It’s All in the Details
by Pat Goss
A clean, good looking car…well it preserves the value of the car, makes the paint last longer, and it makes you feel a lot better about the car. But how do you go about detailing your own car? Well, we have Stuart Smith, who is a professional detailer, here with us. Stuart, what can you tell us about the way you go about doing a car.
Stuart Smith: Well, as everybody knows, whether you have a classic car or your everyday driver, we like to keep them clean. So we have a wide variety of tools that we use. We have our bucket, of course. What you’re holding there is called a grit guard. It helps to keep the dirt down at the bottom of the pail, rather than agitate it around. We have our car soap, not to be confused with dish soap. You want to make sure that you use a soap that’s designed for the car. And then we also have a microfiber type sponge here. Which I use for the exterior of the car. And then we also have a sponge that I recommend only for using on things like the wheels and the tires, because we don’t want to trap dirt in here and get it on the finish of the car. So those are some of the things that we use to basically wash the car.
PAT: Ok, we get it washed and now we need to dry it. And of course we have the traditional way to do it here…
PAT: With a chamois. What do you think about these?
Stuart: I’m not a fan of the water blade. Essentially because it tends to pick up a little dirt and drag it across the paint of the car. I like to use your everyday average leaf blower. You can dry the car off; it gets all the water out of the cracks and crevices of the car. It does a great job.
PAT: Proven for many years. Every carwash does it that way.
PAT: Alright, so we’ve got it cleaned. We’ve got it dried. Now we need to make the paint look better. What do you do there?
Stuart: Exactly. Before you actually apply wax to the paint, you’re going to want to use…we have two products here. We have this mitt, which essentially is used with this lubricating spray, this detailer spray, to get all the defects off the paint of the car. That’s good for your average person to use. We also have a clay bar here. Which it comes looking something like this, which also has a detailing spray. I like to cut it into thirds, because that way, if you do drop this on the ground while you’re using it, you have to throw it away because you don’t want to scratch the paint of the car.
So we’ve now prepped the paint. And now we move onto essentially the wax. I always recommend, whatever wax you use, stick to one kind. We have many ways to apply it. We have an applicator like this, where you put it on and go across the car. And for myself, it saves time and saves effort, I use an orbital buffer to apply the wax to the car.
PAT: Ok, so now we’ve got the outside of the car looking really good. But now comes time to actually detail it.
Stuart: Exactly. Detailing the car is usually the part that takes the most time. We have a lot of different things that we use. We have little brushes of all different types and sorts. And of course to get into those little cracks and crevices, a Q-tip is always a great way to go. It’s easy. You can use as many as you want. And when you’re done with them, you just throw them out and get rid of them.
Pat: One other thing to warn people about is, lots of folks like to, instead of a detailing brush, they take an old toothbrush. And that’s deadly on some of these new finishes.
Stuart: Exactly. Some of the new finishes, the clear coat is very soft. And some of the bristles on these toothbrushes are quite hard. And yes, if you’re not careful, you will scratch the finish of the car.
Pat: Gotta be careful.
Pat: Primarily, use the parts…the tools that are designed to do the job.
Stuart: Exactly. Yes.
Pat: Stuart, thank you.
And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.