The Car Care Thread

sm1ke

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A fellow user PM'd me this weekend to ask about my exterior car care routine. I figured this would be a great thread idea. Now, I know that various car care posts and threads have been created over the years (most recent example), but I'm hoping we can just consolidate all of that info into one thread and use it for reference. Post your favourite car care products here, from tools to waxes and everything in between. Note that this is applicable to anything related to exterior and interior car care and protection - this doesn't apply to engine/transmission care (those deserve their own thread).

I'll start with what I use.

When doing a contact wash, I use Meguiar's Gold Class car wash soap and 2 or 3 wet microfiber towels. I turn each towel frequently to minimize the risk of dirt that has been caught in the towel scratching the paint.

When spraying a foam soap onto the car, I use Chemical Guys' Honeydew Snow Foam. I usually spray down the entire car, let it dwell for a few minutes, then rinse it off. Then I spray the entire car down with soap again and do a contact wash (again with 2 or 3 wet microfiber towels).

When prepping the car for a polish or wax, I use CarPro Reset (or Dawn dishwashing soap in a pinch).

For iron decontamination, I use CarPro IronX. It stinks to high heaven, but works quite well. I usually spray the car down, wait for it to do its thing, then rinse it off before moving to the clay bar.

To clay bar the car, I use a Meguiar's Clay Kit that I bought at a Canadian Tire. The kit comes with some clay and some clay lubricant, but when I run out of the lubricant I can just use a mix of soap and water or any "quick detailer" type of product.

To polish and wax the car, I use an all-in-one product called Blackfire One Step. I've also tried a couple of other products on different cars (Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax), but so far I like the One Step on the CX-9.

For detailing sprays, I like Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Detailer. Cleans water spots and bird bombs off quickly and easily and leaves a little protection behind. A cheaper alternative is Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash and Wax, diluted with distilled water.

For spray on waxes and sealants, I've tried a few. Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Wax is great - really easy to use and readily available at most stores. Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer is amazing and it's really durable, but it's harder to apply as it's a bit grabby when wiping it off. P&S Beadmaker gives an amazing shine and is really easy to use, but I've found that it attracts a bit of dust and water tends to stand on the paint instead of rolling off on it's own (leading to water spots if you have hard water). AC Waterless Wash and Wax (mentioned above) is a great no-rinse wash product that leaves a little shine and some protection. I've actually found that mixing some of these products in the same bottle tends to work quite well for me. Currently I've been using a mix of Sonax BSD and P&S Beadmaker once every month or two, and for waterless washes I mix Sonax BSD with the AC stuff to get a waterless wash that leaves behind some durable protection with great water beading properties. I've also seen and heard great things about Turtle Wax Ice Seal 'n' Shine, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

For tire cleaning, I just use a nylon stiff-bristled brush and car wash soap. For wheel cleaning, I use car wash soap and an EZ Detail Brush to clean the wheel well and between the spokes. For tire protection, I use 303 Aerospace Protectant. I spray it onto a rag or foam applicator and then wipe it onto the tire. One coat gives a nice satin finish, two or more coats will leave a glossy finish. Since the product is wiped on, it doesn't sling off the tire and onto the paint when the car is driven. The only problem is that it washes off the tire quite easily in the rain.

For interior detailing and protection, I use 303 Aerospace Protectant. It's safe to use on almost all surfaces in the interior, minus the ADD screen, the clear plastic on the instrument panel, and the Infotainment screen. For those, I just use distilled water. I just spray the 303 or the water onto a microfiber towel and wipe away. I like using 303 because it tends to repel dust a bit better, but when the dust does build up, I use a Swiffer refill to wipe off the majority on the dash, then follow up with the 303.

As far as tools go, I recently picked up a Porter Cable 7424XP dual action orbital polisher. So far I've only used it to remove some minor hood scratches from a careless tint installer. I use a 2000 PSI electric pressure washer made by Kobalt (Lowe's in-house brand). Most of my microfiber towels come from The Rag Company - I really like their Eagle Edgeless 600 towels.

I've got a couple of products I haven't tried yet (Britemax Max Shine Polymer Wax, CarPro Essence), but I do plan to detail my dad's 2018 Equinox and my wife's 2006 Civic at some point. I'll probably test those products out when I do their cars.

As far as where I get my stuff, typically I use Autogeek.net, Amazon.com (or .ca) or eShine.ca if I can't find something at Canadian Tire or WalMart. Because I live in Canada (and shipping from the US can be really expensive), I have my orders shipped to a parcel service in the US, just across the border. It's a little over a 2 hour round trip to pick stuff up, but it saves me a ton of money in shipping and customs fees.

Post what you like to use, and don't be afraid to show off ;)



This was after a waterless wash, believe it or not.
 

sm1ke

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Washing the car

There are plenty of ways to wash the car. Personally, I've found that a modified version of the two bucket wash works best for me.

Before I start, I make sure that the surface of the car is cool to the touch and the wheels and brakes are not too hot. First, I'll fill a five gallon bucket up about half way with cold water. Then, I'll add some car wash soap and agitate the water to create some foam. After that, I'll put two or three (or more) microfiber towels in the soap and water and let them soak.

After rinsing the car off, I use the pressure washer to spray some soap foam onto the whole car. I take a microfiber towel from the first bucket, fold it twice into a square, then wipe down a panel with one side. I flip the square over and wipe the panel down again, then unfold the towel and turn it to a clean side (skip to the 1:00 mark of this video to see what I mean). This gives me eight clean sides to wipe with.

Once the towel is dirty, I just toss it into the second bucket and pull a new clean towel from the first bucket. This ensures that I'm not rinsing the dirty towel into the clean soapy water. That just releases dirt into the water that can stick to the new towels (or not come off of the dirty towel during the rinse).

When I'm done with wiping the car down, I rinse it again with the pressure washer, making sure that I also spray down the inside of the wheel wells and the underside of the car.

At this point I use a clean and dry microfiber towel to wipe down the car. If I want, I could also use a quick detailer or a spray wax as a drying aid to add a thin layer of protection. I'll wipe/dry the rims if necessary, then use a rag or towel specifically designated for tire dressing to apply 303 to the tires. I use a specific rag because it's much more likely to pick up dirt and rocks when wiping down the sidewalls.
 

sm1ke

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Washing your towels

I keep the towels used to clean my wheels, tires and plastic cladding separate from those used to clean the paint. This is just because those towels are more likely to pick up tiny rocks and grit that might get ingrained into the fibers of the towel.

When I wash the towels, I use an unscented liquid detergent like All Free Clear. Don't use fabric softener, and don't use "laundry pacs". The plastic sometimes does not dissolve completely in the wash, leaving tiny bits of plastic tangled in the microfibers. I use warm or cold water, and I also use the "Extra Rinse" option on my washing machine to make sure that all the laundry soap has been rinsed away.

To dry the towels, I put them in the dryer (no dryer sheets). I set it to air dry or set it to dry at the lowest temperature possible. When I pull them out of the dryer, they're charged with a lot of static electricity, which is good as it helps to pull dust into the towel when I'm using it.
 

sm1ke

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So I reapplied wax to the car last month. This time, I was lazy and didn't bother masking off the black plastic trim, and as a result, there's a bunch of white hazy marks on the trim where I accidentally touched it with the polisher. In keeping with my laziness, I didn't clean the haze off right away and just started trying to remove it yesterday. I used WD-40 and a microfiber, and I thought it would be enough to remove the haze, but I must have left it for too long because the WD-40 didn't do anything. Today I used one of those white pencil erasers (vinyl?), and they pulled the haze right off.

TL;DR: If you have wax build up on your black plastic trim, you can use a white pencil eraser to rub it off. :)
 
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sm1ke

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Some before and after pics that I forgot to post.

Before:
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After:
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IMG_20200720_193943.jpg


During:
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I'm going to follow up with some Mother's Back to Black for good measure, just need to get to the store to buy it.
 

HardRightEdg

US 2020 CX-5 Touring AWD Soul Red
My approach is pretty mundane: Nu Finish liquid polish once or twice per year as the spirit moves me. It's polymer based, not a wax. It might or might not have some ultrafine abrasives in it but no scratching is visible in the least in my experience, Over the years I've used clay bars, paste waxes, Zymol, you name it. Nu Finish gets me the same or better results for cheap and a lot less work. Applied to my 14 year old car the finish was nicely reflective and as smooth to the touch as a baby's bottom.

Now for some Nu Finish hacks:

You'll see plenty of youtube videos of guys using Nu Finish on their windshield for a Rain-X type affect. It works pretty close to that affect. I like it better than Rain-X because I've yet to detect the shadow Rain-X leaves as it wears off. Clean, clean again with alcohol, apply Nu Finish.

Here's a hack I discovered myself that I've not seen on youtube. I was prepping my car for trade and wanted to clean the stubborn swirls off the inside of the windows--interior plastic off-gassing, cigarette smoke, yada, yada. No glass cleaner works on that, even expensive auto glass cleaners. You think you've got it down pat then the light hits a window in the right way and the swirls are still there. I tried the common youtube hack of clean, clean again with alcohol, then scrub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser which does have ultrafine abrasives. Maybe with enough rubbing and scrubbing, scrubbing and rubbing, like Louis Black's personal ball washer (if you get that reference), it might work but it wasn't working for me.

After the alcohol and Magic Eraser, with the sun coming in the garage at just the angle lighting up the swirls, I figured I'd try the Nu Finish on the interior of the windows. Quick, easy, got just about all the swirls. I figured I'd finish it up with some glass cleaner and the swirls came back. Nu Finsh again and the swirls were gone. It's probably not worth bothering with on tinted windows.

Another hack: I also had slight hazing on my headlights. The Nu Finish was not perfect but showed a noticeable improvement. I'd try that before getting into fine steel wools and other hacks you'll see.

I have no connection with Nu Finish, earn nothing from this endorsement. It's just one of those rare products in my experience that's among the least expensive in its category, requires the least work, produces good results, and has a variety of uses. I will be doing a small test on the Soul Red before going whole hog.
 
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The ManLaw

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I'll be honest, I used to be able to use rain-x with no issues at all. Like made it perfect. Then a few years ago, I must have lost my touch. I think I have some nufinish laying around somewhere. I may actually have to try that trick out. Its not the first time I've heard of waxing the windshield either
 
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YVR
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Inspired by a few members on this forum, some of my current vehicle care items. Still working on finding a better soap (currently Meguiar's Deep Crystal Car Wash) but will jump to "Gold Class" once this bottle is finished.
IMG_5909.JPG
Went on a Meguiar's Amazon.ca and Canadian Tire buying binge this spring during C-19 lockdown, and am quite impressed with it, minus the Deep Crystal Car Wash.

The Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish is fantastic for the stainless steel exhaust tips on my 2010 3 Sport and our 2019 CX-9 GT.

IMG_5940.JPG
 

The ManLaw

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15cx5 soon 20cx9
I use gold class when I'm going to clay bar and start the paint fresh. I have griots wax safe stuff (pink) for when I want just a clean surface without stripping anything. Always make sure you're using two buckets, rinse and soap, when you're washing the car!
 

sm1ke

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NuFinish has definitely earned it's reputation for durability.

Check this video out. It's the first of a long series. He applies 20 different paint protection products to a spare hood, then lets it sit outside fully exposed:

In this video, he is 7.5 months into his test, and NuFinish has still hasn't kicked the bucket.


Always make sure you're using two buckets, rinse and soap, when you're washing the car!
I go a step further towards crazy with my 2-bucket method. One holds soap and water, the other is empty. I toss like 5 or 6 microfiber towels in the soap and water bucket. I pull a towel out and wash the car, turning and folding the towel often. Once that towel is dirty, I just toss it in the empty bucket and grab a new towel from the soap and water bucket. No more wringing the towel out, and the water in the bucket stays clean. I do use more towels per wash, but halfway decent microfiber towels are fairly cheap these days (like the Simoniz packs at Canadian Tire), so I've always got a bunch of clean ones ready to go.
 

HardRightEdg

US 2020 CX-5 Touring AWD Soul Red
NuFinish has definitely earned it's reputation for durability.

Check this video out. It's the first of a long series. He applies 20 different paint protection products to a spare hood, then lets it sit outside fully exposed:

In this video, he is 7.5 months into his test, and NuFinish has still hasn't kicked the bucket.

I go a step further towards crazy with my 2-bucket method. One holds soap and water, the other is empty. I toss like 5 or 6 microfiber towels in the soap and water bucket. I pull a towel out and wash the car, turning and folding the towel often. Once that towel is dirty, I just toss it in the empty bucket and grab a new towel from the soap and water bucket. No more wringing the towel out, and the water in the bucket stays clean. I do use more towels per wash, but halfway decent microfiber towels are fairly cheap these days (like the Simoniz packs at Canadian Tire), so I've always got a bunch of clean ones ready to go.
They market Nu Finish as a once per year car polish. I think that's stretching it but the shine and beading holds up better than anything else I've used over the years. 6 months would be particularly fastidious. Somewhere in the middle probably makes sense. It's easy on and easy off, no elbow ligament surgery required.

The instructions say not use it on plastic. I've used on bumpers and gloss plastic without any problem. Like waxes, you want to avoid getting it on grainy or cheap plastics or rubber weatherstripping.

My routine is:
  • Power wash rinse to get off as much grit as possible.
  • Spritz Turtle Wax Bug and Tar remover where needed. Scrub off the bugs and tar lightly where needed with one of those $1.50 Walmart car wash sponges with the plastic mesh (or is it teflon?).
  • Wash with a cheap Walmart no-wax soap. Turtle Wax Max Power is sitting in the garage currently.
  • Fill a two-compartment bucket, one side soap and the other side rinse water,
  • Wash with two faux lambs wool mits I've had for years. When one side gets a little dirty you just flip it over. Save the wheels for last, of course; I'm using the cleanest of the mits at that point.
  • Power wash rinse.
  • Dry with a big microfiber.
  • Apply Nu Finish
  • Mits and drying towel in the washer; microfibers in the wash or the trash.
Another nice thing about Nu Finish is the car doesn't need to be that dry since you apply it with a damp microfiber anyway. Water spots go bye bye in the process.

It all works quite well without scratching or swirling anything and without having to buy expensive products.

The most important thing is all the other times taking it to a car wash. Touchless car washes are the way to go. Some of those self-serve bays with a beam that passes back and forth overhead have gotten pretty good.
 
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HardRightEdg

US 2020 CX-5 Touring AWD Soul Red
... decent microfiber towels are fairly cheap these days (like the Simoniz packs at Canadian Tire), so I've always got a bunch of clean ones ready to go.
After I bought 10 microfibers on Amazon I noticed in a back corner of Sam's Club near the cleaning products they had something like a 30 pack of the smaller ones, 12x12 or 16x16, I can't recall which, for $11, something like that. They looked pretty good. They were hemmed, not loose-fibered like the Walmart cheapos which are actually more expensive. So, that's something for Sam's members to check out.
 
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The ManLaw

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15cx5 soon 20cx9
Black Magic is a product that will make the black plastic on your car look like new.
That stuff is really good. But I've always used back to black by meguires. I tried using griots' tire polish which "doubles" as a black trim finish, it sucks on trim.
 

sm1ke

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Here's my current line-up of products and tools.

IMG_20200927_192603.jpg


Probably a little hard to read, so here's a list from left to right, top to bottom.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner Plus - Great at cleaning up brake dust deposits. Worked really well on the wheels of my friend's GLK 250.

CarPro Reset - Car wash soap, great to use before detailing.

Griot's Garage Paint Cleaning Clay - Clay bar product.

Blackfire One Step - All-in-one polish/wax product that cleans up micromarring/swirls and leaves a nice gloss finish.

Britemax Max Shine - High gloss polymer wax. Got it for free, will be trying it out over the winter. Hopes aren't high for this one.

Meguiar's PlastX - Plastic polish. I use this to mask the scratches on the piano black trim on the exterior. I've also used it for polishing acrylic aquariums.

P&S Beadmaker - Polymer sealant. This stuff is pretty nice. Goes on really easily and leaves the paint feeling super slick. Great water-beading properties, and after it has cured, it leaves an impressive looking gloss. Durability isn't great though.

Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer - Hybrid polymer quick detailer. This actually is closer to a sealant for me because of how durable it is. It's a little harder to apply because it's thick and grabby, but it cleans the surface and leaves a durable layer of protection. Great water-beading properties.

Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All - Economical waterless wash product.

Meguiar's Ultimate Detailer - I keep a bottle of this in the trunk for quick cleanups. Stuff like bird droppings, tree sap, water spots, and dust.

Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Wax - For quick and easy protection. Usually if I have to go through a touchless wash, I apply this as I dry the car to refresh the protection that the touchless wash might have removed.

303 Aerospace Protectant - UV protectant. I use it for all interior surfaces, minus the windows, windshield, piano black trim pieces and the instrument panel cover. I also use it as a tire dressing from time to time.

Boss Bucket tool bag, Griot's Garage 3" pad handle, baby hairbrush, drill with 3" pad attachment, PC 7424XP DA polisher, Bose QC35 noise-cancelling headphones. Most of this stuff is self-explanatory, but I use the hairbrush with soap and water if I ever need to clean anything off of the napa leather.

I also mix the Beadmaker and the BSD in the same spray bottle. I've found that this gets me the best of both worlds - the mixture is much easier to apply than BSD, and it tends to last longer than Beadmaker.
 

The ManLaw

The Manlaw of Want
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15cx5 soon 20cx9
I always love the fact that everyone is so different in what they trust and use for their cars. We are all in the quest for that perfect finish and we all have our own ways to get there. I legit own none of those products sm1ke. Except for the maguires detailer used to claybar.

I still need to upgrade to a variable 5-6in polisher. Im making due with elbow grease and my cheapo 10in orbital.
 
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