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Thread: The Car Care Thread

  1. #1
    Work in Progress sm1ke's Avatar
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    The Car Care Thread

    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 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.

    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 really 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 and really easy to use. Sonax BSD 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 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 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 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 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'll just spray the 303 or the water onto a microfiber towel and wipe away.

    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.

  2. #2
    Work in Progress sm1ke's Avatar
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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.
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  3. #3
    Work in Progress sm1ke's Avatar
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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.
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