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Detailing Car Paint: What To Know To Be A Excellent Paint Corrector: Lesson 6

Detailing Car Paint: What To Know To Be A Excellent Paint Corrector 

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Lesson 6


              One problem I see time and time again is that detailers will perform the prep stage of a car detail and then just tackle the paint with a polisher and their go to products. While after dozens of details you will begin to better understand what a certain cars paint will require to correct. It can be very helpful to understand what is going on with the paint in order to correct it properly.

Primarily we want to know four things. One, what is the overall condition of the paint? Items such as swirls and scratches, haze, and chemical etching. Second, does the paint have any oxidation. Third, how much thickness do you have to work with-primarily clear coat thickness. Fourth, is the paint hard or soft.

Car Paint Defects

               

                We have discussed this item in fair detail in lesson 4 when we went over polishing the paint and how to remove defects. With car defects you want to know how aggressive you need to be in order to remove them and how much of them can actually be removed. Your test panel will give you this information in addition to using a paint thickness gauge to ensure you do not cut through clear coat.

Car Paint Oxidation

               

Heat and oxygen combine to break down the molecular structure of the paint leaving a waste behind on top of the remaining coating which is in the form of a white chalky substance.  The danger of oxidation is often detailers grab a wool pad and heavy cut compound and go to town.

What is incorrect in this method is that if the oxidation has been developing over time you may not have much clear coat left over and can burn through the paint very quickly—or what is left of it.

Typically, horizontal surface like the hood, trunk, and roof are the most susceptible to oxidation and the top aspect of side panels that catch more sunlight during the day.


Oxidation Remover

                Let’s touch on the topic of removing oxidation. This does not have to be an intimidating task and having some knowledge can increase your confidence when tackling oxidation on a cars paint.

To begin ensure the paint is clean and clay the area. Claying helps remove surface oxidation without the need of a polisher initially.

Start with a higher-level polish usually in the mid-cut range and your orange lake country foam pad or something equivalent. Work a small test section no more then 12-inches by 12-inches. After you have cycled the product inspect the area to see how much is removed. If you only have a tiny amount left, I would continue by cleaning your pad and making another pass with a couple more dots.

If your polish does not seem to make much of a dent you can move up to a compound. You can jump to a microfiber cutting or finishing disc but ensure you utilize a DA Polisher as it will not produce a lot of heat and the DA action will prevent burning of the paint.  You may have to make a couple of passes.

Once the oxidation is removed you will surely have some solid haze. Finish off the panel with your polish and foam pad combo.

After your correction is complete ensure the paint does not develop any more oxidation by letting it sit in the direct sunlight for a couple of hours while you work on the rest of the vehicle. If after a couple hours the panel is still clear and holding your results it is recommended you coat with a ceramic coating.

Ceramic coating is far superior to wax in its ability to repel the sun and prevent oxidation. However, if you or the client wishes not to invest in the cost of a coating then use a high-quality wax like Daddio-O paint sealant and top with Clutch to give it the best protection you can below a full ceramic coating.

Car Paint Thickness

               

                While I do not always check paint thickness if you are working with an older vehicle (greater then 4 years) or you know the car has been cut and polished a couple times before you want to ensure you have enough clear coat left to adequately remove defects without cutting to deep to leave no protection and/or cutting through the clear coat.

There are a lot of great paint thickness gauges on the market from around $100 to $500. The higher end models will give you more information such as each layer’s thickness (Primer, Base, and Clear). It is all dependent on your budget and preference.

Use the door jamb to check the initial thickness of the paint. This gives you your base thickness since door jams are rarely polished heavily. You then will compare that reading to your panels.

When you perform your test section for results you can take a second reading to see how much is removed with each step-compound and polish.

Say you remove 1 Micron when you compound and only ¼ when you polish and you have 5.8 microns total. Then you know you are pretty safe. However, keep in mind that if you have to make multiple compound passes you should continue to check remaining thickness.

What does this mean for correction? My truck on the tailgate has been cut to many times while making videos and fixing dog scratches to be cut anymore. The most I can do is a light polish to reduce swirls.

This tells me what the maximum results I can get are on that panel. This is an expectation you can relay to your clients to give them a realistic idea of what type of results you can achieve based on the paints current condition.

Hard Car Paint vs Soft Car Paint

                Hard vs Soft car paint primarily tells you what type of correction will be required in order to achieve the desired results.

Often harder paint requires heavier compounding while a softer paint may only require a higher-level polish

To make this more informative check out this fantastic video by AMMO NYC detailing.


Wrap Up

There you have it. A little more information to better assist you when it comes to removing oxidation from a cars paint and more tips on better assessing a vehicle to help use the least aggressive method possible in order to achieve the desired results.

In addition to understanding your tools by also understanding the material you are working with you can prevent costly mistakes when correcting a cars paint and restoring it to a beautiful finish.

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

Spamming and negative comments will be removed.

Best Way to Clean Car Windows: Lesson 5

Best Way to Clean Car Windows

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Lesson 5


             There is a difference between someone who offers a car wash service and someone who offers a car detailing service. The difference is in the name and that is THE DETAIL.

Car window cleaning is often overlooked and rushed through. Often when in direct sunlight we are dealing with a high heat factor on the windows and we move quickly in order to get the windows wiped down.

While dirt is fairly easy to clean off of a cars window what we often miss is the leftover streaks.

“STREAK FREE IS A LIE”....sort of

Streak free glass cleaner, where you spray and wipe with no streaks left behind is honestly a lie. We have tested every glass cleaner for cars and home that we could get our hands on and every-time we saw streaks under low light conditions.

What is the Best Car Window Cleaning Method?

 The problem is not the cleaner. It is the glass it-self.  Glass gets build up on it just like your paint and a simple wipe down with a towel and some glass cleaner won’t always cut it.

Depending on how cruddy your glass is here is my method to getting a perfectly clean windshield and windows on a car.

Exterior Windows

  • During your washing step for the entire body of the car ensure you thoroughly wash the windows.
  • Use a separate microfiber towel and dip into your soap bucket and wash each window using the hex pattern.
  • If windows feel any sort of roughness much like your paint-clay bar the windows in the same way you would clay the paint during your clay step.
  • Dry your windows during the process of drying the car. Do not leave water on the windows that could turn into soft water spots when drying.
  • Use your polish and a SEPARATE pad to either hand polish or machine polish your glass. I prefer to use the Classic Cut from Shine Supply and a Finishing Microfiber Pad from Meguiars with only a couple of dots.  Classic cut finishes out extremely well on glass and will not leave any haze if properly cycled (Worked until clear).
  • Wipe down the glass with a microfiber towel to remove product
  • Use a glass cleaner
  • Favorite glass cleaner is 2 drops of Dawn Dish Soap, 80% Water, and 20% IPA mixed.
  • Ensure you dry wipe the window with a microfiber towel after you clean the glass.

Interior Windows

Typically, the interior windows are not as bad as the exterior since they are not exposed to the elements. However, they are exposed to dirty kiddos hands among other things.

  • If stickers or other heavy crud on glass use a razer blade to remove and degreaser spray diluted 80/20.
  • Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to act as a clay bar/polish in one step.
  • Clean glass with glass cleaner
  • Dry wipe entire window to ensure no streakiness
  • Make sure you get into the corners.

There you have it that’s it!

A simple method to clean car windows with the best method possible.

I have had a few customers call me back because they noticed later in the evening streakiness and so we came up with this method in order to ensure perfectly clean windshields.

The same method can be used for mirrors and I also recommend on Headlights as a maintenance to help remove light oxidation and prevent headlights from getting crappy down the road.

Super Hydrophobic Windows

Last tip before I let you go!

Although Rainx is a great product for creating a nice shed of water during in-climate weather I have a better recommendation. 

Note that you must properly clean the glass before applying this product. 

Clutch is a killer product to ensure your glass sheds water for up to 6-months and makes it easier to clean bugs and dirt off turning your newly learned glass cleaning method into a once a year ordeal. 

Clutch is easy to apply but should be done in the shade since the product contains 10% silica and will flash to quickly in the sun making it difficult to level out. 

Best application method for Clutch on Glass Surfaces

1. Spray clutch onto a Hypersoft microfiber towel. 

2. Wipe in a hex patter across half of the glass surface, whether it be a windshield-car door glass-or rear panel glass. 

3. Flip towel over to clean side and wipe off residue. If you are working in a cool environment below 86 degrees and shaded you can let the product sit a little longer to maximize the effectiveness. 

4. Using a new Hypersoft towel with NO PRODUCT thoroughly wipe the glass again to ensure product is leveled. Let dry for about 30 minutes before allowing water to make contact with the surface. Although this is not fully necessary it gives the product longer to cure properly. 


Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

Spamming and negative comments will be removed.

How To Buff A Car: Lesson 4

How To Buff A Car: Your Ultimate Guide To Paint Correction

Lesson 4


This is the ultimate guide to Car Paint Correction. In this lesson we are going to discuss every aspect of the paint correction process. From building your car buffing kit and understanding the tools within it to proper scratch removal techniques and auto paint refinement in order to get maximum results.

This guide is divided into a couple different sections and I will have links to each section if you would like to skip to a section.

Introduction

                I would like to start off this lesson by going over the one rule that never really seem to be firmly laid out properly when talking about removing defects from a cars paint. This truly is the number 1 rule when it comes to the car detailing industry.

                                                “Always use the least aggressive method possible”

A cars paint is built up in layers. You have your primer which gives you a surface to level out over a potentially imperfect metal panel. The base coat that is your color layer, and your clear coat that is your protective coating and allows for depth and clarity of the paint.

Your clear coat is the most important layer because you can cut it down and still have incredible shine and depth to the paint surface, however…if you cut through that clear you risk burning the paint thus requiring a paint job to correct. This is a costly endeavor and defeats the purpose of your ability as a detailer to correct defects in the paint without creating damage.

When we talk about the least aggressive method in relationship to detailing, specifically paint correction. You are finding the means to provide maximum correction without burning the paint.

 This is what separates those of us who truly understand paint correction from the guys and gals who slap a wool pad on a rotary and run over a vehicle and then again with a foam pad and some polish and call it a day.

I bring this rule up because I want you to keep it in mind as we move forward. I will be mentioning it again and again and you will see how and why it is so important to paint correction.

Car Buffing Kit

Let’s discuss the tools that are going to be needed to perform paint correction. You may want me to just jump to how to cut and polish the paint, but if you do not understand the tools you are using then everything else you will learn is pointless.

Much of my frustration of not seeing the results I saw other detailers getting was from a lack of understanding of the tools and products I was using for the job.

Again, I predominately use Shine Supply products as they perform exceptionally well.

However, it does not matter what polisher machine you use or what products you use to “buff a cars paint”. What does matter is the time you spend understanding how the product you chose to use work.

Car Buffer & Polishers

If you do not have a clear understanding of what a buffer and polisher is I highly recommend you pause here and go read the article Ultimate Beginners Guide To Car Polishers. I could write on this topic myself, but the Art of Cleanliness did a fantastic job of explaining these tools and providing some great photos. Take a few minutes. It only took me about 7 minutes to read.

 Couple quick items to point out about polishers.

  • You should have a rotary polisher in your arsenal if you plan on doing serious paint correction. This tool requires a fair amount of practice and you can become very comfortable with it.
  • I would start with a DA Polisher such as the Rupes 15mm or Griots Garage 15mm. These two DA polishers will allow you to use a variety of pads and are vital to obtaining incredible results.
  • Grab a smaller DA Polisher such as the Rupes Bigfoot mini or the Torqx. The smaller head capability of these tools allows you to get into tight areas such as the license plate and around logos and underneath mirrors.
  • Some detailers carry both the Rupes line and the Griots Garage lineup. The reason is because the Griots offers a higher output then the Rupes and can give you that extra boost that you may need to get the results you want. The Rupes is an amazing polisher primarily due to its ability to reduce vibrations while working which really helps your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders when working for long periods of time behind a machine.

“Don’t Forget Buff/Polish are used synonymously in detailing”

How to Remove Auto Body Defects by Paint Correction

               

                Let’s get into the meat of what everyone in the detailing industry wants to learn about and that is paint correction.

The goal of paint correction is to remove defects from a cars paint without requiring a new paint job.

When we talk about defects, we are referring to scratches, swirls, haze, and buffer trails. Defects may also include bug, bird, and water stains that etch into the clear coat or rock chips. These are usually much more difficult if not impossible to correct. However, often you can reduce the visibility by cutting down the harsher edge lines of the defect.

Keep in mind that removing these various defects is not always possible. When you cut the clear coat down you are leveling out the edge lines of the defect so that the reflection of the sun does not catch the valley (scratch into paint) and show the defect.  This Image developed by OCD Car Care shows the groove of a scratch. When you begin cutting the scratch down you are leveling and widening out that valley in order to create a wider groove that does not catch the sun.

If you take a block of wood and cut a groove with a knife you would have to sand that groove by creating a much larger groove to level it out and make it unnoticeable.


This is exactly what we are doing with our polisher, pad, and compound/polish. The caveat is that there is a limited depth of clear coat that we can cut through in order to achieve this. Once we hit the paint surface which is extremely soft, you will burn down to the primer and ruin the paint.

This requires finesse and practice to be able to achieve incredible results, along with and exceptional understanding of the tools you are using in order to obtain a near if not perfect finish.

This image gives you a quality representation of what various defects are on the paint surface. As you can see lighter defects such as Swirls and Water Etching may only require a polish to “displace” them, however isolated and deep scratches require heavier cutting methods to level out the surface.


Going back to our example of the wood block and sand paper. You can view paint correction in the same manner. The difference is that with a wood block you have one layer with a various thickness that can be sanded down to dust and it will remain the same color. With car paint, again, you have three layers and you are limited to how much you can sand down before you cut into the layer below it.

Buffing pads and compounds/polishes are our sanding paper. The buffing pad combined with a compound or polish allows us to “sand” on a very refined level only taking off a small amount of clear coat at a time. It gives us much more control over the depth we cut.

You can cut down the deepest clear coat defects using the right pad and polish combination. However, as you get a better “feel” for correcting paint you can start to utilize wet sanding to help speed up the process. We will go into depth on wet sanding for now please spend time understanding the basics.

With that being said lets discuss the remaining tools in the paint correction process.

Car Polishing Pads

Only a couple years back we really only had two types of pads, Wool and Foam. Foam had different density levels that offered greater cutting ability and wool was reserved only for heavy cutting. With the technology enhancement of microfiber, we have seen not only vast improvement in the towels we use to wipe away contaminants and polishes from paints while reducing marring and scratching for our towels. We also have some amazing microfiber cutting and refining pads that do fantastic work.

Buffing Pad Components

Buffing pads are made up of a couple components. The face of the pad itself made of a wool, microfiber, foam, or combination of materials. The back of the pad is your hook and loop which is essentially such Velcro used to mount the pad onto the polisher. Some pads for the rotary still screw on, but these are rare and we don’t recommend you use them. Pads often also have extra foam between the front of the pad and the hook and loop. This foam allows for more or less aggressiveness in the cut as it provides a cushion and heat dissipation for the pad.

Wool Buffing Pads


                Wool pads should truly only ever be used for one reason. Deep cutting. There are a lot of different wool pads on the market but this one Wool pad from Shine Supply will work just fine. It has a hook and loop system so you can use it on both the rotary and your DA Polisher systems.

Use: Remove heavy oxidation, scratches, sanding marks, and gel coat defects.

Microfiber Buffing Pads

Microfiber pads come in 3 varieties.

Cutting Disc


This Meguiars Microfiber Cutting disc is used to quickly and effectively remove heavier defects. Usually leaves a small amount of micro marring, especially in darker paints. The foam backing plate is denser and thinner than a finishing disc allowing more heat build up while still giving the user comfort during use.

Use: Remove medium scratches and swirl marks, certain product combinations and lighter paint will refine very quickly and require a faster final polish.

Finishing Disc


The Meguiars Microfiber Finishing Disc has a less dense backing foam that provides comfort and gives produces less heat build up on the pad surface allowing for greater refinement.

Use: Great for lighter color paints to be a final step. Refines the paint quickly and leaves minimum to no haze. Darker paints may still have a slightly noticeable haze.

Hybrid Disc


 This Lake Country One Step is a fantastic pad for completing a one-step polish/enhancement detail on a vehicle.

I typically will use this pad to cut swirls and lighter scratches quickly. While it will not remove heavier defects, it is perfect for maintain a vehicles brilliance as an annual detail. I use this pad a lot of my maintenance details on ceramic coatings, especially darker paints that typically get swirls over the year. This pad works great to remove those lighter defects and for removing hard water spots.

For full paint corrections I usually will start with a finishing/polishing microfiber disc and Shine Supply Classic cut to test a panel. From here I move up to the cutting microfiber and the same compound. If this doesn’t work, I go with Meguiars 105 or Shine Supply Flat Top or Chop Top. The more test panels you do the faster you are going to learn what a cars paint requires for maximum correction. More on this below.

Foam Buffing Pads

                I will keep this section a little more cut and dry. Do not get overwhelmed by the massive amount of foam pads on the market. You should not carry 12 different brands of foam pads in your tool kit. In fact, you should not carry more then two brands of any product in your detailing tool kit.

This creates to much confusion and gives you to many options to try and mix and match when you are struggling to get the desired results. I only use Meguiars or Lake Country Pads. I have tried Hex Logix and every other pad on the market that claim big results and while they work, Lake Country and Meguiars provide consistent results and do not breakdown as easily for roughly the same price.

 Trust me on this one, save time and money.

You should carry three foam pads; I recommend double or triple of the same pad so you have plenty of clean pads to swap throughout a job.

Cutting/Finishing Foam Buffing Pad


> HDO Orange Foam Heavy Cut/Polish Buff Pad

This is the HDO Lake Country Cutting/Finishing Pad. It is designed to absorb heat away from the surface of the pad allowing the product to cycle out properly giving you maximum cut and refinement from your compounds and polishes.  It has a heavier cutting ability and the step down from it is a blue HDO Foam pad.


> HDO Blue Medium Cutting/Finishing Foam Buff Pad

Finally, you have a black HDO Foam pad that is perfect for removing light haze after a cutting step or to apply wax/sealants to a paint quickly.


> HDO Foam Finishing/Wax Foam Buffing Pad

You can swap out the HDO Line of Lake Country for their newer Hybrid Line. The Hybrid Lake Country Pads are a thinner overall pad with a higher density. This design allows more power output where a thicker pad will reduce that output. I use the Hybrid line currently this was after using the HDO line. Follow the link to learn more about the Hybrid line and what machines they work best with.

Car Compounds and Polishes

                With what we have gone over so far you should start to piece together that we are essentially using a modern method of “sanding” via pads and polishes in order to refine and smooth out defects on a painted surface.

The way I like to have everyone start to understand the different compounds and polishes is by purchasing a lineup of compounds and polishes and then putting a small dot of each product in between your fingers one at a time and rubbing them together. This allows you to feel the greater level of “grit” in each product. Much like a high grit vs low grit sand paper. A polish will feel like a very small amount of sand grains between your fingers while a compound will feel much more grainy.

Compounds and Polishes are a combination of oils and abrasives that give the product a certain amount of cutting power that ranges from light to heavy, usually measured on a scale from 1-12 depending on the product.


This image above demonstrates the cutting ability with each variable accounted for using Meguiars compounds and polishes

“G100” in the middle model is the Meguiars DA Polisher and can be swapped for any polisher you choose. My favorite is the Mark 3 by Rupes with a 15mm Throw.

This image is a simple representation of the cutting ability of Shine Supply Products without considering variables

Compounds

  • Range from Medium to Heavy Cut.
  • Can be combined with a microfiber pad to increase cutting ability and reduce time.
  • Also used with a foam cutting disc (Orange for Lake Country)
  • Usually leaves behind a light haze after being cycled out but on some paints finishes near perfect.
  • Should almost always be followed with a polish and finishing pad to remove haze.
  • Shine Supply Examples: Classic Cut-Flat Top-Chop Top
  • Meguiars Examples: M100-M105-M110

Polishes

  • Range from Medium to Light Cut.
  • Typically used with a foam pad but can also be used with a Microfiber Pad.
  • Leaves a mirror finish by removing haze from compounding step.
  • Can be used by itself in a one-step cut to remove light scratches and swirls.
  • Shine Supply Examples: Classic Polish, Classic Finish, and Slick Back Primer (Sio2 Polisher used prior to Ceramic Application).
  • Meguiars Examples: M205 and M210


Combining Buffing Pads and Compounds/Polishes 

                We have Light to Heavy Polishes and Compounds and Light to Heavy Buffing Pads.

How do we put these items together to get the desired results?

The standard is that Heavy Buffing Pads like the Lake Country HDO Orange pad and Shine Supply Chop Top would go together to produce a heavy cut. Likewise, a Blue HDO Pad and Shine Supply Classic Polish or Meguiars 205 go together to finish the paint.

You can combine pads and polishes in whatever manner you require in order to achieve the desired results. The key here is to learn your products and how they perform and you will gain a better understanding of their abilities on various paints.

PRO TIP: It can take dozens of vehicles in order to fully understand your products. However, you can speed up this process by following various professional detailers social media channels to see what combinations they use to achieve results on various paint types with different levels of defects. A HUGE reason I chose to become a loyal Shine supply customer is how Steven shows his products in action. Many detailers will just provide the before and after but Steven on the @ShineSupply channel on Instagram will demonstrate what combination he used in order to get the final results. And trust me, every single one of his results are incredible. Below are the channels I recommend you follow on Instagram and watch their daily stories.

                @DocMobileDetail

@ShineSupply

                @Shine_Doctor

                @KXKDYNAMICS

                @BuffDaddy

                @Black_Diamond_Detailing

How to Combine Pads and Polishes

                Compounds and Pad Combo

  • Determine the level of defect
  • For deeper scratches jump to a microfiber cutting disc or heavy cutting foam disc
  • Grab a medium cut compound
  • Prime your pad (spritz of water or pad conditioner)
  • Add two dots of product to either side of the pad
  • Work a small section of the panel 1’x1’.
  • After a full cycle wipe off the panel with a plush microfiber towel
  • If defects are noticeably the same step up to the next level of cutting compound
  • Example: Classic Cut progresses to Flat Top to Chop Top
  • Ensure you clean pad to remove product dust and build up. If you are going to a heavier cut you do not need to fully clean or use a new pad. Only if you are going down in cutting ability to a polish do you need to use a fresh pad to avoid combining a cut with a polish.
  • Cycle the product over the test area. Once you see the defects starting to be removed or removed after your complete machine pass (may require more then 1 pass) you can move to a finishing pad and polish to refine.

Polish and Pad Combo

                With a polish you greatly reduce the cutting ability. The main goal of a polish is to refine out the paint. If you combine a medium polish such as Classic Polish/M205 and a heavy cutting pad like an orange HDO or Microfiber disc you can achieve some nice cutting ability for lighter scratches will also finishing out the paint in one step. On different paints this same combination may be required to remove haze from a compounding step as a finishing polish/Jewel polish will be to light to even remove haze on some paints.

  • Choose Finishing Disc
  • Standard is HDO Blue or Orange
  • Choose Polish: Standard is Classic Polish for hard paints such as Chevy and Toyota and Classic Finish for softer paints such as Tesla and Mercedes.
  • Test your panel or use on area already compounded.
  • Check Results
  • Use IPA Spray to wipe panel and remove all oils in order to see results without an oily haze over the top. Gives you an exact idea of what the paint looks like. Oils from the polish can fill in light scratches and become unnoticeable.

Proper Way to Polish Paint

Whether you are cutting or polishing paint you should understand how to use your machine with whatever combo you choose.

                Step 1-Prep your pad.

This can achieve by using a simple water spray to lubricate the pad, quick detailer, or pad conditioner. You can also add 4-5 dots of product onto the pad and work it into all surfaces of the pad. Understand this is putting more product into your pad and you may only need a little bit to get the results needed.

                Step 2-Attach pad

The hook and loop system on modern polishers provide a quick way to attach and detach pads to a polisher or rotary. Ensure the pad is centered on the polisher to provide proper rotation and prevent increase vibrations.

                Step 3-Apply Product

Start with 2 dots of your product. If you have a lot of defects on the panel you may need to add 3-6 dots, but it is better to start with less and make extra passes if necessary. Reason for this is that to much product can increase the amount of haze left over and require additional polishing steps. Also remember “Least Aggressive Method” more product on the pad creates another level of aggressiveness in your cut.

Step 4-Spread product evenly over the work area.

Work in no more than a 2x2 section a time. This is the industry standard and is the right amount of surface area for the amount of product on your pad. If you do a larger area than this you may have to make several passes to fully remove defects. When polishing as opposed to compounding you can get away with working in a larger area but this should be test on each vehicle first to ensure results. I like to dap the pad up and down to leave dots over the area I am working.

                                Step 5-Start the Polisher

Begin with the machine on the lowest setting 1 or 2. Move the machine in a hex pattern up and down then left and right to spread the product over your surface area. Slowly increase the speed to desired RPM rate. Lower speed produces less cutting power and higher speeds produce greater cutting power.

                                Step 6-Completely Cycle the Product

Cycling a product means we do not count how many passes we make. A pass is determined when you complete one full hex pattern.  Cycling a product means that we are fully allowing the abrasives in the pad to diminish. This ensures they are broken down completely. If you made 2 or 3 passes and then wiped off the panel you will notice a large amount of haze. This is because the cut of the product has not cycled out. DO NOT ADD MORE PRODUCT. Instead clean your pad with a dry brush or air and go back over the area again until the product is clear or almost clear.

                                Step 7-Check Results

After you have cycled the product and wiped the area check your results. Are there still noticeable scratches. This means you need to increase your cut with a different pad or compound combination or simple just add more product to your pad and cycle it out again. You should notice the scratches diminishing after each complete cycle with the polisher and product.

Again, you can speed up the cutting ability and how many passes you need to make by using a more aggressive pad and compound or one or both. IE; Use a heavier cut with the same pad, or swap pad and use same compound, or use a heavier pad and heavier compound. Same goes for polishes.

                                Step 8-Rinse and Repeat

While you do not have to rinse your pad before adding more product for another pass you should always use compressed air or a dry brush (mobile detailers choice) to remove product build up from your pad. If your pad appears saturated you may want to clean the pad or simply use a fresh pad if you have one handy. 

These steps are the same for both compounding and polishing and you can find a video below showing this method. I will be making my own shortly!

PRO TIPS:

  • Use masking tape to cover plastic and vinyl trim to prevent white marks from buffing. This is very difficult to remove.
  • Completely wipe down the vehicle with an IPA solution before moving to a polishing step. If you are detailing outside, I recommend you wipe each panel with IPA & Water (50/50) to remove compound dust and any other debris that blew onto the paint. If you wipe the entire car chances are you will have to re-wipe the panel again anyways when outdoors. This ensures no small dirt or dust particles get under your pad and create swirls or scratches while trying to obtain a beautiful finish.
  • If you are working a compound and it seems like it is not cycling out, stop, wipe off your pad with a dry brush, spritz it with some water, and go back over the leftover product on the panel. Sometimes to much product is imbedded in the pad and prevents it from fully cycling out on the paint. This why cleaning your pad often is so important.
  • Work in slow passes. You need to give your pad time to work the product into the paint if you move to quickly the product will not have time to effectively cut as it moves along the paint. I have found that 2-seconds per 1-ft is usually adequate. For heavier defects you can slow this even more to a 1:1 ratio. Polish may be able to go faster. Always look at the trail behind the polisher you want nice tight lines if they are spread out you are moving to fast.

VIDEO URL >>>> https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+use+a+polisher+on+paint&rlz=1C1JZAP_enUS855US855&oq=how+to+use+a+polisher+on+paint&aqs=chrome..69i57j33l3.5475j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_OuVAXeisLojasQWUj4MQ25

Wet Sanding

Let’s say you have a deep scratch. You run your fingernail across the top of it and your nail catches the edge helping you understanding the depth. You know that you are going to need to do some heavy cutting to refine this scratch down and level it out with the rest of the painted surface to displace the scratch.

You grab a wool pad and your heavy cut compound and go to work. After you have cycled out the product and wipe away the residue the scratch looks lighter but is still noticeable. You add a couple more dots of product to your pad and go for pass #2. After two or three passes you are still seeing the scratch diminish but it is not leveled out quite yet.

This is a lot of work and more importantly time. You can significantly reduce this time by utilizing wet sanding. Through this technique you are cutting the clear coat away faster but in a careful manner.

The wet sanding process allows you to refine a deeper scratch to a lighter one. You take a scratch resembles an 800-grit sanding mark. Refine it with 2000 grit sand paper, then 3000 grit sandpaper to make the scratches even finer. Now you can use the wool pad combo to remove the sanding marks and continue to your refinement steps.

To save some space on the page I recommend watching this fantastic video put together by Luke Wilson Detailing Channel on Youtube.


Wrap Up

Goodness we just went through a ton of information to explain this process. I could have just gone over the steps of using a polisher but understanding not only the products you use but, how to combine your pads and products, is so vital to properly correcting paint.

And guess what there is a lot of smaller details that make this process faster and better that will be included in this course.

This piece is the basis to get you going and we will have more to come.

Get out there and start testing

Thanks for staying tuned and I look forward to seeing you in the next lesson.

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

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Auto Interior Detailing: Lesson 3

Interior Detailing

Auto Interior Detailing

Lesson 3

One unique aspect of the auto interior detailing process is that it is transferable to other interior detailing aspects. Such as Boats and RVS and even the home. Many of the materials that you will be cleaning within a car are found in these other categories.

A vehicle interior clean is as important or more important that the exterior because this is where the user spends the majority of their time. While we all love to walk up to our car and see a deep and rich paint that is free of defects, what is more important to most drivers is how the interior looks.

Auto Interior Detailing

Top Benefits of a Clean Interior

  • Reduce Wear and Tear-By keeping a vehicle interior free from grime, dirt, dust, spills, and more you help reduce the wear and tear on a vehicle. Just like contaminants on the exterior of the car will break down the paint over time so will contaminants on the interior of the vehicle break down your plastic, vinyl, carpet, wood, and more.  
  • Driver Safety-Clean windows help with visibility and a vehicle free of odors and eye sores such as stains or spills help prevent a driver from being distracted and more relaxed behind the wheel.
  • Value-This is pretty self-explanatory, if you want to retain more value on an already fast depreciating asset, keeping the interior clean reduces the wear (benefit #1) and thus will add to an overall higher quality condition of the car and keep the price from dropping as dramatically. Just look at Kelly Blue Book. Every car that is in “Excellent” condition as opposed to “Good” adds on average a couple extra thousand to the price tag. You can verify this for yourself. Pick any of the top 20 used vehicles for sale in the market and compare “Excellent” vs “poor” value. There are numerous numbers that add to the overall value of a vehicle, as detailers we can greatly enhance a cars value.

Why do I even bother mentioning benefits of a clean interior…You want to be a detailer right? You already know this stuff. However, your customer does not necessarily understand the value of a clean interior especially when you are asking $150 to complete a deep clean of the inside. This understanding is what will enhance your overall detailing knowledge and allow you to close more jobs.

Now that we have briefly gone over the benefits of detailing a cars interior lets get to the process.

Vacuum

                Get ready to do this step twice. You can opt to clean all the surfaces first and then vacuum the floor to pick everything that drifted downward up. However, we have found that dirt and dust return back on already clean surfaces. We start by using a soft bristle attachment and vacuum the door panels, dash, console area and seats. Then we move to a hard bristle attachment to help release embedded dirt and pick up loose dirt and debris. Micro attachments can be used to help get into vents, around shifters, and other crevices and seem lines that will get filled with dirt and are difficult to clean.

Pro Tip: If you are working on a seam such as a small gap around buttons or the plastic trim. Use the fine nozzle setting on your sprayer to break down the dirt and then your vacuum to pull it out of the crevice.

After you clean all the surfaces and condition them you will come back with a clean soft bristle attachment and do a final spot vac to grab any dust that filtered back onto surfaces and the floor during your deep surface clean.

Vacuum Attachments

Large Vacuum Attachments-Includes hard and soft bristle, flat edge, and large crevice tool

Small Vacuum Attachments-Includes hose adapter, 2 brush sizes, 1 fine nozzle, and one extension  

Mini Vacuum Attachment

Interior Surface Cleaner

After a thorough vacuum is completed, we move onto the deeper clean.

Again, I like to keep this simple. You do not need to have 5 different surface cleaners and even the three I carry is overkill, typically I have one as a backup from the Detail Garage Supply store.

My primary go to is Shine Supply Leather and Interior Cleaner. This product works fantastic for cleaning virtually every surface. For those heavier saturated surfaces, you can use a leather brush, carpet brush, or vinyl brush to help agitate the product and release dirt and grime. Finish by using a taddy towel to wipe off the residue.

For heavy saturated carpet I have two preferred products.

  • Folex Carpet Cleaner-Low cost and works great for removing heavier stains. Best method without an extractor or steamer is to thoroughly saturate the area, agitate with your brush of choice. You can even use an orbital carpet brush for deeper cleaning. Oversaturate with hot water via spray bottle to help lift stains up and then vacuum out with a wet vac filter.
  • Enzyme Carpet Cleaner-This product is especially useful for pet stains. The microorganisms attack organic material and break them down to make them easier to remove. It will neutralize odors and leave the area clean.

Both methods may require a couple of passes to achieve the desired results and some carpet may be so heavily stained that you can remove the odors and the majority of the stain but not the entire stain imprint. Never promise a customer that you will pull the entire stain out as this may not be possible but it will be clean and then whatever residual color is left can potentially be dyed.

Pro Tip: After heavily saturating carpet or any absorbent surface with product and water ensure you thoroughly wet vacuum the area to remove excess moisture. It is also recommended to crack the windows in the car so that it can properly ventilate and avoid molding of damp areas.

Interior Surface Dressing

After your surface clean is complete you can apply a surface dressing to help rejuvenate plastic and vinyl that are dried out and prevent them from cracking. Same goes for the leather surfaces. Dressed up is the ideal vinyl and plastic interior surface dressing as it produces a beautiful factory finish with a low satin shine and no greasy feel.  Of course, make sure you dress those leather surfaces as well with a leather conditioner.

Interior Detail Level Packages

Mini Interior Detail

 For a mini interior detail your objective is to save time and perform a quality interior detail. Typically, this type of detail is done on a fairly well-maintained vehicle that only needs a solid vacuum and quick upholstery cleaning. The Vacuum step Is the same and you can clean all surfaces with a Clean & Shine interior detailer that will lift dirt and oils while leaving behind a low satin finish that is non greasy and will rejuvenate the plastic and vinyl surfaces. Apply leather conditioner to all seats of like material.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget the headliner and sun visors. These areas are touch with oily fingertips and usually only require a quick pass with Clean & Shine in order to remove the stains. You do not want to miss them as they become more noticeable when the entire car is clean.

Mega Interior Detail

Truthfully you can call these two car interior cleaning services whatever names you want. Essentially the minor is for a maintenance detail and the major is for neglected car interiors.

Mega is more in-depth and we have covered each component.

  • Full deep Vacuum.
  • Surface Clean without and dressing to fully remove stains.
  • Deep carpet clean by machine free method or you can use a steamer/extractor to assist in the cleaning.
  • Surface dressing to rejuvenate/hydrate surface and add UV protection.
  • Final vacuum for any residual dust or dirt left after higher surface cleaning.

Areas to make sure you include

  • Move seats fully back and forward to properly vacuum underneath and next to console.
  • Clean headliner and sun visors.
  • Clean rear-view mirror and interior glass.
  • Clean all crevices to include AC vents on dash and panels.
  • Clean around steering column.
  • For cars ensure you clean below back window and trunk space.
  • Clean door jams with waterless wash and microfiber towels.

Window Cleaning

                Windows on the interior of the vehicle typically have less build up then the exterior but you may run into stickers from kiddos and another crud that requires more then a window cleaner. Best method is to use a flat razor blade (useful tool if you know how to use it for both interior and exterior to have on hand) to remove stickers, use a clay bar with a small amount of clay lubricant to remove grime and oils. Thoroughly clean the window with a window cleaner, generally I go over it twice, and then final wipe with a dry microfiber towel to remove any haze and provide an optimal view through the glass.

Final Interior Detailing Tips

Car Seats-If any vehicle you are detailing has car seats, I highly recommend that you remove the seat form the car and clean it outside of the vehicle so you can properly clean the seat underneath. Also DO NOT PUT THE CAR SEAT BACK INTO THE CAR. You do not want to be the one who improperly re-attached a car seat. I always let all my customers know that we are happy to do a solid cleaning of the car seats but we will not put them back into the car. You can always assist at time of pickup. While all the products we recommend for interior cleaning are safe for children, you never know what type of allergies kids may have. It is worth the money to invest in a vapor steamer. It will come in handy for multiple aspects of the auto detailing process and is the perfect tool to clean car seats without the use of chemicals. Always ask your customers if they are okay with the use of chemical on the car seats, ensure it is 100% dried before allowing a child to use it.

Pro Tip: Ever heard of the power cleaner. Use a combination of Hydrogen peroxide, dawn dish soap, and water to make an eco-safe and non-harmful formula to remove oil and dirt from a car seat. Can also be used for multiple other surface.

Mixture: 1 part Dawn dish soap and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. I like to re-use the hydrogen peroxide bottle and just pour out and mix in Dawn. Add a spray nozzle to the bottle and off you go. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down in the light so large batches are not recommended and the dark bottle helps keep the solution longer.

Lesson Wrap Up

There will be aspects of this lesson that will be updated as we get more in depth with various tools you can use such as a pressure cleaner that uses an air compressor, steamers, and extractors. We create amazing results for our customers with the methods described in this lesson. These additional tools are costly and while they save time they are not fully necessary to achieve fantastic results. Until your budget allows I recommend a little more elbow grease. 

​Quick Links

Carpet Upholster and All Purpose Cleaner: Shine Supply

Bottles and Brushes

Leather and Interior Cleaners and Conditioners: Shine Supply

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

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The Nitty Gritty: Undercarriage, Engine, and Plastic Trim Cleaning; Lesson 2

Engine Bay Cleaning

The Nitty Gritty:

Undercarriage, Engine, and Plastic Trim Cleaning

Lesson 2


Undercarriage Cleaning

                While the undercarriage of the vehicle is not something that will need to be cleaned very often it is still a very useful skill to have and one that is worth mastering when it comes to running a mobile auto detail business.

                You will spend more time cleaning the wheel wells and front and rear suspension components on SUVS and Trucks then the undercarriage, but the same techniques used in these areas applies to the full undercarriage of the vehicle. Typically, I upsell the undercarriage cleaning during the spring after the salt from the roads over the winter time or for my Off-road enthusiast and Hunting customers who take their rigs out to properties and get all sorts of dirt on the underside.

                Why perform and undercarriage cleaning? Dirt traps all sorts of elements and when it adheres to the frame of a vehicle it can inhibit rust which will denigrate the frame of a car very quickly. When it comes to SUVs and Trucks, the undercarriage and wheel wells are fairly noticeable especially on lifted vehicles. If you perform a nice detail on a car but leave dirt and dust visible on the wheel wells and exposed framing you are doing your detail service injustice and the eye will naturally drift towards the dirty areas rather then focus on the nice and beautifully cleaned vehicle.

Undercarriage Wash

                Start by performing a good undercarriage wash. I recommend taking care of the undercarriage before you move to the body of the vehicle as you will just overspray water and soap onto clean paint, which will require double work to clean.

When it comes to cleaning tight areas I like to use the Snubby by Chemical Guys. This is a short wand attachment for your pressure washer that allows you to get into tighter areas without having to manage a long nozzle. Of course, it is not required but helpful.

Mix some Solution with your favorite PH balanced soap into your foam cannon. Lucratively spray the undercarriage first and let the product sit for about 2-minutes. Using a brush set that is specific for these heavy builds up areas, clean any areas that are easy to reach with a brush. Typically, this includes the front and rear suspension components, wheel wells, and left and right frame bars.

Thoroughly rinse the area and inspect. If you still have some heavy build up you can use a 50/50 mix of your solution product and water to spray and re-brush those areas and then final rinse. The undercarriage is not complete. You can always get very detailed here and get every nook or put the car on a lift to really get it cleaned, typically this is reserved for show cars and only done at a shop not in a mobile setting.

Money Saver-Solution is type of degreaser that is safe to use on various areas of a vehicle and can be used both inside and outside of the vehicle. It is my go-to product for heavier cleaning on grease and grime. However, if you want to save even more money you can create your own degreaser mix by using dawn dish soap and water and diluting to the desired strength. Dawn is a great degreaser product and is safe to use on plastic and vinyl and will not cause rusting if not fully rinsed properly. Pro Tip: Always keep a small bottle of dawn dish soap on hand. You will find we bring up several ways it can be used during the detail process.

Undercarriage Spray 

Now that you have the undercarriage and wheel wells nice and clean you want the results to last and add some brilliance. There are several undercarriage products on the market that will add a nice rich satin finish to the undercarriage and wheel well components while reducing dirt and dust build up producing long lasting results and making the next undercarriage and wheel well cleaning 10x easier.

Two products I use as an undercarriage spray

  • Shine Supply Classy Chassis-Fantastic product adds a brilliant satin shine and has long lasting results (Typically around 2-3 months).
  • Chemical Guys Bare Bones-This is my go to when I forget to put in an order of Classy Chassis. There are Detail Garage locations throughout the U.S. that are vendors of Chemical Guys products. I can swing by and grab what I need at any one of their locations in a hurry when I run low and forget to restock in time.

Engine Bay Cleaning

Engine Bay is a great upsell, and I always recommend you upsell this car wash add-on. It can be time consuming and requires careful attention during the cleaning process to avoid getting water in areas that can damage electrical components.

Tips: Disconnect the batter completely and remove if possible, prior to cleaning the engine bay. This ensure no power is running to any components in the engine bay and will prevent any accidental short circuiting. This is a rare occurrence even with the battery connected especially on newer cars. However, it is always better to be safe then sorry and it only takes a couple extra minutes.

Cover the alternator and air intake. These two areas can still be cleaned but when you are spraying water into the engine bay to rinse everything off you do not want to jam water into these components.

Engine Cleaner

After prepping the engine bay and ensuring everything that needs to be covered with plastic and protected from water is completed you are ready to clean the engine. You can use the same brushes that you used during your undercarriage cleaning step (Thoroughly rinse brushes after every use to help them last longer).

Spray degreaser diluted 1:1 throughout the engine bay. You can use Solution, Purple, or a Dawn Mix. You will find through trial and error which product setup you prefer. I use solution because again it works as a multipurpose cleaner inside and out saving me time, money, and space.

DO NOT LET THE DEGREASER DRY! Using a brush or taddy towel (any older rag not used on the painted surface of the car, I like to use old microfiber towels) work the solution to break up and remove dirt, grime, and grease. Lightly rinse the engine bay-I don’t recommend a pressure washer be used a good garden hose attachment sprayer is perfect.

You can use a blower, compressed air (if you carry one), or a towel to dry the engine bay.

PRO TIP: Clean the underside of the hood in the same manner, rinse, and dry prior to washing the engine bay. If you do this secondary all the dirt and grime from the hood will fall onto your nice clean engine. Seems obvious…but I have forgotten a few times.

Engine Cleaning Packages

I will go over detail packages in-depth more later, but if you are going to start offering this service now here are the two packages I recommend.

Basic – Simple a rinse, solution spray, and final rinse. This removes roughly 60% of the looser dirt and grime on the engine bay and underside of the hood. It does not take long and also gives you the chance to remove debris such as leaves and twigs in the engine bay to help prevent electrical fires.

                Pricing $25-$35 max
Deep – Rinse, Solution, Detail Brush and Wipe Down to remove all visible grease and dirt, final rinse, dry, and dressing.

                Pricing $45-$75 (Depends on how dirt the engine bay is)

Engine Steam Cleaner

If you are able to invest in a vapor steamer (which I highly recommend) you can use it to clean areas of the engine bay that have stubborn build up. Only use a vapor steamer on the metal components. Often the vapor steamer is to hot and will remove the paint from the inside of the engine bay painted surfaces if you are not careful. It took me 2 years to be able to afford a quality vapor steamer so do not worry if you do not have one at first. We will go over its benefits and uses and where it will save you time and make you money, but you can definitely get away with a high-end detail without one.

Best Engine Cleaner

As mentioned before I personally prefer solution as it does a fantastic job and it is a emulsifier. This means it “loosens” dirt and grime and is safe on multiple surfaces, including leather. A fantastic product all around. You can find out more about it on the Shine Supply website. If it does not seem to work the first time reapply and agitate with a brush.

Plastic and Trim Cleaning

Here is a good eye sore, especially on vehicles that see daily road use. Plastic trim fades quickly and is very difficult to restore. You have two options when it comes to cleaning trim and plastic. You can pressure wash it and use solution and a brush to remove oxidation and build up on the plastic, then coat with a trim conditioner. Or after cleaning the trim you can use a trim paint to recoat the trim and bring back protection and even shine.

                Trim Restorer-You have seen products such as Back to Black as it is sold in every auto supply retailer. This product removes light oxidation and grime build up while leaving a protective coating. It does not last for very long and really is more useful as a preventative tool then a restorer tool.

To restore trim during the washing process you can pressure wash the trim-be careful if the trim is brittle-use solution and a brush to break up dirt, grime, and oxidation and leave the trim tacky and clean ready for product.  

               

                Plastic Trim Paint-This is my go-to for all trim that is faded. After cleaning the trim components and completing my wash of the entire body I will use 3M 1” masking tape and tape below and above the trim. Try to get the tape as close to the trim as possible if not right next to it. 1” masking tape is more flexible and a great way to follow the run of trim. You can follow with a 2” masking tape to overlap and give yourself greater surface area to protect the paint from your trim paint.

I use Shine Supply Trim Paint which comes in both grey and black. Follow the link to also get the proper applicator pad for the product. Shake your bottle well and apply in a shaded area for best results. Apply a light even layer to the trim and let fully cure (only takes a couple of minutes). Come back and apply a second coat to deepen the shine and color. The paint actually will fill the pores of the trim and restore color to the trim. It is great for the plastic bumper components as well as bed railing on trucks or roof racks.

As with any new product test in a small area to get comfortable with the application process.

Trim paint offers long lasting results and is the only product I use to properly restore faded plastic and vinyl trim on vehicles. A bottle of this product will last for 6-8 full trim restoration projects giving you roughly a 200% return on your investment.

                Pricing $50-$100

That’s its for this lesson. These are great add-ons for any detail package and can help create some extra cash flow from projects with a minimal amount of added time.

I will see you in the next lesson.

Cheers!

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

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Car Detailing: Lesson 1-How To Properly Wash a Car.

Car Detail

Car Detailing: Lesson 1-The Wash

Best Car Detailing Products For Washing Your Car: My Everyday Tools

Each lesson I am going to lay out the various tools needed for each aspect of the car detail. These tools listed below are what I use everyday and after testing multiple brands of products from cheap Autozone/Oreilly products to pro Meguiars products and more these are the tools I use everyday and consider to be the best car detailing products for washing your car.

***I am not an affiliate for any of these products, just passionate about the performance and consistency they offer***

Car Detailing Tools

How To Properly Wash A Car: The Process!

Everyone knows how to clean their car until they hit wash number 3 or 4 and they begin to notice defects such as swirls and scratches on the paint and they want to know WHAT HAPPENED? You have been washing by hand there should not be any swirls or light scratches to the paint right? Unfortunately there is a lot that can be done wrong when performing a wash on a vehicle during the car detail. Good news! When you master this process people will pay you to keep their vehicle looking beautiful while preventing additional defects in the paint. 

Step 1: Prep

First and foremost lets get your materials set up. You are going to need two wash buckets. Both should have a dirt filter at the base of the bucket to catch dirt and keep it separate from the clean water. The two bucket method  is used by all professional car-detailers to help reduce dirt being carried from one panel to the next creating swirls and scratches. 

Fill your bucket with some quality soap. We use a PH balanced soap from Shine Supply that helps to lift heavy dirt from the paint surface as well as oils and other contaminants. The soap has not additives in it that "shine" the paint. The goal of our wash soap is to simply remove as much build up on the paint during the wash process as possible. You will be most likely using a Ironx and Clay to remove bonded contaminants from the paint. No reason to waste money on a soap that adds shine just to take it off. In addition, when it comes to paint correction you want to see the paint exactly for what it is. A shiny residue from your local auto shops soap will mask those defects and will hinder your ability to see and remove them effectively during the paint correction process. Note here is to avoid any soap that says "wash and shine" on the label. 

Step 2: Wash Process

Start at the top! Lets make this process as simple and effective as possible. Always start at the top and work your way down. The majority of the dirt will be along the runners of the vehicle and around the wheel wells. If you start low and work your way up you will effectively be taking that dirt and heavier build up from the lower rocker panels and moving it across the surface creating lots of awesome scratches and swirls across the body. 

                           A. Rinse the entire vehicle-Use this opportunity before you add any foam to the car to remove heavier build up. Wash from the top down, heavier wash on the wheel wells and tires to knock loose dirt way, general wash of the undercarriage. If you are doing a more in-depth detail you can give the undercarriage a deeper clean but a quality soap and rinse will remove salt build up. If the vehicle is an off-road vehicle and has been used as such, make sure you price appropriately for the wash. I have spent 2-3 hours just power washing mud and dirt from a vehicle that has been out to a lease during hunting season etc. 

                            B. Foam it up-Spray the entire vehicle with a thick coat of foam. You do not need to use the entire bottle if you can get around the car with a good coat of foam. Depending on temperature conditions you can generally let the foam sit for a few minutes to allow it to do its work and loosen up contaminants, if you are working in the direct sunlight or in hotter temperatures (anything above 75 degrees) you will want to start working the wash mits sooner to prevent the soap from drying on the surface creating more work. 

                           C. 2 Bucket Mit Wash-Apply soap to mit, work the panel, rinse in clean water, re-dunk into soap bucket-Use the cross hatch pattern to prevent swirls. This pattern is used in multiple aspects of the detail. NO MR. MIYAGI Pattern. 

Cross Hatch Car Wash Pattern

Start at the top! Use one MIT to wash the vehicle starting at the top and rinsing and then re-dip your mit into the soap bucket after each panel, more if you have heavier build up. Do not apply heavy pressure. Let the MIT pick up the dirt and grime on the paint. You can go over the area twice if there is heavier build up. By applying pressure you will be pushing those dirt contaminants into the paint creating scratches and swirls. The mit is designed to grab dirt and pull it into the fibers away from the surface. Rinse as often as you feel necessary in your clean water, this keep the heavier dirt in a separate bucket and your clean soap water ready to work. The second wash-mit is for the rocker panels. Stop about a 1-ft away from the bottom of the door and body panels and use a separate mit to capture the heavier dirt. Do not go upward with this mit as you will drag that heavier dirt across the paint. Since you already did the entire upper area of the vehicle you should only have to focus on this lower panel area. 

Pro Tips:

**If after you wash and rinse the vehicle and the paint feels rough when you run your fingers over it you have embedded contaminants that soap and a mit alone will not remove. Use your Iron X and spray the entire vehicle. The product will turn purple as it works on the bonded contaminants helping them release from the paint. After about 2 minutes foam cannon the vehicle again and lightly mit wash one more time then rinse and continue with the drying process. 

**If after the IronX is used your paint still feels rough overall or in certain areas you will need to clay bar the vehicle after you dry the car. In optimal conditions (temperatures less then 75 degrees and in full shade) you can use a clay bar when you foam cannon the second time to remove the iron x, this allows the foam to act as your lubricating agent and also saves time. 

**Use a Boars Hair Detail brush to get into crevices, around door handles, window seals, and more to remove dirt and get the car even cleaner. 

Step 3: Drying The Vehicle

There are several methods you can use to dry the vehicle. The best method for drying a vehicle I have found is to use a smaller high quality microfiber towel and some shine mist or water-less wash. The method is quite simple. Fold your towel into a square so you have 8 usable sides. Again, start at the top of the vehicle. Lightly mist the body with your water less wash or shine mist to give your towel some slickness to move across the paint smoothly. Again, follow the Cross Hatch pattern to wipe down each panel. Ring out the towel as it becomes saturated. Flip to a clean side if your towel pulls off more dirt that is embedded in the paint while drying. After drying the entire car do a final wipe with a clean towel to remove and mild haze left by the product. Using either one of these products helps act as a drying aid to allow the water left on the paint to bead up and be removed faster and easier avoiding water spots, this is especially important in hotter temperatures. 

Step 4: Wheels & Wells

You can choose to do the wheels before you clean the rest of the car, just ensure you use a separate bucket or empty and re-fill your bucket with clean soap before you start working on the body of the car. 

Shine Supply has a great wheel cleaning kit to get you going. Wheels are fairly simple, keeping in mind they are not invincible to damage from heavy brushing we want to remove the dirt and brake dust without creating scratches on the aluminum, polished metal, or whatever type of coat is on the wheel. Rinse the wheel to give it some lubrication. Spray Cool Guy wheel cleaner over the entire wheel and let sit for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (again everything depends on the temperature, do not let this product dry). Using a wheel brush work the product on the wheel to help loosen more brake dust and rinse. Repeat as needed to fully clean the wheel. Spray the drums and use the wheel woolie to clean the backside of the wheel. This helps remove the heavier build up and prevents it from spreading to the outer aspect of the rim. If you are doing a wheels off detail, this will be even easier. Generally speaking for a mobile detail you will not be taking the wheels off the car (requires more tools and time). Thoroughly rinse the wheel and then use your water-less wash to complete a final wipe down of the wheel. If the tires need to be cleaned to remove excess tire dressing use Wise Guy and clean the tires first before moving to the wheels. Finish it off by dressing the wheels with some Decked out tire dressing (can be diluted for various levels of shine, recommended to apply with a microfiber pad). 

You can use a larger detail brush to scrub the wheel wells, any heavy duty cleaner such as Purple or Shine Supplies Solution are great de-greasers that can be used for lots of purposes during the detail and are great for cleaning wheel wells and engine bays. You can top it off with some undercarriage dressing to add shine and protection, while preventing heavy dirt build up and making the next clean easier for your customer. 

Step 5. Trim & Glass

Final step should be to wipe down all the plastic and vinyl trim and then add a protective dressing to it and clean the windows. No matter what window cleaner you choose to use always go back and wipe down the window with a clean dry towel to remove any haze. Haze is not always noticeable when it is bright and sunny outside but will be noticeable to the driver at night or in low-light conditions. If the windows have heavier build up we will talk later about window polish. 

Detail Add-Ons

During this portion of the car detail you may encounter (typical if a paint has only been washed) heavy build up on the paint such as tar, salt, road grime, bird droppings, and other road fallout that requires a quality clay. You can complete the clay process before you dry the vehicle and dry as you clay each panel or if temperature conditions permit you can clay during the wash process as mentioned in the pro tips for this lesson. 

I'll leave you with this great video from Wilson Auto Detailing. He does a fantastic job explaining the different types of clay levels (light, medium, and heavy) and how to use them on a cars paint. 

Wrapping up:

In this lesson we went over how to thoroughly detail the vehicle. We will get into what I consider wash add-ons such as the engine bay and undercarriage in another lesson. 

Remember that when it comes to the car detailing process your goal should always be to use the least aggressive method possible to produce the desired results. Ensuring that you are not using heavy pressure when using any products that come in contact with the paint will help ensure you do not create any additional damage creating more work for yourself. Keep this in mind as we move into other lessons, especially as we get into polishing paint to remove heavy defects. 

I'll see you in the next lesson!

Have a Questions?

Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed. 

Spamming and negative comments will be removed. 

Starting a Detail Business: The Basics

Starting A Detail Business

Step 1: Choosing Detailing Tools and Equipment

It can be very frustrating when you start a car detail and as you move from one step to the next you realize you are missing a piece of equipment or a supply. Often times there is a substitute, for me personally that substitute will get the job done but not usually as well as the product or tool I typically use. 

There are a plethora of tools and products that are used in the detailing business, from a simple garden hose to extractors and waste water removal setups. As you grow in experience you will come across various products and tools that you prefer over others. My only advice here is to TEST. There are so many great detailing tools that you can use and some work better for others. You will not know what works best for you until you start testing, but we can definitely eliminate some of the tools you should not be using as well. 

I have managed to build a quality mobile detail business using tools that fit in my 5.5' long bed space on my truck. This is my goal with this course. For you to start and grow a detailing business that is fully mobile, requires minimal overhead, which includes not wasting money on overstocking tools and products. 

Basic Tool Setup

Detailing tools you will need to get started. 

1. Pressure washer-A pressure washer is vital for ensuring that the vehicle is cleaned properly and it will speed up your overall detail time. You do not need a heavy duty gas pressure washer or one that puts out 3500 psi. In fact, professional detailers recommend a PSI rated pressure washer above 1600 psi and below 2500 psi. This allows enough pressure to remove dirt and heavier contamination build up as well as pressure wash the undercarriage of a vehicle. Using anything over 2500 psi may get you in trouble with older vehicles where they have paint chips. If the blade of water has enough pressure and catches a chip end of paint it can rip off additional paint creating unnecessary damage. Check out this Article on the Top 12 Electric Pressure washers of 2019, to better assist you in a decision. Electric is the way to go as it is more versatile, produces less noise, and the parts tend to last much longer then gas. 

2. Vacuum-A good shop vac is the perfect tool for getting the interior of a car cleaned properly. Vacuums can get extensive. I prefer any Rigid Shop Vac. The 5 HP, 4 Gallon Rigid shop Vac works perfect for my mobile detailing business. It has great suction power and takes up very little space and is easy to move around. You can add a couple accessories to help give you better flexibility in the line and micro tools for getting around tight spots and crevices that are filled with dirt. 

Rigid Hose Kit

Micro Cleaning Accessory for Shop Vacs​​​

Final note: Grab a Wet Vac filter from the store or off amazon. You want to keep your dry and wet filters for separate use, such as normal vacuuming and cleaning stains where water will be used on the carpets. This will be useful as well when we go over how to build your own extraction system.

3. Water and Power- I personally do not carry a water and power system. This usually requires a unique setup and takes up a lot of bed space. Since I focus on paint correction I carry more tools focused on paint correction and restoration and thus I do not have the space and prefer to not carry a trailer around. The work around to carrying water and power is to simply ask your customer at the time of scheduling if they have water and power hookups. 98% of the time they will have water and power. If you wish to serve commercial and apartment type locations you may want to look into having a water and power source but it is not necessary getting started. ​​​​

Detail Kings offers several different options for trailer water and power setups. You can find setups locally if you do some research but this will help get you pointed in the right direction. My advice, find used!

**After tripping some customers lower amp circuit breakers I will carry a small generator when running multiple tools, such as while one guy is polishing and the other is using a vac or steamer on the interior. Not sure what type of generator to get, check out this Generator Buying Guide. 

4. Polishers-There are multiple types of polishers that serve different purposes when it comes to product application and paint correction. If you would like to know more about the different types I recommend reading The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Car Polishers.

Rotary Polisher-Necessary for removing heavier defects such as scratches and sanding marks. This is not a final polish tool and should predominately be used for cutting/compounding. 

Dual Action Polisher- Used for refining paint after a heavy cut or as a quick detail to remove swirls from the paint. 

Mini Dual Action Polisher-1-3" polisher head tool that allows you to reach tight spaces around door handles, bumpers, mirrors, pillars, and anywhere that your normal 4-6" polisher pad will be to large. 

Two places I purchase polishers from are Shine Supply and Auto Geek. 

I prefer a 5-inch polisher head or a 15 mm throw polisher as it gives me more control. The larger 21 mm throw polishers are great for larger areas such as a hood or roof panel, however the 15 mm will give you greater control and correction. 

My recommendation is to start with the lower cost Torq polishers. They offer great power, low vibrations, and you can easily swap out backing plates to give you a variety of size options when using pads. They are much more cost efficient when starting up and work very well for paint correction. Around $600 will get you a Rotary, 15 mm throw, and a mini which will cover everything you need when it comes to cutting and polishing paint. 

If you have used a polisher before and are more comfortable with the higher end pricing you can check out Shine Supply's List of Rupes Polishers

5. Supplies

This topic can become very in-depth. Outside of needing water and a Vacuum, your supplies are the bread and butter of your business. Now I am not going to talk about actual products here because we are going to go over in-depth each product, how to use it, what secondary or tertiary purpose it can serve, as we cover each section. 

For now lets go over organization. 

Remember in the beginning when I wrote on realizing you are missing a product. Being organized is a great key when it comes to detailing and it is also the most important aspect of being a detailer if you want to produce quality work. In tis section lets cover what supplies will help keep your products organized so you can easily take inventory and ensure you are headed out to each job with the desired products and tools. 

Storage Container

I have gone through several different options and since I keep everything in the back of my truck I chose to go with the Milwaukee Packout.

Milwaukee Packout

Here is what I love about this setup. 

1. Large heavy duty storage compartments for keeping bottles upright during transport

2. Mid-size compartment for pads and detail brushes

3. Smaller compartment for Clay bars, sanding paper, backing plates, and polisher tools. 

4. Interchangeable boxes. You can stack up to 4 comfortably and you can choose what sizes you want. You can purchase as you see here or separate sizes. The base has the wheels and is the only standard size you have to get first. I have two of these boxes and they fit all of my tools and free up a lot of space in my truck bed. 

5. Heavy duty wheels for easy rolling in and out of truck and up and down paths to get to vehicle location. 

Bottles

You are going to use a lot of spray bottles. I recommend investing in some high quality spray bottles that have quality nozzles and will allow you to refill them with larger quantity stock items. This saves on wasting plastic and allows you to label bottles and re-use them. Typically you can get through an entire year with the same set of bottles. You will go through a lot of product so buying gallons when possible saves you a lot on overhead and saves the planet some plastic waste. 

Follow this link to check out a couple spray bottle options as well as some other brush accessories that you will come in handy. 

We will get into the subject of towels, chemicals, pads, sanding paper, detail brushes, and more as we move forward. As stated in the beginning this section is to just give you an idea of the larger bulk items you will need so you can get your vehicle organized whether that is a SUV, Truck, or even if you are working out of a car. My setup has been refined to allow you to offer a full mobile detailing service from a variety of vehicle sizes or a small cargo trailer. 

Now lets get into the actual subject of detailing starting with the Wash. 

Optimum Waterless Wash and Shine

Optimum Waterless Wash and Shine: How To Properly Clean Your Vehicle Using A Waterless Wash

Product Links:

Waterless Wash & Shine

Optimum Waterless Wash and Shine: Amazon

Microfiber Towels

Happy Ending Towel: Chemical  Guys

Monster Edgeless: Chemical Guys

Buckets

Wash Bucket Setup

Spray Bottle

Spray Bottle

Selecting the best waterless wash can be a little bit tricky. Many of the waterless car washes on the current market perform very well.

The key to using any waterless car wash is still in the washing technique. It sounds silly I know. We spend 10's of thousands of dollars on our cars and yet they seem to get scratches and swirls relatively easily.

To avoid scratches and swirls on your cars paint during a wash I highly recommend using a waterless car wash for those times that your vehicle is not heavily saturated with dirt and grime.

First, let's go over the proper cleaning method to avoid scratches and swirls on your cars paint during the wash process. Proper wash techniques are incredibly important especially on darker vehicles such as black, red, and blue.

  • Mix the optimum waterless wash and shine into a clean bucket of water according to the label.
  • Fill a second bucket of water with clean water.
  • If possible use is straining grates in the bottom of both buckets to catch dirt particles, but this is not necessary.
  • Using a high-quality microfiber towel one at a time, get your towel wet with your solution (water and waterless car wash mix).
  • Gently ring out a bit of water from the towel, so it is not dripping heavily.
  • You are starting at the top of the first panel (Panel being the door, front or rear fender, hood, or truck, and so forth). Wipe left to right with overlapping strokes. Try not to make more than one to two passes. Work your way down the panel but leave the bottom quarter of the panel for last.
  • Rinse your towel and ring it out in the clean bucket of water, this allows all the dirt to be caught in a separate bucket so when you go back to your waterless car wash mix, you are not dipping into the dirt.
  • Dip your towel in the waterless wash mix, then continue the lower ¼ section of the panel.
  • Finally, after you rinse your towel get it wet again with waterless car wash solution and then thoroughly ring it out, so the towel is slightly damp. Go back over your panel to start drying the surface.
  • Finally, take a very clean microfiber towel that is for polishing or waxes (these are generally plusher and softer) and with no downward pressure wipe the surface to remove any haze.
  • Move onto next panel with the same method used above.
  • Clean bumpers, grills, and plastic trim with a new towel last.

This method is a great way to avoid scratches as the heavy water in the rag will help lift the dirt away from the surface quickly and capture it in your towel leaving no swirls from the dirt particles running across the surface of the paint. You can also use a quality wash mitt and then dry with a good microfiber towel.

The difference between using a two bucket method and just a spray waterless wash is that there is not enough water to help lift away dirt quickly when using only a spray and a towel. That is why the spray form of a waterless wash is great for those lighter build ups and more frequent cleaning.

The optimum waterless wash is great for

  • Creating your own cost effective spray bottle
  • Cleaning door jams, wheels, wheel wells, and of course painted surface.
  • Can be used in a bucket or as a spray
  • Can be used for claying the car surface as a lubricant.

What is the difference between a Car Wash and a Car Detail?

What is the difference between a Car Wash and a Car Detail?


If you have not read my first article on why you should get a detail, you might want to start there.

Let’s keep this one simple. We covered in the article above why you should get an auto detail done on your car.

What is the difference between a car wash and a car detail?

Car Wash

Think about it, when you go through a car wash you are washing off the paint and removing “some” but not all of the contamination on the paint. If you are using an automatic car wash and opt for the top of the line car wash you will also get a nice hot wax sprayed on your car, which I personally do not think is worth its costs. In fact, that hot wax only covers up and defects that your cars paint might have. Then after a wash or two you will start to see the defects until you have another coat of hot wax applied at the car wash.  This cycle covers the defects and contamination on your cars paint allowing the contaminates to do their dirty work out of site until it may be to late.

A car wash is not necessarily a bad thing, it just is not a substitute for an annual detail. We pay to have quarterly and annual maintenance done on our vehicles why not also the body of the car?

What about a detail at the car wash?

For $100-$200 you can have your car “detailed”. Normally takes no more then 2-hours because no one wants to sit at the car wash waiting on their vehicle for more than a couple of hours. Have you ever watched these guys in action? I am not saying they are not good at their job, they just do not have enough time. Often, they throw some wax on a polisher and speed it over the surface. Same process for clay bar. If you know anything about professional detailing it takes TIME. Contaminates will not all come off with just one or two passes of a clay bar, and swirls and scratches will definitely not be removed by a speed pass of a polisher. In fact, speeding over the surface with a polisher generally will cause marring in the paint and hazing, which is created when the polishing or compounding agents are not broken down all the way and the “cutting agents” in the polish are only worked partially. This is normally coated over with a wax but again is only temporary, one the wax fades you will have swirls and scratches very visible again.

Auto Detailers

The number one problem of poor detailing is “time”. This is resolved by professional detailers because you either have a mobile service (Doc Mobile Auto Detail) or a shop that you drop your vehicle off at. Much like when you have maintenance done with your car, you are expecting the vehicle to be out of pocket for at least a day.

Now a detailer has time to properly decontaminate the paint, clay bar the paint correctly, and polish to remove swirls and scratches which often takes up more then half of the time a good detail requires 3-4 hours minimum, on average my higher details take around 6-8 hours with some exception (newer cars).

Here is the good news. A detail is only required at a minimum once a year, preferably at least twice, if you really love your car every quarter. Why? Because we use better products and coatings that last much longer. My lowest detail will protect your cars paint for 6 months and with one extra step it will protect for a full 12 months. This means if you did not wash your car for an entire year your paint would not oxides, fade, or break down. However, it will not protect from scratches, and swirls, but they are generally much easier to correct.

Time is also important when it comes to the inside. Getting into those nooks and crannies where food and spills are lingering make all the difference when you drive off in your car. I personally love getting into a clean smelling car and looking around and feeling like I just bought a new car. It really changes my mood when I have to be in my car running errands or going on a trip. Often, I will spend several hours detailing my car before a long trip so that the drive is less stressful.

Overall, do not sweat taking your car to the car wash. I have some videos coming over the next week (if not already posted) about what to do after a car wash to prevent swirls in your cars paint and elongate your detail.

I hope this was helpful, if you have any questions please ask and stay tuned for more car care tips.

Why You Should Get Your Car Detailed

Doc Mobile Auto Detail Logo

Why You Should Get Your Car Detailed

But not just any auto detail. Often my customers have asked me what the difference is between my details and the one they can get from their favorite car wash, usually close to my pricing or even slightly cheaper.

To start off let’s cover the important role your cars paint plays.

Our Cars paint is the layer of skin that protects the sub-surface from damage. The metal underneath is strong but can rust and denigrate quite rapidly if exposed to the elements. Usually this is the case because a rock chip or deep scratch penetrated down to the metal and now is allowing rust to grow and spread. The rust is often not even visible as a small rock chip on the lower runner of a car won’t be noticed, but the rust can spread across the entire panel of a car right under the rest of the paint. This is an extreme scenario but one that I see fairly often.

The more common occurrence is peeling and flaking of the clear coat, which can only be repaired by a new and costly paint job.  This occurs when the layer of clear coat is cut by a deep scratch. Now we have a valley between the top layer and the base coat of paint. Various elements such as chemicals, road fallout, UV radiation, sap, bug guts, and more will start to wear on this area and eventually work its way under the clear coat from the scratch and begin to cause peeling.

What Auto Detailing Does for Your Car: Not Just Aesthetics

It is great that after a quality detail our cars looks amazing, but the role a detail plays is much more important then just looks.

  • Contamination

Removing contamination is the most important part of keeping your paint healthy and increasing the lifespan of the paint. If you did nothing else but properly decontaminate your paint every few months your paint would last substantially longer. Oxidation, cracking, and flaking are all proponents of contaminated paint. By removing build up on your paint, which is often not easily visible to the eye, you are preventing contamination from wearing on your paint.

  • Swirls & Scratches

Swirls and scratches are more on the aesthetic side of things, but by removing swirls and scratches from your cars paint you are keeping your paints surface as smooth as possible, which will allow water and dirt to bead off and prevent additional build up. If you have ever washed a car and then carefully went back over it, you may notice that the scratches are holding onto dirt which contain chemicals that will slowly eat away at the clear coat. Since they are already sitting inside of a scratch, they are one layer closer to reaching the metal and then rust can occur.

These are the two primary categories of items that are being fixed when a proper detail is done to your vehicle.

Even if you could care less what your care looks like day to day at some point you are going to want to get a new car.  On average car buyers will keep their car for around six years. Cars today can last for well over 12 years if properly maintained. The condition and appearance of your car is on the top five reasons people will buy a car for the asking price.

Swirls, scratches, contamination, oxidation, and more do not build up over just one week or even several months. If a proper detail is completed then a quality layer of protection such as a synthetic wax sealant or even a ceramic coating is applied after the paint is properly reconditioned and corrected. This added layer of protection helps fight against harsh UV damage and when contamination does occur it is not on a superficial layer that is protecting the original paint underneath. However, it won’t last forever and this is why you do not need a full detail but every 6-12 months. Just be careful, if you go to long without a quality detail your protective coating can wear off and now contamination is affecting the paint directly. Slapping on another coat of wax will not help, which leads me into another great piece.

What is the difference between a Car Wash and a Car Detail?

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