Automotive Detailing

This car I just hand washed and detailed.  No wax as it was brand new.
This car I just hand washed and detailed. No wax as it was brand new.

For some reason this past April/May I found myself detailing 6 cars.  It was interesting, it was definitely a snow ball effect.  It started when I was looking at my wife’s Lexus RX350 and saw how it desperately needed a good cleaning.  I also noticed it needed new headlights, I had done a cleaning of them and they just didn’t clean up as well as I would have liked.

So I hopped on FB and posted asking people to give me recommendations on who to use to get the car detailed.  Money to me isn’t an issue on things like this, $200-$300 dollars for a very well washed car doesn’t make me flinch.  However as I received response and read websites about what people could do I started noticing I already had all the stuff people were going to do to my car and maybe I was just being lazy!

And so it started…

I learned with every car I did.  I clay bar’ed, paint cleaned, polished and waxed all the cars.  I cleaned the rims and interior.  I started noticing parts of the car I have never noticed.  Next thing I knew I was recieving boxes of headlights and learning to rip bumpers off.

In the midst of this, my MGM decided to that it wanted some attention and over heated.  I usually just take it to the shop, but was on such a roll I just figured “heck why not?”  So there I was replacing the radiator, dis-assymbling my Flex-A-Lite fan (it wasn’t always turning on, so I cleaned it throughly) and had a friend help me redo the heat wrap (I am allergic to fiberglass as I found out).

So what follows is a set of photos that represent some serious work.  I tried to document my process as much as possible.

Here are my “take away’s” from the project:

-“Take your time, take your time, take your time” –  Never rush something like this, you cannot be in a rush, cleaning the cars often took more then a day.  The more I rushed, the worse things came out and being an internet kid with instant gratification burned into my brain, it was a weird gratification to take my time and see more and more reward.

-“Use the right tools” – Wow having the right buffer, right pads, and polishing compounds makes a huge difference.  For the headlight restorations I did do, using the buffer made a huge difference.  Using steel wool and eagle one polish on the exhaust was amazing!

-“Make sure you have gloves and towels” – Gloves are super important, you are dealing with a lot of chemicals and they will wear on your skin.  Proper towels makes a world of difference, especially having a lot of them.  I probably have about 50 terry cloths and I wash them thoroughly.  And when they are done, they are done, I do not try and salvage them expect as shop rags.

-“No car will ever be perfect”-  You will probably never get a car to be perfect, but if you know who you are preparing the car for you will be able to prep it to be perfect for them.  Many of the cars I worked on as you can see were not in perfect condition, but the detailing (and paint touch ups) gave them much more “life”.