Washing and Cleaning a Car Like a Pro (sort of).

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We recently added a new to us (aka used) Nissan to our garage. And since we took delivery I’ve been itching to get out some tools to fix some of the issues I saw. These were some “picky” things that I wasn’t willing to let the lowest paid employee at the dealership (the car “detailer”) try and correct. Turns out the dealer wasn’t willing to try to fix the issue any way.

Look at the photo below. Starting at the reflection of the light fixture and working down you will see lots of finer scratches going from right to left (actually from the front of the car to the rear of the car).

The problems in the paint… “tunnel scratches”

These are what I call “tunnel scratches”. Why? It’s what happens when you repeatedly go through those auto car washes. The scratches could be anything from overhead brushes to drying cloths that hang vertically to dry your car or, even recycled water that was improperly filtered.

I have been a Meguiar’s fan for few years. Participating in the forums I have learned a lot from the many skilled professionals and car crazy auto appearance fanatics on techniques to enhance and protect the finish of your car. If you want to learn a little about ways to protect and enhance your car’s finish follow along with me. You’ll also see some pictures of our newer car and what I did to improve the appearance.

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Step 1: Washing is Not Cleaning and Cleaning is Not Washing

Maybe you are asking yourself if Rob has lost his mind but, the first thing that the Meguiar’s gang would love for you to know is that when you wash your car it’s only the beginning of getting your car/paint clean. And how you wash it will very much determine if you will remove dirt and not add additional scratches to your car’s paint. So, what do you do to prevent additional scratches to your paint? Wash your car with two buckets! Two buckets? Yes, two buckets. Preferably a 5 Gallon Wash Bucket with Grit Guard
Here’s a video with some highlights on washing

Step 2: To Clay or Not to Clay, That Is the Question

After you have washed and dried your car it’s time to find out if you need to clean it with a Clay Bar Kit. This is the real cleaning and what determines if you will get the car really ready (if needed) for polishing (correcting) and waxing (protecting)

I “clayed” the Nissan… this is one picture of some of the bonded contaminates that I removed. There’s a longer (video) explanation here.

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This is stuff off the paint after washing.

Step 3: Polish Away, Polish Away Those Defects

So, we have washed, dried and clayed the car. Now, we will work on the defects in the paint. Now, if your car is parked in the driveway or, you don’t want an absolute show car shine this step might be one where you spend a little less effort. But, what is absolutely essential is that you match the correct polish to the type of paint and problem you are trying to correct. Don’t just assume that the one clearcoat safe polish you have will do the trick… especially if you have more than one car.  In fact, for this Nissan I tried a total of three products before deciding to use…

Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound

After polishing with the compound I waxed it with Meguiar’s NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0
and we were done.

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