I am not the best car groomer in the world; I am solidly within the 99%. But that means I can put words into this article like “skids” “poo” and “fried chicken”, and not lose any work because of it. There are people much better than I am, however if I may say so myself, I’m not too bad at it. From seeing some of the cars that have arrived to Bwarpmeets, there’s a pretty wide variety of cleanliness floating around. At one end, you have Charlie’s Torneo, which hasn’t seen a speck of dust in its life, while at the other, some people look to have gone offroad in torrential rain before arriving.
I’m not here to judge, I’m here to give a basic explanation of how to keep your shit looking shiny. I apologise for the lack of ‘action’ shots – the wife was busy.
Without further ado, we have a PFL S14 which hasn’t been cleaned in a year or two.
To clean it, we need a place. I have a driveway. It has a garage (somewhere out of the sun is key for wax application).
And cleaning products (in order of use): Meguiar’s Gold Class car wash, several buckets full of delicious water, my badass (read: old and crusty!) chamois, Meguiar’s Clay Bar, Meguiar’s NXT wax and waxy puff applicator, microfibre, Armor-all protectant and generic engrish silicone spray. Autosol metal polish makes a guest appearance later in the programme.
First thing’s first: hose that bitch down. If your target is as grubby as this, it may help to take a cloth with you to wipe off dust/dirt while hosing – we are using a pair of buckets later (one ‘clean’ water with car wash, one ‘dirty’ for rinsing the cloth once you’re outta clean water), and this keeps the clean bucket’s water clean for longer. Make sure you hose in and around wheel wells, and inside bumper grilles. If you’ve got stones etc caked on, don’t rub these while wiping.
Obviously, doing so will just gouge your paint, which isn’t very helpful since we’re trying to make your car look better! Hose them away, then wipe if necessary.
Next up, we get those buckets into it. Wipe over the entire car with soapy water, rinsing in the dirty bucket periodically, then getting mo’ water from the clean one. We’re trying to get dirt off a car, not put it back on. Get into gaps between panels, around grilles.
Once you’ve finished the car itself, get onto the wheels – these are left till last, since they’re generally dirtier (oh lawd brake dust). Depending on the wheels, this might possibly be the most time consuming part of this entire process. You will regret buying BBS RS.
Once you’ve soaped that entire bitch up, we hose it down to remove the suds. Start from the roof, go with any flat surfaces from there, so you don’t wind up resoaping parts you’ve rinsed.
All going well, you should end up with something looking like this:
Its summer. Its hot. The water will dry in crusty looking spots. Thats all good. Bring out that moist chamois and rub it real good, all over. Get in there real deep-like. This will remove most, but potentially not all of the waterspots – not a big problem, we’ve got a few more steps to go. We’re now clean, but not shiny enough.
Take that mofo into the garage/car port/bat cave. You need it out of direct sunlight, so the panels can cool. Wax hates heat, and your finish will be crappy (though better than dirt).
Once we’re all garaged up, take a spray bottle of water (for sleeper-spec cleaning, I have my water in a BAM POWER DEGREASER bottle. Rinse first.), and a clay bar (which is probably still horrifically overpriced at Repco/SCA. $70/bar wtf?).
Wet the paint with your spray bottle, and rub that clay over every inch of the paint, to help remove tar spots/sap/invisible poo – while you might not be able to see it (and the camera I’m using likes to disguise imperfections), it’s still there, it’ll still feel rough, and it’ll mess with your waxing.
The clay won’t glide if you’ve not lubed it up with water, so cover everything. This serves a second purpose – cooling panels down if its been sitting in the sun.
It looked clean beforehand, but panel after panel, the clay looks like this:
Reknead the clay so you have a clean surface to work with, and keep on trucking. Once you’re done, chamois the car dry (again, ugh).
Once you’ve finished that, you’ve got something like this: A nice smooth surface for getting your Miyagi on.
Note that the S14 has gotten its sun fade on – we’re not working with any cutting compounds here (they basically shave into the paint to remove the top layer(s), to show up a stronger colour), so that will remain – this is week in/week out safe cleaning here, and cutting can easily go bad if you’re not careful.
Take wax. Apply to wax puff. The puff will stop you applying it unevenly, but make sure you get everywhere covered, and avoid rubbing it on rubber/plastic surfaces, because it can stain creamy, and be a right PITA to get off. You’ll end up with a matte surface.
Then, the great unveil. Take your microfibre, and wipe off the wax. That bitch be shiny. Then, small touchup things. Silicone spray re-blackens your tyres, plastic grilles, side mirror arms.
Autosol will, as well as shine up yo exhaust,
remove scratches and assorted crap from plastic surfaces – headlights and taillights specifically.
After all is said and done:
Now, this took me a little under 2 hours to do errything (including drinking a beer, talking to the owner, bouncing on a pogo stick) – it might be a bit of time to sink at once, but do this once a month, even, and the rest of the time you can basically just hose it down and it’ll stay clean.
Alternatively, if you like the results but don’t quite have the dedication to get into it yourself, I do casual work of this nature so get in touch with Luke and I’ll polish your big end (or something).
Oh, and I vacuumed/armor-all’d the interior so its all shiny, but it appears I didn’t bother taking photos of that.
Come at me bro.