Detailing 101: Common Question and Answers, What and Where to buy stuff + Technique
Since Max has a size limit on posts, I will break this 101 up into multiple posts.
I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL DETAILER, NOR DO I CONSIDER MYSELF ONE. I AM SOLELY A DETAILING HOBBYIST WHO IS CONSTANTLY PURSUING THE PERFECT SHINE. I IN NO WAY CAN OR WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE (MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE) FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU POTENTIALLY CAUSE TO YOUR CAR BY TAKING THE ADVICE GIVEN BY MYSELF IN THIS THREAD. IF YOU USE MY SUGGESTIONS YOU ARE DOING IT AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Detailing Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is involved in performing an exterior detail?
A: In order to detail your car you should; wash with a quality car wash soap (not Dawn), clay, polish out swirls (if necessary), use a mild polish to bring out the gloss in the paint, and then protect the rejuvenated finish with a quality sealant and/or wax.
Q: What is the correct order to perform the various detailing steps?
A: As stated above: wash, clay, polish, mild polish, seal and/or wax.
Q: How often should I perform a full exterior detail?
A: Two times a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Q: I heard that dawn dish soap is good to use if I want to strip old wax from my car. Is this true?
A: Depending on how fresh your coat of wax is, dawn may not remove all the wax.
Q: Is Dawn bad for my paint?
A: This is a very debateable question. I personally think that since Dawn was designed to remove grease from dishes, it should not be used more than once or twice a year. There are others who argue that Dawn is no more harsh than some shampoos specifically designed for automotive paint finishes.
Q: How did the dawn phenomenon start?
A: I think a lot of it had to do with Zaino's recommendation to use Dawn prior to starting the Zaino process. They claimed this was to remove any oils and old wax present on the paint. These things needed to be removed in order for the Zaino to bond properly to the surface. Zainos philosophy is that once you Zaino, you should never leave the Zaino system, thus negating any need to ever re-wash your car with dawn. In the zaino world, dawn is a one-time thing. But people being people, they automatically assumed that dawn was the best way to ‘clean’ their paint, and they began doing it very often regardless of whether they were Zainoing. Believe me when I tell you that claying, and polishing will do a MUCH better job of stripping your car down than dawn ever will.
Q: What is the purpose of claying?
A: The purpose of claying is to remove any imbedded contamination from the surface of your paint, contamination that washing alone cannot remove.
Q: How do I know if I have any imbedded contamination in my paint?
A: You’ll know if your paint feels sandy/gritty when you run you fingers across it.
Q: How does clay work?
A: It works by grinding away the contamination and lifting it into the clay. Claying will leave a clean smooth surface behind.
Q: What is the proper technique for claying?
A: See the below article titled "How to Properly Clay your Car"
Q: Is claying safe?
A: Yes. The only pitfall of claying is the potential for creating minor surface swirl marks from rubbing a contaminated piece of clay into your clear coat. BUT, if you follow my claying article word for word you should have no problems with this at all.
Q: What is the purpose of polishing?
A: The purpose of Polishing is to remove swirl marks from your paint (using a heavier cut polish), and to bring out the full gloss of your paint (using a milder pre wax/sealant polish).
Q: What are swirl marks?
A: Swirl marks are very fine scratches in the surface of your paint that cannot be felt with your fingernail. These scratches are mostly visible in direct sunlight and other high intensity lighting.
Q: What if I have scratches that I can feel with my fingernail. How do I go about removing them?
A: You’ll need to fill the scratch in with touch up paint and wet sand the blob down using a particular grit of automotive sand paper. Once that is complete you’ll need to polish out the sanding marks with a finer polish.
Q: How do I fix stone chips?
A: Wet sanding is one option. Another is langka. I have never used it, but some people have had great success with it. For more information try Langka .
Q: Is it possible to polish out swirl marks by hand?
A: No. Unless you are superman, then you will have no luck whatsoever in removing your swirl marks by hand.
Q: If I can’t remove my swirl marks by hand, then what should I use?
A: You should purchase a Porter Cable Random Orbital Polisher (PC). Purchase either a 7424 or 7336 model.
Q: I heard that using machines to polish isn’t safe. Someone told me that I could burn a hole in my paint. Is this true?
A: It depends on the machine. Rotaries can definitely burn a hole in paint even when used by an experienced professional. A random orbital polisher like the PC is completely safe even for a total beginner.
Q: What is the difference between a rotary and an orbital? Why is one safe and the other isn’t?
A: Rotaries spin in a consistent circle. If you leave it on the same spot for too long then the heat generated by the consistent motion can burn a hole in your paint. Conversely, an orbital does not spin in a consistent circle, but rather a random spinning motion. This randomness makes the polisher safe (regardless of how long it is left in the same spot) because it does not generate anywhere near the same amount of heat as a rotary.
Q: I already have a craftsman (or other brand that’s not a PC) orbital. Is this ok to use instead?
A: No. Most other orbitals are one speed (the PC is six) and their motors bog down as soon as they touch your paint rendering them useless. The biggest advantages of the PC are it’s variable speeds and strong motor.
Q: Can I use the foam pad that came with the PC for polishing?
A: I personally wouldn’t. Get yourself some quality foam pads made by lake country and a velcro backing plate.
Q: What is the difference between the 7424 and 7336 models?
A: The 7424 comes packaged with a 5” counterweight while the 7336 comes with a 6“ counterweight.
Q: Why should I care about this?
A: The purpose of the weight is to minimize the vibration of the machine when using it with different size backing plates. You should always match backing plate diameter with counterweight size. For example, 6” plate with a 6” counter weight, and so on.
Q: How is the PC so much better than my hand if it does not generate a lot of heat?
A: True, the PC may be safe and produce minimal heat. But it does have the ability to produce more even and uniform results that are not achievable by hand. The PC may not produce the heat of a rotary, but it still does an excellent job of breaking down the abrasives in medium to fine polishes. Your hand will have a hard time breaking down any abrasive in any polish.
Q: What abrasive polish do you recommend for removing swirl marks?
A: Menzerna Intensive Polish or Zaino ZPC used with a cutting pad for heavy swirls. For minor swirls, haze removal, and final polishing, Zaino ZPC with a polishing pad will do a great job.
Q: Why do you like Menzerna IP and Zaino ZPC?
A: The products are both very user friendly, have no filler, and produce excellent results.
Q: You recommend polishing with a finer polish to remove the haze caused by the more abrasive polish. Why does the more abrasive polish haze to begin with? Is this a defect?
A: No. The more abrasive polishes are supposed to work this way. They will remove the bigger swirls with diminishing abrasives that will level some clear off your car. The abrasives won’t break down enough to leave a totally uniform finish, thus producing a hazy look. To remove the haze you will need to step up to a finer polish and pad combination.
Continued in post #2
Q: How does polishing remove swirls?
A: As stated above, polishing will remove swirls with diminishing abrasives that will level (remove) some clear off your car.
Q: How do I avoid swirl marks?
A: As stated above, follow proper technique when washing and drying your car. Do not go through car washes with brushes or soft cloths. For proper wash and dry technique see the articles below related to; Washing, Washing in Winter, and Drying.
Q: What is 'Compounding'? I've heard the term used before, but I don't know what it means. Is it the same as polishing?
A: Compounding is the same as polishing, except compounding requires the use of a very abrasive polish, usually a rubbing compound.
Q: Are Menzerna IP and Zaino ZPC considered to be rubbing compounds? Are they very abrasive?
A: No. Neither product is in the same category as a rubbing compound. Both are more of a mild to medium polishes, with IP being a bit more agressive of the two.
Q: Is polishing safe in general?
A: My general rule is to polish a car no more than once a year. Polishing too often, regardless of machine, will eventually wear out your clear coat necessitating a repaint. If proper washing and drying techiques are followed, then the introduction of new swirls should be minimal. Poor wash and dry techniques are the number one cause of swirl marks.
Q: How thick is the paint is on my car?
A: Most clearcoats are as thick as a piece of saran wrap. Further to that, most of the UV blockers in the clear coat are in the top 1/3rd of the clear. This further solidifies the need to refrain from over polishing.
Q: Should I use my PC to apply my mild polish?
A: Yes. Apply it with a foam polishing pad.
Q: What mild polish do you recommend for bringing out the full gloss in the paint and removing the haze from more abrasive polishes?
A: As stated above, Zaino ZPC with a polishing pad will do the job. If you are using Zaino Z2 then I would strongly advise using Zaino ZPC. If you are using Klasse SG as your final sealant, then you can go ahead and use Klasse AIO if you want. Also use it with a polishing pad. For any other wax or sealant, ZPC is the safest bet since it has no filler and will not inhibit bonding of any other sealants to your paint.
Q: Can you outline the proper way to polish with a PC?
A: Yes. See the article below titled "How to Properly Polish your car using your PC 7424/7336"
Q: Is it really necessary for me to use a mild polish on my paint if I don't have any swirls?
A: Yes. Mild polishes will clean the paint and bring out its full gloss. Six months to one year of driving can take quite a toll on a paint finish.
Q: Why should I seal and/or wax
A: Sealants and waxes will protect your newly detailed surface from the harsh elements of nature.
Q: What is the difference between a sealant and a wax?
A: A sealant is usually a synthetic polymer, while a wax is usually made of carnuba. Synthetic sealants are much more durable than waxes. They also provide better protection because they cross-link and bond to your paint providing a strong barrier. Carnuba waxes do not bond and cross-link. They merely ‘sit’ on top of your paint.
Q: Which one do you recommend?
A: It depends on what you expect out of a protectant, how often you like to wax/seal, and the type of look you like. Sealants give a more glass like look, while carnuba waxes offer more warmth and depth. If you enjoy waxing often, don’t care about durability, and like the warm look, then go with carnuba. If you are lazy and want to wax as minimally as possible while still getting protection and a nice shine, then use a sealant.
Q: How often should I wax or seal?
A: Wax once a month if you choose the wax route. Seal every six months if you choose the sealant route
Q: What do you do?
A: When I use Klasse, I use both. I apply three layers of Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze (SG) spaced one week apart after my weekly wash. On the fourth week I apply a carnuba wax. Then I wait six months and start the whole process over again. All I do is wash in between.
A: When I use Zaino, I do not top with a carnuba. Zaino looks so good on its own, it doesn't need a carnuba topper.
Q: Are there any drawbacks of applying a wax over a sealant.
A: Possibly. You may encounter some ghosting or hazing of the wax. This is because Klasse SG and carnuba do not entirely get along.
Q: How likely is this?
A: In my experience it is not very likely but still worth mentioning, only because I want to be upfront with everyone. It has only happened to me once on a section of my hood. For the most part you probably won't notice it. Many, many, if not all klasse users top with a carnuba and are very happy.
Q: What does the haze look like?
A: Hazing or ghosting is hard to explain. It will look like a thin film of oil that moves around on the surface in the direction of your last towel swipe.
Q: Is it necessary to apply three coats of Klasse SG?
A: No it's not necessary to apply three coats. Three coats are more for appearance than protection. Though, some people like to apply more than one coat to ensure they have good even coverage everywhere.
Q: Is it necessary to add a carnuba on top?
A: No it is not. Carnuba is added only for looks. It will have no bearing on durability when used with Klasse SG. SG is an infinitely better protectant than any carnuba will ever be. Topping with a carnuba will give you the best of both worlds. The Klasse shine and protection combined with the warmth and depth of a carnuba.
Q: After I apply a carnuba can I put more SG on?
A: No. SG will not bond to the carnuba wax. In order to add more SG you will have to strip your paint with AIO and start SG’ing from scratch.
Q: Can I use any carnuba wax as a topper for my SG?
A: No. You must use a pure carnuba wax. If you use a ‘cleaner’ wax then you will strip the SG off. Cleaner waxes are dual products that clean, as the name implies, and add a layer of wax. Save those types of products for your beater.
Q: How long do I have to wait between layers of SG?
A: Wait AT LEAST 24 hours. Polymers need time to cure and cross-link (harden) before the next layer can be applied. Adding a new layer before this will just ‘gum up’ the previous layer negating any benefit you may have realized from layering in the first place.
Q: Are cure time and dry time the same thing?
A: No. Dry time is the time UNBUFFED product sits on your paint before buffing it off. Cure time is the time BETWEEN buffed coats of a product.
Q: What is the proper way to apply and remove SG?
A: See the artice below titled "How to Properly apply and remove Klasse SG"
Q: Can I apply Klasse SG immediately after I apply AIO, or do I have to wait? Does the AIO need to cure first?
A: You can apply SG immediately after the AIO. AIO has no cure time.
Q: Can you tell me what detailing products you recommend and where they can be purchased?
A: Yes. See the article below titled "Which detailing products to buy and where to get them".
Well that’s all for now. Any more questions, post or PM me and I will add them to the above list.
Which detailing products to buy
I Mothers California Gold or Meguiars Gold Class for non Zaino'ed cars. Both are available at Canadian Tire (CT).
If you are using Zaino, then I'd strongly recommend using Z7. It is an awesome car wash with excellent lubricity.
I use the Simoniz sheepskin mitts from CT.
Buy the cheap 8-10 pack cotton towels for your doorjambs and the other nasty places. Available locally.
You can buy quality MF towels from any reputable detailing vendor. I'd also recommend buying an MF Waffle Weave towel as well for drying your car, and a plush MF for quick detailing.
Mothers and Zaino clay are both good. Mothers can be bought at CT and Zaino can be had at any Barbers Chair.
[size=2][color=black]I recommend Menzerna Intensive Polish (IP).
Klasse All In One (AIO) for Klasse details Zaino ZPC for Zaino details, or Menzerna Final Polish II for any other details.
Klasse Sealant Glaze (SG), Zaino Z2 Pro for light colours and Zaino Z5 Pro for dar colours.
S100. It is available at any Harley-Davidson Dealer as well as online from many places. This wax is the exact same as P21s.
Mothers California Gold or Meguiars Final Inspection QD for non Zaino details. Available locally at CT and Napa respectively. Z6 for for Zaino details. Zaino can be purchased from the Zaino store.
Wheel and Tire Cleaner
I usually just use car wash soap. If they are really dirty, I use Eagle One All Wheel and Tire Cleaner. Be warned though, consistent use of harsh wheel cleaners is not good for your rims.
For now I'm using Mother FX Tire Shine (High Gloss) or Mothers Reflections Tire Shine (Low Gloss). Both can be purchased online. Not sure when they will be coming to Canada.
I usually use a damp and then dry towel to wipe them off.
I recommend the Porter Cable (PC) 7424 Random Orbital Polisher. It can be purchased at CT.
Foam pads for Polisher
Buy Lake Country pads. They can be purchased from many online vendors. Some companies private label their pads, but rest assured they are LC.
Velcro Backing Plate for Polisher
Same places as listed for the foam pads.
How to: Properly Wash your Car
First some basic rules:
1. You should always wash your car out of direct sunlight. I usually wash my car in the evening once the sun starts to set giving me enough shade on my driveway. This will help to avoid water spots.
2. Don't ever wash your car immediately after driving it. Two reasons for this;
-Your rotors are still hot. Spraying cold water on them will cause them to warp
-Your hood will also be warm making it more susceptible to nasty hard water spots
1. Use a nozzle gun that will allow you to control the intensity of the water you are spraying onto your vehicle.
2. Always start with your rims, rubber, and wheel wells. Start with the two front wheels since they are the dirtiest. Fill up one bucket with car wash soap. Spray the rim, rubber, and well with water. Mist the rim lightly. Use full force on the rubber, and well. Dip a sponge in the soap. Start by cleaning the rim. When complete, mist off the soap. Spray water on the sponge at full force to clean the gunk from the rim off of it. Wring out the water when complete. Dip the sponge back in the soap, and clean the well. Spray the soap off when complete. Clean the sponge with water, wring it out and place it back in the bucket. Clean your rubber by using a tire brush. Try scooping only the suds from the top of the bucket onto the bristles. Work the suds into the sidewall until you are satisfied they are clean. Use full pressure water to clean the soap off. Use the full pressure from the nozzle to clean the brush. Place it back in the bucket. Repeat this process for the next 3.
3. When finished step 2, clean the sponge and brush as outlined in step 2. Dump the soap from the bucket and rinse the bucket out with clean water.
4. Fill up the now clean bucket from step 3 and another clean bucket with car wash soap. I usually put 4 or 5 cap fulls of soap in my bucket. It allows my to fill up the bucket with more water half way through my wash, and still maintain good suds. Put two different dedicated 100% chenille wash mitts into each bucket. Do not re-use the sponge from step two on your paint! One bucket/mitt will be used to clean all horizontal surfaces and all vertical surfaces above the middle of the door. The other bucket/mitt will be used to clean all areas of the car below the middle of the door. Why am I doing this you ask? Well, the areas below the door tend to be dirtier, thus you wouldn’t want to use the same mitt on the horizontal areas as it will most likely cause swirls. I use two buckets because it allows me to keep my wash water cleaner during the process. Using one bucket will guarantee dirty water and in turn create swirls.
5. Start by washing the highest part of your car and working your way down.
You should mist the roof and front and rear windows with water. Dip your sponge for your top part of the car into its bucket. Gently glide the mitt over the paint. Try not to apply pressure. The weight of your arm should be enough. Go in a front to back motion, NOT circular. I can't stress this enough. Why? Well, if you get grit trapped in your mitt, it will create swirls in your paint. Front to back swirls are much harder to see than circular, minimizing the damage. Do half the roof. Flip your mitt over and do the other half of the roof. Then use the remaining soap on the mitt to clean the front and rear windows. Rinse the roof and windows with misting water. Rinse the mitt by spraying both sides with full force.
Wring the water out, dip it in the bucket and begin cleaning the hood. Do half the hood with one side of the sponge, the other half with the other side. Rinse the hood with misting water. Clean the mitt and wring it out. Put it back in its dedicated bucket.
Take the bottom mitt and begin cleaning the front grill, headlights and front bumper, fogs, etc. Rinse the area with water. Rinse the mitt and place it back in its bucket.
Move onto the trunk. Take the sponge for the top and clean the trunk lid. Flip it over and clean the back of the trunk above the bumper. Rinse the areas and rinse the mitt.
Take the bottom mitt and clean the area below the bumper. Rinse the area and rinse the mitt.
Take the sponge for the top and clean the rear quarter panel, flip the mitt over and clean the rear door (if you have a sedan) above the molding. Take the remaining soap and clean the frame above the window and the window itself. Rinse the door and quarter panel, window and the mitt.
Do the same thing for front fender and front door. Rinse the area and mitt. Do the opposite side in the same manner.
Take the mitt for the bottom part and clean the front door below the molding. Flip the mitt over and clean the rear door. Use the remaining soap to clean the rocker panel. Rinse the area and the mitt.
Do the opposite side in the same manner.
Your car is now complete!
Just some general notes:
Always mist the area with water before washing it with the mitt.
Always mist the paint when washing the soap off. Directing a high-pressure spray is not good for the clear coat.
Always go in front to back motions with the mitt.
Always glide the mitt over the area.
Always rinse the mitt with a full spray before dipping it back into the buckets. This will ensure the mitt and wash water stays clean
How to: Properly Dry your Car
Once you have completed washing your car you should remove the nozzle from the hose. Turn the water on and let it fall on the horizontal surfaces starting from the roof, and working down to the trunk and hood. This will sheet most of the water off the paint. Once the water has finished sheeting, take a quality cotton or MF towel and blot the remaining water off your paint. Try not to rub. Rubbing is the enemy, even on clean paint. It is still possible to create micro scratches while drying if rubbing.
Use separate towels to dry the rims, paint, glass, and door jambs. If you dry immediately after you wash then you should not get any water spots on your windows, eliminating the need to use ammonia based window cleaners.
How to: Properly Clay your Car
Make sure you have thoroughly washed and dried your car prior to claying.
Cut the clay bar in half. Take the half and cut it into 15 equal pieces:
2 for the hood
2 for the roof
1 for the trunk lid
1 for the trunk rear and rear bumper
2 for the rear quarter panels (1 per side)
4 for the doors (1 per door)(if you have a sedan)
2 for the front fenders (1 per side)
1 for the front of the car
Take the piece and roll it in to a sphere. Take the sphere and flatten it out into a circle so that it covers the top third of your first two fingers. Spray the first section of the roof with quick detailer. Glide the clay across the area in a front to back motion applying some pressure. Work in 2x2 areas. If you feel your fingers going through the clay, then you are pushing too hard. If the clay is streaking on the paint, then you need more QD. While gliding, you should hear a slight noise and feel some resistance. This is the grit being lifted from the paint. When the resistance and noise stops, dry the QD off with a quality towel. Move onto the next 2x2 section and do the same thing. Once half the section is done, flip the clay over and do the other half of the section. Once the section has been completed throw the piece of clay away. It is too contaminated to use on another section. If you do use it, you will most likely put micro scratches in your clear.
Keep working your way down using each dedicated piece for its area. Flip the clay over when you have completed half a section. Throw the clay away when the section is done.
When complete your car should be as smooth as glass. The next steps should be to remove the swirls (if necessary), remove any hazing from polishing/bring out the full gloss, and seal in the rejuvenated finish with a wax or sealant.
A gigantic thanks goes out to a friend of mine on another board, Brad B. who outlined this method to a bunch of us a few years ago. I have been using it ever since.
How to: Properly Polish your Car using your PC 7424 / 7336
Make sure you have thoroughly washed and dried your car prior to polishing.
If you have swirl marks that require removal, I would recommend that you use Menzerna Intensive Polish with a foam-cutting pad.
Apply three lines of polish around the edge of the pad. Take the polisher and smear the product into the section you are going to work while the polisher is off. This will totally eliminate splatter. Do 2x2 sections at a time. Turn the machine on, and begin working the product @ speed 6. Go in up and down and then back and forth overlapping motions. When the polish begins to dust, turn the machine off and wipe away the remaining residue using a quality cotton or MF towel. Do each 2x2 section as many times as you have to until the swirls are gone. I use a 1000-watt halogen light on a tripod to help me see my progress.
Menzerna IP used with a cutting pad may leave a brushed haze in your paint. This is not bad. The product is supposed to work this way. It will remove the bigger swirls with diminishing abrasives that will level some clear off your car. The abrasives won’t break down enough to leave a totally uniform finish. To remove the haze you will need to step up to a finer polish.
I recommend Klasse All In One (AIO), Zaino ZPC fusion, or Menzerna FP II for this. The one you choose will depend on whether you are using Klasse SG, Zaino (Z2 or Z5), or something else as your final sealant. AIO, ZPC, and FPII when used with polishing pads, IMHO, are the very best pre-wax or pre-sealant mild polishes on the market. They are truly outstanding! Apply both using a foam-polishing pad. Apply them in the same manner that Menzerna IP was applied, except use speed 4-4.5 on your PC. Speed 6 is too fast for these types of polishes. If you have a black car, you may need to do each section twice to sufficiently remove the haze.
Once complete, apply a quality wax or sealant of your choice to protect the finish. I would recommend Klasse Sealant Glaze or Zaino Z2 Pro or Z5 Pro.
How to: Properly Apply and Remove Klasse SG
Make sure you have washed your car prior to SG’ing.
In order to apply SG, you should do the following:
1. Take a terry covered foam applicator and spray it with water. Squeeze it as much as you can so that most of the water gone. All you should have is a damp applicator. This will make the SG more pliable.
2. Apply a couple of drops of SG to your applicator and apply it to a section of your car (1/3 of the hood, half of the roof, etc) in a front to back motion. Once you have covered the whole section with SG, immediately wipe off the residue with a DRY MF towel in a front to back motion.
3. Repeat step 2 for every section until the whole car is done.
- As mentioned before, wipe the SG off immediately, no dry time is necessary.
- The SG should wipe off very easily leaving behind a slick, smooth, and glossy finish.
- You should use no more than 1oz. of SG per coat on a regular size car (BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class)
- Only perform step 1 one time, before applying SG to the first panel. You do NOT need to spritz your applicator with water before applying SG to each section. Once you apply SG to a couple of sections the applicator will be wet enough with SG, negating the need for more water.
-Do not use any water or QD to aid in removal of SG. This will just make the klasse haze down the road. I've also experienced this.
-Wait AT LEAST 24 hours before applying another coat of SG. SG needs time to cure and bond to your paint surface. I would personally wait a week. If you've driven the car ANYWHERE, then wash it before applying the next layer, or else you will just re-swirl your car.
-Put on three coats of SG, and you will be good to go.
-If you desire more warmth and depth in your paint, then apply a carnuba wax a week after you’ve applied the third layer of SG. Make sure you wash before you wax. You may experience some streaking or ghosting of the wax. I did, but it wasn’t enough to bother me. This is because SG and carnuba (any carnuba) don’t entirely get along. Consider yourself warned.
I'd like to add three more things:
1. You can use any pure carnubax wax after your third coat of SG. Just make sure it is not a 'cleaner' wax, or it will strip your SG. Good waxes to use include blitz, p21s/s100 and pinnacle.
2. You cannot add more SG after you have waxed. SG does not bond to wax. Make sure your SG is perfect before applying your carnuba wax. If you really want to add a 4th layer of sg, go for it, but as stated do it before the wax. IMHO, once you wax, you can't go back without starting over from scratch.
3. I'd like to clearly define the difference between dry time and cure time.
Dry time - The time UNBUFFED product sits on your paint before buffing it off.
Cure time - The time BETWEEN buffed coats of a product. Some products like SG require time to cure and bond to your paint before the next layer is applied.
In my article I suggest that SG requires zero dry time, and at least 24 hour cure time.
How to: Using Zaino instead of Klasse in a full detail
So far we all know the basics (see the FAQ above if you don't).
3. Remove swirls with a medium Polish like Menzerna IP (only if necessary)
4. Mild polish with Zaino ZPC Fusion to clean the paint and bring out the gloss
5. Protect the rejuvenated finish with a quality synthetic sealant and/or natural carnuba wax.
For Zaino, steps 1 to 4 will not change. Step 5 will change, and new steps (6, 7, and 8) will need to be added.
If you did not use Zaino ZPC in step 4 then you will need to perform step 5. If you did use ZPC, then you can skip step 5.
Step 5 - Wash with any quality car wash soap to remove the leftover oil/filler/protection from the mild polish used in step 4. You may be wondering why this is necessary if any polish other ZPC is being used prior to Zaino. The reason for this is that most other polishes leave some oil and filler behind on the paint that will shorten the durability of the Z2 or Z5. One winter I applied Z1 and Z5 directly over top of Klasse AIO. When I finally got around to washing the car in April, my Z5 protection was splotchy. Some areas were repelling water very well, while others were pooling. I attribute this to the AIO. I may have applied it a bit thicker in some areas than others (can never get it perfect). Those thicker areas were likely the pooling areas I witnessed when washing. You may also be wondering why/how Klasse SG can work so well over AIO without a car wash in between. This is because they are both made from the same acrylic and work together. AIO will not inhibit SG’s bonding.
Step 6 – Once the wash and dry is complete, you can proceed to begin the Zaino process. This process should go as follows:
1. Mix 1 ounce of Z2 pro or Z5 pro (your choice) with 4 to 5 drops of ZFX. ZFX will allow you to apply a maximum of 3 coats of Z2 pro or Z5 pro all in the same day. Shake very well for 90 seconds. Let the Z2/Z5 and ZFX mixture sit for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has elapsed, shake the bottle again for another 10 seconds. Now you’re ready to apply Z2/Z5. Side note: Do not use more than two ounces of Z2/Z5 and 10 drops of ZFX. Meaning, 3 ounces of Z2/Z5 and 15 drops of ZFX will not work.
2. Place a dime-sized amount of Z2/Z5 on your applicator (I prefer foam applicators covered with short terry strands). Apply the polish in front to back motions on all horizontal panels and top to bottom motions on all vertical panels. If you have trouble spreading the Z2/Z5 evenly, then give your applicator a shot of Z6 QD. Also use the dime sized drop for as many sections as possible before adding another drop of polish. That one-ounce of Z2/Z5 should be enough to do 3 coats on your car. You will end up applying it so thin that you’ll barely see it. Don’t worry; this is how it is supposed to be. A little goes a long way. Let the polish haze for 20 minutes.
3. Once it has hazed, buff it off with any quality MF or cotton towel.
4. QD the car with Z6. This will help remove any Z2/Z5 residue you may have missed. It will also help the next coat of Z2/Z5 to apply easier as well as increase gloss.
Step 7 – Repeat Step 6 two more times.
Step 8 – Finish off by applying 1 coat of Z8 Grand Finale Spray Seal.
Please see the Zaino website for Z8 application instructions.
That’s it! You’re done. Enjoy the beautiful shine!!
Some questions you may have:
Q: Should I use Z2 Pro or Z5 Pro?
A: For light paint colours use Z2 Pro, for dark, use Z5 Pro.
Q: I have some old Z2/Z5; can I still use that instead?
A: Yes. ZFX and Z8 will work with the old formula of Z2/Z5 equally well.
Q: Do I need to use ZFX? Can I apply Z2/Z5 without it? I don’t want to do multiple coats during my detail.
A: No you don’t have to use ZFX but you must use Z1 instead. Z1 is applied the same way that Z2 Pro and Z5 Pro are applied. Once it hazes, Z2 or Z5 should be applied directly over top (do not buff off the Z1 before applying the Z2/Z5, leave it). Once the Z2/Z5 hazes it can be buffed together with the Z1 underneath. This method will limit you to applying one coat of Z2/Z5 in one 24-hour period.
Q: Do I need to use Z1 every time I want to apply Z2 or Z5?
A: No. Only use Z1 after every ten coats of Z2/Z5 or every 6 months, whichever occurs first. Z1 is meant to facilitate in the bonding of the Z2/Z5 to your bare paint.
Q: If I use ZFX and then want to apply another coat of Z2/Z5, do I need to use ZFX again?
A: If you are only going to apply one coat of Z2/Z5, then you do not need to use ZFX again. Just use Z2/Z5 as-is. However, if you plan on applying multiple coats of Z2/Z5 in one day, then yes, you will need ZFX.
Q: Can I alternate between Z2 and Z5? Are the two products compatible with eachother?
A: Yes you can alternate, and yes they are compatible.
Q: Do I really need to use Z8?
A: No. But it will add to the depth and gloss of your paint.
Q: Do I really need to use Z6 between coats of Z2/Z5?
A: No. Again this is just for the extra touch.
Q: Do I need to use Z7 as my car wash?
A: No. Any quality car wash will do. But you will be hard pressed to find a car wash better than Z7.
Q: If I just want bare bones Zaino, what should I get?
A: ZFX or Z1 and Z2 Pro or Z5. That’s it!
Q: Do I need to add a carnuba wax on top of my Zaino layers?
A: No. Carnuba should only be used if you want to alter the look of your Zaino. I personally would advise against topping your Zaino with carnuba. Doing this will negate three of Zaino's four biggest benefits. Those being the slickness, shine, and layerability, with the fourth being durability. Zaino is a product that looks great on its own. I love the look of Z5 on my car.
I think I got everything. If you have any questions, let me know.
Thanks to Zainostore for contributing some of the application tips and tricks to this article.
How to: Wash your car in the winter
I know many of the detailing pros in the forum may disagree with the content in this article. Winter washing can be a very tricky subject. My main objective when washing in the winter is to keep the salt and other dirt off of my car, and ensure that it stays swirl free. I’m not necessarily looking for the perfect shine.
I’ve come to accept the reality that my car will not stay clean for more than one day in the winter. No sooner do I wash it, it starts snowing, and the salt trucks are out in full force not long after that. With that said, I decided that it wasn’t worth it for me to freeze my pants off attempting to hand wash my car in my garage with warm water. The effort always seemed wasted. I needed to find a way to get the dirt off without damaging my finish in any way. Thankfully, I found it.
Imho, the most effective and painless way I have found to wash my car in the winter is to go through a touchless automatic car wash found at my local gas station. Touchless washes have many advantages:
- They don’t use any brushes whatsoever. No contact is made with your paint.
- They use recycled water. Many believe this is a bad thing. I don’t think it is. Recycled water tends to be softer, thus reducing the potential for hard water spots. Most reputable places will filter the reused water ensuring it is clean prior to reuse on your car.
- Many automatic car washes will also wash the underbody of your car, another area where salt can stick and cause damage.
- The water pressure is not directed at a concentrated area of your car, rather it is dispersed evenly everywhere with the express purpose of cleaning the finish safely.
The biggest key to avoiding swirls from a touchless wash is NOT TO DRY THE CAR AFTER YOU EXIT THE WASH!!!. Let the car dry on its own. Why you ask? Well, as good as touchless washes are, they will never replace a good home hand wash. There will still be a very thin film of dirt present on your paint. Guess what happens if you rub a towel on your paint with dirt on it? That’s right, nasty swirl marks will appear. Not a good thing. As mentioned before, there is no need to worry about water spots, because the water is recycled.
What I would recommend is wiping off your door-jambs and door sills, as water may find its way in there.
Many people advocate visiting a coin operated hand wash place. My question is why?? It’s really no different than hand washing at home. And I’ve already told you why I don’t like that. I also don’t like the high pressure of the spray nozzle. You could potentially push dirt into your clear coat.
I’m also not a fan of the quick detail in between washing, or worse yet, as a replacement for washing. No amount of qd can replace the thick suds of good car wash soap. No qd can lubricate and safely lift winter dirt and salt off your car safely. I guarantee you will create swirls using this method. Remember, friction is the enemy. The less you touch your car, the less micro marring you put in the clear coat. This goes not only for winter washing and drying, but also for year round washing and drying.
Many people have also expressed concern about the aggressiveness of the soap used at touchless washes. Will it dull my paint? Will it strip my wax or sealant? The answers are no, and no. I’ve been taking my cars thru touchless washes for the last few years and have encountered no problems to date. My klasse sealant glaze always sheets water the first time I hand wash my car in the spring. This tells me that there is still SG left on my paint. The fact that there is still a thin film of dirt present on my paint after existing the wash is another indicator that the soap is not as aggressive as believed.
It’s also very important to clay and use a paint cleaner on your paint during your big spring detail. Performing these two steps are the best ways to rejuvenate your finish after a harsh northern winter.
I can vouch for this method 100%. I have not had any issues with it. In my opinion it is the very best and most practical way to care for your car in the winter.
That's it! The entire series in one thread.
That's a very comprehensive how-to. My hats off to you for the effort.
Though I don't necessarily agree with everything said, it is definitely a great start to anyone interested in taking care of one's car.
Thanks, Gabe. I just want to give everyone a solid starting point so they can do it themselves. Detailing is by no means rocket science, but it can be very rewarding when completed.
wow... great write-up.. shoulda read this before I posted my questions in my other thread.. lol..
excellent write up. i picked up a few new tips when washing a car in winter. thanks was very informative.
Can I simply tell you, I love you and love this post..
I read it a while ago but didn't try any of this yet. I am slowly purchasing the products I need, because I have no time to do the work now anyways, got exams, maybe after next week :D
still need to get the Polish and the Wax :D I got myself one of those "Simoniz Orbital Polisher, 10-in" I don't have the money to put on the $200 buffer you mentioned so I'll have to take my chances with this one :/
I will post the results and perhaps pics =)
thanks for the very detailed post, I was looking for something like this..
you don't mind me printing this whole thing and passing it on to other people? I'll direct them here :D
So I understand that a full exterior detailing is to be done 2 times a year: Spring and Fall.
But heck the above is a lot of work and time, and not to mention needs a lot of extra care.
Any decent places in the Mississauga/Brampton/Toronto area where I can get my 328 detailed for a reasonable cost?
Also, what about internal detailing? Any tips on that?
^^ once a year is fine if you use a good sealant like zaino.
In terms of good detailers in mississauga/brampton, I personally do not know of any.
For interior, if you have leather it should be conditioned once per season, but if your free time is limited, then once or twice a year will be fine. For other parts of the interior, all you reallly need a vacuum and damp cloth. 303 is good for carpets and cloth upholestery.
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