tips on detailing the exterior of your car or truck

If your idea of automotive detailing is a quick spin through the local car wash, followed by plopping 4-quarters into an industrial vacuum - chances are you're more of a car owner, than a car lover. Car enthusiasts know that true detailing requires hours of painstaking work inside, outside and under the hood. And that's why professional detailers can often pull in $200 to $350 per car.

The most visible and possibly most important part of any detailing job is the exterior. Properly cleaning and treating your car's paint will add more to your car's appearance and value than anything else you can do to it. When you're ready to tackle the job, here are some tips to help you get your car's paint back to a showroom shine.

Initial Cleansing

A quick inspection and evaluation of your car's surface is going to let you know what level of cleansing is required. If you're someone who regularly washes his or her car and keeps it garaged, than chances are your car's paint is already smooth, silky and free of contaminants. If this is the case, all that is required before waxing is a basic 30-minute wash. If your car is used on a daily basis and regularly exposed to the elements, you may find it in a less than optimal condition. The average outdoor car can often be covered with tar, oil, bug stains, bird droppings and water spots. All of these impurities can cause a rough, bumpy and unattractive exterior. A car in this condition will require a bit more time and elbow grease in its initial cleansing. Special pre-wax cleaners or paint-cleaning clays are often used by professional detailers to help remove surface contamination.

Washing Tips:

Use generous amounts of water and detergent. When your bucket gets down to about 1/3 full, it's time to empty, rinse out and refill. This will assure that you are always using clean water to wash the car's surface. Remember to always wash from the top down. It's as relevant on your car as it is in the shower. Your car's paint will always be dirtiest at the bottom and washing from the top down will keep your wash water cleaner and help to prevent swirl marks. Work in sections, once again always beginning with the roof. Quickly rinse after applying soap to a section. This will help prevent soap film from building up. Washing your car in the shade will help to avoid water spots and streaks. Never wash your car immediately after driving. Allow at least 20- to 30-minutes for you car to cool down before applying cold water that can seriously damage heated parts of your car. You'll know your car is sufficiently cleaned when it feels smooth and silky to the touch. After washing, rinse the entire car again and then dry completely with soft towels or special microfiber towel.

Polishing Out the Imperfections

Once your car's paint is cleaned and dry, it's time to inspect for imperfections, such as scratches, swirl marks and water spots.

A good polisher or dual-action polisher can usually rid your car of these minor imperfections; however, the polishing process can often require an hour or two of pure elbow grease. Be sure to use a product of minimal aggressiveness, so as not to remove the car of its existing wax and oils. If you're looking to save time and energy, try using an orbital polishing machine for faster results. Some scratches may be too much for an ordinary polish to handle. For these deep surface scratches, automotive touch up paint should be used to repair the damage.

Ready to Wax

Now that you car's paint has been cleaned and polished, you're ready to begin waxing. Wax is the most important line of defense in protecting and extending the life of your car's paint.

Waxing Tips:

Use a high-quality carnauba wax or paint sealant. As with washing your car, avoid working in direct sunlight. If using a foam applicator pad, be sure to switch to a fresh applicator once the one you are using becomes caked with wax. There are some wax products that may allow you to wax the entire car before buffing, however, with the majority of products you will want to work on one small area at a time. I would recommend working in areas of 2 to 4 square feet. Use small amounts of wax at a time. Using excess wax will cause you to waste both product and time. Apply wax in a back-and-forth motion, rather than in circles. Once the wax is dry, use only a soft towel or orbital buffer to remove the residue.

These guidelines should help get your automotive detailing project off to a beautiful start. If you have any questions or need assistance along the way, don't hesitate to contact the knowledgeable team at

Customer Service

customer quote

just wanted to send a note that i have already received the package. you have made this transaction very smooth and expedient. look forward to using the product. thanks. --satisfied customer

see what others have to say
faq | shopping cart | contact | company | policies | links | browse vehicles | site map | shipping