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I've read you're not supposed to touch your car with anything until it's been washed, helps avoid microscratches and swirling. A pressure washer is what you're supposed to use I guess.
I swear by:Lexol leather cleaner & conditioner for the seats & trim.303 Aerospace Protectant for the dash and rubbery bits.Clay bar after washing & before waxing & buffing.
I second "F1Outsider" with his suggestions on Lexol, 303 Aerospace.Find a car wash that is Ph balanced (most OTC name brand washes are usually fine). Only use Dawn soap if you plan on removing all the wax protection and want to start from scratch.If you never have done it before, clay after washing to remove embedded contaminates in the paint. After claying, check you car for any swirls,scratches and the like. If there are swirls present, use a polish(start mild to aggressive). Mothers and Meguiars are popular OTC brands that really deliver. For example, start with Meg SwirlX or Meg Ultimate Compound/ Meg. Ultimate Polish twins to really leave your paint defect free and ready for wax.As far as wax, for durability I use Collinite IW845.( I regularly get 5 -6 months coverage in NorthEast weather conditions) However, any wax is only as good as the surface it is protecting. So proper prep will make any wax look and behave better. Honestly, you will only need to do a complete detail once or twice a year. Avoid automatic car washes (especially "soft touch") ones that can actually inflict swirls and scratches in paint. Self-service car washes are better but be careful to use their soap brush as you never know who used it before you. (You could be the next guy after Bubba who just cleaned his 4X4 after a full day of "muddin'") I almost never use the soap brush. I prefer to go when it is not crowded and bring my own sponge. As an aside, wash your vehicle from top to bottom, frequently rinsing the sponge to remove any contaminates. Hope this helps.
@MattC: Thanks, stranger! Haven't heard from you in a while.
@F1O: Thanks. And the Mongol Rally post will be on Hooniverse this week.
Check out detailingworld.co.uk (especially The Showroom and The Studio subforums), but be warned as it's a slippery slope to polishing madness. It's led to hundred of dollars spent on products and tools, countless hours spent in the garage and aches all over. I am of course describing my friends. Luckily I'm a really lazy washer. :) That site is still great entertainment. I enjoy watching really sorry looking cars turn around to minters without any of the aforementioned side effects.
@Edvin: The whole reason I'm washing at home now is to save money. So I won't be going overboard on the wax products. I love my car, but not that much.
For my collectable, I swear by Zaino waxes. After cleaning with dishsoap it is a two step process. Lay down the haze coat and then follow up with mutiple finish coats. The wax will last for years. It binds on top of the paint so you can use detailing spray to take of road grime and tar without touching the paint or washing. I'm in the midwest so my other methods for daily drivers wouldn't apply to you. But Scratch X is great stuff.btw, wax horizontal surfaces left to right, vertical surfaces up and down. will catch the light more for a better shine.
@All: How do you guys find the time? I just spent almost two hours on my car and had to stop. I didn't even get to the clay bar yet.
@steve-h: Remind me what your collectible is again?
I'm a horrible car guy. As much as I love my cars - they just don't get washed that often. It's kinda like making the bed - I'm going to get back into it in 16 hours or so...
'00 Berger Camaro SS 75th anniversary #14 of 30, sold my BMW last year.Values on the Bergers have dropped some in the past few years, as with most Muscle cars but are starting to trend back up again.
oh, and for daily drivers, pretty much exactly what MattC said.
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