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Caring for your car

Discussion in 'Autocare, Detailing, Valet, Product reviews' started by C350Carl, May 30, 2015.

  1. C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    Caring for your car, wether Mercedes or not, is something most of us on here like to do i would imagine. After all a car is, for the majority, the next biggest purchase you make after a house.

    When caring for the car there are certain things you can do and certain products which will help maintain the look.

    This guide is for Maintenance care and NOT detailing. The two are completely different. However if you have just paid out a chunk of money, or even detailed the car yourself, following this guide will help restore and maintain the look. Maintence washes should be carried out ideally once a week. However in the real world once a fortnight is adequate.

    Background

    Why do cares get dirty?

    All sorts of reasons for a car to be dirty. Traffic Film (particles from old trucks and cars that don’t have modern filters in the exhaust system), industrial fallout (be it tar from roadworks, dust from building sites, road salt in winter etc). Natural elements (tree sap, bug splats, bird droppings etc). Due to a cars body not being non-stick then all of the above will adhere to the car.

    The other thing to understand is that most rain over the UK is moisture that has formed around a particle of Dust/sand in the atmosphere. Hence when it rains on your nice clean car and then dries out you see a residue. Now rain water can be excellent for rinsing a car as long as it’s been filtered. It doesn’t have any of the calcium or salt deposits found in tap water around the UK. Known as how soft or hard the water is. The harder it is the more residue is left behind when it dries out.

    No matter what you do to a car unless you store it in a Hermetically sealed container it will get dirty. However the certain products on the market will help make it markedly easier to clean.

    Winter is usually the worst time as the dirt/grime etc will go through numerous wet and dry cycles leading to it sticking to the paintwork.

    Why should i not just use the local carwash?

    No matter what anyone tells you there is not a mechanical car wash in existence that will not scratch the paint. The worst ones are the ones with the rotating brushes. Some of the newer ones have softer bristles and claim scratch free. But trust me on this they’re not.

    What about the local hand car wash?

    Again these are not scratch free. They employ 2-3 guys to wash a car and they are doing it for profit and not care of the vehicle. The faster they work the more cars they wash ergo the more profit they make. Yes it will look good when initially done. But study the paint in sunlight or under the lights of a petrol station and you will see the damage caused (which is not intentional).

    What about a jet wash?

    A jet wash is ok for rinsing or power washing a car off. I wouldn't ever take a brush to the paint work and you need to be careful of the hoses banging against the car. They have thing wire braiding in a lot of them to make them robust to repeated use. These sometimes fray slightly and they scratch the car when you drag it round.

    What damage is being caused to the paint?

    This is usually referred to as swirling or micro marring of the paint. Basically what is happening is dirty etc that is on the car is being picked up by the wash medium (rotating brush, sponge etc) and dragged around the paint. This starts to create marks in the clear coat.

    Ignore the ‘Johnny aged 5’ drawing but hopefully this pic explains what these marks are. Basically a swirl is a scratch that has been created in the clear coat. This pic is a cross section of a panel on the car. You can see that a swirl is a minor ‘Trench” created by the dirt. The random deep scratch (RDS) is something that is deeper but still hasn’t broken through to the paint.

    [​IMG]

    When the paint is corrected by detailing the clear coat is removed by machine polisher to the level of the base of the scratch. So the dotted red line shows how much is removed for swirls and the dotted blue shows how much is removed to remove the scratch. This looks extreme but in reality it is at most a couple of microns.

    [​IMG]

    This pic demonstrates the above picture. It's a 50/50 shot on a car i detailed. Left side polished and right side still full of swirls.

    [​IMG]

    The polishes etc you buy from the likes of Halfrauds etc are full of fillers. So these fill in the marks and when you buff over they go clear. However a couple of washes removes the fillers and we are back to square one. Hence why people have a car detailed.

    Cleaning your car

    Now that you have a bit of background knowledge you can understand the importance of the rest of the guide. This guide will assume the car has got dirty over a couple of weeks of winter use. I will talk towards the end about steps to miss out/alter in the summer.

    The whole aim is to remove as much dirt as possible by touching the car as little as possible. Hence the process detailed below. Bu the time you get to using the wash mitt all the big bits of dirt should be gone or softened to the extent they come off with little pressure.

    First thing to do is soak the car with a pressure washer. Never get more than a couple of feet from the car with the end of the lance. Spend a good 5 mins just going around the car giving it a good soaking. Especially the lower half of the car which gets the dirtiest.

    Once the car is wet the next thing to do is use a pre wash. Some use dedicated traffic film removers and others use snow foam. I use snow foam and add the TFR to the foam. A common misconception is that the snow foam will clean the car in lieu of washing. Short answer is it won’t. What it is designed to do is remove any large dirt deposits and loosen everything else.

    Snow foam doing it's thing.

    [​IMG]

    In Winter time you can leave the foam to dwell for as long as possible (i usually leave it for around 20-30mins) in the summer however you will reduce the amount of foam fed through the lance so that it is watered down a bit more. Leaving it to dwell no more than 10 mins as this stops the sun baking the soap onto the car.

    During this time you can clean the wheels. I use a product called AutoSmart Smart Wheels. Diluted 5:1 and spray it onto the wheels. Leave it to dwell for a couple of minutes and then using a wheel brush give the wheel a good scrub.

    After the foam dwell is over then rinse the car and wheels with the pressure washer.

    The next thing to do is then wash the car. I use Sonax Deep Gloss Shampoo. It won't add any gloss but it is a super slippy soap and it suds up well on the car. Follow the instructions on the bottle but generally i use 1-2 capfuls in a bucket.

    This is done using a 2 bucket method. One bucket has the soapy water the other has clean water. Most will tell you to get grit guards. But as long as you’re not dragging the mitt around the bottom of the bucket you should be ok without one. You should use something like a lambswool or microfibre mitt never a sponge or cloth.

    You soak the mitt with soapy water and then wash one panel at a time. Start in a systematic manner. It doesn’t matter where you start but generally i start with the roof. Then work down the windscreen. Then the bonnet and then around the car in a clockwise manner. As long as you follow a system that works for you it doesn’t matter. I would advise leaving the dirty lower half to the end though. I have 2 mitts one for the top half and one for the lower half and sills.

    So soak the mitt and then wash the panel. Then rinse the mitt in the clean water. You then stick the mitt back in the soapy water and move to the next panel. Repeat this process until the car is washed. By panel i mean a bonnet, a door a wing etc. When you have finished the bucket of clean water should now be dirty and the soapy water should still be clean. DO NOT THROW THESE OVER THE CAR.

    Washing using a lambswool mitt.

    [​IMG]

    Rinse the car again with a pressure washer. This is where filtered rain water is excellent as it won’t leave water spots on the car if it dries out in the sun.

    Now as you go around the car you may see you still have tar on it. There are two ways to remove this. A dedicated tar remover (i use AutoSmart Tardis) or using Clay. Just bare in mind that if you use clay you will marr the paint and it will require a polish afterwards.

    Tar remover just spray on let it dwell for a few mins and then wipe off with a microfibre cloth. For the odd random spot spray a little on a microfibre cloth and then gently rub the spot in a circular motion until it is removed. Just be aware tar remover will also remove any wax on the car so it will need to be coated over again. Some sealants can resist it.

    For clay i use Bilt Hamber Clay. The main reason for this is it is the best clay i’ve used (i’ve tried loads). You get a 200g block which you can cut into smaller chunks. Also it doens’t require any fancy ‘Clay Lube’. All it requires is the panel to be wet.

    There are clay mitts and cloths around these days. Which are good but i find they marr the car more so than using clay.

    Bilt Hamber clay doing it's thing.

    [​IMG]

    Once the tar is removed it is then a case of drying off the car. I use a deep pile (600gsm) microfibre towel as it will pretty much dry a full car without needing to be wrung out.

    Once the car is dry then depending on preference you will either wax the car, apply a sealant or just apply a quick detailer. I wax/seal once every 4-6mths and maintain in between with a quick detailer.

    You shouldn’t need to polish a car more than about once every 12 mths. I polish mine about once every 12-18 mths. Using a quick detailer will help to preserve the look of the car.

    Using the method above should take you no more than an hour to clean the car. Wax/Sealant will add time depending on ease of it’s application.

    Detailing a car turns them from this (all cars i have detailed)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To this

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    However i don't detail my car more than once every 12-18mths. But maintenance washes make my car remain like this

    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps and if anyone wants me to answer any specific questions feel free to ask. :)

    Carl.
     
  2. jhosk1981

    jhosk1981 Senior Member

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    Really nice post mate, Gave mine a real seeing too today and noticed a few very small scratches.... Probably done myself using a sponge. Any tips on getting them out... Or a Polish to cover it?, car is black by the way
     
  3. television

    television Senior Member

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    Carl do ask a mod to pop this in the DIY section, I find it all spot on for what that is worth.

    By leaving a link to this thread members can comment and ask questions.
     
  4. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    As long as they haven't gone down to the paint then you can use something like Meguiars Scratch-X or at T Cut if it's a small scratch.

    If you're referring to the swirls then machine polishing is the best way.

    To fill it then AutoGlym Super Resin Polish is ideal.
     
  5. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    Thanks mate. I've asked Whitenemesis to make it a sticky.
     
  6. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    an hour to, basically WASH the thing? im lucky if i get much more than 10 mins to spare on such things!!!

    they do look good once finished though!
     
  7. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    It takes me about 45mins that includes applying quick detailer.

    If I just quick detail then about 15mins.

    The key is little and often.
     
  8. Arzaam

    Arzaam Senior Member

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    excellent write up,

    i have a question, how realistic is to have a zero swirl daily driver car even if you take utmost care?

    should a person accept the reality and live with some minor swirls or should they use abrasives everynow on then on lets say decent paint thickness.
     
  9. television

    television Senior Member

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    Though I did not have to wash my 2 yesterday I detailed both in under 2 hours with the Sonax detailer, and this included the wheels and door shuts.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  10. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    so THATS where im going wrong. mine actually gets DIRTY during the course of the week! i KNEW i was doing something wrong!!
     
  11. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    On a daily driver no I don't think you could ever not have any swirls or minor marks. However they should be minimal even after a year following a maintence regime.

    The key thing is to do what you can to reduce the marks. So touching the paint as little as possible. When doing so using something like a lambswool mitt, which draws dirt up into the fibres, reduces the potential for scratching a lot.
     
  12. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    Lol.

    Mine gets dirty. Nothing you can do will stop a car getting dirty. However looking after them as much as possible makes removing any dirt easier.

    Even though that guide seems to have a lot of information there is loads more I could add.

    What I will start doing over time is doing a proper tutorial for each stage. Possibly including a video of basic techniques where necessary.

    If there are any meets where I could also demonstrate the various stages to a group of members then that's also something I can do. I could do it at home but a housing estate isn't really the place for it to be honest.

    I can provide all the equipment I just need a space to do it.
     
  13. television

    television Senior Member

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    Pete it does not take long to hand wash a car, OK sure it takes longer when salt is around, but when the car is protected it comes off a lot easier than a car that is never polished, and this is the idea and reasoning behind it all .
     
  14. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    well as my car is new (to me) and still relatively fresh from the valet, i might just have to get myself a few bits to make it easier to keep clean. i used to get through gallons of turtle wax when i had a garage (wash car saturday, clean out etc, leave to dry off, then turtle wax sunday before the hangover kicked in) about once a month it was done, a bit less in winter due to low temps, but sometimes weekly in summer! (and it didnt cost too many £££'s as i was skint then too!)

    now i just have a drive that i cant even walk around the car when its parked. i even had to chop the gates in half to get them to close! far from ideal, i know. i might just have to try some of this clay stuff as ive never used it in the past, and once i get some turtle wax or similar on it over the top, hopefully it should make life a LOT easier to keep it clean
     
  15. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    i can see the point Malcolm. it takes me longer to get everything set up at home as the drive is so small, its impossible to get around the car, never mind WASh it, without having to move the car onto the road, then i get passing traffic etc.......
     
  16. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    I once lived somewhere like that. I just did a reallocation of a couple of traffic cones to give me a safe area. :D
     
  17. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    if only the road was wide enough............
     
  18. television

    television Senior Member

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    Re the Sonax. When I got home this evening I saw some bird poo all down the side. I damped a cloth and to my surprise it all fell off " just like that" it just did not want to stick to the surface.

    So thats me happy. :D
     
  19. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    sounds like good stuff them Malcolm. not had the problem as yet with the ford, but im sure the birds used the 203 as target practice!
     
  20. OP
    C350Carl

    C350Carl Senior Member

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    It's good stuff the Sonax BSD

    I use their sealant called Hybrid Net Protect. Lasts around 6-8mths on a daily driver. But coupled with the BSD then I get far less residue sticking to the car than with anything else.
     

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