Why do I need automotive detailing as opposed to just washing?
Your car is an investment! Detailing does more than merely clean your car. It preserves or, as the case may be, restores its original beauty through, professional processes involving bug, tar, sap, lime removal, tire and rim treatment, interior leather and vinyl conditioning, carpet and headliner shampooing, dent removal, wet sanding, waxing and applied protectants that keep your car looking new.
Moreover, regular detailing extends the life of your car and actually adds to its value. Car detailing is extremely effective in cases where cars are parked outside, subject to the cruelties of the environment, such as sand, bird droppings, rain and more – all entities that can erode a vehicle’s good looks by wearing through its protective clear coat and eventually consuming the layers of paint. Auto detailing is for anyone who wants to get the most out of their vehicle, and keep it looking great for its expected lifetime and beyond. If you are selling your vehicle, a detail will assure a quicker sale while increasing the resale value perceptibly.
Washing Your Car
Do you need to wash the car before using the wipe?
Yes. Car surface has dust and particles which act as abrasive if cleaned dry with a regular cloth. A washed surface and a microfiber cloth will substantially reduce the chances of the car getting scratches and swirl marks.
What is Microfiber?
Microfibers are tiny fibers that have been slit into millions of finer fibers that are no thicker than one hundredth of a human hair. The special slitting process produces an ultra-fine fiber with wedge shape filaments and a core of nylon. The wedge shape, the nylon core, and the smaller size fiber are the key to their effectiveness. When these tiny fibers are woven together into a cloth through a unique weaving method, the result is a powerful cleaning tool. Each cloth consists of tens of thousands of tiny storage compartments that lift the dirt up, trap the waste and leave a clean streak-free surface. Thy nylon core within the microfiber form tiny cutting edges that break up surface dirt and easily absorb and remove oils and other grimy substances. The only solvent you need is water!
Why are Microfiber towels better than cotton towels?
Microfiber is able to accumulate and absorb more particles of dirt and bacteria than any other fabric known. It can absorb up to 7 times its weight in dirt or liquid.
What is the best way to wash my vehicle and how often should I do it?
When properly performed, hand washing is the safest and most thorough method of cleaning the exterior of your vehicle. It is recommended to wash your car every rainfall to remove contaminants that may have settled or about every 10 days if no rainfall The vehicle should be hosed down while the bodywork is cool or in the shade. A jet wash can be used, however be cautious not to work too closely to the panel and always spray at a 45 degree angle, this will blow the dirt and grime away from the paintwork. It is important that the bottom third of the car is rinsed thoroughly as this is where much of the road dirt and salts accumulate.
More than half of all the people who wash their own car use dishwashing detergents. These dishwashing detergents strip off all of your wax protection and then pull the vital oils out of the paint just like too much detergent does to your hands. This dries your paint out and accelerates the oxidation process. When you wash your car, only use a car wash shampoo and conditioner, like Meguiar’s NXT Shampoo. This will enhance the appearance of your paint finish without stripping polish and wax while flushing off loose contaminants.
Use the two bucket method, to ensure the dirt is separated from the main washing solution. The two bucket method uses one bucket of car wash solution and one of clean water. Firstly charge the wash mitt with the soapy car wash solution and wash the panel. Before re charging the wash mitt with car wash solution, rinse it in the clean water. This will separate the dirt and grit from the car wash solution, meaning even less swirl marks will be inflicted. Sponges are a major contributor to the infliction of fine scratches or ‘swirls’. This is why use wash mitt or microfibre cloth . The wash mitt allows for swirl-free washing by lifting and trapping dirt within its pile.
It is important to rinse the wash mitt every time it is dipped back into the wash solution, so that any loose grit is freed from the mitt. Once the vehicle has been washed, carry out a final rinse with a free flowing stream of water. This will help create a sheeting effect, which will reduce the drying time. Any water that is left on the surface can be removed with Meguiars Water Magnet towel. This large micro-fibre drying towel gives fast and spot free results, reducing the time it takes to dry your vehicle. Inner door edges should also be cleaned, as water and dirt can also build up here.
It just rained. Didn't that clean the contaminants off of my car?
One of the most critical times to wash your car is immediately after a rainfall. As rain falls, it collects pollutants from the air, a concept commonly referred to as “acid rain”. The water eventually evaporates, leaving a thin layer of pollutants that can damage your cars finish.
How can I keep my vehicle looking good between washes?
Frequent and proper washing is the most important preventative maintenance for your vehicles appearance. No wax or sealant is effective enough to protect a vehicle from contaminants that remain on the surface for extended periods.
Protecting Your Car's Paint Surface
Why must I wax my car's paint so often?
Today’s high-solid clear coat are actually softer and less durable than the low-solid single stage finishes applied years ago because of certain environmental regulations. A wax acts as a sacrificial layer of protection for the clear coat of your vehicle.
Your car is being constantly bombarded by contaminants each and everyday. All of these contaminants take a toll on your car's paint if the finish is not frequently washed and waxed.
Imagine what would happen if you only brushed your teeth once a year. The buildup could lead to costly dental repairs. And your teeth might never look as good as they did before.
Your car's paint is constantly exposed to the elements and needs regular care to keep it looking its best at all times. If you neglect your car's finish for a long enough time, a quality repaint could easily cost several thousand rupees. If you decide to sell your vehicle without a new paint job, it could substantially reduce your trade-in value, depending upon the age and type of automobile you have.
Do car waxes provide real UV protection?
Some waxes do contain UV-protection agents, but the amount of protection that a microscopically thin layer of wax can provide is limited.
The primary goal of a wax is to protect the top layers of paint that contain UV-protection agents from the paint manufacture. If you wash and wax your car regularly, your paint will be protected and you should suffer no major UV damage over the normal course of the life of the car.
How long does a coating of wax last?
The life expectancy of a coat of wax depends on many things:
How well the surface was prepared to accept the wax
Local environment – dusty, moist etc
Condition of paint
Number of hours exposed to outside conditions
Quality of the wax used and method of application
Quality of car wash used (detergent soaps will remove wax)
Clear coat paints make it more difficult to determine when your car needs waxing or polishing. It may need attention far sooner than its appearance would indicate.
Two simple tests can tell you if your car needs waxing:
After washing and drying your car, take a clean, dry 100% cotton terry cloth towel fold it until you have a thick towel that your hand fits comfortably across with now fingers hanging over the edges, and then push down on it and twist it in a clockwise/counter clockwise manner. If you hear squeaking, that's a sure sign you need to wax.
What is the difference between a Natural Protectant and a Synthetic Protectant?
The ONLY reason you put a protectant on the exterior surface of an automobile is to "Protect" the paint or clear coat from forming Oxidation.
There are TWO types of protectants known to man - Natural and Synthetic.
A Natural Protectant is anything that is grown "Naturally" on planet Earth. (Bees Wax, Montan Wax, which is a form of coal, and the Copernicia Prunifera plant grown wildly in Brazil; better known as Carnauba.)
A Synthetic Protectant is "Man Made" from Polymers and plastics. Thus “3M’s Performance Finish” is a synthetic sealant. When applied as a layer on the painted surface, they bond or tie with the paint surface stronger and therefore longer than wax .
For the serious enthusiasts
What is gloss?
Gloss is an optical term that describes a surface's ability to reflect light. A high-gloss paint surface is one that directly reflects light with minimum hazing or diffusion. Dirt, grime, and other bonded contaminants on the surface of a car's paint absorb and diffuse light, reducing gloss, and making the finish look dull and lifeless. No paint will remain glossy if it is neglected and exposed to environmental contamination for even a short period of time.
The best test or measure of gloss, shine, depth of color, reflectivity, and overall beauty, is the test you perform when you look at your car's finish with your own two eyes.
Are polymer sealants safe/good for my car's finish?
A high quality polymer sealant is good for your car's finish and can give protection upto 8 months. Quality polymer sealants are noted for their ability to offer longer lasting protection than traditional waxes. Automotive waxes, whether natural or synthetic, are meant to be sacrificial barriers.
That is to say that they are meant to protect your finish by sacrificing themselves so your paint doesn't have to.
How long do I need to let a wax dry before removing it?
Under normal conditions, waxes and paint protectants take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to dry. To determine whether the wax or paint protectant has cured enough to remove it, you can perform a "Swipe test".
To perform a Swipe Test, take your index finger and swipe it across the film of wax or paint protectant on your finish. If your finger wipes away the dried residue and the surface below is shiny, then the wax, or paint protectant, is ready to be removed.
If however, you swipe the finish and the product streaks or smears, you need to allow a little more time for it to fully cure.
One popular misconception that we would like to address is the false idea that the thicker the layer of wax or paint protectant you apply at one time, the more protection you will leave behind. This is not true. Only a small amount of wax actually bonds to the finish during each application, while the rest is simply removed when you wipe the excess off the surface.
How do I perform a Surface Evaluation?
You'll want to inspect the surface both visually, as well as by physically using your sense of touch. Sometimes your sense of touch can reveal defects the eyes cannot see. First, wash and dry your vehicle. Then look along your paint surface at an angle while noting the depth and richness of the color.
Ideally, do this in bright sunlight as well as under strong indoor lights because some defects show up best under specific types of lighting conditions.
To find bonded contaminants that your eyes may have missed, slowly slide the face of your clean, dry hand along the surface of your car's finish after washing and drying your car. The surface should feel as smooth as glass.
Any surface irregularities you do feel are bonded contaminants that must be removed before polishing or waxing. The best way to remove above surface bonded contaminants is to use clay.
What is clear coat paint?
Automotive paints are a mixture of ingredients including resins, binders, fillers, additives, and carrying agents (typically solvents, sometimes water). Clear coat paint is simply paint, or resin without pigment. Non-clear coat paints (also called single-stage paint) is paint (or resin) with pigment added to give the paint color.
Today, approximately 95% of all cars coming out of the factory have a clear coat finish.
Clear coat finishes (also referred to as two-stage paint systems) are simply a layer of clear resin applied over the top of colored resin. Although a clear coat does protect the base coat, just like a single-stage finish, the clear coat needs to be regularly maintained to keep it in top shape.
Clear coat finishes need to be waxed periodically to maintain their appearance value. accordingly will last longer when maintained.
Why are clear coat finishes "Scratch Sensitive"?
Clear coat finishes are incredibly sensitive to scratches and swirl marks. Because the top layer is clear, light reflects through it and bounces back highlighting these scratches from behind. This tends to magnify defects making them easier for your eyes to see.
Can a clear coat paint oxidize?
The molecular structure of modern paints is much tighter, more dense. This in-turn makes the pore structure tighter and denser. A dense molecule structure makes it difficult for water and other detrimental substances to get into the paint through pores and other microscopic surface imperfections where they cause oxidation and corrosion.
Most oxidation problems can be avoided with even minimal attention (i.e. regular washing and periodic waxing with a premium wax or paint protectant).
Can a clear coat fade?
Yes and No
The word fade means to: "Lose color or brightness gradually."
Technically speaking, since the clear coat has no color, it cannot fade or lose it's brightness (at least if we use the above definition).
It can however become dull, but that's not the same as fading and is more typically a sign of oxidation and the build up of above surface contaminants. (See in this FAQ – Can a clear coat oxidize?)
Now lets ask the above question in just a little different way.
Can the color coat below the clear coat fade?
In short, the answer is yes, however, it depends upon the environment in which the car is exposed.
A car parked inside most of its life, far away from the equator will not show much sign of fading.
A car continually parked outside in a desert region close to the equator will fade more quickly and the results will be more apparent over time because of the increased exposure to UV rays.
While these answers are technically correct, the non-technical answer to the question, "Can a clear coat fade?", is yes, but very slowly. So slowly that most people cannot perceive any visual change over the course of normal day-to-day living or during the length of the ownership of their car.
Can a clear coat become dull?
Even more than yesterday's paints, today's clear coat finishes look faded whenever the surface becomes contaminated by above surface contaminants, things like:
As contaminants build-up on the surface they reduce the reflective quality of the finish by creating a surface with somewhat of a textured-feel to it. This in turn acts to diminish gloss (which is a direct result of how smooth your surface is), thus causing the paint to look dull.
The best way to prevent a clear coat finish from becoming dull is to remove fresh contaminants as quickly as possible. To do this, wash your car weekly with a premium car wash solution like Meguiars.
Washing your car weekly is especially important if your car is a daily driver and parked outdoors for any length of time.
When contaminants build up (you can tell if you have bonded contaminants by drawing the clean face of your palm across the finish after washing and drying the car and feel little bumps that are stuck to the finish), the best, fastest and safest way to remove them and restore a smooth as glass surface is to use smooth Surface clay.
What causes swirl marks?
Swirl marks are scratches in the finish. Sometimes these scratches are microscopic in size and only visible in bright light, like direct sunlight or very intense artificial lights. Other swirl marks are very deep and are easily visible in just about any lighting condition.
Swirl marks can generally be placed in two categories, which describes the origin of the swirls.
1. Cobweb-effect also called spider web scratches, car wash scratches, towel scratches etc.
2. Buffer Swirl or Holograms. Cobweb-effect is the term to describe the visual appearance of the thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of tiny scratches inflicted into your car's finish through normal, everyday wear and tear.
Such as working from the bottom up potentially dragging dirt that has accumulated on the bottom parts of the car to the cleaner upper section of the car.
Using tatty, worn, dirty, or scratchy wash mitts, sponges, drying towels etc. As a standard rule, anytime a wash mitt is dropped to the ground, it should not be returned to use but instead should be either discarded or cleaned.To avoid the cobweb-effect type swirls and scratches, thoroughly wash all dirt particles from your finish before applying polish or wax. Always use a microfiber polishing cloth like the 3M Microfiber
Buffer Swirls or Holograms Buffer swirl, also referred to as holograms, are circular scratches grooved into the finish through either the improper use of a rotary buffer, or using the wrong pads and chemicals with the rotary buffer. Buffer swirls can either be very deep or very shallow, depending on how forcefully the were created and depending on the products and type of pad used while buffing.
Which is better for applying cleaners, polishes and waxes, machines like the rotary buffer, Dual-Action polisher or the tried and true method of applying products by hand?
This is not a one is better than the other issue.
Each method offers it's own unique benefits and features. Machines like rotary buffers, dual action polishers, and orbital buffers are simply tools. Depending on the surface condition and what you're trying to accomplish, one may be better suited for the task over another.
While hand application of paint cleaners, cleaner/polishes, pure polishes and waxes can achieve brilliant results a majority of the time, professional painters and detailers prefer using a machine such as a rotary buffer, dual-action polisher or an orbital buffer for a number of different reasons.
Here are a few:
Depending on the procedure, machines are nearly twice as fast as your hands.
Machines are much less fatiguing to your hands, arms, and back.
Dual-Action Polishers and Orbital buffers apply a thinner coat that's easier to wipe off.
Dual-Action Polishers and Orbital buffers spread polishes and waxes more evenly, for more uniform results.
Machines do a better job of cleaning deeper and removing surface defects and oxidation more thoroughly.
Machines are better at removing swirls
Machines force more polishing oils into the surface, for deeper gloss and reflections.
Machines are more effective at removing serious defects than your hand.
Either of the two power buffers mimic your hand motions and will give you an impressive finish without any risk of burning your paint, even if you've never used a buffer before.
It's important to remember that while a rotary buffer can do a lot of good, it can also be dangerous, potentially creating swirls, or burning through paint if not properly used. Using a rotary buffer correctly requires skill, good technique, and experience. Don't expect or even try to learn how to use a rotary buffer on any vehicle that is important to you.
What's the difference between? Dual-Action polishers and Orbital buffers
Dual-Action polishers and Orbital buffers
The motors and drive units on these two types of polisher's oscillate in an eccentric circular motion. This type of motion is much safer to the paint because it's virtually impossible to apply too much concentrated pressure in one place at one time. Chances are good that when too much pressure is applied, the oscillating action will come to a stop thereby protecting the finish.
Because these types of machines oscillate instead of rotate, they will not instill the dreaded buffer swirls or holograms into your finish as long as you use the appropriate chemicals, buffing pads and bonnets. This safety feature makes these machines highly popular with enthusiasts who would like to use a machine but at the same time, are afraid of burning or inflicting swirls into their car's finish.
Orbital buffers offer a number of benefits:
Uncomplicated – Remove from box, attach buffing pad or bonnet, plug in, turn on, start buffing.
Versatile – Can be used for cleaning, polishing, and applying waxes.
Takes most of the labor out of the process, the machine does the work, all you do is hold it.
Faster, more thorough - you can cover more area and do a better job with a machine.
Creates a more uniform, higher gloss finish than your hands.
Pushes polishing oils and protective waxes into the pores and microscopic surface imperfections far better than your hands can ever accomplish.
Smaller size and lighter weight makes them easier for anyone to use. Very easy to control, requires no previous experience or skill to use correctly. Smaller size enables you to work on small panels and tight areas easier with better control.
More options for buffing pads and bonnets. Velcro® interface makes changing between pads fast and easy.
Rotary buffers are drastically different in the way they work compared to Dual-action polishers and Orbital buffers.
The drive unit used in a rotary buffer is referred to as a direct drive. What this means is the auger, (the threaded part to which the backing plate attaches), is driven directly off the electric motor. This results in a powerful rotating motion. This rotating motion is typically clockwise as you look at the rotary buffer from behind, as though you were using it on a panel.
Because the rotary buffer is a direct drive machine, it can do a lot of work very quickly. By work, we mean, the rotary buffer will remove paint.
Sometimes removing paint is necessary in order to create a high gloss, defect-free finish. Example: If you have a scratch in your car's finish, say someone keyed your car, or a cat jumped up on the hood and left behind claw scratches. From a horizontal point of view, these scratches would look like this.
In order to remove these scratches, you will need to remove enough paint surrounding the scratches in order to make the surface level. As you can see in this example, removing the scratches will require removing quite a bit of paint material, and in the case of the deep key scratch (where the arrow is pointing), you will not be able to completely remove it without exposing the base, or color coat of paint. This is a situation where you are better off improving the scratch, not completely removing the scratch.
Second Example: Many cars, after being painted, are wet-sanded in order to remove orange peel or to bring the surface to a show car quality finish. After the finish has been sanded, the way you remove the sanding marks is to buff the finish with a cutting compound and a rotary buffer. The cutting compound abrades the paint, removing, or leveling the finish until it’s completely flat.
After the surface is buffed flat, it will then be polished with a cleaner/polish like Meguiar’s M-83 Dual Action Cleaner/Polish with the rotary buffer to restore a swirl-free, high gloss finish. Rotary buffers are necessary to do both of these procedures because both of these procedures require that some portion of the paint is removed.
Dual-action polishers and Orbital buffers do not have an aggressive enough action to remove small particles of paint in an effort to remove most defects, including sanding marks.
Do not purchase a dual action polisher or orbital buffer hoping to use these to remove major or even minor scratches, as they are just not aggressive enough. They can often be used to remove fine or shallow scratches and swirls, but they will not remove any scratch that is deep enough to place your fingernail into.
Remember, using a rotary buffer successfully requires both skill and experience. If you use a rotary buffer and are not skilled in its use, you can easily apply too much pressure to the paint and burn right through it, requiring a new paint job. This same result can happen if you use a buffing pad attached to an electric drill.
Will an orbital buffer work with your products?
Orbital buffers are designed to help you safely produce a better shine with less effort on your part. Orbital buffers, offer the safe oscillating-action that Meguiar's G-110 Dual-Action Polisher uses, the primary difference being one of size and design.
Traditional Orbital buffers are typically larger than the G-110 and typically have two handles on opposite sides of the buffer unit itself. There are smaller Orbital buffers on the market, and some with different handle configurations, but in the end, they all do the same thing and that's use a random, oscillating motion to safely apply cleaners, polishes and protectants.
The benefit to using an orbital buffer is, generally speaking, they will produce better, more even results than the results you can achieve only using your hands. The only drawback to the orbital buffer is sometimes their larger size can make it difficult to work on small areas, like windshield posts, or tight spaces like the space under a rear deck wing. Since most orbital buffers use a large 8" to 11" buffing pad, you tend to use more product because the pad itself will absorb a certain amount of your product.
Dual Action Polisher can be used for doing smaller areas.
What Is Oxidation?
Oxidation is a form of rust that forms on painted and clear coat surfaces. It is caused by being exposed to a combination of UV rays emitting from the sun and oxygen. This baked on oxidation, dirt and grime needs to be cleaned off which will reveal the shine that is hidden underneath. A regular application of Body Wax will keep these contaminants from forming and adhering to the paint or clear coat.
By using a polish that contains abrasives, the top oxidized layers of the colorants or pigments of enamel paints are removed. This exposes the fresh unoxidized colorants and pigments and the original gloss.
To keep the pigments or colorants from oxidizing and changing color, auto manufacturers add a thin clear paint system with UV protectants on top of the older enamel paints. Removal of clear-coat paint with a polishing product containing abrasives reduces the thickness of clear-coat and its UV protection which leads to eventual failure of the paint system.
How do I know when I need to clay?
After you wash and dry your car, run the palm and fingertips of your clean hand across the top surfaces. Don't be surprised if what you feel is rough and bumpy. The roughness you feel is the presence of harmful environmental bonded contaminants such as brake dust, tree sap mist, tar and, more that have bonded to your paint finish. Most of these contaminants will wash right off if immediately addressed, however, others bond to the finish and week by week, if not dealt with, will gradually mask and blur the reflection. To remove these bonded contaminants and bring back that "smooth-as-glass" finish, this will require an extra step, prior to polishing and waxing, commonly referred to as "claying". The wax layer becomes more effective after claying else it just covers the surface contaminants.
When should clay bar be changed?
The life cycle of clay is limited. The best way to tell when it is time to get a new piece of clay is to check the color and texture of the piece you are working with. As you rub the clay bar across the surface of your paint, you are picking up bonded contaminants. After some time, you "fill up" the clay with these particulates. You can tell when the clay is "full" because it will have a darkish color and the clay might begin to feel rough to the touch. Another time to switch to a new piece of clay is if you accidentally drop the piece you are working with. When clay hits the garage floor, it will pick up large dirt particles from the floor, which can in turn scratch your vehicle if you continue using the clay. When your clay bar is "full" or has been dropped, we recommend you throw away that piece and utilize new piece of clay to avoid scratching the surface of your paint.
Do I clay before waxing?
Bonded contaminants prevent a freshly waxed surface from reflecting light and shining to its full potential and also repel the adhesion of car wax. If you determine that your finish is not smooth-as-glass by feeling the surface after a wash, you should consider claying prior to polishing or waxing. By prepping the surface properly, with clay your paint cleaners, polishes and waxes will perform at a higher level.
Does clay remove wax?
Yes, while clay is designed to remove above surface bonded contaminants, clay will also remove some wax protection from the surface. We strongly recommend following the claying process with a coat of wax for maximum gloss and protection.
Does clay remove scratches and swirls?
No, clay does not remove scratches and swirls. Keep in mind, scratches, swirls, oxidation and stains are all imperfections that are below the surface and require a specialized paint cleaning processes like compounding and polishing. Clay, on the other hand, is designed specifically for above surface bonded contaminants, such as tree sap mist, industrial fallout, over-spray and road tar.
How do I store clay?
Clay needs to be stored in a cool, dry place in order to keep it clean and fresh. Between claying sessions, we recommend storing your clay in the plastic case. Simply mist the clay with Meguiar's Quik Detailer, place the piece of remaining clay in the storage container, and close the lid tightly. Be sure to keep that container in a cool, dry location.
Car Under Body Corrosion Treatment
What is rusting ?
Rusting of iron happens when iron comes in contact with water/ moisture and oxygen for a period of time
When the water is salty, rusting is much faster
Therefore in coastal areas like Mumbai and Chennai, cars underbody would rust faster
Rusted iron is called “Iron Oxide”. Once rusting starts, it is difficult to stop
Does car underbody also rust?
Car Underbody is also made of iron and comes in contact with plenty of water under various circumstances. In coastal areas, it is in contact with moisture in the air all the time.
The presence of water/ moisture along with oxygen in the air causes rusting of car underbody.
How can rusting of car underbody be prevented?
It is always advisable to prevent rusting before it starts Rusting can be prevented if a layer of chemical substance is coated on the iron surface. This would prevent water and oxygen coming in contact with the iron and therefore prevent rusting.
For prevention of rusting in car, 3M offers a coating that is called 3M Underbody or 3M Body Schutz . These are rubberized coatings that cover the underbody of the car and isolate it from oxygen and water.
This rubberized coating offers other important benefits like-
Sound deadening properties that gives you a quieter ride
Prevents chipping of the metal surface
Provides insulation, thereby helping to maintaining temperature inside the car
How does anti corrosion coating help?
Anti corrosion treatment offers the following benefits-
The coating is rubberized and therefore has very good sound deadening properties. This means your drive becomes smoother
The coating prevents corrosion of the underbody
The coating insulates the underbody from outside heat
The coating also prevents chipping of the underbody