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Car Detailing Overview

Overview | Wax | Wash | Clay Bar | Polish | Glass | Tires | Leather | Interior | Detailing Resources

For reasons I can't entirely explain, in 2000 I got interested in car wax. It started when I bought a new car (an Audi A6). I had owned my previous car for about 18 months, and I hadn't hand washed it even once. I had owned the car before that for 11 years, and I hadn't hand washed it for the last four years I owned it. So when I bought a new car, I didn't plan to wash or wax it very often. I wanted to find the best wax that would require the least effort to put on and that would last the longest. I tried one wax, and it was OK, but not great. I tried another wax, and it looked better, but it didn't seem to last very long. Eventually I found, to my surprise, that I was hand washing my car every week and waxing it after almost every wash. After I washed it I would try a little bit of wax on one part of the car. Eventually I ended up with the car divided into 12 test panels, testing several different waxes. Here's the writeup on my original wax test.

Zaino Z-2Wax Notes. Since the original test back in 2000, I've tried numerous new waxes. I've also tried lots of different waxing techniques, and I think some work better than others. Here are my notes on wax technique and waxes.

Of course, a person can't live on wax alone. Wax doesn't look its best unless the rest of the car looks good.

Surface Preparation. With good surface preparation, a mediocre wax can look pretty good, and without good surface preparation, an excellent wax can look terrible. The first step, of course, is washing your car. Technique actually does count, and some car wash products are better than others, too. The second step, in my book anyway, is clay barring your car, which removes all the surface imperfections that the shampoo can't get. The third step is polishing your car, i.e., once you've removed all possible dirt and contaminants, making the surface of the car smoother.

Glass Cleaner. Clean glass makes the whole car look shinier.

Wheels and Tires. Some products look a lot better than others (and cause fewer problems). Here are my notes on the best tire dressing and wheel cleaning products.

Leather Care. I've found some leather care products that I like better than others.

Interior Cleaner. I'm not as much of a fanatic about the interior of the car as the exterior. I guess I like things to be shiny, and a shiny interior isn't always a good thing! Nevertheless, here some notes on interior care.

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