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DIY - Car Care & Detailing thread

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself' started by VahanPujari, May 30, 2010.

  1. anoop

    anoop Superiore

    Bangalore, India, India
    Thanks you @VahanPujari for merging the posts with this existing thread.

    To Polish or not to polish?

    As you may have already understood, most polishes are abrasive materials so naturally there will be doubts like why should we use abrasive materials on the paint. The answer is simple - to clean the paint surface and to remove swirl marks, to improve surface reflections and to improve the paint gloss.

    Generally, if the car is not used in a heavy polluting environment, you should wax your car once in 3 ~6 months (depending on the wax) and should polish the car in once in a year.

    The definition of polish is: "Polishing is the process of creating a smooth and shiny surface by rubbing it or using a chemical action" (from Wiki). Polish is the process of making it smooth by friction, but more often than not, it is not the heat which is produced using the friction which does the work, but the friction itself. Most polishes are emulsions of powered abrasive in a carrier. Heat causes paint dull, so wet polishes eliminate the heat induced by buffing action.

    Different polishes have different cutting ability, and this cutting ability determines the amount of paint removed in each hand or machine stroke.

    There are different kind of polishes available in market - we must choose a polish based on our needs.
    Typically, based on technology, we can divide polishes into polishes which uses 'Diminishing Abrasives Technology' and those which uses 'Non-Diminishing Abrasives Technology'.

    I am not going into detail of the difference between these two, but if any TFI-ans want to know more, feel free to ask.

    ---------- Post added at 11:10 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:50 AM ----------

    The market have dime a dozen polishes claiming to work miracles on your car paint finish - we really need to know what we are buying before we try them on our paint surface. For example, the outcome of a coarse finish polish and a fine finish polish are way apart.

    Some polishes are specially formulated for machine use, while some are for hand use. the difference between them is the way the abrasive materials in the polish 'breaks-down' during the use. As I said earlier, polish in an emulsion and the carrier act as lubricant too.
    While polishing, the abrasive materials break down into finer particles to do the work. If you use a machine polish by hand, the particles may not break down, and may not buff out to give you the shine you are looking for. Same way, if you use a hand polish with a buffer, the particles may break down too easily and you will not get the cutting action.

    the polishes are scaled on a grade of 0 to 1, 0 being non abrasive polish and 10 being the most abrasive. Most good polish compound use a mix of silica and aluminium oxide - they are hard materials and the kinetic energy during the polish action makes them abrasive.

    For our general use, we do not need to go beyond 4. 1 is a Pre-wax cleaner polish, 2 is final finish polish, 3 is final cut compound, and 4 is heavy cut compound.

    Polishes beyond scale 4 are generally called grit sanding materials, and we usually do not need so heavy stuff to work on our paint.

    the new advancements in technology have helped many brands to manufacture what generically referred as single polish or single liquid polishing system. These are made with the help of advanced micro-abrasives and can be used for cut, polish and finish, depending on the buffing pads or materials used.
  2. Pran

    Pran Superiore

    Grande Punto 1.3
    Thanks Anoop for sharing the details. I am sure many, like me, will be reading into the details of the container before buying a polish, instead listening to sellers word.
  3. anoop

    anoop Superiore

    Bangalore, India, India
    Polish is a double edged sword - if you take care do not remove too much paint, there is no harm in polishing. But on the other hand, if the clear coat is already about 50% gone, further polishing will result in paint damage. It is a fine line and more often than not, we do not have accessible methods to determine the existing paint thickness and the quality.

    A general rule is, if you can feel the scratch with your finger nails, polish alone can not fix it for you. Polish will hide it, but it is too deep for polish to remove it. if the scratch runs into clear coat, polish can only hide it. If your car do not have a clear coat, then care need to be taken to make sure that polishing is not taking out more than 50% of the top coat. When a fresh scratch happens, the edge of the scratch reflects the light which makes it visible. What polish does is, it rounds off the edges so that it will reduce reflecting light.

    You can use polishing to fix minor scuff marks, swirls (micro marring), minor scratches, etching, paint deformities such as sags and runs and orange peels.

    Before you start polishing, you should feel the surface of the car. Gently touch the surface with your finger tips and lightly and lovingly stroke the car (please remove your rings \bracelets etc before you do this) - a fine finish should be smooth and free flowing. Use a good LED torch to examine the surface of the paint. Sun light and incandescent light bulbs do not show imperfections as much as fluorescent lights.

    The difference between hand polishing and machine polishing is mainly the time taken. There is mostly nothing you can do with your machine which cannot be done with your hand, but the effort taken differs greatly. Handling a rotary buffer requiers skill and precision. Most of us DIY enthusiasts do not need them.

    Some basic things to remember before you start polishing:

    Work under shade, but make sure you have plenty of visibility. Do not work under direct sun, but do not work where you can hardly see what you are doing.

    Use the least abrasive polish you need - always remember, the lesser the paint you remove, the more the paint life of your car.

    Use clean and proper materials - cotton rag is not the proper material to apply polish. Invest in good micro fiber cloths and never use same cloth for different polishes.

    Work one area at a time, and never let the polish dry out more than needed. Make sure that you do not dry buff.
  4. kedarbendre

    kedarbendre Esperto

    MH 12
    wow what an information....

    I never thought about all this. Now I will be very cautious before cleaning my car. Anoop what car polish will you recommend. I am using Formula Polish along with Turtle Shampoo to wash and clean my car. I clean my car my self.
  5. anoop

    anoop Superiore

    Bangalore, India, India
    @Pran: thanks - it is indeed happy to know that fellow TFI-ians are finding the posts useful.

    The basics of polishing are:
    Remove imperfections
    gradually decrease aberration till you achieve the desired result.

    Always start first with spot treatment - treat those spots where you see the imperfections, and work on one area at a time. never do it on the entire car at first, unless your car paint really needs it. If your car body needs spot treatment, use compounding to remove it, and follow it by a fine polish. Or, get a single liquid polish which will cut, polish and finish.

    If you have plastic trims near the spots, first protect then using masking tapes.

    tru to get a polishing applicator pad, use one. If not, use a good MF cloth. Apply a little of polish on the pad\cloth (not on the car body) and began polishing using moderate pressure and medium speed. The more aggressive the compound, the faster it works, so be careful.

    One thing I have read on different forums and have personally tried is, before applying polish, light spray a bit of quick detailing spay on the pad \cloth helps applying of polish better.

    Buff out the area using a good quality MF towel. Make sure you do not dry buff the area.

    When treating a deep scratch, please keep in mind that the best thing to do is to lessen it - not fully remove it. You might cut through clear coat if you really try to remove deep scratches. Work for diminishing \ hiding it, not for removing it.

    Fine polishing is used to refine the paint surface and to glaze the surface. A properly and fully glazed surface have all the natural glaze uncovered - this is the best base to start your waxing -but more on that later.

    For fine polishing also,it is better to use a foam applicator and a good MF towel to buff, and the technique is same as described above.

    I am not much acquainted with machine polishing, so I will leave that part for the experts out there.

    Polishing is an art and it takes years to master the art. Be patient, and work on one part at a time. Polish is like a liquid sand paper - use it with good judgement.
    Select the right polish and the right tools, but always remember - what matters at the end of the day is the technique you are using, So, master the technique.

    Once you are done with your polishing and the glaze is out, next step is protecting and enhancing it.

    ---------- Post added at 12:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 PM ----------

    Kedar, while I have a little acquainted with the process and the techniques, I am hardly the right guy to suggest on what product to use. from my personal experience, I prefer Mother, Meguirs and Collinite above Formula 1 and Turtle hard shell. I think I might add a section about different market offerings at the end, but I am afraid that section will be heavily based on the experience of others which i have read over years. Please let me know if you will find such a section useful.

    PS: thanks for the encouragement buddy - it really means a lot while typing out all these. :)

    ---------- Post added at 12:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:11 PM ----------

    Now that you have finally finished treating all the surface imperfections, and managed to restore the glaze, the next step is to make sure that you protect the hard earned result you achieved.

    Wax protects the paint work by creating a barrier on top of the paint work. Many waxes contain nourishing oils which gives that wet and deep gloss look to the paint, in addition to creating the protection barrier.

    There are two kind of waxes - waxes based on Carnauba and synthetic or engineered waxes.

    Carnauba based waxes:

    Carnauba is the most hardest, purest and transparent wax produced naturally. Carnauba wax lends a deeper, darker, richer shine to the car paints.

    On black, red and dark colors, many people prefer the shine of Carnauba. Carnauba wax helps in water beading and hides minor swirls and protect the paint against pollutants.
    On the down side, most Carnauba waxes do not last long, and are hard to apply than synthetic waxes.

    Synthetic Waxes:

    They are engineered by man, and uses polymers which cross links on the paint surface and offer much better and lasting protection than natural Carnauba waxes. The shine created by synthetic waxes are said to be more warmer and synthetic waxes offer brilliant reflections, but many people are of the opinion that the shine is not as deep as the shine created by Carnauba.

    Most of the Carnauba waxes available today also have lot of oils and polymers in it and unless you are preparing for a car show kind of finish, it is better to apply synthetic car waxes which can be layered.

    Things to remember while waxing your car:

    Work in a shade, but make sure that you have enough light to see what you are doing.

    Use foam applicator for best results, and use MF if you cannot get an applicator pad.

    Work on one part at a time, and use medium pressure and speed.

    Allow the wax to haze out, as per the recommendation of the manufacture. Different waxes have different haze out timings and some waxes do not need to haze out at all.

    use THIN layer. Do not use more wax - use thin layer and rub it well. Go as thin as you can and rub it as well as you can, but do not produce heat while rubbing it. Do not use circular motions to rub the wax, but use back and front movement of your hands.

    Use clean MF cloth to buff out.

    After waxing, you car will be smooth, and wet looking.

    Regular use of wax is required to protect your paint. Unlike polishes, there is NO harm in waxing your car repeatedly. If you plan to layer the wax, allow sufficient time to cure each layer of wax.

    Remember: water beading is not the test for protection. Water beading only indicates high surface tension. use your eyes and finger tips to decide when to wax. A properly waxed and protected surface will be smooth and if you lightly stroke over the painted surface, your hand should glide smoothly. When you feel the smoothness is gone, or when you feel visually that your car needs more gloss, apply wax.

    There is no need to clean the existing wax coat every time, before you apply a fresh layer. Use a pre-wax cleaner ONLY if the current layer is contaminated beyond fixing and you want to do surface treatment before you wax. With proper layering, your car can actually look wet and deep.

    ---------- Post added at 03:32 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:45 PM ----------

    Now that you are done with making your car better looking than the showroom condition, the next logical step is to make sure that the car keeps shining for long.
    And the best way to keep the shine is NOT to water wash your car every day. If you do all the above steps and then entrust your car with your local car wash guy to wash it every day, it is like giving an exquisitely made flower garland to a monkey.

    So, what is the other option to keep the car clean, if you really do not want to wash the car?

    Enter the california duster (or the Indian equivalent - Jopasu duster) and quick detailers (or spray and wipe)

    The California \ Jopasu dusters are excellent dust magnets. If the car is dry, just do a quick wipe with one of these - it will take hardly 10 minutes, and you will be amazed to see that the car is really dust free. Most of the time, a quick wipe with them are more than enough to clean your car.

    But my car is dirty and no amount of wiping helps - what to do now?

    No worries - get yourself armed with a quick detailing (QD) spray.

    QD or generally known as spray and wipe or water less wash are products are generally used to put finishing touches on a freshly detailed vehicle. this technology was invented by Meguiar's. They remove light contamination, water spots, dust and hand marks quickly and easily. They are formulated to evaporate easily so that they do not leave any residue.
    To do a water less wash, all you need is a QD spray and couple of micro fiber cloths.

    First, use a California\Jopasu duster and lift the top layer of dust. Start from the top of your car and work down.
    Then, spay the QD spray to the surface of the car. Remember - you need to spray it on to the panel, not on the towel. spray the QD to wet the surface and wipe down using a good quality MF towel. Wipe down in single direction only, and as the MF gets dirty, use fresh MF towel.

    You can use QD spray to clean your wheels and even to clean your engine bay.
    When the loose dirt is gone, spray the QD again like a mist and wipe down again with fresh MF towel and buff to finish.

    Remember - if you car is really dirty, or have mud splatters from rain \ puddles, wash the area gently to loosen the dirt before you wash with QD.

    Personally, I use ONR (Optimum No Rinse) which is one of the best solutions. Depending on the concentration, this works as a QD spray, clay lube etc.


    ---------- Post added at 05:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:32 PM ----------

    By this last section, I have covered what I planned to cover. I can add more info to this thread as and when other members ask - feel free to ask and I will try to answer as much as I can.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  6. kaps

    kaps Superiore

    New Delhi
    New Delhi
    Linea 1.4
    That's fantastic amount of information anoop. You have very nicely outlined the procedures and their importance. A request. Car detailing or even regular paint maintenance is a hazy field for people like me. Would it be possible for you to create a flow chart kind of thing and link up each part of that chart with your posts. For example, surface rough to touch; yes>>> go for option 1 ; no>>>> go for option 2; with links leading to your posts in option 1 and 2. Would be great if we can have something like that.
  7. anoop

    anoop Superiore

    Bangalore, India, India
    Thanks for the encouragement.

    That sounds like a good idea, kaps. I will try to get it done.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  8. Cinju

    Cinju Esperto

    Anoop it's going to be a tough part for you in implementing the flow chart. You are going to be TFI's official detailer :). Off topic what all you do on a regular basis. I mean say weekly or monthly ?
  9. anoop

    anoop Superiore

    Bangalore, India, India
    Yeah man - I realised that it is really complex, and I do not have any software with me which will help me to make a flow chart. But still, I have not discarded the idea.

    On what do I do on regular basis - well, I work daily at an IT firm ;) (sorry bro, could not resist the PJ )

    I dust my car with Jopasu before I take my car out every time, and wash my car using ONR QD Spray and couple of microfibers at least once in a week. I have applied FX synwax couple of weeks back, will see how much they last. Probably I will wax once in 2 months, or more frequently - depending on usage and contamination.
  10. Cinju

    Cinju Esperto

    Thanx Anoop. Yaar how good does this Jopasu duster work. Does it create any scratches or swirl marks. Is it advisable to just wipe of the dust as it may act like an abrasive right.

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