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9 Steps to Proper External Car Detailing

Posted on December 11th, 2023

The First Thing You Need to Do Properly is Wash Down Your Car Effectively

There is no point trying to do external car detailing if you are just going to end up scratching your paint even more because you left dirt on your car.

  • You must first hose down your car with firm pressure. Don’t use a laser-type wash from your hose, but rather a small funnel. Always start from the top and work your way down. It is advisable to hose for a few minutes, as this allows dirt to soften up and break free from your paint.
  • What some people do is also fill a bucket of water with detergent, throw it over the car, let it sit for a minute, and then hose it down. These products are designed to loosen dirt before hosing it down. If you have a gerni or pressure blaster, that’s even better, as this removes even more dirt.
  • If you own a four-wheel drive and it is covered in mud or heavy dirt, if you don’t have a pressure blaster, purchase one. There are also many detergents that you can throw on off-road vehicles and even bikes, which you let sit for a while and then blast off. Once clean, you need to move on to the next step.

Soaping Down the Car is Always Carried Out From Top to Bottom

Never wash from the bottom up, as this just takes dirt from your sills and drags it up towards shinier paint. Never use sponges, as sponges (even automotive one’s) scratch and swirl car paint. It doesn’t take much for a sponge to inflict fine scratches, especially if you haven’t washed down properly.

If Your Surfaces Feel Sandy After Washing, Use a Clay Bar to Remove Contaminants

Use what is known as a wash mitt. There are many brands of wash mitts on the market, and they are not hard like sponges and tend to have a lifting effect of dirt rather than a dragging effect of dirt while soaping down your paint. Use the lambswool versions, as they are very soft, and apply no pressure to the paint.

The Next Step After Soaping Down is to Thoroughly Hose Down Any Soap and Dirt Left on the Car and Then Chamois Down

Some people prefer leather chamois over synthetic. The only problem is finding a nice, thick-quality chamois. They generally don’t last long these days, and you have to keep replacing them after twelve odd months.

Car Polishing: Polishing the Exterior of Your Car is the Next Phase

To actually do this process properly, there are really three steps if you want optimal results and a killer finish (depth of color and strong gloss). This is not a mediocre result. Put some elbow grease into this process, and believe me, you will be happy with the outcome. If you want to get the best results from achieving shiny paint, you need speed in your polishing. So, forget about hand polishing (unless you don’t want your shoulder at the end of this process). If you don’t have one, you will need a DA polisher with the right pads.

Once You Have a DA Polisher, You Are Going to Need Three Polishing Pads, and then you will need a

  • Paint cleaner of your choice
  • Polish of your choice
  • Wax of your choice

The First Application is Going to Be the Paint Cleaning Stage

When you have acquired your new DA polisher, attach the first polishing pad to your DA polisher. Apply in a thin application as a snail pattern on the pad of your paint cleaner and dab on your paint about a foot or two in coverage of your surfaces. Do not apply too much product to your pad, as it will take too long to buff it off. Buff vertically and then horizontally at about 3–4 thousand RPMs. When you have done about four to five passes, wipe off any residue left. The first pass is designed to remove any hairline swirls, mild etchings and faded paint. Continue this process all over the entire car. Every time you do a section, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down and check on your work.

When You Have Completed the First Stage, It is Time to Move on to the Second Stage

The second pass is going to be your polishing stage. Don’t try to focus on what is a good polish. Just ask your local auto care outlet what a good-quality car polish is, and they will recommend you one. Change to a clean pad. Use exactly the same procedure as that of the paint cleaning or first-stage pass and go over the entire vehicle. The second pass is designed to bring the best possible shine to your paint

The Third and Last Stage is Going to Be the Waxing or Sealing Stage

This stage is a little different and there are a couple of differences between waxes and sealers You will now need to change to the third pad. The difference between wax and sealers is really only a couple of things. Waxes don’t generally last as long, but the finish is also quite natural. There is lots of depth of color and a beautiful shine. Sealers, otherwise known as synthetics, last longer but also leave an artificial finish, more like a mirror finish. The choice, however, is yours. When you apply any of these products, apply them in a thin fashion over your paint. If you apply these products in large volumes to your paint, they can be an absolute nightmare to remove. Use exactly the same procedure for applying your wax or sealer as you did with the first two procedures. The only thing you do differently here is leave the wax or sealer on your car for about half an hour to set. Once it has set, you are ready to wipe off the wax or sealer. This stage is designed to protect the finish and seal in the shine. If you do all these procedures correctly, you will definitely achieve the results you are looking for.

Happy car detailing!


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