Most folks we know who are into their automobiles, relish the therapeutic, Saturday morning ritual known as the “Car Wash.” It’s a quiet, solitary time when man can bond with his machine, caress the curvature of it’s flanks and bring the paint to a shiny, satisfying climax…
Innuendos aside, any motorhead will swear a car drives better after a wash too.
With the advent of the internet, the former repositories of automotive detailing elixirs (Big box stores and auto parts houses) have given way to the wild west of the internet and a commensurate explosion of available product has ensued.
The marketing push behind these detailing products is as good as any iPod or NFL campaign. A skillfully combined mix of colorful packaging, aromatherapy and enticing jargon, lures a (largely) male audience into a world of fluffy potions, jams and creams while remaining safely in an automotive arena. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
On the other hand, it’s easy to get confused with all the crazy labels and marketing biz blab, so we decided to aggregate some of our favorite go-to products that are always nearby during our aforementioned “Car Wash,” therapy sessions.
Yeah, yeah, we know. You probably have visions of a fussy interior designer prancing around with a frou-frou feather duster…
Forget all that.
A good duster can clean your dash top, seats, gauges, AC vents and parcel shelf. Afterwards, you can dust off the exterior before a show and shine. It’s an invaluable tool for any car detailing junkie.
A great tip for the interior is to knock off all horizontal surfaces with the woolly wand before you vacuum. The benefits are two-fold: you can avoid the damage that a plastic nozzle and hose can do when dragged through an interior, and a quick pass with the duster will cut your time down considerably. At only around $13 bucks, it’s a bargain and will last for years.
This is one of our favorite potions. A car wash is a tactile and sensory experience and a great olfactory element is a crucial part of the equation.
Not only does the Poorboy’s car wash smell great, it make good suds and rinses easy. It’s super slick and slippery and makes the water feel almost slimey it’s so lubed up. Great as a buffer between your mitt and specks of dreaded dirt. A little goes a long way too.
We really dig Poorboy’s and encourage a visit to their site.
This is a must have for any detail jockey. What’s critical here is to read the label carefully. You DON’T want the version that emits white foam that settles down to a shine. You want the version that says “Clear Liquid” in the upper left are of label.
While this is a great product for dressing your tires, it’s even better for dressing your wheel wells. We can’t count the times we’ve seen an otherwise clean car with dirty, plastic wheel wells spoiling the show.
You could take your tires off and scrub the inner fenders with a brush, or just knock as much dirt as you can off with good jolt of water and then shoot them with No-Touch. The wheel wells will look brand new and black and your neighbors will think you spent all day cleaning ’em.
Buy a 4-pack and keep ’em on hand.
Having the right tools is important. This is the coolest spray bottle we’ve ever used. What makes it unique is that it has two-way pump action. Squeezing and releasing the trigger delivers product. This is great if you need to apply wheel cleaner, a liberal dose of detail spray, or otherwise saturate a surface.
We’re big Chemical Guys fans. Not only for their fantastic products and marketing, but also for their great how-to videos and classes on how to get your car looking great.
This stuff is indestructible. Our favorite for a super durable wax with no polishes or abrasives. If you have a new car, a clay bar followed by Insulater Wax would be a great regiment. Or after paint correction, the final touch.
The trick with this product is it literally has the texture of beeswax. It comes in a semi-solid state from the manufacturer and is hard to get out off the bottle. Not to worry, let the bottle sit in a bucket of hot water for a bit and it melts down to a clarified, buttery smoothness. Then use only a little tiny bit. Light layers are best and you can apply multiple coats. It’s bulletproof and has incredible clarity and shine.
Collinite has been around forever but outside of hard core detail circles is not well known. At around $20 bucks it’s a good buy as well.
Speaking of potions, this one has magical qualities. We bet most folks would rather be shot out of a cannon than wax their car four times a year.
Griot’s combines a light abrasive and sealant to it’s One-Step product. This is a very forgiving polish and when applied with Griot’s random orbital buffer is darn near fool proof. The best part is, it really removes swirls and towel marks and the sealant lasts for a year. You could freshen it up with some spray wax or detail spray in between applications.
If you don’t know Griot’s Garage, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. These guys have really re-written the book on car care. If you’re in Washington state, you owe it to yourself to visit their flagship store in the port city of Tacoma.
Think of this as light dressing with the control of an aerosol can. This stuff is great to shine and darken up trim, emblems, weatherstripping and other picky plastic that can look dull as dishwater over time.
Once you’ve used this kind of light dressing and know what it can do you won’t want to be without it. It can turn a good detail into a superstar.
There ain’t nothin’ worse than a greasy interior and steering wheel soaked with silicone protectant. Leave the shiny stuff for the tires and exterior. Meguiar’s Natural Shine protectant is the perfect low gloss shine and has a little cleaner in it to boot.
Most of the time, heavy dressing is too much, but every car interior needs a little “oomph” from time to time and this mix from Meguiars is just about perfect.
AutoGeek – This is a one stop website for most everything you need with multiple brands. Think if of this as the online supermarket of car detail supplies. They have great how-to vids as well.
For now, this is just touching the surface of detail tips and tricks…wink, wink.
Keep your eyes peeled and look for more detailing hacks soon.