PJGH 

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I'm a product junkie!

I love trying out new products and then trying them again ... and again with other products I love to see if they will work into my regular routine. Like food, I don't stick to just one routine or one set of products but have a number of favourites and a number of favourite combinations.

Click to expand each section:

Shampoo, Wash Mits and Drying

First thing ... throw away your sponge!

Second thing ... throw away your chamois! Unless you're me, of course, in which case you abhore drying towels and will be cold in your grave before giving up your Autoglym Synthetic Chamois :)

You can tell I like my chamois, but advice you'll read on detailing forums really is right - use two buckets and use a sheepskin mitten for delicate paints and a microfibre covered sponge for a slightly stronger bite if necessary.

While I am not sold on "grit guards", I find the two bucket method to be right - before returning your mitten or sponge into the bucket of suds, clean it out in a bucket of clean water. This is prevent the transfer of grit back onto the paint. Using either a sheepskin mitten or a microfibre sponge, my technique it to gently squeeze water to create a little wave ahead of the mitten or sponge that gently lifts dirt from the paint. Whichever drying method, I like to hose the paintwork down with gentle free-flowing water to remove as much standing water as possible.

So, shampoos:

  • Finish Kare 1016
  • Swissvax Car Bath
  • Dodo Juice Basics of Bling
  • Dodo Juice Low on Eau

Finish Kare 1016 has a slickness in the bucket, which translates as a very smooth finish on the paint, gives a good clean and leaves the surface with a fantastic gloss! Drying off is made easy too, since many shampoos leave a waxiness that drags the drying towel or chamois but not Finish Kare 1016 - this interacts with the underlying LSP to improve slickness and revive beading.

Swissvax Car Bath is a highly concentrated shampoo which requires little more than a teaspoon of product per bucket. Leaning towards natural ingredients with some chemical magic, this shampoo is perfect for maintaining high end waxes from Swissvax and also pure waxes from Dodo Juice. Similar, although not concentrated is Zymol Auto Wash - a no-frills shampoo with a heavy leaning towards natural ingredients.

At the other end of the scale, Dodo Juice Basics of Bling does exactly what you'd expect. It is a car shampoo - it will clean your car and do that with tonnes of luxurious suds to lift the dirt off the paintwork. Sheet rinsing is a easy and drying off with a thick pile towel is a sheer pleasure as the towel glides over the paintwork. Not interfering with the underlying layers, your wax is free to shine through.

For a completely new experience, Dodo Juice Low on Eau is a rinseless wash - just wash as normal, then dry off with a microfibre towel. Done! These last two have fast become personal favourites and are used on all manner of finishes, specialist shampoos reserved for specialist finishes.

Polishes

Polishing your paint is the only way to remove paint defects, such as oxidisation, bird etching, scratches, swirls and water marks. Machine polishing is the most effective way and the most effective of machines is the rotary polisher.

I often use a Kestrel SIM 180, which is not an expensive polisher and has a good feature set. I also have a CYC EP800, which is a compact rotary about the size of a dual-action polisher and, with its low speed, perfect for quick jobs, small areas and large panels alike.

Personally, I found that polishing with a dual-action or orbital polisher took so long that all the fun came out of it and so took up the rotary more out of a desire to show off a kind of elite skill than anything since I was very happy maintaining good paint by hand.

I used to use the 3M Finesse-It III Paint Rectification System:

  • 3M Finesse-It III Fast Cut Plus Polish (3M50417)/Green Pad (3M50487)
  • 3M Finesse-It III Extra Fine Polish (3M80349)/Yellow Pad (3M50488)
  • 3M Finesse-It III Ultrafina SE Polish (3M50383)/Blue Pad (3M50388)

Combinations of pad and polish and even a single drop of a different polish can make these products a most versatile set for all colours and paint types. I still regard the 3M Paint Rectification System highly.

For older cars in dire need of a basic clean-up, I tend to adopt the Meguiars Mirror Glaze range and Soft Buff pads:

  • Megiuars #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish
  • Meguiars #80 Speed Glaze

For a newer style of polish which can achieve very fast clean-up of oxidised and weathered paintwork while finishing out to a crisp finish I am now using Scholl Concepts super-micro abrasive polishes:

  • Scholl S3 Gold Edition
  • Scholl S17+ Medium Cut & Finish
  • Scholl S40 Anti-Swirl Finishing Compound

S17+ is pad dependant, capable of gaining a strong cut when used on firm pads yet delivering a light finishing with soft pads. S40 finishes out with a long potential work time, perfect for burnishing. S3 is reserved for new paint and has a very strong cut, but again, finishes out to a very impressive gloss on its own.

I use the Chemical Guys Hexlogic pads with these polishes: orange (2/7) for a strong cut, yellow (1/7) for the strongest, but usually green (3/7) to start out with or white (4/7) or black (5/7) on soft paint with S17+, finishing out with blue (6/7) and S40.

Because of the wide variation in cut that can be achieved by deploying different pads, I really like the Chemical Guys Hexlogic range:

  • Yellow - Heavy Cutting Pad (1/7) ... equivalent of the 3M Green Pad (3M50487)
  • Orange - Medium Cutting Pad (2/7)
  • Green - Heavy Polishing Pad (3/7) ... equivalent of the 3M Yellow Pad (3M50488)
  • White - Medium/Light Polishing Pad (4/7)
  • Black - Finishing Foam Pad
  • Blue - Glaze & Cleaner Foam Pad ... equivalent of the 3M Blue Pad (3M50388)
  • Red - Ultra-Fine Finishing Pad

You can see that this range fills in some of the gaps in between the 3M range, especially the Orange Medium Cutting Pad which gives just that little extra bite above and beyond 3M Yellow Pad (3M50488) without stepping all the way up to the heavy compounding pads; also, the White - Medium/Light & Black - Finishing Pads, a good pair for softer paints.

Other machine-orientated polishes I adore for specific jobs are from Autobright:

  • Autobright Top Line
  • Autobright Final Finish

Autobright Top Line is a cut below most defect removing polishes and a cut above most finishing polishes making it a most useful product indeed for cleaning up newer and well kept cars - essentially, a pre-wax cleanser.

Autobright Final Finish is simply a perfect finishing polish for machine use, filling the air with a gorgeous licquorice aroma and leaving the most deep finish you could imagine, with a long work time to really burnish in that finish. Imagine the finish jewelling away under the pad in your mind and as you lift the pad away ... it appears!

Pads? The corresponding coloured Chemical Guys Hexlogic White & Black pads work perfectly.

By hand, I have to recommend Autoglym Super Resin Polish - this is an all-in-one polish, which has a chemical cleaning action and can remove some oxidisation and water marks, a light abrasive and good filling agents for polishing and diminishing the appearance of swirling and light scratches and an acrylic sealant finish. For new and well kept paint that simply needs a little lift, I turn to Autoglym Ultra Deep Shine. Used as an all-in-one, this does just that - it delivers a deep shine, swirls filled and a layer of sealant left behind.

Cleansers

You might well have gathered that all-in-one products have some chemical cleansers in there, but there are a good number of dedicated cleansers on the market and a couple that I keep in are:

  • Serious Performance Paint Cleanser
  • Dodo Juice Lime Prime/Lite
  • Dodo Juice Micro Prime
  • Car-Lack68 Nano-Systematic Care
  • Autoglym HD Cleanser

Best used as a wipe-down after polishing to cleanse the surface back to pure paint or to help remove oxidisation by hand, these products do much the same job as any pre-wax lotions and prepare the surface to receive a wax or sealant.

I like to use Serious Performance Paint Cleanser when I am going for an all synthetic session on white and light coloured cars but prefer Dodo Juice Lime Prime/Lite as a precursor to a fine wax. The Lite version does not contain abrasives, which are sometimes useful if a little swirl mark removal is required as well in preparation for the wax. Dodo Juice Lime Prime and Lime Prime Lite, especially have some glazing oils which add to the depth of the final finish. Micro Prime has supplanted both - capable of a light cut with no adverse marring and leaves some deep glazing oils, it is perhaps the most perfect dedicated pre-wax cleanser.

Car-Lack68 Nano-Systematic Care is worth a mention at this point. In fact, it is an all-in-one product that gives a light polish, cleanse and leaves behind a sealant layer and is much akin to Autoglym Super Resin Polish in many ways, without the resin fillers. Perfect as a preparatory layer to its sibling Long Life Sealant or prior to one of the Collinite waxes as a means of surviving the winter!

Of course, a simple wipe-down with isopropyl alcohol diluted to about 40% with distilled water will achieve much the same effect. That, or Autoglym Intensive Tar Remover.

Glazes

Having talked about polishes and gone some way into discussing glazes with some of the cross-over products, what exactly is a glaze? Well, historically it was simply an oily finishing product often with some filling action that left a wet look on paint finishes with a deep clarity.

As discussed above, swirl mark removers often contain some kind of glazing action as do pure polishes like Meguiars #7 Show Car Glaze. Glazes often get lost in the process and it is questionable as to their actual contribution, so I list only one since it has such a noticeable and beneficial effect:

  • Meguiars #7 Show Car Glaze
  • 3M Perfect-It III Finishing Glaze (3M09377)/Black Pad (3M09378)

Meguiars #7 Show Car Glaze is actually a pure polish, high in renovating oils and quite a unique product. It can be used as often as you like and after whichever layer you like to further deepen that finish. Used on the show car circuit to give a final wipe of deep oily wetness over the top of waxes at the show, such layers can also be locked in with another coat of wax over the top. This layering method is very effective as producing a dramatic depth of finish. The rotary equivalent of Meguiars #7 is #3 Machine Glaze - superb when applied by rotary and can be applied by hand, but not to the same stunning effect as #7.

Similar, is Dodo Juice Lime Prime Lite (as detailed above), which lends a very glossy depth to the routine but does contain cleansers so cannot be used in the same way as Meguiars #7 but is very similar in application and look on freshly polished paint.

3M 09377 Finishing Glaze is not widely spoken about, but widely regarded. Recommended application is by dual-action polisher, but a low-speed rotary is perfectly good. Very soft pads are advised, so 3M Perfect-It III Black Pad (09378) is perfect, or the Chemical Guys Hexlogic Red pad.

Sealants

With a normal laying approach following the polish, glaze, seal and wax order it is right to discuss sealants at this juncture although sealants are perfectly good without a topping of wax and vice versa. In fact, on white, light colours, light metallics, dark metallics and even black metallic a sealant will offer a wet look and help the flake in metallics really pop out. There are a number of hybrid products that are marketed as "waxes" which are in fact for want of a better word - sealants.

Traditional wisdom that said sealants wick water away where wax beads up really gets messed up nowadays, as does the saying that waxes produce depth and warmth where a sealant will be glossy and bright. I tend to use sealants on my white car, but love the look that a wax offers on my black car. Here are a few of my favourite sealant products:

  • Duragloss 601 Pre-Bonding Agent
  • Duragloss 111 Clear Coat Polish
  • Duragloss 105 Total Performance Polish
  • Serious Performance Super Sealant
  • Finish Kare 1000P
  • ArmorAll Shield

The Duragloss 601 Pre-Bonding Agent works together with a sealant like an epoxy to assist the sealant in bonding and strengthening the finish.

Used with 105 Total Performance Polish, even on white a deep finish can be achieved with some warmth that beads up as well as any wax. My recommendation here is to actually combine the two products into a single emulsion at a 1:4 ratio of 601:105 so that the bonding agent simply fortifies the polish, which has its own cleansing agents.

Used with 111 Clear Coat Polish, a layer of the bonding agent is put down on the car and then any number of further layers of the polish put on top, giving about half an hour resting time between coats.

Serious Performance Super Sealant is a perfect partner to their Paint Cleanser and works especially well under a final layer of wax or a further a glossy sealant, like Finish Kare 1000P.

Finish Kare 1000P is by far the best sealant I have used. Manufactured in paste form the finish is truly glass-like - not glassy as in bright, which it is, but glassy as in like when you look into a mirror and can see the structure of the glass as well as the reflection. It can give the appearance of an extra-thick layer of clearcoat! I like to use this after the Duragloss 601/105 Total Performance Polish combination for a perfect finish on white.

For effortless ease of use, ArmorAll Shield comes highly recommended - just wipe on, buff off, no waiting for a haze, instant bond and you can use it in the sun on any surface. Appearing to actually feed the paint with glazing oils and leaving a deep yet crisp finish, beading is superb and re-beading after washing is most impressive. Possibly the best sealant out there?

Waxes

Just as I have found a small number of sealants which I regard as perfect from the vast array on the market, I have a small number of waxes which I like to use. One could say that a wax is a wax is a wax - it should not interfere with the finish and especially so following a machine polish, a wax should simply protect that perfect finish and while that purist apporoach is most laudable we might in fact want some effects out of our wax products.

One such effect is depth and another gloss. These nuances are discussed and debated at length on detailing forums, but the other thing I want out of a wax is ease of use and my favourites are kept in for all these reasons:

  • Dodo Juice Supernatural
  • Dodo Juice Supernatural Hybrid
  • Dodo Juice Rainforest Rub
  • Dodo Juice Orange Crush
  • 3M Show Car Paste Wax
  • Autoglym HD Wax

Before going into further detail about how I like to layer a paste wax over a liquid wax for a perfect effect, I'll just outline what it is I like about these waxes.

Dodo Juice Supernatural is my favourite pure wax - it is manufactured without scent and without colour with only two ingredients: Carnauba Wax and Beeswax. Simply put, the purest wax for the purest look. Dodo Juice Rainforest Rub was their first wax and after a couple of reformulations, the joy of using this wax is still there. Being a soft wax, it can be used as a quick lift to a Supernatural finish, or used on its own - the beading is staggering! Orange Crush is a deep, oily wax suited to single stage high pigment surfaces.

Dodo Juice Supernatural Hybrid does not replace Supernatural, nor supplant it. Supernatural Hybrid is Supernatural which has had its DNA bonded to a synthetic backbone of enhancement and fortification. Supernatural Hybrid is not so much a "paste sealant" but an engineered version of Supernatural itself. For looks it is sensational and the water behaviour, quite staggering.

3M Show Car Paste Wax is pretty much my favourite engineered wax. It leaves a perfectly boosted finish which is bright, glossy and with some extra depth but not darkened.

Autoglym HD Wax is formulated for use in conjunction with Autoglym HD Cleanser or Autoglym Super Resin Polish. Delivering a good gloss and protection from the beginning, those looks remain with the wax throughout its life. As a "system" Autoglym HD Wax is best maintained with Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo & Conditioner shampoo and Autoglym Aqua Wax whenever a lift to the gloss and beading is required.

For the winter months, I have a couple of tins and a bottle from Collinite that I just love using:

  • Car-Lack68 Nano Systematic Care
  • Car-Lack68 Long Life Sealant
  • Collinite 476S, 915 & 845

For the full run down on Collinite waxes, please see my weblog but what I will say here is that these are by far the longest lasting waxes available. Due to a high solvent content, these waxes are best used after a polish or an acrylic sealant or all-in-one polishing product for while I highly recommend Car-Lack68 Nano-Systematic Care (which is also retailed under the Klasse and Jeff's Werkstat labels) with an optional layer of Car-Lack68 Long Life Sealant. Perfect winter products!

Spray Waxes and Spray Sealants

I also use a small number of spray waxes and spray sealants which I like to be able to pop a quick spritz of bling onto a finish to really set it off in good light:

  • Lucas Slick Mist
  • Duragloss 951
  • Sonus Acrylic Glanz
  • Dodo Juice Acrylic Spritz
  • Dodo Juice Carnauba Glaze

Lucas Slick Mist is a gloss enhancing spray with some light protection that may be used as "wax it wet" type products, incorporating a drying aid and offering a layer of sealant onto the paint in one step - very useful for the winter months. Duragloss 951 is the perfect maintenance spray for Duragloss 105.

Sonus Acrylic Glanz is the perfect maintenance spray for sealant finishes, although it can also be used over waxes, to leave the car with a staggering shine and astonishing depth! Formulated with a high concentration of Car-Lack68 LLS in spray form, Sonus Acrylic Glanz offers good protection and is an excellent choice through both summer and winter months.

Dodo Juice provide two sprays that I recommend - Acrylic Spritz and Carnauba Glaze; for sealant and natural wax finished surfaces. Both do exactly what you would expect, reviving surfaces with gloss and protection, restoring their initial just waxed look.

Quick Detailers

Whether used to assist drying, remove dust or fingerprints from a cherished finish or simply to pop a layer of bling onto a washed car, quick detailers are really useful and I tend to stick to just a couple, now:

  • Serious Performance Quick Detailer
  • Serious Performance Show Detailer

Both products are available in a strong concentrate of 500 ml which makes up 1 gallon of product. The quick detailer is a no-frills product. It has some light cleaning agents in there which help remove newly formed water spots and some lubricating polymers which make it ideal for dust removal, a drying aid and just to freshen up a surface.

The Show Detailer is just that - it is a different product altogether and high in shine enhancing polymers with some good anti-static properties, making it an ideal product for refreshing a surface with an eye-popping shine. Furthermore, it acts much like a "wax it wet" product when used as a drying aid although protection is not as strong as with dedicated spray sealants.

Dressings, Trim Treatments and Tyre Shine

I have tried a lot of products in this category and keep coming back to Autoglym for their Vinyl & Rubber Care, Bumper Care and Instant Tyre Dressing products.

  • Autoglym Bumper Care
  • Autoglym Instant Tyre Dressing
  • Swissvax Pneu
  • Dodo Juice Supernatural Tyre Dressing
  • Dodo Juice Tyromania

Autoglym products are straight forward and easy to use, needing no explanation as to application.

Swissvax Pneu is, for me, the museum quality product for car tyres. That clean, yet dressed look you see on museum pieces is very much the look of Swissvax Pneu. Being water-based, it can be used all the way up to the tyre tread without fear of losing traction, as is the case with silicone-based products. Very close indeed to that look can be achieved with Dodo Juice Supernatural Tyre Dressing.

Completely different, Dodo Juice Tyromania is a black wax, much akin to a soft shoe polish. Applied with the included sponge and worked into the tyre wall, this dresses and protects the tyre with a wax. Shine can be toned down by buffing with a microfibre towel.

For application of external trim and tyre products, I like to use foam. Take a conventional washing sponge and cut it into small sections suitable for application to the sizes of your external trim or tyres.

Glass Care

No contest:

  • Autoglym Glass Polish
  • Dodo Juice Supernatural Glass Polish
  • Dodo Juice Clearly Menthol
  • Autobright Rain Away

Autoglym, again providing a rock solid core product for polishing glass, a product which now includes anti-fogging agents for interior glass.

Dodo Juice Clearly Menthol is a high alcohol glass cleaner that leaves absolutely streak-free glass without any effort. Spray onto a lint-free towel and wipe over the glass. As the alcohol evaporates, the glass becomes crystal clear. Used after their Supernatural Glass Polish, the finish can go from excellent to stunning!

Autobright Rain Away is a glass sealant. Applied to pre-cleaned glass, the sealant provides a water resistance which will leave your windscreen clear of water, often without the need for the wipers! Dirt in the water cannot adhere to the surface, and so the water slides straight off.

Leather Care

Again, no contest:

  • Gliptone Leather Cleaner (GT12)
  • Gliptone Leather Conditioner (GT11)
  • Gliptone Gentle Leather Cleaner (GLIE10)

Aside from smelling like proper old-fashioned car leather, these products simply work. I like to massage the conditioner into the leather by hand rather than with an applicator - use latex gloves to protect against skin irritation.

For cleaning work, I use a pure bristle nail brish for heavy soiling and like a simple microfibre towel for light cleaning.

Cabriolet Roof Care

Once again, no contest:

  • Autoglym Convertible Hood Kit

Autoglym Convertible Hood Kit will leave your roof protected and beading as well as your paintwork. Use once a year towards the end of summer and take care not to get the protectant on your paintwork unless you intend to undertake a strong cleansing or polishing session.

Ancillaries

Those final products that get little attention, but are so important:

  • Autoglym Intensive Tar Remover
  • Meguiars Body Solvent
  • Meguiars Super Degreaser
  • Meguiars Glass Cleaner Concentrate
  • Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner

Autoglym Intensive Tar Remover is a useful product, not only for de-tarring the lower panels, wheels and so on, but for removing oil-based stains from carpets and even as a post-polish wipedown! Transfer to a spray headed bottle for more economic use. Meguiars Body Solvent from their Detailer range is also very good.

Meguiars Super Degreaser is by far the most cost-effective and capable degreaser I have found. Dilutions of 10:1 for regular work and up to 4:1 for heavy soil, this degreaser leaves gleaming surfaces, sparkling and creaking clean.

Meguiars Glass Cleaner Concentrate & All Purpose Cleaner also come highly recommended, particularly when coupled with their corresponding colour-coded bottles.

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