Like many automobile enthusiasts, you probably find yourself wishing you could keep that bright, showroom shine all the time. The problem is, most people do not have the spare time to spend hours each week on their vehicle, and even more people do not have or do not want to spend the money for a detailing company to do the work for them.
The fact of the matter is, there are a handful of secrets, tips, and tricks that can make detailing easier, less time consuming, and longer lasting. You really do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on those 5-hour step-by-step kits you find in stores. With the right knowledge and a few basic items, you can have a professional looking detail job for a fraction of the cost and very little time commitment.
1. The Clay Bar
Clay bars have been a long-time secret employed by almost every detail shop in existence. In fact, it has been such a well-kept secret, that commercial, consumer-level detailing clay had not even seen the shelves until around 2003. This is, for sure, going to be one of your best tools when it comes to detailing your vehicle.
The trick to a solid, long-term detail job is applying polish and wax on the cleanest possible surface. When you wash your car with soap and water, you will notice that, after drying, you can rub your hand across the seemingly clean surface and feel tiny bumps. These are minor bits of road gunk and other imperfections, and that is where clay comes in – to remove this debris.
Detailing clay is used with a spray-on lubricant (usually silicon-based) and rubbed across the surface of the vehicle. The clay will pick up all the little bits of grime that normal washing leaves behind, and also strip away any remaining wax on the vehicle.
2. Multiple Polishes
Most detailing kits come with a single hand-applicable polish. A trick that many detailing shops use is to apply polish at more than one level, in multiple coats.
You will need to select the level of polish right for you, based on the condition of your vehicle. Typical use consists of using a medium-heavy polish that cuts into the clear coat fairly aggressively, and then a second coat with a very light polish to remove even the smallest scratches and marks.
3. Electric Polisher
The biggest, most effective tip in detailing your vehicle is to use an electric polisher. This step alone will greatly reduce the amount of time and arm work required to get the job done. One coat of polish by hand will generally take an experienced detailer about one hour, whereas using an electric polisher, that same coat can be applied in 15 minutes.
Many people never look into using a polisher because of fear of damaging their cars finish. That would be a valid concern with older style rotary buffers, but in the highly technological world of today, it is no longer a concern. Random orbital polishers are very gentle on paint, and can be used by a complete novice safely.
Look into applying these three tips, and your own car detailing can be easier, faster, and can last longer.