Detailing Guidelines for Regular Maintenance

Detailing Guidelines for Regular Maintenance

Vehicle car care or detailing is sometimes overlooked by the average vehicle owner. Asking someone if they know how to wash a car, usually, gets the same visual response like you asked them do you know how to breathe. But when discussed in more detail, its quickly realised that there is a lot more to it than you first think. The team here at The Surgery wanted to offer up some of our own guidance and useful tips in regards to detailing. And we hope you find them useful when taken care of your own pride and joy.

Where to Start ?

This is a great question, and once we cover some of the section below it will become clear why we go through each step in the order we do. With the exterior, we always start with the wheels, then move to the main bodies prewash & hand wash, drying and finally protection. The interior can be tackled before or after a wash. Personally, I find that doing it after a wash, allows you to also attend to any water that may be sitting in the door jams.

Step 01 - Wheels

We start by cleaning the wheels with a fallout remover as they are covered in tiny metal flakes that have come off the brake pads and rotors, otherwise know as brake dust. We also want to make sure that we do not cross contaminate surfaces. If these metal flakes were to get on the vehicles painted surfaces, it would damage it be leaving swirls or scratches on the surface.

Spray a light coating of the wheel cleaner on the wheels and leave it to soak in. This based on the product’s instruction can vary, but we find it’s generally between and 5 – 10 mins. When the wheel cleaner has fully soaked in you should use a soft long-haired brush or wheel cleaning brush. We recommend something we a plastic handle so it does not risk damaging the alloy wheel. Use the wheel brush to agitate the brake dust, this step is to make sure all the brake dust has been affected and loosened by the wheel cleaner. If you have not cleaned your wheels for some time. You may find that you need to repeat this step for areas of heavy or built up brake dust. Do not scrub the dust off, or use a stiff brush. You should be able to lightly agitate it, which again reduces any risk of marking the wheels. Before washing off the cleaner use another stiffer tyre brush to give the tyre wall a clean. Next step is to wash all the cleaner and dust off. Water blasters are ideal for this, as they can help to cut through some built-up brake dust left on the wheel without any risk of damage.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCT – CarPro – Iron X – Iron Filings and Contaminants Cleaner  –  Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

Important Tips – The main reason to start by cleaning the wheels is that brake dust is basically tiny bits of metal, and if cross contaminate to the sponge, wash mitts used for the vehicles paint it will scratch the paint and leave swirls.

Step 02 - Pre Wash / Snow Foam

The pre-wash is generally an unknown step for those new to detailing. But the importance of this step is vital for keeping your vehicle looking pristine for as long as possible. The primary aim of the Pre Wash step is to reduce the amount of contact you have with the vehicle’s paint. The less contact, scrubbing or washing you do. You drastically reduce the chance that you will move hard bits of dirt or brake dust across the surface of your paint. Which will damage your vehicle’s paint? This is how 90% of swirls and scratches are created on vehicles. The Foam will soak on the surface of your vehicle and will loosen and soften the dirt. This will then, in turn, allow it to flow down the body with the foam. And anything that was not pulled off by foam, will be sprayed off when you spray down your vehicle ready for the next stage. We see this as one of the most important steps if you want to reduce the amount of damage that could be caused to your paint when you wash it down later.

You will require a water blaster with a snow foam lance or a straight hose attached foam gun. And a suitable snow foam wash product. Ratios can change from unit to unit. We put 4 or 5 cap fulls of the snow foam product into a 1-litre snow foam bottle and fill it up with warm water. The next step is to coat the car with a nice thick layer of foam. This step does not take long to completely cover the car. It’s best to repeat this and coat the vehicle several times until your mixture of wash product has been used up. Make sure to coat the wheels and under the wheel arches too. As this will loosen any dirt from the wheels arches and can remove any leftover wheel cleaning products missed in step 01

RECOMMENDED PRODUCT – CarPro – Reset – Intensive Car Shampoo  –  Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

Important Tip – When buying a water blaster always make sure it comes with an attachment for automotive use, some spray attachments can be for stonework or concrete cleaning, and will not be suitable and could damage your vehicle’s paint.

Step 03 - Let it Soak

Now that your vehicle has been completely coated, you just need to let the product work. While it’s soaking it’s worth checking to see if the foam has worked its way into all the small details around your vehicle. Take a soft long hair detailing brush and gently agitate the foam in and around any small areas, like badges, logos, vents etc… This will ensure that the foam gets a chance to soak in the dirt no matter where it’s hiding.

Step 04 - Two Bucket Wash System

Now that the Pre Wash Foam has soaked into every nook and cranny in of your vehicle. It’s now ready to wash off. This is one of the more important steps, as mentioned before. The foam has now loosened and removed all the large dirt so that when we this step is just to make sure you wipe it all off.

Before starting the hand wash, it’s best to implement the two bucket wash system. And it is as simple as it sounds. You need two buckets, one with car shampoo and one with clean water. The one with the shampoo is labeled the clean bucket, and the clean water is labelled the dirty bucket.

The idea behind this system is that when you wipe it over the paintwork to wash off any road grime or baked on dirt. The main goal is to make sure this dirt stays off the vehicle and does not go back on to your wash mitt. The cycle starts with your wash mitt in the clean bucket, then onto the vehicle where you wash the panel. And from here your mitt goes into the dirty bucket. This allows all the dirt you just washed off the car to be released into this bucket. And keeps the bucket with the shampoo clean. The dirt is now captured in the dirty bucket, and cannot be wiped back onto the surface of the vehicle as you move to the next panel. This above anything else is the main cause of swirls on vehicles paint. The two bucket system will drastically decrease the possibility of putting any dirt back on your vehicle paint.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS – CarPro – Merino Wool Wash Mitt – Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS – CarPro – Reset – Intensive Car Shampoo  –  Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

Important Tip – Try to have different coloured clothes for each stage or part of the vehicle. Once used and dirty, its best to put them aside in a basket or plastic bin. This indicates they are dirty, and should not be used again until clean. Once the entire vehicle detail has been completed, put the clothes in the wash and clean them before the next wash day. And make sure not to use any fabric softener as this will reduce the water retention of some clothes.

Step 05 - Spray it Down

Once you have washed every surface to your satisfaction. It’s time to rinse all the remaining dirt, and cleaning products off. It’s a straightforward step, However, most people start on the roof and work down. We find that its best to start from the ground up. The main difference here is that more water will fall down over the surface of the car when working from the bottom up. Which means you should have no problem in removing any loose dirt or cleaning shampoo products remaining in any of the small nooks and crannies.

Step 06 - Drying & Protecting

The vast majority of the public would see this next step as an additional step. As air drying the car in the sun is acceptable for them. But that does not work for us, and as we are after that showroom shine finish we need to make sure the entire vehicle is dry and protected. From here there are two options. Option one is to use a good quality microfiber towel, wipe down the entire vehicle and move to step 07 for protection. Option two is a bit different. And one we personally prefer.

Recent developments in the detailing work have seen the creation of wipeless spray sealants. That’s right, sealants that you can apply without even touching your vehicle. And the concept behind this is the same as the snow foam. The less you touch the vehicles paint, the less chance you risk as adding swirls or scratches. So how does it work, again its pretty simple? When the vehicle is wet, and before you have thought about drying it. You would take the spray sealant and spray it over one panel on your vehicle. And right after you spray the very same panel down with your water blaster. It sounds crazy, but the logic is there. The pressure behind the water blaster is used to apply the sealant to the paint surface when sprayed down. And you will see the result instantly, as water starts to beed and roll off the surface of the paint, just like if it has a nice coating of wax. Most have to see it to believe it, but it works amazingly well. And the protective coating that’s left will last around 6 months, are usually hydrophobic and will add a deep shine to the vehicles paint. Once the sealant has been supplied to the entire vehicle, you will see that 80% of the water then was left after washing has been removed from the vehicle’s paint. Just use a good quality microfiber towel to wipe up the remaining water droplets on the paint’s surface.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSCarPro – Hydro2 Lite – Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS – CarPro – Fat BOA – Green Plush 800gsm Microfibre Drying Towel –  Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

Step 07 - Quick Detailing Spray (optional)

If you went with option 1 then you probably like to stick with what works, as it’s not broken. This step can be added on top of the coating applied in the previous stage is preferred. This step much like the sealant applied in stage 06 is to add a sacrificial layer protection that can be affected and worn away by the elements. And doing a full polish and wax is not always ideal as it takes a lot of time, so in between any major waxing, it’s recommended to use a good Quick Detailing product. For this, I use two microfiber towels, an application cloth which is blue and a buffing Cloth which is yellow. Spray your detailer product on one panel at a time, applying it with the blue cloth. It’s best to apply it to the entire vehicle before switching to the buffing cloth. Once the quick detailer has had time to haze, use the buffing cloth to bring out that showroom shine we are looking for.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCT – CarPro – Reload – Silica Spray Sealant – Available from the Detail Depot or The Surgery.

Important Tip – When working on several vehicles, separate wash mitts and clothes for each vehicle are recommended.  So that any dirt from one vehicle is not transferred on to the bodywork of the other.