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It's Show Time!


FTF's #1 Knob Polisher
Cumming, GA
Spring is in the air folks! (Okay, not so much for Duncan... smilietease) It's time to get your rig in top condition for the show season. I'm going to go over a list of easily attainable products and tools to get the job done.

First on the list: detailing clay. Clay is used to exfoliate your paint of bonded contaminants and fallout. My rule is before any waxing or buffing is done, you must clay! Meguiar's brand is perfect for the DIY detailer, and it's available at the auto parts store or WalMart.

Here's what needs to happen: wash your truck using an automotive specific shampoo with a touch of degreaser in it. After a thorough wash, follow the instructions on the box to clay the paint. I like to first wash then make a fresh wash bucket with a touch of soap; I use that water as lube for the claying process (this method saves some dollars as opposed to using a dedicated clay lubricant). Every painted, polished, chrome, glass, and smooth surface can be clayed. Once you've hit every surface, dry the paint off using a quality microfiber drying towel.

At this point you need to decide how dedicated you are to the art of shine. A wax would be simple, and pretty quick - but that won't get you the best results. Improper washing and environmental forces can over time engrain scratches, known as swirl marks, into your paint. These swirls marks are holding back the shine! (There's a good bit of learning behind this thought - has a lot to do with light refraction and reflection... I may dig into that at a later date.) You can reduce these tiny scratches by compounding or polishing the paint. Meguiar's (again) has a few products that can help you out: Check out Ultimate Compound, Ultimate Polish, or SwirlX.

Okay, so we've washed and clayed your rig. It's time to polish out the paint. This can all be done by hand, but there are some downsides: you'll be tired as heck at the end of the day, the process takes significantly longer, and the polishes may not be broken down optimally. At this point you need to decide if it's worth spending the $100+ on a quality orbital buffer. For me, definitely worth it - even if I wasn't in the business.

Now we're a good bit into the shine process with the wash, claying, and polishing out of the way. What's next? Wax! I'm a huge fan of synthetic waxes - they last longer, are more forgiving, and are all around easier to properly apply. For this instance, we could use something like the Meguiar's NXT liquid wax. A common mistake that I see is heavy wax application. Think of it as painting - very light, even coats. Doing this by hand, apply a couple of pea-sized drops to a foam or microfiber applicator. Work the wax into the applicator, then go to town on your clean, dry, and cool paint. Using linear motions is key - the Chinese guy had it all wrong! My preference is to run over a panel at a time, working front to back, the top to bottom. Your two drops will cover an entire panel - you almost cannot see a properly applied wax!!! Follow the instructions for dry time (if any).

Woah, Austin, my paint looks great! We must be done, right? Nope - it could be better! A final step after wax for that awesome shine is a glaze. This may be a little tough to find locally, so keep an eye out. My go to consumer level glaze is the Surf City Garage Nano Glaze. Apply this just like you did your wax - light, even coats. Buff it off to reveal an awesome shine!

Pro tip: When you get to the show, don't use a quick detailer to wipe down your paint, it'll simply scratch it up again. Instead, use something like the Meguiar's Wash and Wax Anywhere waterless wash. It contains surfactants to lift dirt, and plenty of artificial waxes to keep the shine up.

Pro tip: After wax and glaze application, use a short bristle paint brush to clear every panel seam and emblem of wax residue. Little things like this are likely to set you apart from the rest!

Here's what heavily contaminated paint does to clay. All of this stuff doesn't come off with washing!

Think back to the Terminator I cleaned up. The paint was nice before I even touched it - but it was full of swirls. After polishing, wax, and a glaze the car never looked so good.

Seriously - this should never happen. Wax buildup like this is from using entirely too much product!


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