I made this as a helpful guide, Sites like Autogeek Autotopia or Meguiars have some great resources. This works for me but you will find what you like as well...
Meguiars, Autogeek, & Autopia are great for detailed, step-by-step process with plenty of pictures.
Every detailer knows they need to customize what they are doing based on the customers wishes and what they are willing to pay for. This is definitely a general guide as when you get into paint correction, IF you decide to correct the steps will change a little according to what you need.
This is my list which will translate to paying customers any my personal non-gratis projects such as my car and family members... I general break down interior, exterior, engine bay, wheels/wheel well
. THIS IS NOT PERFECT but I think is helpful. PM me with questions. -Exterior-
- Take note of Trouble spots and Areas that need major attention.
- Decide the process in which to approach the vehicle, supplies, and time.
2) Pre Wash
- Good Mild soap, nothing with wax in it, no Dawn (due to pH issues). Good wash mitt, 2 bucket method
- Most times when doing correction you will need to clay the car, there or different types of clays out there in terms of aggressiveness. More aggressive will require correction.
- Using the Plastic Bag method (before washing) to feel for any texture is a great way to find areas that need it but in general the whole car gets done.
- With the car wet from rinsing, using a good non wax detailer for additional lubrication, I will clay the car ensuring removal of any surface containimates. *** This is the stuff that catches in a buffer that can damage the surface.
- To remove any left over clay and have a clean/dry surface to decide if your correcting or moving on to sealing.
- I use a good towel like Meguiar's Water Magnets, they absorb and low chance of swirling surface.
- Dry completely
5) Correction (optional) -This section should be a article in of itself-
- Tap off edges and or surfaces like trim, emblems, door handles/locks. 1" Blue or Green 3m tape.
- Paint Depth should be checked for the entire car and make sure you know how much clear you have to work with.
- Some cars need a rotary and then step down to a D/A to smooth. Or right to a D/A. Pad and chemical choice is dependant on the situation.
- Nice dark garage with good lighting for inspection of swirl marks, a hand held light can be useful.
- Re check paint depth and see how much you removed.
6) Re wash
- Be very careful, cleaned, leveled surface has no wax to protect so make sure to try to introduce as little of swirling as possible. Light pressure if none. A good compressed air for cracks. Slam the doors to make sure the car bleeds out.
- Your choice; Carnuba or Synthetic, both have pluses and minuses. So do your research. There is no perfect way. It is the way that works for you.
- Do a light coat, buff off, and another light coat, then buff. The car should be allowed to cure (sometimes 5-8 hours or over night), The one final coat to give a solid protection layer.
- I recommend Meguiars Ultimate Quick Wax for in between wax boosting and the beading technology is impressive.
8) Final inspection
- Go over cracks, near trim, remove tape. Clean windows for the final pass.
- Look at different angles in the light to make sure left off wax residue has not been left on. I can be heavy handed so make sure you see no smears... -Wheels/Wells-
- Does the wheels need correction.
- Coated or Un coated metal.
- Does the wheels need removal.
- How does the wheels look??
- How aggressive does the chemical needs to be.
- Spray down.
- Spray your choice of cleaner, be careful on un coated aluminum.
- Scrub with various brushes, semi stiff bristles.
- Rinse, inspect, repeat if needed.
- Some love using car soap as well and you can do this but I try to avoid dipping a towel back into any wash buckets due to fear of brake dust getting into a area that is supposed to be clean. (see 2 bucket method)
- Dry wheels.
- Spray down with a chem of your preference. I prefer Meguiar's Hyper Dressing Mixed 1 to 1 (insane shine, last for a good week if not more). -Engine-
1) Know your car!!
- Not all engines can just be sprayed with water. (See Optispark LT1 350's)
- A slightly warm motor is ok!!
- Spray down with degreaser of choice, allow for dwelling, and scrub w/ various brushes. Rinse, repeat.
- Dress with something that will make the black shine.
- Wipe down on fender edges and front radiator support. -Interior-
1) Jamb the car with a good All Purp cleaner and a clean towel. Especially the tracks in the trunk, Also all door edges that are on the inside.
- Also will include wiping down gaskets and if needed wipe down with silicone as it helps keep the gaskets moist.
- Look for stains, burn holes, dust and other trouble spots.
- Decide if you want to pull the seats (Purely optional)
- Dry vacuumed with various brushes to agitate the carpet/floor mats. Vac cracks of seats as well.
- Small brushes for vents an other hard to reach places.
- Wash/wipe down of all hard plastic surfaces, consol, controls.
- Wash inside of windows (see car wash soap), wipe, then final wipe with a good cleaner.
- Protecting the seats (i.e. leather cleaner) and hard plastics. Avoid this stuff on dash mat, will lead to nasty glare.
- If you decide to shampoo the carpets/seats; a good cleaner and a strong wet/dry vac with towels to dry. A good APC for trouble stains is recommended.
- To clean oders in the HVAC tracks I like BG product's Frigi Fresh, they sell a oder remover as well, you can google it. ** Let me stress, this is not perfect, some parts definitly glossed over, any other tips, please post in a positive fashion.