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The Five Steps

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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

Step Two: Surface Prep

Step Three: Polish

Step Four: Protect (Wax)

Step Five: Maintain

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


Meguiar’s; 800/347-5700;

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