to set a little longer, if the bottle says 30 minutes, I go 1 hour.

    Now time for wax. Again, use a clean microfiber applicator and apply a thin coat. Let it set for 20 - 30 minutes and buff it off with a clean microfiber towel. Here, I let the wax sit for at least 12 hours, prefer 24 hours before a second coat. If you see dirt or bugs or rain in that window, rinse with water and dry before the second coat of wax. Thin coat, let it set for 20 - 30, buff it clean and you're good to go.

    From this point you'll just need to wash bi weekly and wax every 3 - 4 months. To check how the wax is holding, after washing with a quality car wash take a microfiber and toss it across the hood. If it glides across Duke boys style, wax is still holding up. If it skids across it's close to time. If it stops as soon as it hits the hood, time to rewax.

    The sealant is needed yearly. So once a year, repeat the Dawn steps, then a few times a year wax.

    That's it.

    Hope that helps. I know it's long but if you do this it'll make the finish look great for years with no swirls or spider webs.
     
    Viper3G, watsonc3, MotoTundra and 5 others like this.
  2. May 6, 2015 at 7:18 PM
    #2
    Dave333

    Dave333 [OP] New Member

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    I forgot to add, if your vehicle just came out of a collision shop, don't touch the finish for 90 days. From the factory the paint is cured better than the booths at body shops so it's okay to do this to a new vehicle. If you must wax it, use a carnauba wax of high quality as it'll let the solvents escape during final curing. It allows it to breathe. A synthetic wax will trap solvents and you'll have issues later on.
     
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  3. Nov 18, 2015 at 3:40 PM
    #3
    Lee's rig

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    To many
    How long would you say it would take to detail a DC 8' bed with rail dust over entire truck?
     
  4. Nov 18, 2015 at 3:47 PM
    #4
    Lee's rig

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    Dave333 than you for the info. You may have helped out people with the body shop comment. Most people don't know that
     
  5. Nov 18, 2015 at 5:44 PM
    #5
    MotoTundra

    MotoTundra Adrenaline Addict

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    Great info! Thanks, I think this has given me the motivation I need to do my fall detail. These trucks are so damn big haha
     
  6. Nov 18, 2015 at 6:20 PM
    #6
    Dave333

    Dave333 [OP] New Member

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    For my Crewmax, a full exterior detail takes almost 3 hours, including sealant cure time and first coat of wax. I try to knock it out in the morning on a Saturday then drive the wife's car, then leave it garaged (just built a 30 x 40 shop) and then on Sunday morning hit it with an air hose to get rid of any dust or surface contaminants and do another coat of wax and let it sit inside most the day. With the rail dust, you may have to clay a little longer. It's worth it though, my truck looks wet after just a wash and dry and I know the paint will last a long time. Attached is a picture of my Tacoma that I just sold. It had 190k miles on it and lived its whole life outdoors year round. Only one cut and buff job back in 2012. Detailed it once or twice a year depending on the weather.

    20150827_174214.jpg
     
  7. Nov 18, 2015 at 6:26 PM
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    MotoTundra

    MotoTundra Adrenaline Addict

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    Yup, that Taco still looks new!
    I may try to break it up into a few days, keeping her garaged. Doing some when i can between work/family hoping to finish it up before I need to take it out .. We'll see..
     
  8. Nov 20, 2015 at 4:02 PM
    #8
    Tacogrande

    Tacogrande New Member

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    Here is a question...If i have Mcquires product line and it is 10 years old...is it too old to use? I used to take care of my taco then just kinda quit...life got too busy. But i still have all the waxes and stuff. Should i toss and buy new?
     
  9. Nov 20, 2015 at 4:12 PM
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    Lee's rig

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    To many
    Depend on how it was stored and how it looks now. Also depends on how the taco looks now. If you haven't been taking care of the taco any , I would use up what I had left first then get new stuff . that is assuming that it isn't dried up or separated. But that is just what I would do if I was you.
     
  10. Nov 20, 2015 at 4:13 PM
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    Lee's rig

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    If it is for the crew max you might just want to start with new stuff.
     
  11. Nov 20, 2015 at 4:20 PM
    #11
    Tacogrande

    Tacogrande New Member

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    Ok another question..can i just go thru an automatic carwash or are those too nasty? I dont have a lot of free time but i do want to keep my new truck looking good.
     
  12. Nov 20, 2015 at 4:26 PM
    #12
    Tacogrande

    Tacogrande New Member

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    LOL i have not washed the Taco in over 3 years. Had a kid and work a LOT.

    The old wax has been kept in my climate controlled shop so basically room temp.
     
  13. Nov 21, 2015 at 7:36 AM
    #13
    Dave333

    Dave333 [OP] New Member

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    As for the old Meguiars, shake it up and check how it comes out. Those chemicals break down under extreme temperatures. If it was me, I'd throw away an $8 bottle of Meguiars before possible ruining the paint on an expensive vehicle. If it damages the paint you're screwed.

    Automatic car washes are horrible for paint finishes. If those flaps have one pebble in them, it'll scratch the hell out of your vehicle.

    I normally wash my truck, wife's car, Harley and classics every Sunday. I get the wife and kids involved. Just a quick soap and pressure washer wash and dry takes about 30 minutes per vheicle, bike alot less.

    I know what it's like to work alot and have the kids too. I put in close to 60 hours a week at the restoration shop then another 20 to 30 at my own shop. I still take the time to deal with the vehicles. Next to your house, it's your largest expense. The resale of a properly maintained vehicle can vary by the thousands due to proper care.

    To each his own though.
     
  14. Nov 22, 2015 at 8:00 AM
    #14
    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    Hey Dave,

    Have you tried Chemical Guys Citrus wash as opposed to Dawn? Also, have you tried the Nanoskin Line as a clay alternative? Both, imo, are really good products.

    The other day, I watched a black Cadillac SUV pulling into a drive thru car wash. Oh the humanity!
     
  15. Nov 22, 2015 at 4:51 PM
    #15
    Dave333

    Dave333 [OP] New Member

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    I haven't tried their citrus wash yet, Dawn is just so cheap and effective. I've looked at the Nanoskin line but haven't tried it out yet. I was also looking into their Carbon Flex coating which is a coating. I know a few other manufacturers make something similar. I'd be interested to see how it holds up. Especially at $150 a kit.
     
  16. Nov 22, 2015 at 5:11 PM
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    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    I have CQUARTZ Finest on my Tundra. I tried Car Pro's Hydro Foam and like it.

    Thanks for the reply.
     
  17. Nov 27, 2015 at 5:37 PM
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    MotoTundra

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    Getting to it....
    IMG_20151127_203622787.jpg
     
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  18. Nov 27, 2015 at 7:40 PM
    #18
    MotoTundra

    MotoTundra Adrenaline Addict

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    So this is my first go at using a clay bar. I read the instructions and watched videos prior to doing it. I feel like I put some micro scratches (similar to a swirl, but lines from my movements) in the paint from the clay bar. I tried to keep folding the dirty side in and used a lot of spray, and tried to wipe the clay bar with my hand if I felt anything on it.

    With that being said, I don't have an up to date compound, I'm using a 10 year old bottle of Meguiars paint cleaner (step 1), so I can probably remove them if I had the proper setup, I'm going to try to pick it up tomorrow.

    So my question is, is it possible to clay bar a black vehicle without causing micro scratches?

    Finally, my arms are tired haha. Do you use a DA polisher or buffer, if so, what model?

    Thanks!
     
  19. Nov 27, 2015 at 7:42 PM
    #19
    MotoTundra

    MotoTundra Adrenaline Addict

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    Also, I had to clay bar it. The surface on the doors is/was so gritty. After the clay bar nice and smooth, what a difference!
     
  20. Nov 30, 2015 at 2:39 PM
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    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    Depending on level of contaminants in your paint, more than likely, you are going to get some minor marring. The issue is amplified because your truck is black, which shows everything.

    There are also chemical sprays to remove small ferrous metals embedded in your paint. Car Pro has Iron X. The only problem is that it stinks! I will use the spray first then use the clay bar alternative or clay bar. The spray removes a good deal of crud and "could" lessen the micro marring.
     
  21. Nov 30, 2015 at 8:02 PM
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    MotoTundra

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    Thanks for the reply!

    There were two mistakes I made on my first area of work (driver door). Luckily I didn't do anything irreversible. Thankfully the micro scratches came out.

    #1 I didn't use bug and tar remover prior to using the clay bar. After that door I wised up and used spray bug and tar remover first and it helped.

    #2 My auto place was out of Meguiars Ultimate compound so I used a 10 year old bottle I had, it didn't work as it should, obviously. I then found a place that had it and carried on, what a difference.

    I have to say I am impressed with Meguiars Ultimate line. Looking forward to spring to experiment with some other products, etc.
     
  22. Dec 1, 2015 at 3:16 AM
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    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    Good deal. Megs makes great products and real easy to find.
     
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  23. Dec 27, 2015 at 6:12 PM
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    j2x

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  24. Dec 27, 2015 at 6:13 PM
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    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    No sir. Where you looking at something specific or just in general?
     
  25. Dec 27, 2015 at 6:24 PM
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    j2x

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    Just a general question. One of the kits comes with the clay, carnuba wax, polishing cloths, etc.
    Weathertech seems to have excellent truck items.
     
  26. Jun 4, 2016 at 10:11 AM
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    owslystnly

    owslystnly New Member

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    Nothing yet
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  27. Sep 5, 2016 at 12:59 PM
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    Sean266

    Sean266 #ThinBlueLine Staff Member

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    Any particular order these should go in? Polshing compound would be last- I think. :notsure:

    image.jpg
     
  28. Sep 5, 2016 at 1:07 PM
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    BlueFalconActual

    BlueFalconActual Field Day Inspector Extraordinaire

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    Rubbing>Polishing>Wax.

    Rubbing compound is like coarse sandpaper, polish is like extremely fine sandpaper and wax is a protectant.
     
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  29. Sep 5, 2016 at 1:21 PM
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    WarEagleSteve

    WarEagleSteve Getting out of Jersey!

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    Sean,

    Try the least aggressive polish first. The Polish "should " be the least aggressive one. Depending on the defects you are trying to remove, always start with that first. No need to go full bore if not needed. Then if the Polish doesn't fully address your defect, go rubbing then back to polish. Your wax will be the last step.

    I guess my question is do you need to polish? If it's light swirls, the polish may address your issues without having to use the rubbing compound.
     
  30. Sep 5, 2016 at 4:41 PM
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    TNTundra08

    TNTundra08 New Member

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    For at least the past 6 months the way I've washed my truck has been as follows:

    1. Check weather report
    2. Find day it will rain
    3. Park outside
    4. Allow following days sun to dry car completely

    It always looks like shit afterwards. Not sure what's wrong with my technique.
     
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