Auto Detailing

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I love a clean car. So much that before I married and had a family, I would wash my car at least 5 times a week and wax it once a week from March to November. Needless to say, now that I don't have the time to do that anymore, when I clean my car I'm especially happy.

Since high school, John, Steve and I would detail our cars every Saturday. Detailing means washing, drying, polishing, waxing, shampoo every little spot on the car. The door jams, hinges, in between the hood and the fender - every possible spot on our cars was clean including the engine. This would take up a good part of our Saturdays since a detail on a moderately dirty car could take 6 to 8 hours. Sounds like a long time, but when you're using cotton swabs and toothbrushes to get the dry wax out of every seam in the car, the time flies.

Most people would wash, dry and wax their cars and feel good about it. Not us. Just like painting, it's the preparation that takes the time and makes or breaks the job. If you look closely at a car in the sun, you can see millions of tiny micro scratches caused by washing, and just everyday use. I have to get rid of as many of these as possible or the paint won't look deep and wet.

This is the process that takes the longest, Meguiar's makes a great line of products called Mirror Glaze and they vary in intensity. Each one is applied to the paint and worked in by hand or with a rotary buffer until almost dry, then wiped off before it dries. This is a lot harder than waxing because you get out of it only what you put in. The products I use are numbered 2, 4, 7, 9 (the lower the number, the more abrasive) and if I have some difficult spots on the car, I'll use #2 or #4 which actually makes the paint dull by putting in millions of microscratches, but it's removing the bad layer of oxidation. Then it's followed up with #7, a reseal glaze that removes the microscratches and makes the car look wet. I'll use #9 if there are any swirls left in the paint from the rotary buffer and finally the car is ready for wax.

Here's a photo of my car after the Mirror Glaze but before the wax. My car is a 2001 Intrepid with 113,000 miles on it ( I drive a lot), so it gets used, but it still shines!


And a close-up of the trunk showing how deep the shine is.

You can't see the pearl finish, but in the light the dark blue has a pearl luminosity that almost glows- if you polish it properly.

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