Just five steps. That’s what the guys at Meguiar’s told us about cleaning and protecting our ’65 El Camino. These steps aren’t for cars with paintjobs that are less than 90 days old or total junkyard piles. This story is for the average guy with a clean street machine who is in the mood to spend a Saturday morning in the sun. We visited Meguiar’s headquarters in Irvine, California, and learned all the tricks from detail specialist Joseph Thomas. There is a lot more to cleaning a car than you know. Step One: The Car Wash If you don’t have any water restrictions, grab two screened buckets—one for the rinse and one for the suds. After each pass with a microfiber wash mitt, rinse it to trap debris that can scratch the paint. The second trick to this is to use a dedicated car wash soap instead of dish soap. Detergents you find in the kitchen strip the wax off the car and begin the oxidation process. If you drop the wash mitt, give it to the dog. If you don’t have any water restrictions, grab two screened buckets—one for the rinse and If you have water restrictions or live in an apartment where management sawed off the spigot, move out or use the new Ultimate Wash & Wax Anywhere. It is one step above the Quik Detailer you are accustomed to using, only it can be used on a car that is filthy. If you have water restrictions or live in an apartment where management sawed off the spig Step Two: Surface Prep Once the surface dirt is gone, a Clay Bar kit can be used to remove bonded contaminants. Rip the bar in half and kneed it into the shape of a silver dollar. Spray on a light mist of Quik Detailer and rub the clay on the surface until it feels smooth on the back of your hand. When the clay shows dirt, kneed it again. If you drop it, throw it away. Once the surface dirt is gone, a Clay Bar kit can be used to remove bonded contaminants. R It’s important to note that the Clay Bar won’t remove scratches or swirls. For those, use Ultimate Compound. If the problem doesn’t go away after four applications, it’s time to switch to a DA (see the sidebar, page 22). It’s important to note that the Clay Bar won’t remove scratches or swirls. For those, use Step Three: Polish This step adds gloss and shine to the paint. Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish has a small amount of cleaner in it and really makes the paint on a dark-colored car look a mile deep. Unlike with standard wax, you don’t need to let the polish dry. Just rub it in and wipe it off. Step Four: Protect (Wax) Basic cleaner wax was invented in 1973 and was designed to handle steps two, three, and four. Basic Carnauba wax is plant based and is cheaper than synthetic wax but doesn’t protect as long. Carnauba Plus is part synthetic and adds what Thomas called “awesome water beading.” Finally, there is Ultimate Wax that is 100 percent synthetic. It does everything the others do and lasts longer, leaves no residue, and can be applied in direct sunlight. Rub it on and wipe it off in two super-thin coats for UV and airborne contaminant protection. Step Five: Maintain To maintain the car during cleanings, use Quik Detailer and a microfiber towel to keep up the shine. To DA or Not to DA Thomas found some scratches he couldn’t remove with an applicator and a microfiber towel, so he brought out the DA (dual-action) polisher. The DA sells for about $200 and can be used to make step two, three, and four a lot faster. The DA uses either a yellow polish pad or a black wax pad with an adhesive back that sticks to the disk. The upside to a DA over a rotary is that it’s safer for the inexperienced detailer. The DA will not burn the paint if you are careless, you don’t have to tape off the chrome, and it costs about half the money. If you have a rotary already, it can be used with the adhesive pads at 1,500–2,000 rpm for polish and 1,000–2,000 rpm for wax if you are careful. How to Fold a Towel Two towels are 16 towels if you fold them right. Use one for the application of Ultimate Car Wash (or Quick Detailer) and one to dry. As soon as you see dirt, flip the towel to a clean side. When you are out of sides, use the dry towel as the wet towel and get a new dry towel. Wheels and Tires Blue, purple, red. Those colors on the Hot Rims bottles are no accident. The blue bottle is for aluminum. Its PH is the closest to water, so it won’t burn your polished aluminum wheels white. The purple is for the guy who doesn’t know what his wheels are made of, and the red is for a guy with hard chrome on steel and could use a little more acidic PH to get the job done. Blue, purple, red. Those colors on the Hot Rims bottles are no accident. The blue bottle i Thomas sprayed on the Hot Rims and scrubbed our cast-and-polished aluminum wheels with a brush. Note that we have Baer brakes behind the wheel with a powdercoated caliper and an anodized aluminum hub. Even if we had steel and chrome wheels, the brakes would prevent us from using the red bottle. Thomas sprayed on the Hot Rims and scrubbed our cast-and-polished aluminum wheels with a b The last trick is to clean the tires with professional vinyl cleaner and let them dry before you add the tire dressing. End The last trick is to clean the tires with professional vinyl cleaner and let them dry befo Source Meguiar’s; 800/347-5700; Meguiars.com By Douglas R. Glad Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!