I originally did this thread for the 2GStratus.org community, but feel that the Club3G community can also benefit from this
Everything is just copy/pasted over.
As promised, I've put some time into doing a thread on automotive detailing. Although with my lack of detailing in about the past year I did some things out of order, I'm going to be going through the steps on here in the correct order, which generally just saves you a crapload of time not having to re-work places twice, start over, etc. This was all done at my mothers house while I was helping her move, so all of the equipment was between two houses and I didn't have my lighting sources for some good photos to show what needs correction. Because of that, I will simply be covering wash, clay, wax, glass, polish, interior and not any paint corrections. I was sort of in a rush with doing this, so things look messy...between moving, having to take the car to the shop (in the middle of all this) and everything else it was a long day.
So lets begin, I'll start with just a simple showcase of most of my detailing products. About two years ago I spent a good chunk of money acquiring all of these products because I was intending on dropping out of college and starting my own detailing business, sadly I've found my own niche in Industrial Design and have just been restocking it since. I don't have all of my detailing stuff in the photos, what I know is missing are my pressure washer and lighting, but if I remember correctly I used to have 4 tubs of detailing stuff...but I can't seem for the life of me remember what's missing besides polishing stuff for metals.
While I don't consider myself an expert in detailing I've educated myself thoroughly on the subject and know there's always more to learn. I still keep in touch with my detailing as it's a real passion, and as a result went to the 2011 SEMA Autoshow in Las Vegas. It's now just an expensive hobby.
Onto the dirty R/T! Yes, this is probably the dirtiest it's been in quite a while too...
Washing is fairly straight forward. I use a two-bucket method to remove contaminants into one bucket (this bucket also has a Grit Guard) that's simply water and then the second which is for soap. This just eliminates the probability that you're bringing back dirt and other contaminants to your paint, which is the reason why we're doing all this to begin with! Don't forget to wash your gas cap and door jams! Typically I wash a car twice, you're likely to miss something the first time around and I feel it speeds up the entire process. If you're only planning on washing your car, dry it; otherwise if you're going further don't bother! Pull your car into the garage and start the next steps.
Second step is using clay and removing any additional contaminants that remain. For the Stratus, it's generally worst in the door panel region so plan on spending the most time there. I've clay bar'd my car at least once a year for probably 5 years, if you've never done this expect to spend a lot of time doing it. For me, it took about 2 hours. Something I learned a while back was that you don't need to buy any special "clay bar lubricant" for this step; all you need is a lubricant and you've already used one in the first step. The spray bottle contains mostly water with about a cap-full of car wash soap. The most important part of this step that is crucial is to keep lubricant between the clay and your paint, it will not speed up the process to sparingly use lubricant, I say be excessive!
Clean up the leftover mess with a strong exterior cleaner, I used Detailers Pro: All Exterior Cleaner
, it's strong enough for an engine bay and will remove anything else you might have missed. I would never suggest putting a buffer to your car if you haven't spent the time clay barring your car, you can get these small contaminants caught in your pads and scratch up the paint worse! Don't do that!
The next step, depending on what process you're doing is to either start your paint correction process or to apply wax to your car. The paint on my car is probably at 80% correction already, so I didn't see the point in spending the extra time and products for this tutorial to show the paint correction process. I just went straight into wax, or in my specific case - sealant. Clean up your compounds and waxes with a different product as you did with your clay bar, you want a water-based spray that won't remove your polish and/or wax; I used Menzerna Top Inspection
. Obviously, tape-off your black plastic areas to not harm them all while reducing your clean-up time immensely. And don't leave your buffing pads out of a plastic bag like I did there...
After waxing, clean out your pads, I put mine in Detailers Pro: Pad Rejuvenator
for a couple hours and then dry them out.
After this, I actually tried something I hadn't done on my car but had been telling others to do if they wanted to. This was to polish my glass. The first two steps are just like before, wash and then clay bar; after those initial steps I used a Diamondite Glass & Plastic
. I was very satisfied with the product, though it wasn't really cheap considering I used the entire thing doing all my windows, headlights, fog lights, tail lights, and reverse lights. Have you ever seen glass this clear (remember I hadn't touched the inside yet!)!? In the last photo, the reverse light is the focus, like I said I did things out of order..
Polished VS. Unpolished.
After your glass and final wipe-down it's time to visit your interior! Previously I steam-vacuum'd my car during spring break so it was redundant to do it again considering the mild winter we had this year. For my interior windows I just use your common household glass cleaner; I frankly don't like most common glass cleaners for cars, but that's just my preference. Now I didn't have any this time, but I really recommend Detailer's Pro: Interior Cleaner
, I got a sample last summer and absolutely loved it (and gave the rest to Ben/StreetLegal when I detailed his car). For your carpets, I'm typically not shy and remove my front seats from the vehicle and then get the vacuum. You can get everything that's been hiding out-of-sight *yuk!* while also giving your seats a good wipe-down. I've also included a photo from spring break showing what a steam vacuumed carpet should look like for reference.
And your final step, enjoy your finished vehicle and take it somewhere for some nice photos! From previous uses, I expect the sealant to last for 2-3 months, and possibly longer if not driven often. Note: I wasn't able to really spend the time to get a real photoshoot or anything done after this and my camera I was using earlier during the detailing process isn't mine ($800 camera) and the quick photoshoot I did do only got a few nice shots. I've got loads of photos of my car from previous meets I'd include but even though it's the same car, same processes used; I'd like to stick with what was done for this particular occasion.
Hope you all enjoyed this!
If you'd like to employ my services, I'm in central Iowa (Ames) during the school year. Depending on the vehicle, what you want done, and a couple other factors will determine the quoted and final price. I don't work for free, but I do like to help out the car community and I give very acceptable rates for the quality of work that I do. If you'd just like to do your own detailing work, I wish you the best of luck and hope this write-up helps you out!
Currently I've only detailed one persons vehicle on the forums, and that's Ben/StreetLegal. I'd love to add a list to that and have a sort of "customer base" and get even more additional feedback on what I'm doing.
Comments, questions, advice... feel free to leave it