Auto-Rockets Basic Detailing Guide

Follow these simple step by step stages using the products or alike mentioned and rest ensure your ride will be kept gleaming.  Although there are many ways to detail your car, the guide can be used to point you in the right direction. 

Pre-Wash & Preparation Stage
This stage consists of removing any heavy soiling, tar & stubborn dirt safely from your cars paint work.  Also covers washing methods, drying, claying and polishing out any swirls and scratches

Firstly wet your vehicle, this helps loosen and lubricate dried on dirt.  Ideally with a pressure washer remove as much dirt as possible, paying more attention to areas like cills, arches and bumper where most dirt accumulates.
Next a snow foam can be used (Valet Pro PH Neutral Snow Foam).  Whilst the snow foam is dwelling use a detailing brush to agitate dirt around badges and places like behind the filler cap. Once dwelled rinse off well.  Now your ready for the actual wash having had no actual contact with the car.

The Wash (Two Bucket Method)
There are many washing tools you can choose from, whether it is a wash milt, sponge or brush.  Any are suitable as long as they are clean.  Take your pair of buckets, it is handy to have them labeled 'Wash' and 'Rinse'.  It is also worth investing in two scratch shields or bucket barriers, which sit at the bottom of the bucket and help prevent scratches by reducing dirt and grit being transferred back on to your sponge or wash milt.  Fill both buckets up with water, with the 'Wash' having the car shampoo in.  Dunk your mitt in the 'Wash' bucket and clean a panel at a time top to bottom, leaving the dirtiest panels until last.  Rinse the mitt inbetween panels in the 'Rinse' bucket and then recharge it by dunking in the 'Wash' bucket.  This method keeps most of the dirt in the 'Rinse' bucket below the bucket barrier keeping the 'Wash' bucket water cleaner for the next panel.  A third bucket can be used dedicated for wheel washing.  Use a wheel cleaning chemical suitable for your wheels if necessary.  There are many types of brushes and mitts that can be used to agitate and help removed stubborn dirt and brake dust from your wheels. Find the one that suits you best.

Claying using bars or polymer towels
Even after the pre-wash and wash stage there will still be contaminates on the paint surface that a mitt cannot remove.  Contaminants like tar, tree sap and fallout can be removed by claying.  However, we would recommend removing the majority of bug squash and tar spots and any other visible contaminants using a tar remover & fallout remover (this will help the clay bar from becoming contaminated too quickly).  The majority of the contaminants are mainly present on the lower half of the vehicle, eg cills and wheel arches.  Claying is usually only suitable for modern car paints with clear coats as vintage or single pack paints, may be soft and delicate.  Dedicated clay lube are available and are ideal over using soapy water or detailing sprays (Dodo Juice Born Slippy).  Clay a panel at a time in small sections approx 16" x 16".  Do this by lightly gliding a flat piece of clay in your finger tips, over the paint surface that has been liberally sprayed with clay lube.  You will feel the clay grip and remove contaminants leaving the paint smooth to touch.  You will visual notice the dirt on the clay bar, when it has become soiled, fold the clay over on itself.  

There are many drying aids available whether you prefer using a rinse aids, hydra blades, chamois or microfiber towels.  Using microfiber towels as a drying method is the most safest for your paint as sometimes using blades or chamois can drag dirt that may of been missed during the wash.  Its recommended to rinse your car after claying to remove any clay lube residue that may of dried on. Tip - you can even clay your glass and wheels.  When using drying towels, patting is the safest way but is very time consuming.  Note - even if its a sunny day, you are best drying your car manually as water marks will form if allowed to dry naturally in the sun light.

Polishing & Prewax Cleansers
With your car paint now clean, polishing is necessary to bring back the gloss shine, remove swirls & help hide imperfections.  You can effectively do this by hand or by using a machine polisher.  Its the same principle but just harder work by hand. You can use a single stage polish that can remove most scratches and leave a great finish (Dodo Juice Lime Prime). If you have a darker coloured car you may need to follow with a hologram remover (X-pert60 Hologram Remover).  Polishing works through abrasion. 

How To Polish A Car – by hand
Apply approx three single spots of polish to the centre of the pad, approx the size of a 5p piece.
Work the polish into the paint firmly and evenly across the area being polished. I recommend working in the same direction across the area but then changing the angle for each pass. i.e first pass up and down the area, second pass side to side across the area. Once the polish has been worked into the paint and only a light haze remains, buff off the remaining polish residue with a soft, plush microfiber buffing towel.  If you have needed to use a more abrasive polish or swirl remover I would recommend a final step down to a lighter one to give a finer polishing effect to your paint work.  You should now be left with a vastly improved finish with either the swirl marks completely gone or significantly reduced. If you have more than light swirling or find that your paint is extremely hard to work with you may need to repeat above a couple more times to get your desired result. Remember to apply your polish firmly and evenly across the area being worked.

Now your paint is clean, decontaminated and polished to a swirl free finish you will need to add a protective wax or glaze.  Doing so will add further gloss, protect the paint and create easy future washing.  Choose your wax, sealant or glaze and apply to the clean dry paint.  Use an applicator of your choice and rub it over a panel at a time in a thin layer achieving even coverage.  Allow the wax to haze over and cure this usually takes 5 to 15 minutes. Once cured buff off with a soft clean microfiber cloth to a high gloss shine.

Detailing Trim, Exhaust Tips, Wheels & Glass
To complete your detail you may have tyres, trim and dull exhaust tips letting the overall appearance down.  There are various products on the market like metal polish for exhaust tips, glass cleaners and dressings. Add a trim dressing of your choice to your bumpers, the tyres & trim will not only look better but will also protect them. Theres many types available that can leave different finishes like matt or a gloss finish, also they can come in liquid form, paste or gel.  Applying a good wheel sealant is recommended to protect wheels from brake dust and dirt.

Regular washes using the two bucket wash method is key to keeping on top of the finish. Spot removal of tar and bird droppings will now be easy to remove with a coat of wax in place. Suggested wash regime to be at least once a fortnight & apply a fresh coat of wax every 3 month. Tip - Inbetween wax coats a quick spray detailer / sealant can be used to top up your wax making it last longer (Dodo Juice Red Mist)