When you’re detailing your own car there are some simple steps that can be missed and could damage the paint, or the standard methods won’t be as effective as they should be.
The surface of your car should be clean before you start detailing. Obviously, you want to wash the car and get the major dirt and road debris off the car. The next step is to get the dirt and contaminants that are bonded into the clear coat off the surface. So, the first thing you should do to this panel after an initial wash is using a clay bar over the paint. What that’s going to do is pull out all the contaminants that are in the paint so that when we buff the entire panel we’re buffing the paint and not just pushing the contaminants around.
Then next you’re going to spray the panel down with spray detailer or soapy water. This will lubricate the panel for when you’re cleaning it. With the panel clean you can roll it in your hands and get a clean surface on it. Then you can lightly rub it across the panel. The clay bar will make a light like scratching noise, but don’t worry you aren’t scratching the paint it’s just pulling all the contaminants off of the surface.
After a few minutes with the clay bar you can usually see the clarity of the paint or clear coat is coming up and you can see the clay has a little bit of dirt on it. You can repeat this process numerous times continuously spraying the panel down with soapy water or spray detailer and checking the clay bar. You can fold the clay over or roll it to get to a fresh surface if you aren’t sure if there’s more contaminants to remove from the surface.
Once you’ve gone over the panel a few times you will notice when you rub your hand over the panel it is a lot smoother or “slicker” to the touch. You can now wash the panel off and clean the area or continue to the next step of polishing or buffing the paint.
Thanks to Kevin at True Shine Detailing in Pottstown, PA. for the tutorial.