It goes without saying that the correct routine maintenance is crucial for keeping your car looking fresh and contrary to popular belief, this includes those cars using ceramic coatings. Of course, there's no disputing that ceramic layers offer the most hardcore - not to mention most durable - protection out there;
KEEPING YOUR COATING IN TIP TOP CONDITION MAY BE EASIER THAN YOU THINK…
It's undeniable that the low maintenance and easy-clean properties of ceramic coatings only enhance their popularity. But, all this doesn't mean that your protective layers can't be enhanced and topped-up during maintenance, both in terms of gloss and durability.
WASHING AND MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE...
Generally washing should be done weekly. I always recommend washing be done on an “as needed” basis. This means different intervals for all the different clients, vehicles and driving patterns. I preach this “as needed” schedule because most, if not all, swirls are caused by washing and drying.
No matter how careful and regardless of the quality of tools, products and supplies used during the process, washing and drying cause tiny swirl marks that will eventually be seen by the human eye. Sometimes it takes a month, sometimes 6-8 months, depending on many different variables (quality of products, technique, paint hardness, etc.), but they’ll eventually appear. Washing on average every 1.5-2.5 weeks throughout the year (meaning sometimes you wash weekly sometimes every 2-3 weeks, etc.) will keep the swirls at bay just a bit longer compared to washing every 6-7 days. This means that polishing will be required a bit less as well, for those who like to polish vehicles every few months to keep them looking as perfect as safely possible.
All that said, I would like to simply reiterate what I said at the top for the washing schedule: once a week is a very good, probably the best, interval for washing vehicles. As mentioned, sometimes a vehicle will see good weather and not need washing for a couple weeks, whereas other times it’ll get bombarded by bird droppings and need a wash within a day or two. So, in conclusion, weekly washing is a great standard to stick with, but be your own judge and wash according to your location, driving pattern and simple necessity. Whatever interval you choose, always strictly follow proper techniques, and use good products.
Simply put, claying should be done whenever necessary and always before polishing to ensure a clean surface. Most of my clients will get a clay bar treatment 1-2 times per year, at the same time we do a maintenance 1-step polishing detail. However, some of the vehicles I maintain are driven or parked by train tracks or industry environments often/daily, which results in a lot of embedded contamination within a month or two. Long story short, clay bar decontamination should be done either before polishing or ‘as necessary’ according to the surroundings and paint feeling. Usually this ends up being 1-2 times yearly, unless the vehicle lives in an environment like I mentioned above, in which case it would require more frequent decontamination.
WASHING INSTRUCTIONS AND PROCEDURES...
Step 1 – Wash wheels/tires Rinse the wheels of your car. Then, spray on your tire cleaner and wheel cleaner and allow it to sit. Using various brushes, clean the inner barrels first, then the lug nut area, then the faces of the wheels and lastly the tires (spraying cleaner as needed). After you complete one wheel, flush with water and rinse any soap or cleaner away before moving on to the next wheel. Do both the driver’s side wheels/tires first, then repeat on the passenger side.
Step 2: Pre-rinse
Rinse the car with a (low PSI) pressure washer or hose and nozzle. This will loosen and flush away the lighter dirt and debris from the paint, wheels, tires, glass, etc. if at this time you would like to apply shampoo to the car to start the breakdown process, use a foam cannon and coat the entire car. Never let the soap dry on the car.
Step 3 – Wash with shampoo
Using a high-quality wash mitt and pH neutral shampoo of your choice, work in straight line motions, beginning at the top of the car and work your way around. Start from top-down working panel by panel, using the two-bucket method (After each panel dunk mitt into wash bucket, then soap bucket, then back on vehicle) to avoid swirling or marring your paint. Once you make your way around the vehicle, using the pressure washer/hose again, blast the soap off the car. At this time, the car should be free of dirt and debris, as well as soap remnants.
Step 5 – Dry remaining water off the car with absorbent towel Take your drying towel and lay it on the paint and blot the rest of the water off. Do not drag the towel across the surface UNLESS you are spraying some quick detailer on the panel prior to drying it. The Quick Detailer will act as a barrier layer between the towel and the paint to help prevent it from scratching.
KEY NOTES: – Fill up two buckets with grit guards: one with soap, one with just water – After each section on the car, rinse the mitt in the water only bucket before putting it in the soap bucket. This will help keep you from washing removed dirt back on the car – Never let the soap dry on the car. If it’s hot out, keep rinsing the previously washed areas of the car to prevent water spotting. Wash a section, then rinse it right away as well. Dried on soap can stain the car requiring polishing action to remove – Wipe in straight line motions, not circular, and keep the pressure light and even! – Work top to bottom around the car, last areas are the dirtiest ones – the bottom areas – Do not try and wash a dry section. If a section dries before its time to wash it, rinse that area again. Dry sections will have hardened dirt on them it’s never a good idea to grind in dirt on paint! – Never use a towel on the paint without some sort of lubricant: quick detailer, spray sealant, soapy water, etc. Never dry wipe! – Don’t wait until the car is filthy to wash it. Bonded dirt tends to scratch more than light, surface dirt.
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