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