How to: Properly Clay your Car
Make sure you have thoroughly washed and dried your car prior to claying.
Cut the clay bar in half. Take the half and cut it into 15 equal pieces:
2 for the hood
2 for the roof
1 for the trunk lid
1 for the trunk rear and rear bumper
2 for the rear quarter panels (1 per side)
4 for the doors (1 per door)(if you have a sedan)
2 for the front fenders (1 per side)
1 for the front of the car
Take the piece and roll it in to a sphere. Take the sphere and flatten it out into a circle so that it covers the top third of your first two fingers. Spray the first section of the roof with quick detailer. Glide the clay across the area in a front to back motion applying some pressure. Work in 2x2 areas. If you feel your fingers going through the clay, then you are pushing too hard. If the clay is streaking on the paint, then you need more QD. While gliding, you should hear a slight noise and feel some resistance. This is the grit being lifted from the paint. When the resistance and noise stops, dry the QD off with a quality towel. Move onto the next 2x2 section and do the same thing. Once half the section is done, flip the clay over and do the other half of the section. Once the section has been completed throw the piece of clay away. It is too contaminated to use on another section. If you do use it, you will most likely put micro scratches in your clear.
Keep working your way down using each dedicated piece for its area. Flip the clay over when you have completed half a section. Throw the clay away when the section is done.
When complete your car should be as smooth as glass. The next steps should be to remove the swirls (if necessary), remove any hazing from polishing/bring out the full gloss, and seal in the rejuvenated finish with a wax or sealant.
A gigantic thanks goes out to Brad B. who outlined this method to a bunch of us a few years ago. I have been using it ever since.
How to: Properly Polish your Car using your PC 7424 / 7336
Make sure you have thoroughly washed and dried your car prior to polishing.
If you have swirl marks that require removal, I would recommend that you use Menzerna Intensive Polish with a foam-cutting pad.
Apply three lines of polish around the edge of the pad. Take the polisher and smear the product into the section you are going to work while the polisher is off. This will totally eliminate splatter. Do 2x2 sections at a time. Turn the machine on, and begin working the product @ speed 6. Go in up and down and then back and forth overlapping motions. When the polish begins to dust, turn the machine off and wipe away the remaining residue using a quality cotton or MF towel. Do each 2x2 section as many times as you have to until the swirls are gone. I use a 1000-watt halogen light on a tripod to help me see my progress.
Menzerna IP used with a cutting pad may leave a brushed haze in your paint. This is not bad. The product is supposed to work this way. It will remove the bigger swirls with diminishing abrasives that will level some clear off your car. The abrasives wonít break down enough to leave a totally uniform finish. To remove the haze you will need to step up to a finer polish.
I recommend Klasse All In One (AIO) or Zaino ZPC fusion for this. The one you choose will depend on whether you are using Klasse SG or Z2 Pro as your final sealant. AIO and ZPC when used with polishing pads, IMHO, are the very best pre-wax or pre-sealant mild polishes on the market. They are truly outstanding! Apply both using a foam-polishing pad. Apply them in the same manner that Menzerna IP was applied, except use speed 4-4.5 on your PC. Speed 6 is too fast for these types of polishes. If you have a black car, you may need to do each section twice to sufficiently remove the haze.
Once complete, apply a quality wax or sealant of your choice to protect the finish. I would recommend Klasse Sealant Glaze or Zaino Z2 Pro.
How to: Properly Apply and Remove Klasse SG
Make sure you have washed your car prior to SGíing.
In order to apply SG, you should do the following:
1. Take a terry covered foam applicator and spray it with water. Squeeze it as much as you can so that most of the water gone. All you should have is a damp applicator. This will make the SG more pliable.
2. Apply a couple of drops of SG to your applicator and apply it to a section of your car (1/3 of the hood, half of the roof, etc) in a front to back motion. Once you have covered the whole section with SG, immediately wipe off the residue with a DRY MF towel in a front to back motion.
3. Repeat step 2 for every section until the whole car is done.
- As mentioned before, wipe the SG off immediately, no dry time is necessary.
- The SG should wipe off very easily leaving behind a slick, smooth, and glossy finish.
- You should use no more than 1oz. of SG per coat on a regular size car (BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class)
- Only perform step 1 one time, before applying SG to the first panel. You do NOT need to spritz your applicator with water before applying SG to each section. Once you apply SG to a couple of sections the applicator will be wet enough with SG, negating the need for more water.
-Do not use any water or QD to aid in removal of SG. This will just make the klasse haze down the road. I've also experienced this.
-Wait AT LEAST 24 hours before applying another coat of SG. SG needs time to cure and bond to your paint surface. I would personally wait a week. If you've driven the car ANYWHERE, then wash it before applying the next layer, or else you will just re-swirl your car.
-Put on three coats of SG, and you will be good to go.
-If you desire more warmth and depth in your paint, then apply a carnuba wax a week after youíve applied the third layer of SG. Make sure you wash before you wax. You may experience some streaking or ghosting of the wax. I did, but it wasnít enough to bother me. This is because SG and carnuba (any carnuba) donít entirely get along. Consider yourself warned.
I'd like to add three more things:
1. You can use any pure carnubax wax after your third coat of SG. Just make sure it is not a 'cleaner' wax, or it will strip your SG. Good waxes to use include blitz, p21s/s100 and pinnacle.
2. You cannot add more SG after you have waxed. SG does not bond to wax. Make sure your SG is perfect before applying your carnuba wax. If you really want to add a 4th layer of sg, go for it, but as stated do it before the wax. IMHO, once you wax, you can't go back without starting over from scratch.
3. I'd like to clearly define the difference between dry time and cure time.
Dry time - The time UNBUFFED product sits on your paint before buffing it off.
Cure time - The time BETWEEN buffed coats of a product. Some products like SG require time to cure and bond to your paint before the next layer is applied.
In my article I suggest that SG requires zero dry time, and at least 24 hour cure time.
How to: Using Zaino instead of Klasse in a full detail
So far we all know the basics (see the FAQ above if you don't).
3. Remove swirls with a medium Polish like Menzerna IP (only if necessary)
4. Mild polish with Zaino ZPC Fusion to clean the paint and bring out the gloss
5. Protect the rejuvenated finish with a quality synthetic sealant and/or natural carnuba wax.
For Zaino, steps 1 to 4 will not change. Step 5 will change, and new steps (6, 7, and 8) will need to be added.
If you did not use Zaino ZPC in step 4 then you will need to perform step 5. If you did use ZPC, then you can skip step 5.
Step 5 - Wash with any quality car wash soap to remove the leftover oil/filler/protection from the mild polish used in step 4. You may be wondering why this is necessary if any polish other ZPC is being used prior to Zaino. The reason for this is that most other polishes leave some oil and filler behind on the paint that will shorten the durability of the Z2 or Z5. Last winter I applied Z1 and Z5 directly over top of Klasse AIO. When I finally got around to washing the car in April, my Z5 protection was splotchy. Some areas were repelling water very well, while others were pooling. I attribute this to the AIO. I may have applied it a bit thicker in some areas than others (can never get it perfect). Those thicker areas were likely the pooling areas I witnessed when washing. You may also be wondering why/how Klasse SG can work so well over AIO without a car wash in between. This is because they are both made from the same acrylic and work together. AIO will not inhibit SGís bonding.
Step 6 Ė Once the wash and dry is complete, you can proceed to begin the Zaino process. This process should go as follows:
1. Mix 1 ounce of Z2 pro or Z5 (your choice) with 4 to 5 drops of ZFX. ZFX will allow you to apply a maximum of 3 coats of Z2 pro or Z5 all in the same day. Shake very well for 90 seconds. Let the Z2/Z5 and ZFX mixture sit for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has elapsed, shake the bottle again for another 10 seconds. Now youíre ready to apply Z2/Z5. Side note: Do not use more than two ounces of Z2/Z5 and 10 drops of ZFX. Meaning, 3 ounces of Z2/Z5 and 15 drops of ZFX will not work.
2. Place a dime-sized amount of Z2/Z5 on your applicator (I prefer foam applicators covered with short terry strands). Apply the polish in front to back motions on all horizontal panels and top to bottom motions on all vertical panels. If you have trouble spreading the Z2/Z5 evenly, then give your applicator a shot of Z6 QD. Also use the dime sized drop for as many sections as possible before adding another drop of polish. That one-ounce of Z2/Z5 should be enough to do 3 coats on your car. You will end up applying it so thin that youíll barely see it. Donít worry; this is how it is supposed to be. A little goes a long way. Let the polish haze for 20 minutes.
3. Once it has hazed, buff it off with any quality MF or cotton towel.
4. QD the car with Z6. This will help remove any Z2/Z5 residue you may have missed. It will also help the next coat of Z2/Z5 to apply easier as well as increase gloss.
Step 7 Ė Repeat Step 6 two more times.
Step 8 Ė Finish off by applying 1 coat of Z8 Grand Finale Spray Seal.
Please see the Zaino website for Z8 application instructions:
Thatís it! Youíre done. Enjoy the beautiful shine!!
Some questions you may have:
Q: Should I use Z2 Pro or Z5?
A: Honestly, regardless of car colour, use Z2 Pro. Z2 Pro is the new replacement for the original Z2. It is a new formula and is much improved (if thatís possible) over the old Z2. The only reason I mention Z5 is so people know it is still ok to use if they already have some.
Q: I have some old Z2; can I still use that instead?
A: Yes. ZFX and Z8 will work with the old formula of Z2 equally well.
Q: Do I need to use ZFX? Can I apply Z2/Z5 without it? I donít want to do multiple coats during my detail.
A: No you donít have to use ZFX but you must use Z1 instead. Z1 is applied the same way that Z2 Pro and Z5 are applied. Once it hazes, Z2 or Z5 should be applied directly over top (do not buff off the Z1 before applying the Z2/Z5, leave it). Once the Z2/Z5 hazes it can be buffed together with the Z1 underneath. This method will limit you to applying one coat of Z2/Z5 in one 24-hour period.
Q: Do I need to use Z1 every time I want to apply Z2 or Z5?
A: No. Only use Z1 after every ten coats of Z2/Z5 or every 6 months, whichever occurs first. Z1 is meant to facilitate in the bonding of the Z2/Z5 to your bare paint.
Q: If I use ZFX and then want to apply another coat of Z2/Z5, do I need to use ZFX again?
A: If you are only going to apply one coat of Z2/Z5, then you do not need to use ZFX again. Just use Z2/Z5 as-is. However, if you plan on applying multiple coats of Z2/Z5 in one day, then yes, you will need ZFX.
Q: Can I alternate between Z2 and Z5? Are the two products compatible with eachother?
A: Yes you can alternate, and yes they are compatible.
Q: Do I really need to use Z8?
A: No. But it will add to the depth and gloss of your paint.
Q: Do I really need to use Z6 between coats of Z2/Z5?
A: No. Again this is just for the extra touch.
Q: Do I need to use Z7 as my car wash?
A: No. Any quality car wash will do. But you will be hard pressed to find a car wash better than Z7.
Q: If I just want bare bones Zaino, what should I get?
A: ZFX or Z1 and Z2 Pro or Z5. Thatís it!
Q: Do I need to add a carnuba wax on top of my Zaino layers?
A: No. Carnuba should only be used if you want to alter the look of your Zaino. I personally would advise against topping your Zaino with carnuba. Doing this will negate three of Zaino's four biggest benefits. Those being the slickness, shine, and layerability, with the fourth being durability. Zaino is a product that looks great on its own. I love the look of Z5 on my car.
I think I got everything. If you have any questions, let me know.
Thanks to Zainostore for contributing some of the application tips and tricks to this article.
How to: Wash your car in the winter
I know many of the detailing pros in the forum may disagree with the content in this article. Winter washing can be a very tricky subject. My main objective when washing in the winter is to keep the salt and other dirt off of my car, and ensure that it stays swirl free. Iím not necessarily looking for the perfect shine.
Iíve come to accept the reality that my car will not stay clean for more than one day in the winter. No sooner do I wash it, it starts snowing, and the salt trucks are out in full force not long after that. With that said, I decided that it wasnít worth it for me to freeze my pants off attempting to hand wash my car in my garage with warm water. The effort always seemed wasted. I needed to find a way to get the dirt off without damaging my finish in any way. Thankfully, I found it.
Imho, the most effective and painless way I have found to wash my car in the winter is to go through a touchless automatic car wash found at my local gas station. Touchless washes have many advantages:
- They donít use any brushes whatsoever. No contact is made with your paint.
- They use recycled water. Many believe this is a bad thing. I donít think it is. Recycled water tends to be softer, thus reducing the potential for hard water spots. Most reputable places will filter the reused water ensuring it is clean prior to reuse on your car.
- Many automatic car washes will also wash the underbody of your car, another area where salt can stick and cause damage.
- The water pressure is not directed at a concentrated area of your car, rather it is dispersed evenly everywhere with the express purpose of cleaning the finish safely.
The biggest key to avoiding swirls from a touchless wash is NOT TO DRY THE CAR AFTER YOU EXIT THE WASH!!!. Let the car dry on its own. Why you ask? Well, as good as touchless washes are, they will never replace a good home hand wash. There will still be a very thin film of dirt present on your paint. Guess what happens if you rub a towel on your paint with dirt on it? Thatís right, nasty swirl marks will appear. Not a good thing. As mentioned before, there is no need to worry about water spots, because the water is recycled.
What I would recommend is wiping off your door-jambs and door sills, as water may find its way in there.
Many people advocate visiting a coin operated hand wash place. My question is why?? Itís really no different than hand washing at home. And Iíve already told you why I donít like that. I also donít like the high pressure of the spray nozzle. You could potentially push dirt into your clear coat.
Iím also not a fan of the quick detail in between washing, or worse yet, as a replacement for washing. No amount of qd can replace the thick suds of good car wash soap. No qd can lubricate and safely lift winter dirt and salt off your car safely. I guarantee you will create swirls using this method. Remember, friction is the enemy. The less you touch your car, the less micro marring you put in the clear coat. This goes not only for winter washing and drying, but also for year round washing and drying.
Many people have also expressed concern about the aggressiveness of the soap used at touchless washes. Will it dull my paint? Will it strip my wax or sealant? The answers are no, and no. Iíve been taking my cars thru touchless washes for the last few years and have encountered no problems to date. My klasse sealant glaze always sheets water the first time I hand wash my car in the spring. This tells me that there is still SG left on my paint. The fact that there is still a thin film of dirt present on my paint after existing the wash is another indicator that the soap is not as aggressive as believed.
Itís also very important to clay and use a paint cleaner on your paint during your big spring detail. Performing these two steps are the best ways to rejuvenate your finish after a harsh northern winter.
I can vouch for this method 100%. I have not had any issues with it. In my opinion it is the very best and most practical way to care for your car in the winter.
That's it! The entire series in one thread. I will add/change each article as I find new information and techniques.
Some videos from Autogeek and others
Washing and Drying
DF Concours (longer but more detailed, thanks Nexus!) - http://www.dftowel.com/video.html
If you have other videos or have a certain method please share!!! The more information the better!!!