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Old 24-03-2011   #1
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Good Wash Techniques - Exterior

Partly in response to clock34's thread and advice for others looking to take better care of there car, here are some pointer for getting started in good car care.

Big clean basics,
Pre-rinse the car to try remove as much loose dirt as possible.

The best method to wash a car is to use the two bucket method. As suggested this involves using two buckets (don't have to be fancy, 99p ones from Tesco will do) one for washing and one for rinsing. Fill the wash bucket with warm water and add shampoo to the dilution stated on the bottle. Fill the second bucket with clean fresh water. Dunk wash mitt/pad in wash bucket, clean 1/2 panels then rinse then repeat. This then removes the dirt from the car, dispensing it into the rinse (dirty) bucket keeping the shampoo bucket clean and fresh for washing the next panels. Once car is fully cleaned, rinse off all the suds.

Drying the car will help to prevent water spots which can look a tad unsightly and if intending to do a full polish/wax then this will speed up the time before the polish and wax can be applied. There are many who will spray a drying aid over the car before using a drying towel to dry the car. There are several methods for doing this, personally I just wipe over the car with a good quality drying towel. First proper wash, the paint will likely retain a lot of water, once protected and doing maintenance washes, the drying stage will be quicker and easier.

Cleansers, these come in various forms. All will clean the paint and lay a base coat down for a wax/sealant to be applied. Some are abrasive and some have fillers in them to help to mask minor swirling that maybe present. Cleansers are typically applied with a microfibre or foam pad and removed with a microfibre cloth.

LSP (Last Step Product) these are generally wax, sealant, hybrid (wax/sealant) and now there are nano products which sort of stand on there own as far as I understand them.
Wax products contain varying amounts of carnauba wax, generally the more carnauba, the higher the price. Wax generally adds warmth and gives a glowing look to the car. Varying amounts of carnauba also relate to how the wax will preform, some are made for durability, some for looks and some will do both. A little research will help to find a better wax for the look your after. Many manufacturers do specific waxes for specific paint types, although many use a Porsche specific one that achieves good results on all paint types. LSP's are typically applied with a smoother foam pad although some people will apply certain waxes with bare hands.
Sealants are man made chemical instead of the natural waxes. There made to replicate the properties of waxes but many believe them to be more clinical. Sealants are typically liquid form although there are a couple in paste form. Again, sealants are applied with a smooth foam pad.
There are a few nano product appearing, generally in liquid form at present and there receiving rave reviews from the professional detailers.

Wheel cleaning, there are two types of wheel cleaners acidic and non-acidic. The non-acidic are much preferable to use as they cause less damage to the wheels. Some cleaners come diluted off the shelf and some come as concentrate to be diluted to the required strength by the user. There are several wheel cleaning brushes available to assist the cleaning agent to remove brake dust and other contaminants.

Windows, there are two main products to use on windows, cleaner and sealer. The cleaner obviously cleans the window and gives some water repellency, the sealer on top of the cleaner will give a far better amount of repellency. There are different microfibre cloths specifically made for glass cleaning.

Clay bar, claying a car is typically done once, twice a year. Usually done during a big clean where all the previous protection is being removed ready for fresh products. Claying a car will remove all the bonded contaminants from the paint. Whilst the paint on Fiat's are generally very smooth to the touch, put your hand inside a sandwich bag then run it across the paint and see if there is a difference. Using a clay bar will need a suitable lubricant, either a dedicated one or some just need water or water/shampoo to allow the clay to glide over the surface and prevent marking the paint.

Snowfoam, this is a product that need a pressure washer and snow foam lance. It is a pre wash step that many use to remove more of the dirt prior to contacting a mitt/pad to the paint. This then reduces the likelihood of adding swirls to the paint during the 2BM wash technique.

Quick Detailer, this product is typically used for maintenance washes. Dependant on the type of QD, some contain carnauba to add additional shine to the wax layer already on your car. QD's are typically applied with a deep pile polishing cloth.

Machine polishing, quite an advance technique which I have no hands on experience of and tbh at the minute I'd rather pay to have it done properly than do it myself. As Fiat paint is typically soft, decent levels of correction can be achieved by hand with the right products and technique.

There are many other products I haven't really mentioned due to there being that many and some speak for themselves such as wheel sealants, tyre shine, trim sealer, metal polish. Foam/microfibre applicators, microfibre polish clothes, drying towels can all be cleaned and reused. Sheepskin wash mitts require a little more care, there are also synthetic ones available too.

On the high street there is mainly Halfords then there are the independents or if your really lucky, you may live close by some of the detailing shops about the country. Car care products at Halfords aren't too badly priced, dependant on what your buying. Many are on 3 for 2 or special purchase deals, many of the Meguiar's and Autoglym products are included in these. There brands also offer gift packs through Halfords which can be a good buy. Similarly, most of the detailing shops online have produced starter packs of the products the believe to offer best performance and price to people new to car care.

I wouldn't expect anyone to rush out and buy lots of new gear thinking they have too. Hopefully my thoughts on what I've learned about car care can go a little way to helping you look after your own car better. Feel free to comment, agree/disagree with my thoughts, as I still have much to learn. There are many good website which sell products and also have good advice on how to use them. I haven't recommended any products as they really are personal preferences. If you'd like me to mention some, I'd happily do that, although some would be based on what I've read and not necessarily what I have tried so far. I also have refrained from mentioning any of the suppliers sites so's not to be bias to any, although there is a thread with a link to a excellent supplier stocking good products and some discount. For those in/near Aberdeen, there is a excellent supplier there who provides free advice on product choice for your circumstances.

Hopefully if you've made it this far well done and hope I've not bored you. Hopefully we'll be seeing some more 'wash bay' threads in the future.

Thanks, Rich
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Old 24-03-2011   #2
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great post rich! some time and effort taken thats much apreciated and i generaly agreee with it all. i am looking forward to the summer to see more and more shiney shiney cars and as always im sure yours will be setting a standard :-)
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Old 24-03-2011   #3
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Quote Originally Posted by Clock34
great post rich! some time and effort taken thats much apreciated and i generaly agreee with it all. i am looking forward to the summer to see more and more shiney shiney cars and as always im sure yours will be setting a standard :-)
lol thanks, it'll maybe shine, but will still be rusty for the time being.

I had set out to have that as a guide, but think that might have got lost a little and became more of a product information guide. Hopefully it condenses to huge amount of information out there into something more understandable.
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Old 24-03-2011   #4
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Cheers for that Rich, some really great tips in there

Not got anything all that specialised in my collection of car cleaning bits - just the usual mix of Halfords, Turtlewax and Carplan stuff, but probably have enough to get a decent result. Saying that though, I guess there's no end to the amount of products you can buy to get your car looking good
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Old 24-03-2011   #5
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since the bravo hasnt been fun in a long time and i dont take care to an extent i did with the brava i use the snobs method

take 4 bucks and get someone else to wash it
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Old 24-03-2011   #6
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I have to ask, why has the bravo stopped being fun? I occasionally drive my dad's bravo and yes it's not as good as my GP sporting but I've driven worse
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Old 25-03-2011   #7
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just a boring **** car now even is great when driving hard but its so loud its unbearable just getting fed up of the clack of diesels now
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