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Tips, tricks or products you wished someone told you about years ago!


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I was thinking about this the other day.. A lot has changed in my car cleaning process over the years, a lot learned from forums / youtube etc.. Some of these lessons I wish I'd picked up on much earlier, they would have saved a whole lot of time - made things better - or saved me lots of money or pain. I thought I'd share them, incase they help someone else on the same journey. This isn't really a top 5 products post - but I'll include the products I use for reference;

 

  • Wheels first - I was aware of this years ago, but naively chose to ignore the recommendation - but in the last year I've got a separate slightly smaller bucket for my wheels. I felt that because I washed them so regularly that dedicated products weren't really needed. Now though, am really noticing the benefits of a dedicated wheel cleaner (KKD Brake Away - Non Acid Wheel) - tyre cleaner (Gyeon Q2M Tire Cleaner). I'm happy with my 3 x wheel tools in the EZ Detail Alloy Wheel brush (for barrels), generic soft detailing brush for nooks/crannies and the 'nut crevices' & dedicated microfibre wheel mitt. Doing the wheels first helps avoid making a mess of the surrounding panels after they've been cleaned, using a separate bucket really avoids any scratches - although the biggest thing for me is when done first I'm not doing it when I might have run out of steam & in that "ugh I just want to get this done..." mindset. In the past I might have been guilty of skipping barrels or being as OCD about the nooks and crannies..
  • A long hose and reel & outside hot tap- About a year ago, I bought a 15m hose from direct hoses... that changed my life, the rubberized hose made washing such a pleasure without dealing with the painful karcher tangle-tastic short hose. At the time when I bought it, the reel combo wasn't in stock, back in April then I splashed out and bought a new reel and hose (new hose needed due to the fittings, although they did offer to receive my hose back and they'd change the fittings (altho couldn't bear to be without a hose for a week so just bought a replacement! :D)).  The reel makes a quick wash much less of a faff.. I have my karcher in the garage, it never moves - just pull a short hose from the garage to the tap, pull the hose from the reel & away I go, no lugging stuff out. Complete life changer! Also, given the washer is in the garage - I can wash my car while my wife (nurse) is sleeping in the house after night duty. Back during the winter I spotted a facebook marketplace deal for getting an outside tap fitted for £60 - I took the plunge and got a hot tap fitted beside my cold one.. Not needed in the warm weather at the moment - but having warm water easily available in winter makes life much easier (less wife irritation if I make a mess filling my bucket in the kitchen, whose buckets fit easily in a kitchen sink?!?).
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  • Buy cheap, buy twice - ok, so this one isn't hard and fast for me.. some cheap products are excellent, others less so. Back in my early days I would have been tempted by big volume, seemingly cheap cost & DFS style sales. I bought lots of 5L volumes from EZ Car Care and it took a while for me to realize that there are a lot better products out there (and not always much more expensive). Other product recommendations on this forum are best followed rather than jumping on what might seem to be cheaper alternatives. It's worth checking your dilution ratios, especially for products like shampoo and snowfoam. Bilt Hamper snowfoam or gyeon bathe essence may seem more expensive - but when you factor in the dilution ratios - they are fantastic value and excellent products. With shampoo - it's worth noting, suds aren't everything - slickness is key. 
  • APCs are useful! - believe it or not, I managed for years without buying an APC.. it's only in the last year that I've bought some, really wish I'd taken the plunge years earlier (makes it sound like a massive investment!).  Great for door shuts, interiors, around badges etc. Good detailing brushes are worthwhile too - I made do with a load of microfibre cloths for years - but brushes are great for 'gentle agitation' before wiping down or rinsing. Bilt Hamber surfex HD or KKD A-Kleen are my go to. Again look out for dilution - have it in different ratios for different tasks  areas. Great for household use too! 
  • Ceramic tips- not one for everyone, I've been brave in the last year and ventured into DIY ceramic coating. It's not that hard or scary - but watch out for temperature and humidity, these factors really change the flashing time of most products. You really need a garage to achieve good results, to me I think trying to do it outdoors adds too much weather risk (too hot, too cold, wind / dust / pollen etc). My biggest lesson with ceramic was using a buffing cloth for too long without realizing that the product had dried solid on my buffing cloth - causing holograms on the paint. Easily remedied by a further fine polish - but I wasted a lot of time with that mistake. Good light is vital (as when polishing also), but nothing compares to the big lightbulb in the sky - if you have any flaws, high spots or holograms - the sun will show it all :)
  • Polishing tips - DA polishing is a massive topic, but I'll only mention my lessons learned. Firstly, it can't be rushed - if you spend an hour on the first panel - be prepared to spend the same time on the rest. Get a pad brush to clean pads between passes, I didn't for ages and suffered the consequences - pads become clogged and ineffective quickly. Also some compound dusts badly if not brushed off & that dust gets everywhere.. If you think you don't need to mask your rubbers, you think you have a steady enough hand to avoid them? think again.. like painting a room and not masking your skirting boards - it's a necessary evil (especially the bottom of windows, you don't want polish going in there and messing up your windows!).
  • Tyre cleaner makes tyre dressing work better -  I admit to never washing my tyres until recently.. I bought dedicated tyre cleaner from gyeon, it makes a massive difference if you get the tyre surface really clean (and dry) before applying a good tyre dressing. I'm using Gyeon Tyre express and love it, it smells like sun cream - I get flashbacks of holidays (remember them?) every time I use it, it lasts really well too. I think it tops Maguirs Endurance which tended to sling a bit for me. 
  • Dry with water! - you probably know this, but it took me a while to learn this one.. your LSP should be hydrophobic enough to repel lots of water with an open hose. After your final power hose rinse - get your open hose and rinse down with it. I have Gyeon Wax applied at the moment and the hydrophobicity is bonkers, more than 80% of the surface water sheets off with the gentle hose stream. Dual twisted loop drying towels are amazing - dragged across the panels (no pressure) is enough to clear any remaining droplets. For wheels & everywhere else that isn't a 'panel' - invest in something like the BLO AIR-S High Power Hand Held Car Dryer, or some of the amazon dog dryers would do the same job. Don't expect a dryer to do the whole car, but it makes the wheels/tyre / air intake areas much quicker, easier and massively reduced risk of scratches (Golf black plastic areas are as soft as butter, you only need to look at them the wrong way and they scratch!). They also have the added bonus of making your neighbours think you've completely lost the plot (more than they do already!). 

 

That's my lot... like a lot of people, my biggest pain when washing my car is the windows.. anything I try discards lint or causes streaks (which you inevitably only notice the next time you take the car out and have no way of easily remedying).. I want to try cleaning with newspaper again (like I remember my mum doing decades ago) to see if that is the secret (I keep forgetting to buy a newspaper). If anyone has any tips on that - am all ears :)

 

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If you have shitty black exhaust tips or some other minging job that will take an age, don't try to do it the same day you detail the car as you will, inevitably, not have the time or the energy!

I was thinking about this the other day.. A lot has changed in my car cleaning process over the years, a lot learned from forums / youtube etc.. Some of these lessons I wish I'd picked up on much earl

Nice topic Peter.  Agree with pretty much all yours. Always wheels first for me, but others prefer to do them last. For me a few key tips that have proved their worth over the years:    O

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Nice topic Peter.  Agree with pretty much all yours. Always wheels first for me, but others prefer to do them last. For me a few key tips that have proved their worth over the years: 

 

  • Open ended hose for final rinse which (coupled with a good sealant or wax on the paint) leaves the minimum of standing water so minimal drying needed with towels or air dryer.   
  • Buy a short trigger gun ( and nozzle set) for your pressure washer - game changer! 
  • If you have hard water (and a mid to dark coloured car) and have to wash in sunlight invest in a DI water filter and decent resin.  It’ll reward you many times over! 
  • Never continue to polish a car when you’re tired and aching towards the end of a polishing sesh.  Stop the session, pack up and pick it up the next day, refreshed.  
  • Use your wet windscreen to slightly moisten drying towels first before blotting dry panels, as moist ones are more effective at drying than bone dry towels. 
     

Loads more no doubt!  
 

@Peter Wynne Peter we also do have a stickied Top 5 products thread if you do want to also pop any of your product recommendations in there.  👍

 

 

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1 hour ago, Peter Wynne said:

 

Thanks Rebecca, done :) 

 


Nice recommendations.  
 

On the subject of window cleaning, what are you currently using?  For me a good streak free glass cleaner (Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass) coupled with a lint free quality glass cloth (Wo-Wo) does the job perfectly.  

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3 hours ago, Booth11 said:


Nice recommendations.  
 

On the subject of window cleaning, what are you currently using?  For me a good streak free glass cleaner (Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass) coupled with a lint free quality glass cloth (Wo-Wo) does the job perfectly.  

Autoglym fast glass & the meguirs glass cloth which purports to being 'lint free' but left tonnes of lint even after a wash through before use.. 

I tried the tool below from halfords - but it left lines of lint also.. maybe I just need to shell out for better quality glass cloths.

image.png.2906da6d4e2a11fcc9243574bb9b1d07.png

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35 minutes ago, Peter Wynne said:

Autoglym fast glass & the meguirs glass cloth which purports to being 'lint free' but left tonnes of lint even after a wash through before use.. 

I tried the tool below from halfords - but it left lines of lint also.. maybe I just need to shell out for better quality glass cloths.

image.png.2906da6d4e2a11fcc9243574bb9b1d07.png


Fast Glass is superb glass cleaner, it’s my favourite after Gtechniq G6.  It does sound like you might need to upgrade your glass cloths as they are not all equal for sure.  The WoWo glass cloths I use seem not to be available anymore but are a ribbed type as opposed to waffle weave (never like waffle glass cloths myself) and have absolutely no shedding of fibres, and have plenty of ‘bite’ which is needed for glass cleaning.  Normal microfibres are simply too soft for the job.  This is what they look like close up (see pics) so I’d recommend that type of material.  
 

1E554FC9-00EE-4C54-964F-5F389C787AB1.thumb.jpeg.6e62a2ef3ddc077510e92649989dd7bf.jpeg

5CF248A7-683E-4F83-8D1F-A2BDCC04DCCF.thumb.jpeg.9e3debfe884073343e48d2bb6d6c7c08.jpeg

 

If you haven’t already watched it, worth a look of Forensic Detailing’s glass cleaning vid as some recommendations in there especially Ragmasters Premium glass cloths which look to identical fabric as the ones I use, so worth a look. That’s what I’ll buy when I eventually need to replenish glass cloths stocks.  
 

https://www.ragmasteruk.co.uk/premium-korean-microfiber-blue-glass-and-window-towel/

 

8E08E2DA-19C3-40FE-A40D-5A7D4B6332CF.thumb.jpeg.acfbd8e756f396a406787a91d0fa8f8d.jpeg

 

 

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  • Wash with two buckets (wash and rinse) and grit guards
  • Never rub panels without any form of lubrication between cloth and car.  If you have dry with a towel then pat the panels or sweep the towel over, like you're a crap matador
  • Get as much contamination off the car before you even touch touch the car...snow foams, APC's, fallout removers, bug and tar removers.  Reduce the need to agitate anything via friction
  • Check the weather forecast.  Planning a monster w'end detailing session to coincide with 25º+ heat and no cover from the sun will just cause no end of problems and make the vast majority of products a complete PITA to work with.  Similarly, trying to work with claybars and such when the temps are below 5º isn't easy either.  
  • Don't be scared to play around with products, how to apply them and their recommended uses
  • Don't feel obliged to keep buying the latest this or that...sometimes some products just work and you have got the knack of applying them. Stick with it. 
  • Pick up the phone and speak to the people who sell the products...Clean Your Car, Slims, Ultimate Finish etc; they are all excellent at giving advice on applying products and what works well with what, dependent on colour, state of paint etc. 
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  • If you have shitty black exhaust tips or some other minging job that will take an age, don't try to do it the same day you detail the car as you will, inevitably, not have the time or the energy!

 

Example: A month ago, I went out one day to do the exhaust tips with wire wool, metal polish etc (took an hour so I popped my last drops of ceramic coat on them at the end!), another day I clayed the windscreen then applied 2 coats of H2Go and on a third day, I did the full wash and LSP routine without being distracted by the other two jobs.

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