Ferrari Life Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. As a professional detailer I have wrote a small article on another forum on how to properly wash, clay bar, and polish your vehicle to make it look it's absolute best, and I would like to share it all with you. I feel such a thread is necessary to allow the owners of such beautiful cars (the Ferrari) to better care for their vehicles. Please feel free to add to the discussion. Thanks for looking and don't hesitate to pm me for more info on my services or the information that I have provided.

Alrighty...I am sick and tired of having misinformed consumers on the market...this thread is dedicated to improving the knowledge of consumers on car care products. There are hundreds of products and techniques, so my techniques are not necessarily the perfect solution, but feel free to add more ideas and products on to my technique. Sorry for no pictures but I don't have a camera right now. So, here goes my techniques and ideas for the Crossfire, starting today with washing/drying via the Two-bucket method, and next time into polishing/waxing. If all of this sounds like too much, I detail cars myself, so please feel free to visit my website at http://cpdetailing.com. Other than that, ENJOY:

1. Before washing the Crossfire (tips)...
- Raise rear wing (if necessary).
- Close windows.
- Make sure the vehicle has not been driven for at least 30 minutes.
- Park the car in the shade to reduce the chance of water spots occurring.
- Do not put any washing/drying materials on the floor or other dirty surfaces so that you do not introduce particles onto the paint, which will create swirls.
- ALWAYS use clean towels, sponges, and other materials on the paint surface...rinse often is necessary.

WHEELS
1. Supplies needed...
- Hose.
- Meguire's wheel spoke brush.
- Small foam waxing pad (I use an old eagle one wax applicator pad).
- Wheel cleaner (I use S100 GEL wheel cleaner, I used to use Eagle One A20 wheel cleaner, but it seems to have faded the clearcoat on the wheels because it is one of the most aggressive wheel cleaners on the market).

2. Spray S100 wheel cleaner onto the inside of the wheels and start to remove brake dust from wheels.
3. With hose and a strong stream of water rinse off the inside of the wheel (make sure to rinse off the brush often so you do not scratch the paint on the wheels.
4. Spray your waxing pad with S100 wheel cleaner and go over each spoke, inside crevices, on the sides of the spoke, and don't forget the hubcaps and the indentations within them.
5. Rinse off the wheel once again.
6. Spray inside the wheel well with the wheel cleaner and take a soft brush to scrub the area well, then rinse off the wheel well.
7. Take a rubber cleaner and scrub and rinse tires.
8. Repeat process for all wheels.

WASHING PAINTED SURFACES
1. Supplies needed.
- Your favorite car wash soap (I hear Optimum No Rinse works well, just make sure that the product does not strip wax).
- Two car wash mitts (sponges hold small rocks, which can scratch your paint once the rocks are exposed to the surface). One for the top 1/2 of the car, the other for the bottom 1/2.
- Two buckets, one for rinsing, and one for the car wash soap.
- Bug/tar remover (I recommend Poorboy's Bug Squash...works incredibly well).
- Bug sponge (soft sponge with net).
- Hose.

2. Spray the bottom half of the entire car...this will remove minor debris. To reduce the appearance of swirls, the key is to keep your water, sponges, and towels as clean as possible, and very gentle on the paint as well.
3. Focusing on the bottom end of the vehicle (I usually start with a side panel, then the front, then the other side, and then the rear, which is usually dirtiest), take your bug and tar remover, spray a small area, let is sit, and then gently take your bug sponge and remove tacky tar and bug spots, starting from the top of the bottom half of the vehicle, and working your way down.
4. Rinse area well, then rinse off the sponge, and repeat until the whole bottom 1/2 of the car has been treated to bug and tar product (rinse sponge as often as possible to reduce the formation of swirls on the paint).
5. Fill-up your rinse bucket all the way up...I recommend you get a grit guard for the bottom of the bucket so that your mitts do not get mixed in with the dirt.
6. Fill-up your wash bucket half-way.
7. Squeeze in a SMALL amount of car wash soap into the wash bucket...a small amount usually goes a long way.
8. Spray your wash bucket just for a few moments with water to allow it to sud, but don't fill-up the bucket all the way with water. because the suds will die-out eventually. My technique here is to activate suds on-demand, not once for the entire wash. This will help save car wash soap.
9. Dip both mitts into the rinse bucket.
10. With mitt #1, dip into the sudding wash bucket (suds provide lubrication between the surface and the washing medium, which will help reduce swirls).
11. Wash the roof first, then all windows, then put mitt #1 into the rinse bucket.
12. Rinse theses areas with water.
12. With mitt #1, dip mitt into the wash bucket (reactivate suds if necessary), then wash hood and half of the rest of the car, except for the rear of the vehicle (because it is the dirtiest part of the vehicle, it cleaned last), then put mitt #1 into the rinse bucket.
13. Rinse these areas with water.
14. With mitt #2, dip mitt into the wash bucket (reactivate suds if necessary), then wash the bottom half of the vehicle, top half to bottom half, but do NOT wash rear of vehicle. Put mitt #1 into the rinse bucket.
15. Rinse these areas with water.
16. With mitt #2, dip mitt into wash bucket (reactivate suds if necessary), and rinse the rear of the vehicle, not forgetting the small venture tunnels, spoiler, and exhaust tips.
17. Remove nozzle from hose.
18. Put the running water from the hose on the top of the car, and create a waterflow all over the paint, then work your way to the bottom of the car...this will remove a significant amount of remaining water on the surface of the vehicle.

DRYING
1. I like to use a blade...to use one safely, my motto is "With every swipe you wipe (with a microfiber towel)".
2. Tackle the windows first, then all surfaces that point to the sky, then sides, then bottom portions of a vehicle.
2.5 ...use a leaf blower or blowing end of a vacuum and remove water from all crevices, especially the front grilles.
3. Take a quality microfiber towel, typically a waffle weave towel for drying (I use the Sonus Blue waffle weave drying towel. Pakshack and Cobra are supposed to make nice towels too), and touch-up the areas not completely dried from the blade. Some common areas that need this include the side marker lights (water gets trapped inbetween the grooves), gills on the side, side mirrors, underneath the rear spoiler, side sills, and the rear hatch area (especially the upper portion of the rear hatch as water tends to sit there, eventually creating rust if not dried-up).


CLAY BARRING

What is a clay bar?
It is a piece of proprietary elastic material that is designed to remove contaminants within a clearcoat that cannot be removed through traditional washing. Vehicles that are not waxed and are not garaged are exposed to airborne elements that, over time, contaminate the clearcoat. Tree sap, paint overspray, embedded dirt, tar, bug remains, paint scuffs, etc...are some of the problem areas that a clay bar can remove safely without aggressive scrubbing with a towel which can create swirls and scratches. A rough paint surface can be smoothed-out by the use of a clay bar, and it's original paint color can be restored as the clay bar will reveal a contamination-free paint finish.

Recommended brands:
Clay Magic, Sonus, Griots, Erazer, etc...

How to use:
Before using a clay bar, make sure you wash the paint surface thoroughly to ensure that no loose dirt is on the paint. If the clay bar touches the ground, throw it out and use a new piece of clay since it will now have rock particles from the asphalt imbedded in the clay itself, which can scratch the paint. Always use some sort of clay lubricant in conjunction with the clay itself as it will scuff the clearcoat and create a hologram-effect on the clearcoat without use of a lubricant. Dedicated clay lubes, quick detailers, or car wash soaps can be used as lubricant, but as a warning, some car wash soaps are know to eventually break-down and eat away at some clay bars. I like to use Sonus Glyde as a clay lube or Optimum No Rinse, which in the long run saves money because of the less amount of product used.
1. Spray lube onto clay bar and 2x2 section of paint.
2. Take a 2 inch by 2 inch piece of clay, roll it into a ball, and flatten it out.
3. Gently glyde the clay bar onto the lubricated paint surface, and focus on keeping the paint surface generously lubricated in order to reduce the amount of scuffs on the paint. When the clay bar "grabs," that's when you know you are removing contamination within the clearcoat.
4. Rinse the area and repeat the process until all of the painted surfaces are clay barred.

Tip...check your work often as you might be able to see the spots that you missed by the darker shades of paint in the light. The more heavily contaminated a paint surface, the easier it is to see where the clay bar has done it's work.
when the clay bar gets excessively dirty, switch to a fresh side by flipping the clay bar over, or by rolling up the bar into a ball, stretch if necessary, and try to reveal a fresh surface from the clay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
POLISHING

First of all, it is my professional opinion that POLISHING is the most important step to make paint look it's best. A properly polished paint surface topped with a $2 wax will always look better than a surface that was not polished but topped with a $7,000 wax, I guarantee it! Polishing CORRECTS paint defects while WAX provides a barrier from the elements (some of the heavier waxes fill-in very minor swirls).

For explanation purposes, I will be using the Sonus DAS pads and Sonus SFX polishes because I feel they are very easy to understand. I have no affiliation with their line of polishes at all. I started out with this system, and I think it makes a great base for understanding the basics of multi-step polishing. The Sonus DAS Orange pad is a cutting pad, their green pad is a polishing pad, and their blue pad is a finishing pad. Within the Sonus SFX line of polishes, SFX1 is used as a rubbing compound, SFX2 is a basic, swirl removal polish, and SFX3 is a finishing polish.

note: Paint should be washed and clay barred for best results at this point.

What is polish?
Polish is an abrasive liquid that is designed to remove a super thin layer of clearcoat to remove scratches, swirls, and other minor paint imperfections. Automotive polishing is similar to wood sanding in that you need to do multiple polishing/sanding steps with decreasing levels of aggressiveness to perfect and smooth-out the clearcoat. Rubbing compounds are seen as liquid sandpaper as they are the most aggressive forms of polishes. A rubbing compound tends to haze the clearcoat. This happens because rubbing compound (SFX1), in combination with a cutting pad (Sonus DAS Orange Pad), removes a thin layer of clearcoat in a sloppy fashion, meaning the clearcoat itself is left uneven and rough, creating an uneven reflection. To restore shine to a paint surface treated with rubbing compound, one should apply a swirl removal polish (SFX2) via a polishing pad (Sonus DAS Green Pad). To perfect a finish and to further refine the reflection, a finishing polish (SFX3) can be used in conjunction with a finishing pad (Sonus DAS Blue Pad). On lighter paint colors, such as silver, this third step is not always necessary. I find a two-step polish works wonders on Saphire Silver Blue, while on some poorly maintained black vehicles, a three-step polish is necessary to perfect the finish.

When to polish?
Polish when your paint surface is showing signs of swirls (aka very light scratches in the paint). The best way to look for swirls in your paint is by looking at the reflection of the sun through the paint. If you can see many thin lines in the paint, you have swirls and they need to be removed. Swirls create a super-fine indent in the clearcoat, making the clearcoat uneven. This results in poor reflectivity of the paint since light is bouncing off of the clearcoat from multiple angles. By removing a thin layer of clearcoat, you are revealing a new, smooth clearcoat, resulting in a deeper, richer depth of shine and greater clarity of refection. Polish is recommended 2-3 times a year for the average vehicle.

Here's a picture of swirls on a Silverado I did a couple years ago. Note the lines revealed on the right side near the sun reflection:



How to apply polish?
Hand polishing takes forever, and I have rarely hand-polished paint, only small, hard to reach places if necessary. Nevertheless, the best way to polish is via machine. There are two types of machines used in detailing to polish...a rotary or an orbital. An orbital is a great start because it is very difficult to damage paint with it. The name "orbital" comes from the idea that the polishing pad both spins 360 degrees and oscillates slightly left and right to mimic a hand motion. The left-to-right movement dramatically reduced heat build-up, resulting in safer operation for the paint. An orbital machine is designed to run at very high rpms, max 6,000 rpm, in order to do the job. Here are my problems with the orbital polisher...it vibrates excessively, which can cause discomfort after many hours of use. The low heat production means it takes many more passes than a rotary to break-down polish to the point where it has to be buffed-off. The positive aspects of this machine is it's small learning curve, ease of use, and lower price compared to a rotary by at least $50. I recommend the Porter Cable 7424, it is very popular amongst the enthusiast detailer. This machine can do at least 90% of what a rotary can do, but it will take longer to achieve the same results. For those who are regularly exposed to severely damaged paint surfaces, a rotary polisher supplies the cutting power and speed to remove that damaged layer of clearcoat efficiently. The rotary gets its name from the fact that the pad is stationary and just spins 360 degrees always, no jiggling. This allows for fast heat build-up and fast polish break-down. The rotary is designed to be operated safely at speeds between 0 and 3,000 rpm's. The problem with the rotary is that its powerplant is designed for torque, whereas the orbital is all about top-end speed to do the job. With this in mind, if the rotary polisher is misused even at the slightest degree, it can jerk back quickly and violently, dramatically increasing the risk of paint damage. The high temperature build-up associated with the rotary means it can burn through clearcoat quickly when combined with an aggressive cutting pad and higher speeds. The rotary is a much more tedious machine to use, requiring concentration every second of operation, whereas the orbital can be tossed around without much care of paint damage. The rotary needs to be flat to 3 degrees angled in order to operate smoothly. Any variation from this means the polisher can cause holograms, additional swirls, or clearcoat burn to result. But, I feel the rotary makes a great companion to the Crossfire's incredibly hard clearcoat. Earlier this year, the rotary in combination with a simple finishing pad and a swirl removal polish made my SSB Crossfire's metallic flake pop like it has never popped before! Popular rotary polishers come from DeWalt, Makita 9227C, and Metabo. Prices range from $200 to $350 for the rotary polisher.

Using polish via a machine:
The idea here is to polish a 2x2 foot section of paint at a time. Furthermore, the rule of thumb is to try to use the least abrasive polish first, see if it does the job, and go to a more aggressive polish until you like the results. New cars rarely need any more than a swirl removal polish in order to look good, unless the dealership mistreated the paint when they "detailed" the car for you. If an aggressive polish is not getting the job done, try to stop using the aggressive polish and start the follow-up process. It took me a while to realize how effective refining the finish with less abrasive polishes had improved my finish. Make a circle on your polishing pad with your desired polish, spread the polish onto the paint surface, start your machine at it's lowest level and make a couple overlapping up and down, left to right passes, then increase to a desired speed. (I am typically at 5,000 rpm with the Porter Cable, and 3,000 rpm with the rotary for aggressive polishing). Once the polish has turned translucent, or the polish is beginning to dust, stop polishing and start buffing off the residue. Check your results in the sun to see how many scratches and swirls you removed, and if you are not satisfied, repeat the process or change polish and/or pad combination. You might have to go down in aggressiveness, or go up in aggressiveness. Each car is different but I wouldn't be scared to attempt a variety of different levels before you are satisfied. I am tired and so wax will be talked about next time! Enjoy and please feel free to ask questions.

When all was said and done for, this is what can result from a three-step polish and some Klasse All In One and P21S wax (sorry folks for not taking a picture from the exact same spot as before, but the whole car was basically bad). Keep in mind this vehicle was driven in the woods almost daily:

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,884 Posts
cpdetailing, great to see you're already making such great contributions to the forum

thanks for the tips!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Your welcome...I hate to see beautiful cars go to waste because of improper maintenance techniques, and so the least I can do beside provide proper services is to write about them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
Great tips CP.

I have a question about polishes. Is it possible to have a car polished so many times that the clear coat is completely gone and base paint exposed, leaving a dull flat appearance.

Have you heard of liquid Techs product called "First Finish Polish" that is made of a synthetic polymer that binds with the clear coat, and further applications gives the clear coat a better or rather deeper glaze.

I used griots garage products perviously but am thinking of switching to these http://www.finishfirstpolish.com/orderpage.html products. What do you think.

Jersey_pete
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,112 Posts
Awesome

Your welcome...I hate to see beautiful cars go to waste because of improper maintenance techniques, and so the least I can do beside provide proper services is to write about them.
Glad your on our team...:D

Great write up very detailed

No pun intended...:D:D

You are going to fit in just fine my good man...:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thank-you all for the kind words. Unfortunately, I never received notification that a response was written to this thread, so I am sorry for the slow response.

Monza, I have not heard of First Final Polish, so I cannot give an opinion on it's use. But, it seems to be a cleaner wax, as it mentions that it has solvents. The case itself makes me believe that this is a knock-off of "Liquid Glass," which is an old-school polymer sealant that some have used. I actually don't like the copy for the product description, it is full of contradictions. For example, the solvents in the product make me believe that the product cannot be layered, as the first layer would be removed by the solvents in the second layer. Secondly, swirl marks are not caused by the type of wax you use, rather, they are caused by the application of the wax, and a whole bunch of other things, such as taking your car to the car wash, not using quality microfiber towels to dry your paint, using dirty towels, improper wash techniques, etc... Third, if this product dissolves contaminants within swirl marks, MORE swirls would show because now the swirls have nothing covering them up. When I drive around and see most cars that appear to have no swirls, I run my finger against their paint and I notice their sandpaper texture. In this situation, the reality is that contaminants are actually hiding and filling the swirls. This is why after I clay bar neglected vehicles, their color is restored to factory levels, their metallic flake is popping, and their swirls are now visible (until polishing corrects this). Now, some waxes will actually magnify the swirls in your paint because the uneven paint surface will cause more optical refraction when oil is introduced to these edges. So, once again, proper polishing is key to a good finish.

UPDATE: My new favorite line of polishes are from Menzerna. Menzerna Super Intensive Polish and 106FF are their names.

Monza...where in NJ are you? I might be around your area sometime and I wouldn't mind showing you a few detailing tips and tricks. Feel free to send me a pm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Thanks for the great tips/tutorial, cp. You pros put me to shame.

I live in a water restricted area, so I am using a product called QuickEasyWash which only needs about a couple of gallons of water to do a lightly dirty car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
Thank-you all for the kind words. Unfortunately, I never received notification that a response was written to this thread, so I am sorry for the slow response.

Monza, I have not heard of First Final Polish, so I cannot give an opinion on it's use. But, it seems to be a cleaner wax, as it mentions that it has solvents. The case itself makes me believe that this is a knock-off of "Liquid Glass," which is an old-school polymer sealant that some have used. I actually don't like the copy for the product description, it is full of contradictions. For example, the solvents in the product make me believe that the product cannot be layered, as the first layer would be removed by the solvents in the second layer. Secondly, swirl marks are not caused by the type of wax you use, rather, they are caused by the application of the wax, and a whole bunch of other things, such as taking your car to the car wash, not using quality microfiber towels to dry your paint, using dirty towels, improper wash techniques, etc... Third, if this product dissolves contaminants within swirl marks, MORE swirls would show because now the swirls have nothing covering them up. When I drive around and see most cars that appear to have no swirls, I run my finger against their paint and I notice their sandpaper texture. In this situation, the reality is that contaminants are actually hiding and filling the swirls. This is why after I clay bar neglected vehicles, their color is restored to factory levels, their metallic flake is popping, and their swirls are now visible (until polishing corrects this). Now, some waxes will actually magnify the swirls in your paint because the uneven paint surface will cause more optical refraction when oil is introduced to these edges. So, once again, proper polishing is key to a good finish.

UPDATE: My new favorite line of polishes are from Menzerna. Menzerna Super Intensive Polish and 106FF are their names.

Monza...where in NJ are you? I might be around your area sometime and I wouldn't mind showing you a few detailing tips and tricks. Feel free to send me a pm.
CP, you are a classy guy. I think I've said this before, but it is great having you around.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,140 Posts
Your welcome...I hate to see beautiful cars go to waste because of improper maintenance techniques, and so the least I can do beside provide proper services is to write about them.
Really nice detailed and informative post. Thanks.

Looking at all the steps though, I have the impression that it would be easier to fly you over to Europe than try this myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Ha! I may be in Italy this summer if that helps. In all honesty, "proper" detailing is tough and long. I usually spend between 8-12 hours on vehicles, and upwards of 30 on show cars. It is incredible to see how much can be done on a vehicle, and for many, a lack of time, confidence, and patience forces them to outsource these duties to a professional.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top