How to: Maintain your Paintwork.

MasterAuron

Very Senior Member
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379bhp 359lbft
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Mk1 Focus RS
This article is intended to serve as a guide on how to best maintain the paintwork of your vehicle. I'll try to keep things as brief and user-friendly as possible but it's perfectly possible to create whole guides just on individual areas (such as machine polishing).

Let's start at the beginning:

Washing Your Car


sponge.jpg


Sponges are evil. Remember that. All they do is trap dirt between themselves and the paintwork and become more like sandpaper:

swirl-marks-small.jpg


You will need a good quality lambs/sheepswool or microfibre mitt. These trap dirt within the fibres and keep it away from the paintwork until you rinse it out.

Meguiars do a good quality lambswool mitt, which i use:

MegLamMit2001.jpg


You will also need a shampoo of sorts to wash your car with. This is more to provide a lubricant when usurping any dirt rather than to have pretty bubbles or smell nice. Your mitt should be able to glide nicely over the car. DO NOT use washing up liquid or some other household detergent. Most will strip any protection from the paintwork and leave the surface dull. Some even contain salt which can cause corrosion (ie rust!). What you ideally want is a pH neutral shampoo to leave all of your lovely wax in tact. For example: Dodo Juice "Born to be Mild".

You need to wash your paintwork with care. First, rinse the car. This is to remove as much loose dirt as possible before you even touch the car. Best done with a jetwash but can also be done with a hose. Keep jetwashes to low pressure to avoid blasting loose dirt and grit into the paintwork and scratching it.

Now...have you ever heard of the "two bucket" method? The idea here is to fill one bucket with your water/shampoo mix (cold or warm is fine) and another with just water. You first dip your mitt into the bucket with the shampoo in, then proceed to wash some of the car. Rinse your mitt off in the bucket of plain water then go back for more from the shampoo bucket. That way you have a bucket of dirty water to clean your mitt in and another to use clean water/shampoo to clean the car. You can get grit-guards but that's not feasible for everyone.

Start from the roof and work your way down. The motion isn't important so much as the pressure. Apply light pressure not pushing too hard or "scrubbing" in one particular area as this usually creates scratches or swirls. Repeat until the whole car is washed including the wheels, keeping your mitt as clean as possible.

Now, rinse the car completely with a hose or jetwash on low pressure.
Lovely. It is now advisible to dry your car with a microfibre cloth or drying towel, not a leather chamois.

You should wash your car at least once a week to keep the paint in top condition.

Claying

DSC_0003-3.jpg


An additional step in cleaning your paintwork can be done by "claying" your paint. Rubbing clay along your paintwork picks up all the bonded contaminents that normal washing cannot remove. Even on what you think is very clean paint, you will find that your clean clay bar gradually becomes dirty as above.

You need a clay bar and a lubricant. Water can be used but a proper lubricant is preferably. Meguiars do a good kit avaliable from Halfords etc. Knead the clay into a usable shape and then spray the lubricant on both the clay and on the panel to be clayed. Next gently rub the clay along the surface of the panel. You may feel it drag slightly as it picks up the contaminents, too much drag and you are not using enough lubricant and so risk damaging you paint.

Once the surface of the clay becomes dirty, re-knead it so you are using a clean part of the clay. And don't forget to keep it lubricated. This is to avoid scratching your paint and prevent marring. Wipe the panel dry with a microfibre cloth, repeat throughout the whole car and then wash the car once more as detailed above.

You only need to clay your car about once a year.

Polishing

In short, polish is an abrasive chemical used to remove surface grime and layers of clearcoat/paint from the vehicle. There is a huge range of polishes that vary in how abrasive they are, what they contain, how they are designed to be applied, etc etc.

You can either polish a car by hand or using one of two machines:

A Rotary Polisher: Rotates in one direction only, very easy to burn through the paint in all but the hands of an expert. Completely superceded by the existence of.....

Dual Action polisher (DA): The pad orbits randomly. This generates far less heat and is a lot kinder on the paintwork. Very easy to use and get good results, even for a beginner.

However, I'll assume most people won't be interested in machine polishing their vehicle and full correction work. How to polish your car by hand:

1. Ensure your paint is completely clean and dry.
2. Using a good quality foam applicator or microfibre cloth work the polish back and forth or round and round. (or both). Direction isn't important. What is allowing enough time for the abrasives to properly break down and that the polish has been worked in firmly and evenly. The polish will generally turn clear or to a haze when it has broken down.
3. Buff off with a microfibre towel.

Simples! When polishing by hand I'd recommend Autoglym Super Resin Polish as it is easy to get good results with using the limited hand polishing method.

Machine Polishing by DA:


Finish and correction ability over a large area isn't even comparable to applying by hand. DAS-6 is a good option if you want something that is good value. You need to polish small areas at a time (18"x18" for example) for correction work and stay away from the edges of the panels where the paint is thinner. Apply light pressure and you want to be moving only a couple of inches a second when correcting.

You want to use the least abrasive polish and pad combo that still removes the defects if that makes sense. This will minimise the clearcoat/paint removal. Something like Dodo Juice Lime Prime is great at removing light swirls and minor defects. Anything more serious will need something with more cut. Megs #83 would be ideal.

You won't burn the paint with a DA and nothing too aggressive unless you're a complete tool. There's no need to keep the head wet with any modern polish (not G3 for example) in fact DON'T keep the pads wet as it will affect the working of the polish and may lead to it splattering everywhere. If you are using a dry, dusty polish a couple of quick spritzes with water onto the pad is helpful though, but nothing more.
 
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MasterAuron

Very Senior Member
Points
242
Location
379bhp 359lbft
Car
Mk1 Focus RS
the mitt and shampoo can be picked up frm any motor factor type shop can they ?

what about wax and polish ?

The mitts and a half decent shampoo can yeah. Even Halfords. Most also stock a couple of decent waxes and polishes. Avoid T-cut, there are much better things on the market. If you're polishing by hand Auto Glym Super Resin Polish is the best easily avaliable all-rounder. As for wax some protection is better than none at all but generally speaking proper solid carnubua wax is better than that liquid spray on stuff.

I'll try and include all this when I get more time to continue.
 

tjay56

Torque Junkie
Points
57
Location
essex..england
Car
corsavxracing
Method I use is as follows:


Snowfoam
rinse
clean wheels using BILBERRY(leave to dwell for 2 mins,then rinse off)
wash(USING MICROFIBRE MITT)2bm
rinse
dry
clay(normally use MEGUIARS KIT)BORN TO BE SLIPPY is a good lubricant.
wash 2bm
rinse
dry
polish(meguiars nxt generation)
wax(meguiars carnauba wax)
tyre dressing(MEGUIARS)
leather dressing to seats.


I've tried AUTOGLYM SRP,but not happy with the white powder residue it leaves behind.When claying your car,ALWAYS make sure you keep the surface lubricated.

Further info can be found on any detailing site.I'll not name the best one as I dont want to be banned.lol.
 
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herb

modherbrator
Moderator
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467
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west midlands
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Seat Leon Cupra
this a good easy writen guide mate
nod.gif

look forward to the 2nd part!!!!

and 1 for tjay56
the snowfoam is that the stuff i have seen that the people put on first and let dissolve the dirt?? if so where can you get it??
i openly admit car cleaning isn't my forte i like to leave the dirt to hide the defects:lol:
 
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obi_waynne

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Staff member
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Deal, Kent UK
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A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Great tips here guys! An interesting thread. I didn't know about snow foam and seem quite impressed by what i've read!

One other thing i'd add is not to clean the car on a very hot day because it goes all streaky and the wax can be a nightmare to apply!
 

jarrus

Pro Tuner
Points
317
Location
West Midlands, UK
Car
Suzuki Swift Sport
Yeah I want to know where to get the snowfoam from as well,

I got a good jet washer and never use it,

i find that mer works wonders as a polish, and i've heard that zaino works well as a wax
 

tjay56

Torque Junkie
Points
57
Location
essex..england
Car
corsavxracing
Snow foam can be purchased on-line from any detailing suppliers.

If you've plenty of money then ZAINO will be perfect,but wax can be a minefield.
 

MasterAuron

Very Senior Member
Points
242
Location
379bhp 359lbft
Car
Mk1 Focus RS
More added, need to change/add some of the pgarners pictures when I get round to it. Will split the polishing section in hand polishing and machine polishing once I've written a brief segment about machine polishing.
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
Location
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
I used to use SRP (very occasionally - those who know me acknowledge that car polishing is not my strong point) and it's extremely good.

But it's also got very expensive. At the moment I am using (OK, let's be honest, I have an unopened tin of!) 151 Carpride Tough Wax. 99p from the local discount warehouse.

I have no idea what it's like though. Ask again in three years time :)
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
Location
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
They are a bit savage I agree. There's one here at the Total garage where the rubber cone from the lance has gone walkies. If I hit the paintwork with the nozzle directly it would gouge right through to the metal.

Last time I used as jetwash I plastered the car in the detergent foam firstly to soften the 'blow' a bit. It looked like we'd had freaky July snow
 

geraint13

Pro Tuner
Points
257
Location
Caerphilly, Wales
Car
Zafira 1.9 SRI
a mate borrowed a jet wash to do his car. cleaning the sills he got a bit too close to the car and off came the paint, so i try and stand a metre or so away if im ever using a jet wash. thats a metre from end of jet to the car.
 

Srogers

Full member
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26
Location
Whittlesey, Peterborough
Car
Mk v GTI Stage 2
Quality tips and advice. But unfortunatly over a six month period i have been using drive in albanian car washers and it has left car covered in deep swirl marks, any tips on how to remove, and, what products will give me best results?
 

T9 man

TC ModFather
Moderator
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London, UK
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Saab 9-3SS T9
Greetings and Welcome To TorqueCars My Friend!

pgarner is our resident shiny car boffin, hopefully he will see this and put some answers to your questions :)
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Points
417
Location
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
deep swirals will need to be machined out. plus side is VAG paint is hard wearing and quite thick so you will have little problem.

sort term remedy would be a few applications or super resin polish. a heavy filler polish which will hide the swirals but your talking its short term and after a few washes it will come out.
 

yankfan100

Tuner
Points
20
Location
Taplow,Bucks
Car
MG ZS IXL DTi
Totoly agree with whats been said but,,,,i lived in thailand for 7yrs & its hot,,but Auto Glym Super Resin polish will NOT leave any polish marks & is very easy to remove. Also, how many people , & you know who you are, have after polishing the car have stood back & looked at the "swirl" marks you've left,,,we've all done it,,TIP,,do NOT go round in circles, always start at the top of the bonnet ( windscreen ) & pull down to the lights, back & forth until you loose all the fine lines, try doing the same direction on the doors, front to back not top to bottom, if useing an electric mop the be very careful, without slight moisture aswell as the polish on the mop head you WILL burn the paint
Fast colours, ei: 2 pack paint, a good silicone polish is better than wax, again AutoGlym Resin is great, but be mindful, silicone polish does go through the top coat of paint , so if you plan on re-spraying the car use a wax without silicone....Happy polishing people....
 
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