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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

10 steps to making your car look great

Step 1: Vacuum with authority .                        

Start with the inside of your car, because once it's
 finished, a big part of the job is done. (Not to mention you'll be cleaner before
scrubbing those rims!) If you have an air gun, blow out crud from under the seats before vacuuming. If not, start at the top of the interior (dash) and work your way down. Take out the floor mats, shake, and vacuum one at a time

  Step 2: De-dust those air vents

Here's a trick, for the neurotic. Use a (new) paint brush in combination with the vacuum to get dust out of hard-to-reach places, like air vents and interior trim.
Step 3: Clean your windows properly

Dirty windows are disgusting. Here's how to do them properly: fold a sheet of paper towel onto itself so it's 3-4 sheets thick. Make two — one for scrubbing, one for wiping. Spray Windex onto the front window, covering everything, then use the first stack of towel to rub the solution onto the glass. Press hard, and move quickly. Use the second stack of towels to dry. After one side of the stack gets dirty, flip it over — and do only one side of the front and rear glass at a time, working your way around the vehicle one window at a time.

Step 4: Rims…

First, make sure your vehicle's parked in the shade. You want to start with your wheels because it's typically a more messy job. Mix some solvent (wheel products are okay), wet one wheel at a time, and get to work with a new toothbrush…dip, then scrub, then rinse. Do one at a time because strong wheel cleaners can damage the finish.

Step 5: An engine wash

Degreasers can be purchased at the store and should be diluted in some water. Use an old wash mitt to soap down the entire engine bay, making sure to be careful around electrical components. Start the vehicle and rinse — do not, under any circumstances, spray water directly onto the engine! Spark plugs and water do not mix.

Step 6: The way to a perfect wash

If you're doing this in the afternoon, wash only one side of your car at once. Why? Well, soap drying on your paint isn't great. We're used to using two mitts and two buckets — one for the lower half of the bodywork, and one for the upper half. Rinse the whole car first, dip a mitt in soap, and work your way from the top of the vehicle down. Move the mitt left to right — never up and down or in a circle, as this can lift dirt from the bottom of the car to the top, leaving ugly swirl marks. Rinse off all the soap.

Step 7: Dry your car after washing

Don't leave your car to dry by itself. Ugly water spots can form, and it's not good form to wax over that stuff. Use clean 100 percent cotton towels, not a "Shammy" or Chamois. You'll do more laundry, but clean pure cotton lifts surface dirt into the material. A Chamois just rubs surface dirt across the paint. Again, work from top to bottom.

Step 8: Waxing 101

A crucial point: polishing is different than waxing. Polish will help get rid of surface abrasions in your paint, while waxing will fill them in and make everything shiny. As with drying, use a cotton fabric or sponge to rub polish onto the vehicle. You don't need a fancy polishing machine, just gently rub the material onto the paint. Polish can be bought like sandpaper, with a difference in grit, so use more fine polish if your car is in good condition, coarse polish (then fine polish, then wax) if the finish needs some work. Then use a different, very clean cloth to wipe the material off of the paint — one side of the car at a time.

Step 9: Waxing 102

After polish, it's time for wax. You can be crazy like us and wax by hand (without a cloth!) or use the same techniques you used while polishing. Wax after polishing. We don't recommend using wax just by itself, as it creates a barrier above the clear coat — making it hard to remove with polish later. Do one side of the car at once, using clean cotton cloths. Apply, then wipe off.

Step 10: Dress those tires

Do a quick wash — again — to remove any excess wax. Dry — again. If you're so inclined, you can use tire shine. Don't use it too often, as it can degrade the tires themselves. Also, after all of your hard work, DO NOT spray tire shine directly onto the tires. It's silicone-based, and will stick to paint, leaving greasy spots all over your freshly waxed paint. We actually spray tire shine onto a cloth at least 10-15 feet away from the car, just in case. It's nasty stuff.


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