This is not a commercial, infomercial, or free advertising for Meguiar’s, let’s clear that up right away. Yes, Meguiar’s Orange County headquarters are close to our editorial office, and yes, we like the company’s products. We also have a good relationship with media/PR reps Michael Pennington and Mike Stoops, guys who love their jobs and love detailing cars. We respect them for not only their enthusiasm for car care products but also for their honest, plain-spoken message. It is true that they’d like us and all our readers to buy Meguiar’s products because they believe in what their company sells, but they will also readily admit that other wax companies make excellent products. If you prefer Mothers, Aero, Jax Wax, or Turtle Wax, that’s OK. Mike and Mike both recognize your car’s finish is a significant investment, whether you’ve got a new car, a newly painted car, or an older paintjob you want to keep looking as good as possible. On a basic level, they strive to educate people on how to properly use a particular product, no matter what brand it is. If some of those people end up becoming Meguiar’s customers, all the better, but their willingness to help is not predicated by whether a person will buy up all the Meguiar’s products on display at his local parts store. In that spirit, we drove Editor Glad’s ’06 Mustang to Irvine for a debrief on the right way to rehabilitate a car, both inside and out. It represents an average daily driver with a five-year-old paintjob. These paint buffing techniques will work for virtually any car that is still shiny, not chalky. Paint Buffing The Meguiar’s guys have these cool flashlights they use to inspect a car’s finish. They reproduce the color balance and intensity of sunlight but allow one to inspect the paint and progress of his work inside a building. This is a timesaver because it prevents the need to drive the car outside to check your work. The Meguiar’s guys have these cool flashlights they use to inspect a car’s finish. They re Wheel cleaner questions are among the most common Meguiar’s reps are asked. “The safest product to use is obviously a regular car wash soap. It is a very mild product that will not damage a wheel’s finish,” Pennington says. If you need more cleaning power than that, try a dedicated wheel cleaner. Here are Meguiar’s wheel cleaners arranged left to right in order of acidity. Bare aluminum wheels stain and corrode very easily. Be sure to use the mildest cleaner you can buy, like the Hot Rims aluminum cleaner on the left. Pennington says it is Meguiar’s most gentle wheel cleaner. Chrome cleaner is the most caustic and should only be used on hard, chrome-plated surfaces. All other wheels can use the product in the middle. Wheel cleaner questions are among the most common Meguiar’s reps are asked. “The safest pr Depending on the condition of your paint, you may need to buff it with a rubbing compound. If your paint is swirl-marked or scratched like the left half of the our hood, you will need to use a compound. Compounding your car isn’t as scary as it used to be. New chemistry and the availability of affordable random orbital polishers have virtually eliminated all risk of damaging your paint in the process. Depending on the condition of your paint, you may need to buff it with a rubbing compound. Car wash soap does not remove all the surface defects in your paint; it only gets rid of what can be rinsed away. A clay bar removes bonded contaminants: the stuff you feel when you run your hand across the paint. Things like tree sap and road grime can stick to the paint like glue. Clay bar grabs these contaminants and pulls them off the paint. Start with a clean bar, lightly mist the paint with quick detailer or a mix of water and a little car wash soap (to act as a lubricant) and rub the bar lightly across the paint. Car wash soap does not remove all the surface defects in your paint; it only gets rid of w A good detail job always begins with a thorough wash. Meguiar’s recommends using two wash buckets, one filled with soap and water and one with plain water, every time you wash the car. Dip your wash mitt in the soapy water, scrub the car, then drop and wring out the mitt in the water-only bucket to rinse the dirt off. The company also recommends using a stand of some sort in the soap bucket, like this yellow plastic grate referred to as Grit Guard by Meguiar’s. Any residual scratchy particulates that didn’t come off in the rinse bucket will settle underneath the grate and away from your wash mitt. The whole process sounds a bit obsessive-compulsive, but any precautions you can take to avoid putting scratches in your paint will prevent having to buff the finish out as often, ultimately saving you time. A good detail job always begins with a thorough wash. Meguiar’s recommends using two wash As you work the clay bar, you will feel it picking up the junk stuck to your paint. It will feel rough over contaminated surfaces and smoothly glide over the areas that are clean. When the clay gets really dirty, knead it to expose a clean surface. Clay can be used on any hard, smooth surface. “Try it on your painted wheels, headlight and taillight lenses, and window glass, too,” Stoops says. As you work the clay bar, you will feel it picking up the junk stuck to your paint. It wil Before applying any surface treatment to your paint, Meguiar’s recommends masking the trim and other textured surfaces that should not be exposed to polish and wax. These products easily get trapped in plastic, and many of them turn a chalky white as they dry. “It only takes a few extra minutes, but it prevents having to try cleaning wax residue out of the trim later,” Stoops says. Before applying any surface treatment to your paint, Meguiar’s recommends masking the trim The combination of Meguiar’s products that will yield the best results for the home hobbyist is shown in the foreground. Using a compound, polish, and wax, in that order, will remove most swirl marks and light scratches from your paint. Deeper scratches will require using a heavy-cut compound with a high-speed rotary buffer, but the potential of damaging your paint in the process is much greater. The combination of Meguiar’s products that will yield the best results for the home hobbyi We’ve done articles on how to buff paint in the past, so we’ll spare you the rehashing of this concept. In short, use the appropriate foam pad for the material you’re applying (they are usually marked for compound or polish). Apply compound first, follow with polish, and finish with wax. We’ve done articles on how to buff paint in the past, so we’ll spare you the rehashing of Be sparing with each product, work a section of the car at a time, wiping with a clean microfiber towel between each step. Depending on how deeply scratched or swirled your paint is, you may need two applications of compound. If that doesn’t get rid of the problems, you’ll need a pro-level heavy-cut compound or even a full-on wet-sand and buff. For reference, check our buffer’s cheat sheet for application guides for each product. Be sparing with each product, work a section of the car at a time, wiping with a clean mic Generally, cleaning a convertible top can be accomplished with car wash soap and a soft scrub brush. If you feel the need for something stronger, consider trying a dedicated convertible top cleaner. Some companies make separate cleaners for cloth and vinyl tops. Meguiar’s convertible top cleaner will work on either material. Spray the product lightly on the top, and wipe it off first with a wet terry cloth towel, then again with a dry terry cloth towel. Wait until the top is fully dry before retracting it. Generally, cleaning a convertible top can be accomplished with car wash soap and a soft sc A full detailing job also includes the interior of the car. Use a stiff bristle brush on the carpet to break up trapped dirt prior to vacuuming. A full detailing job also includes the interior of the car. Use a stiff bristle brush on t By the way, this shop vac may be the world’s quietest vacuum cleaner that actually draws enough suction to clean a car. It didn’t sound like a 747 taking off, and we could talk normally while the thing was running. By the way, this shop vac may be the world’s quietest vacuum cleaner that actually draws e Though the label says it’s for leather, these products will work on leather or vinyl upholstery. Meguiar’s sells these in either spray bottles or in lotion form (that’s industry jargon for the stuff in a squeeze bottle), because some people prefer one over the other, but the contents work the same. Though the label says it’s for leather, these products will work on leather or vinyl uphol Put a small amount on a terry cloth towel, and work it into the seats. You’ll probably be surprised how dirty the towel will be afterward. Apply the conditioner in the same fashion. Put a small amount on a terry cloth towel, and work it into the seats. You’ll probably be Many of the major manufacturers of detailing products offer different levels within their product lines. Meguiar’s Ultimate line of trim protectant offers more UV protection than its less expensive consumer level does. Many of the major manufacturers of detailing products offer different levels within their Dash and trim protectant can be used on all plastic and vinyl surfaces of the car. These products are available in high and low gloss and are a wipe-on/wipe-off application. Be prepared for all sorts of surprises when cleaning an interior. Remember the .40-cal bullet we found under the floor mat of our Panther Platform project car? Be prepared for all sorts of surprises when cleaning an interior. Remember the .40-cal bul Editor Glad’s car contained a similarly lethal concoction of stale Goldfish crackers and curdling milk lurking within the bowels of his Mustang’s cupholder. We were thinking he was going all stinky-cheese French on us, but it was merely the side-effect of having a 2-year-old rugrat. Editor Glad’s car contained a similarly lethal concoction of stale Goldfish crackers and c Ultimate Protectant not only handles interiors, it’s awesome for exterior trim like the cowling at the base of the windshield that always turns a nasty gray color after what seems like only five minutes in the sun. Ultimate Protectant not only handles interiors, it’s awesome for exterior trim like the co It contains high amounts of UV protection and does not wash away easily, meaning you don’t have to reapply it every time the car gets wet. It contains high amounts of UV protection and does not wash away easily, meaning you don’t Meguiar’s Odor Eliminator spray killed the cheese-factory smell, making the drive back much more pleasant than the drive down (remember, we had to leave the top up so it could dry). Meguiar’s Odor Eliminator spray killed the cheese-factory smell, making the drive back muc Tire shine is a popular product that Meguiar’s sells as a lotion, aerosol spray, or liquid spray. “It’s all the same stuff. Some customers are just accustomed to putting it on a certain way. We can understand that,” Pennington says. Tire shine is a popular product that Meguiar’s sells as a lotion, aerosol spray, or liquid Though this whole job can be done in about four hours, you’re not going to have time to do this process every weekend, so you can maintain your car’s finish between detailing sessions with quick detailer and spray wax. Quick detailer can be used between washes when removing light dust and debris. Use the spray wax to ramp up the level of paint protection between washings. Though this whole job can be done in about four hours, you’re not going to have time to do Hopefully you cleaned the tires way back in the initial wash step using a general cleaner—car wash soap or a product like Simple Green. Wipe or spray the tire dressing on. If it is too shiny for your tastes, wait until it is nearly dry and wipe it again with a dry towel. This will knock down some of the gloss. Hopefully you cleaned the tires way back in the initial wash step using a general cleaner— After all this work, you can impress your friends, colleagues, and drunk neighbors with this cool water-beading parlor trick. The Meguiar’s guys showed us a video one of their customers made where he drew the Ford logo on his hood with wax and ran a sheet of water across it. As the water ran off the hood, the Ford emblem appeared. “The wax is hydrophobic,” Pennington explains. “It repels water.” After all this work, you can impress your friends, colleagues, and drunk neighbors with th Towel Cheat Sheet Terry Cloth Used for: Drying after washing Cleaning glass Cleaning convertible tops Applying interior cleaner and protectant Applying tire dressing Microfiber Used for: Removing compound, polish, and wax (use separate towels for each step) Applying quick detailer Applicator care: Buffer pads and terry cloth and microfiber towels can be machine washed with regular detergent. Wash them separately from your clothes (the waxes and cleaning products can stain your clothes, not that we would know or anything), do not use bleach, fabric softener, or dryer sheets—these contaminate the towels and they will not work as efficiently. The Paint Buffer’s Cheat Sheet Compound What it is: A mild abrasive designed to remove a small amount of paint from the surface of the car What it does: Removes swirl marks, oxidation, and light scratches Use it with: A random orbital polisher with a compounding foam pad (usually yellow) High speed setting, slow travel time Fifty percent overlap on each pass Work in small sections Remove with a microfiber towel Polish What it is: A gloss enhancer* What it does: Adds depth, brightness, and clarity to the finish Use it with: With a random orbital polisher and a polishing pad (usually gray or black) Medium speed setting, fast travel time Work in larger sections Fifty percent overlap on each pass Remove with a microfiber towel *Polish is a vague term. Some polishes contain small amounts of abrasives that “clean” the paint, but pure polishes contain no abrasives, they are a chemical formulation that adds depth to the finish. Wax What it is: Sunscreen for your paint What it does: Offers UV protection, prevents oxidation, and seals paint from the environment Use it with: Applied in a thin layer by hand with a foam pad* If machine application is OK, use a low speed, fast travel time Apply over the entire car Let dry to a light haze and remove with a microfiber towel *Some waxes aren’t meant to be applied by machine—the high speeds (relative to hand application) cause the wax to gum up. “The Ultimate products are derived from our pro line but are sold in the consumer line. They are easy to use and take a lot of the variables out.” Meguiar’s Michael Pennington Parts List Description PN Source Price Gold Class car wash shampoo, 16-oz. MEG GOLD 16 Meguiar’s $7.49 Professional Grit Guard MEG X3003 Meguiar’s 9.99 Microfiber wash mitt MEG X3002 Meguiar’s 4.99 Water Magnet microfiber drying towel MEG X2000 Meguiar’s 8.99 Gold Class all wheel cleaner MEG G11332 Meguiar’s 7.99 Smooth Surface clay kit MEG G1016 Meguiar’s 19.99 Quik Detailer, 16-oz. bottle MEG QUIK16 Meguiar’s 6.99 Professional dual action polisher MEG G110V2 Meguiar’s 176.99 SoftBuff 2.0 polishing pad MEG W8207 Meguiar’s 13.99 SoftBuff 2.0 finishing pad MEG W9207 Meguiar’s 13.99 Ultimate Compound MEG G17216 Meguiar’s 9.99 Ultimate Polish MEG G19216 Meguiar’s 9.99 Ultimate Liquid Wax MEG G18216 Meguiar’s 22.99 Foam applicator pad MEG X3070 Meguiar’s 1.99 Supreme Shine microfiber towel, three-pack MEG X2020 Meguiar’s 6.99 Convertible top cleaner MEG G2016 Meguiar’s 7.99 Soft Buff terry towels MEG X2050 Meguiar’s 8.99 Gold Class leather and vinyl cleaner MEG G18516 Meguiar’s 7.99 Gold Class leather conditioner MEG G18616 Meguiar’s 7.99 Quik Interior Detailer MEG G13616 Meguiar’s 6.99 Odor eliminator MEG G2316 Meguiar’s 5.99 Ultimate Black plastic restorer MEG G15812 Meguiar’s 9.99 NXT Generation glass cleaner MEG G13324 Meguiar’s 5.99 Hot Shine tire gel kit MEG G12412 Meguiar’s 9.99 Ultimate Quik Wax MEG G17516 Meguiar’s 9.99 Total $405.25 By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? 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