We’ve picked up more than a few handy de­tail­ing hints over the years – here’s our all-time FC favourites…

Fast Car - - Contents -

Do Get a firm in

Of course, for many, there’s an even more ex­cit­ing prospect than spend­ing hours de­tail­ing your mo­tor – it’s called sit­ting on your arse with your feet up.

While we’d al­ways rec­om­mend clean­ing your car your­self, there are plenty of spe­cial­ists out there, all highly trained in the art of get­ting your beloved mo­tor all shiny and pro­tected. Just re­mem­ber, it’s a kind of art form, so be care­ful ex­actly who you choose.

Now, not us­ing au­to­mated petrol sta­tion car washes is a given. But there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween a valeter and a top-notch de­tailer. There’s also a sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence in price. That East-Euro­pean fella in your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket may be a nice chap too, but, for a fiver, he’s prob­a­bly not gonna be think­ing too much about swirl marks. Do your re­search, go on rec­om­men­da­tion and, if all else fails, take re­spon­si­bil­ity and do the job your­self.

Don’t Clean your car too much

It may seem like a strange thing to say in an is­sue that’s all about buff­ing seven shades of shite out of your pride and joy. But re­mem­ber. The more you touch your paint­work, the more likely it is that you’ll in­flict dam­age. Of course, in the sum­mer months you can go nuts, hap­pily keep­ing your car cleaner than a brain sur­geon’s whis­tle. But all the salt and road grime in win­ter can cause big prob­lems if you’re in­tent on con­tact wash­ing ev­ery 36 sec­onds.

The truth is, un­less it’s an older mo­tor that presents a risk of rust­ing away, paint­work that’s been nicely pro­tected us­ing a wax, sealant or any other LSP is far bet­ter off be­ing left alone. Most ex­perts say that wash­ing once a month in win­ter is more than suf­fi­cient.

Do Pre-rinse and pre-wash

Wash be­fore you ac­tu­ally wash. It makes per­fect sense, right? The point is that the pre-wash stage is vi­tally im­por­tant, but all-too-of­ten over­looked. Plenty of peo­ple im­me­di­ately barge in with their bucket and sponge, es­sen­tially in­flict­ing the max­i­mum sur­face dam­age pos­si­ble. You might as well use a sander or the rough side of a brick!

Pre-wash­ing is cru­cial to give the larger par­ti­cles a chance to break down and run off. With­out this process you’ll just be push­ing them all over your paint­work. Get it wet first (There’s def­i­nitely a joke in there some­where – Jules), and use TFR (Traf­fic Film Re­mover) to chem­i­cally dis­solve grime. Snow­foam prod­ucts also come highly rec­om­mended for lift­ing and re­mov­ing caked-on muck with­out hav­ing to touch the sur­face. It’s al­ways best to have ac­cess to a pres­sure washer, with a foam lance of course. But don’t worry too much if you haven’t, there’s plenty of stand-alone snow­foam ap­pli­ca­tion tools out there. Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the dif­fer­ence these can make.

Don’t Use wash­ing up liq­uid

Yes, we know you can pick up about 26 bot­tles for a quid at Pound­land and of course it will ef­fec­tively clean the dirt from your mo­tor. In fact, it’ll be so ef­fec­tive it’ll prob­a­bly clean off your paint too. Washin­gup liq­uid is an abra­sive. Most of them con­tain a load of salt, de­signed to grind last night’s lasagne off your dishes. That should tell you all you need to know.

The same goes for other house­hold items like your mum’s bot­tle of glass cleaner. None of these are de­signed with cars in mind. The harsh chem­i­cals in home win­dow-clean­ing prod­ucts will soon get your wind­screen sparkling, but they’ll knacker your wipers and weather-strips like noth­ing else. Leave ’em un­der the sink.

Do Use a sponge (if you want to)

There’s no rea­son why a GOOD QUAL­ITY sponge can’t be just as ef­fec­tive as a wash mitt. For some the fact they don’t hold the dirt in the piles (mak­ing them eas­ier to clean out be­tween buck­ets) makes them even bet­ter.

Good qual­ity sponge or good qual­ity mitt, all that mat­ters is what you pre­fer and how you use it. Many of the world’s top de­tail­ers have com­pletely dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences.

Of course, you may get one or two funny looks at the lo­cal show ’n’ shine. There will no doubt be many ‘ex­perts’ point­ing in hor­ror be­cause there’s no wash mitt in sight. Just don’t stress about it. In­stead be smug in the knowl­edge that they don’t know shit.

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