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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First off, no credit to myself here. I am a moderator for the Auto Detailing subreddit at AutoDetailing: The Detailer's Domain. A very awesome user of ours posted this write-up and I just wanted to share it here so all can benefit.

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Washing


  1. Rinse off your car to get as much gunk off of it. Pressure washer is optional if you own one (use lowest pressure).
  2. Designate 1 wash mitt to wheels and keep a mental note of it, or make sure to purchase two different colors.
  3. Fill 1 bucket about half way with just plain water (make sure you put a grit guard in the bucket).
  4. Fill the other bucket with water and soap mixture. The ratio is on the back of the bottle (make sure you put a grit guard in the bucket).
  5. Take your wash mitt and dump it in the soap bucket, get it real soapy.
  6. Wash the wheels first, using the wheel brush, wash mitt, APC, and car soap.
  7. Rinse them off.
  8. Take your other wash mitt and dunk it in the SOAP bucket getting it really soapy.
  9. Wash ONE panel at a time, start with your roof.
  10. Take the dirty wash mitt and dunk it into your RINSE bucket, scrub your mitt against the grit guard. Squeeze all the water out.
  11. Take your mitt and transfer it to the SOAP bucket and give it a couple scrubs against the grit guard (just in case).
  12. Wash your windshield (front).
  13. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  14. Wash your windshiled (rear).
  15. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  16. Wash your driver side windows.
  17. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  18. Wash your passenger side windows
  19. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  20. BREAK! Rinse off your car to prevent the soap from drying.
  21. Now we move on to washing PANELS of the car at a time. Let's start with the hood.
  22. Wash your hood.
  23. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  24. Wash the driver door.
  25. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  26. Wash the rear driver door.
  27. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  28. Wash the passenger door.
  29. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  30. Wash the rear passenger door.
  31. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  32. BREAK! Rinse off your car to prevent the soap from drying.
  33. Now we wash the dirtier parts of the car. Let's start with the trunk.
  34. Wash your trunk area.
  35. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  36. Wash bumbers.
  37. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  38. Wash fenders.
  39. Dunk dirty mitt into RINSE bucket>scrub>squeeze water. Transfer to SOAP bucket>scrub.
  40. BREAK! Rinse off your car to prevent the soap from drying.
Time to move on to claying. You can dry the car now if you are worried about spots caused by the sun drying your wet car or keep it wet with water if you have sufficient shade and it's not too hot outside.

Claying - Nanoskin Wash Mitt


We are going to use the car soap method here to save us some money.

  1. Get your wash mitt and get it soapy.
  2. Squeeze the car wash product onto a panel and using your nanoskin wash mitt, scrub the car to remove the stuck on contaminants. Work in small sections, approximately 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft.
  3. Rinse your nanoskin mitt to remove the contaminants from the mitt.
  4. Soap up your wash mitt again.
  5. Go the the next panel and repeat. Squeeze WASH mitt with soap onto next panel and scrub with nanoskin mitt.
  6. Keep doing this for all the panels on the car. You can even do the windows if you'd like.
  7. Rinse your panels periodically after you are done claying.
Options:

  • You can use quick detailer instead of car soap if you would like. This can save you time from having to get more soap, but it wastes product, especially since you probably have plenty of car soap in your bucket.
  • You can dunk the nanoskin mitt into your SOAP bucket and squeeze it instead of using your wash mitt. I sometimes have trouble getting enough soap into the mitt, but if it works for you, it will save a step.

Polishing


The moment you've waited for. Time to make that paint shine.
The best method with detailing is to ALWAYS use the LEAST aggressive method first. This means we will work on a test spot and see if we can achieve the results we are hoping for.
Use this guide to help determine how aggressive you need to be on the paint.

  1. Tape off a 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft area on your hood. This is an easier area to work on, since gravity isn't against you.
  2. Attach a 5.5 Inch White pad to your 5 inch backing plate which should be attached to your DA Polisher.
  3. Spritz the pad with some quick detailer.
  4. Prime the pad with 4 pea size drops of M205.
  5. Change the speed of your DA to a 1 and place the pad flat against the surface. Turn on the DA and spread the polish against your 1.5 ft area.
  6. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  7. When your done spreading the polish, add 2-3 more pea size drops to the pad.
  8. Change the speed of your DA to a 4 (this is the speed we use for polishing).
  9. Turn on the DA with the pad flat against the surface and work the area slowly. Do not keep the pad in one spot, but move around slowly. The weight of the DA should be sufficient, you can put a (small) bit of pressure if desired. Move the pad up and down & left and right. You are trying to make sure you get full coverage of the area you are working on.
  10. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  11. Wipe off the polishing residue and compare it to the unpolished side on the opposite side of the tape. Use bright lights/flashlight/sun to check your work.
  12. Wipe down the whole car with diluted IPA before waxing. Wait about 10 minutes before waxing.
Extras:
Here is a video from Junkman about speed of the DA -


Here is a video with most of everything I said, but in video format -



Compounding


If your test spot came out good, then you can go off to polishing the rest of the car. Tape up trim and any places that compound/polish might hide or discolor things and get to work.
If your test spot still wasn't good enough, then off to compounding we go. Compounding will be very similar to polishing except we will be using a "grittier" substance.

  1. Attach a 5.5 Inch Orange pad to your 5 inch backing plate which should be attached to your DA Polisher.
  2. Spritz the pad with some quick detailer.
  3. Prime the pad with 4 pea size drops of M105.
  4. Change the speed of your DA to a 1 and place the pad flat against the surface. Turn on the DA and spread the compound against your 1.5 ft area.
  5. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  6. When your done spreading the compound, add 2-3 more pea size drops to the pad.
  7. Change the speed of your DA to a 5 (this is the speed we use for compounding).
  8. Turn on the DA with the pad flat against the surface and work the area slowly. Do not keep the pad in one spot, but move around slowly. The weight of the DA should be sufficient, you can put a (small) bit of pressure if desired. Move the pad up and down & left and right. You are trying to make sure you get full coverage of the area you are working on.
  9. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  10. Wipe off the compounding residue and compare it to the uncompounded side on the opposite side of the tape. Use bright lights/flashlight/sun to check your work. bright lights/flashlight/sun to check your work.
  11. Wipe down the whole car with diluted IPA before waxing. Wait about 10 minutes before waxing.
Extras:
Here is a video from Junkman about speed of the DA -


Here is a video with most of everything I said, but in video format -



Waxing


Waxing can be done by machine as well.
Collinite is an interesting product, and it has great instructions of how to make it usable in this Autogeek Thread.
You can pick up a squeeze bottle like this. Autogeek

  1. Attach a 5.5 Inch Black pad to your 5 inch backing plate which should be attached to your DA Polisher.
  2. Prime the pad with 4 pea size drops of wax.
  3. Change the speed of your DA to a 1 and place the pad flat against the surface. Turn on the DA and spread the wax around the pad.
  4. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  5. Add 1-2 more pea size drops to the pad.
  6. Change the speed of your DA to a 3 (this is the speed we use for waxing).
  7. Turn on the DA with the pad flat against the surface and work the area at a comfortable pace. You are not trying to do any correction work, so use little to no pressure.
  8. Collinite is spread very thin. You might only need 1 drop per panel. This will be learned with experience.
  9. Turn off the DA keeping the pad flat against the surface. Do NOT lift the pad while turning off the machine.
  10. Do NOT wipe collinte off your car yet. Let it cure for about an hour. If it is difficult to remove after an hour, a spritz of quick detailer will help with removal.

TIPS


Remember to keep your pad clean. Using the pad brush, brush out any residue still stuck in the pad. I do this after every panel. You could do this with the DA on, but be warned it will make a mess.
Work slowly, this isn't a race (or at least it shouldn't be). This is going to take you a couple hours, and if you rush it, you won't be satisfied.
You can use quick detailer on a microfiber cloth to remove any dry compound/polish/wax.
After you are done compounding/polishing/waxing, keep your pads clean by soaking them in hot water and spraying them with APC and scrubbing the gunk out of them. Let them fully dry before sealing them in a ziploc.
 

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lol that's funny cause i've been creeping on /r/autodetailing for a while, never thought that a forum member would be a mod there haha
 

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Water spots are tricky because if they etch into the clear coat, they can't be removed safely. This also goes for bird bombs, so be careful how much clear you remove when chasing those spots.
 

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Great post, very useful information!

Very good timing on this topic.

I met a guy, one of my nephew's car club buddies, who runs a place called Diamond Detail here in Bel Air, MD. The moment he saw my car, my nephew says, "my buddy wants you to bring the car up and he wants to detail it for you".

So I brought the car up one evening while there were all getting ready for H2O (Big meet in Ocean City, MD @ the beach annually).

He went to town on my Sonata. From bug/tar removal, washing, clay padded it, washed it, then compounded a few spots, then polished the entire car. While the polish set up, he proceeded to do my entire engine bay and polished my upper strut bar all by hand.

When he was done, I could see the deep deep pearl that I fell in love with when I first bought my car and did the initial detail myself.

Here was the rain three days later:

 

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I find this entire process to be extremely exhausting. I feel like unless your paint is 40yrs old, or you're doing car shows, using a cutting compound is overkill. But when it comes to polishing, I watch all these videos where they do this little tiny section on a nice flat area of the hood. Every. Single. Time.

Dude, show me how to use the DA on the front fenders. Or around the door handles. Or the side mirrors. Or the trunk lid. Or the front bumper. Show me how to do the difficult spots, not the hood over and over and over.

And when I polish, do I have to use the DA?
 

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I find this entire process to be extremely exhausting. I feel like unless your paint is 40yrs old, or you're doing car shows, using a cutting compound is overkill. But when it comes to polishing, I watch all these videos where they do this little tiny section on a nice flat area of the hood. Every. Single. Time.

Dude, show me how to use the DA on the front fenders. Or around the door handles. Or the side mirrors. Or the trunk lid. Or the front bumper. Show me how to do the difficult spots, not the hood over and over and over.

And when I polish, do I have to use the DA?
Great point.... Show the difficult areas and agree most members will be doing by hand and not machine....
 

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I work in a body shop and im the detail guy over there. here's the easiest process in detailing cars.

1) Wash your car.
2) Wet Sand The Whole Car by hand. (you can skip this if you dont have any dirts that cannot be wipe off on the car)
3) Rubbing Compound + Cloth Pad (using a machine polisher).
4) Machine Polish + Foam Pad (using a machine polisher).

** Using a machine polisher makes a big difference, you need to adjust the speed too, if you go too fast you burn the paint)

NOTE:
- i/we only use DA if the car has a really bad paint job.
- DA will also give dent to your car if you dont know how to use them, even some people doing them for yrs still dents the car, base on my experience but i havent dent any cars yet. (knock on wood!) :lol:

Will post some pics later.. Son turned 4 today so gonna be a busy day..
 

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If you are looking for very good information in almost any aspect of detailing your car, take a look at Detailed Image's Auto Detailing Guide. There is also great information available in the Ask-a-Pro Blog in which I am one of the authors for. In the blog you can find great information from product reviews to showing proper procedures for different processes when working on your car. There is a lot of poor information passed around on forums that can lead to people severely damaging the finish on their vehicles. I would be happy to help anyone with any questions they might have, feel free to PM with any questions you might have.
 

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There also a lot of information that can lead you to nothing unless you try it yourself :rolleyes:
I've tried and watched a lot of process, machines and compounds but only a few of them works for me ;)
 

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I find this entire process to be extremely exhausting. I feel like unless your paint is 40yrs old, or you're doing car shows, using a cutting compound is overkill. But when it comes to polishing, I watch all these videos where they do this little tiny section on a nice flat area of the hood. Every. Single. Time.

Dude, show me how to use the DA on the front fenders. Or around the door handles. Or the side mirrors. Or the trunk lid. Or the front bumper. Show me how to do the difficult spots, not the hood over and over and over.

And when I polish, do I have to use the DA?
Great point.... Show the difficult areas and agree most members will be doing by hand and not machine....
The process can seem like a lot of work when you first start out doing this. Saying that a cutting compound is overkill is however not entirely true, with proper test spots you want to try various compound/polish and pad combinations starting with the least aggressive till you achieve your/the clients desired results. For someone who does not maintain their car very well then yes, compounding and polishing is pretty pointless. There are some compounds that finish just as nicely as polishes however, and with the right pad combination will achieve excellent results in just one step. Most darker colors however, and especially black you will typically want to 2-step ( compound & polish). The goal is always to remove the least amount of clear as possible while removing any defects in the finish. Sanding should always be a last resort as you are going to quickly remove clear, and most factory paint jobs have fairly thin clear on them to begin with. If you do need to do any sanding you will want to take some depth reading with a Paint Thickness Guage.

As for working on Fenders and other tighter areas you will work them much like you would a larger flat area. You want to keep the pad flat to the surface, however it also helps to have varies pad sizes to use in those tighter areas.


There will also be areas that you will just need to do by hand, such as the cups behind door handles.

These areas almost always have scratches, and in most cases are removed pretty easily just using a microfiber rag and compound or polish by hand.


I am going to be doing our Optima here in the next few weeks as it has been almost 2 years since I originally worked on it, and will put together an in depth write up of the process with lots of pictures.
 

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Might as well teach some of our fellow members how to buff their headlights too ;) (Here's a sample of my work)



You like to use DA? i dont, specially on black Benz :lol:




 

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I rarely ever get out my rotary when working on anything. With todays large throw polishers, they will work just as quick and be much safer to use. And yes even with the Ceramiclear like on a Mercedes I still do not see the need to use a rotary. This thread is intended to help people with very little knowledge of this type of work do work on their own cars, and the dual-action is by far the safest tool for a novice to use on their own car. Here is a link to a great starter package for someone wanting learn to work on their own vehicle. I would also pick up a few more pads however. You have should have at least three (3) of the orange cutting pads and three (3) of the white polishing pads to do any entire vehicle.

Headlights are always fun to work on, and might be one of my favorite things to do. Here is a link to a blog I wrote (Restore Your Heavily Oxidized Headlights) that will walk someone through the process that wants to restore their own headlights.





 

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I have a lot of fear using power tools to polish my car. I am always hearing about burning the paint.
 

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I have a lot of fear using power tools to polish my car. I am always hearing about burning the paint.
Always remember, as a first timer or user of polishing machines, make sure you go SLOW, on the machines there should be numbers to adjust the speed, ALWAYS GO SLOW, when you think its not changing anything then go a bit faster, dont put too much pressure on the polisher as well, burned paint starts when you stay on one spot or either your machine is too fast and you're moving too slow..

On my part, i like doing stuff to my car, if i mess up something its mine. same thing with any parts i install to any cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have a lot of fear using power tools to polish my car. I am always hearing about burning the paint.
This is impossible with a PC7424. Start off learning with one. You can hold the pad in one spot with as much pressure as you can apply and it will not burn the paint.

Random Orbitals will not burn. Rotaries or forced rotation will.
 

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This statement is not entirely true. You can burn through the clear with any tool if there is not adequate material to work with. In most cases it is not an issue, however if you get heavily into correction work there are going to be instances where very little clear is left and if you use something too aggressive you can burn through the clear. For people on this forum this is most likely never going to be an issue though.
 
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