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  • Mostafa Mahmoud

How To Detail Your Car's Exterior Like A Pro!

Updated: Mar 11

Exterior car detailing

Your car may be a prized possession, but that doesn't mean it's immune to damage. From scratches and swirl marks on the paint job all the way down to cloudy headlights or caked-in dirt wheels. If you find yourself not enjoying your traveling time as much as before – Maybe your vehicle deserves some TLC! A professional exterior detailing service can help ensure your ride looks good as new again.

A professional car detailing service is a great way to ensure your vehicle stays looking good as new. Various elements go into an exterior detail, and knowing what they are can help make sure you're getting the most out of your money spent on this type of process. Here's how it works!

1) Wheels and tires.

Wheel wash and decontamination

We make sure to start at the base of your vehicle and work our way up. The wheels are a great place to start to avoid contaminating your clean car's exterior. The wheels and tires can take the most abuse, constantly exposing the road's dirt, salt, and grime.

A professional detailer will start by using a wheel & tire shampoo and a set of brushes to clean them, followed by a clay bar treatment to remove any built-up contaminants. The result should be a set of clean, shiny wheels and tires that look good as new!

2) Pre-rinse

Pre-rinse stage of the detailing process

Pre-rinsing is a crucial step of the exterior detailing, and it is the process in which the vehicle's body is pressure washed. It removes the loose dirt from the surface and breaks down embedded soil, bird droppings, and other elements. Pre-rinsing helps prevent any damage that could be done by scrubbing these contaminants with a wash mitt or microfiber cloth later on.

Some people may skip this step and jump into a regular wash. However, many professional auto detailers feel that ignoring the pre-rinse step is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when detailing your vehicle's exterior at home or the car wash!

The water pressure from most garden hoses is not strong enough to remove large amounts of dirt and debris. This is why the pre-rinse stage of an exterior detail process can make a huge difference by getting rid of dirt and grime before being rubbed into the paint.

3) Two Bucket Hand Wash

The vehicle's exterior is washed with a pH-neutral shampoo in one bucket and rinsed off in another. Preferably, different colored buckets are used for this as it makes spotting dirt easier on your eyes (although some detailers will use two of the same color).

Professional auto detailers agitate the paint gently but thoroughly to remove any contaminants from the grime before they can leave marks behind or cause staining. A wash mitt is effective at removing dirt without damaging delicate paintwork.

It is essential to work from top to bottom and to use separate wash mitts for the upper and lower halves of the car. This technique helps to avoid transferring dirt from one area to another. Moving in hashtag motions is the best way to ensure even coverage and a spotless clean. Use a small ultra-soft brush to clean tight areas like the grille and emblems.

4) Decontamination (Iron X)

Chemical decontamination uses acidic solutions to break down iron particles and other embedded contaminants that may not come off during a regular wash. This step will effectively remove industrial pollutants and rail dust that might have got deeply settled into the car's paintwork.

It's important to use caution when working with any chemicals and closely follow the manufacturer's instructions. The solution is usually a spray-on solution that needs to dwell on the surface. You will be able to see it in action once you notice the solution turn red or purple, referred to as bleeding by car detailing professionals.

Rinsing off the surface is essential. You would not want to leave iron remover on the car's paint, as this will damage the clear coat.

5)Clay bar treatment

Sometimes we may need to use a clay bar if there are stuck on dirt and particles that will not dissolve using an iron remover. The clay bar is a synthetically engineered or natural resin that is elastic and will help remove brake dust, metal dust, road grit, and tree sap. The clay bar will safely pick up all the embedded dirt without scratching the paint.

Claying creates a smoother and cleaner exterior appearance and amplifies the results of polishing and waxing.

The surface should be wet before starting – this helps prevent scratches while claying by minimizing friction between your hand or tool, the car's paintwork, and any debris on it.

Waxes and sealants will bond better onto clean surfaces.

5) Rinse and dry

After the wash and decontamination process, it is important to rinse it off with a pressure washer to remove all of the suds, shampoo, and iron remover we used earlier. This will help prevent any dirt or soap from drying on the surface and causing damage. The car should then be dried with a high-quality plush microfiber towel, preferably designated for use on vehicles only (to avoid leaving any scratches or streaks).

Professional detailers like to use an air compressor or a leaf blower to remove trapped water from the grill between the panels, side mirrors, and emblems.

Now that your car is smooth, dry, and squeaky clean, it's time to move on to the next step.

6) Polishing

Using a paint polishing compound and an orbital buffer with medium-cut foam pads, polish the surface of your one panel at a time and work in small 2x2 sections. The objective here is to flatten the clear coat with heat and micro-abrasives to remove minor imperfections and achieve a high shine and a smooth surface – this process may require some elbow grease and focus!

Wipe away residue and buff to a high shine.

Clean your orbital buffer pads after each section of the car bodywork has been polished – either wash them in water or compressed air.

Now your car looks good as new!

7) Protecting the paintwork

Protecting freshly polished paintwork is essential. There are many different forms of protection; waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings, so it is crucial to choose one that suits your needs and the type of paintwork on your car.

Waxes will typically last for up to three months and six months for sealants, whereas ceramic coatings may last seven years.

We'll keep it simple and go with the wax for this detail.

Apply a thin layer of wax to the car's surface using a foam applicator pad, and then buff it off with a microfiber towel. The goal is to apply as little wax as possible while still achieving good coverage.

Work in small sections and apply more wax if needed. Reapply every few months for the best results.

Final Thoughts:

It is better to wash your vehicle often than wait until the end of winter because snow and other environmental contaminants are likely to damage its paintwork. Even if you don't drive much, these contaminants will settle onto the paintwork and cause damage.

By maintaining the exterior of your car regularly, you'll be able to prolong its longevity and avoid expensive repairs in the long run!

Thanks for reading! I hope this article helped to teach you how to detail your car's exterior like a pro. Happy detailing! 🙂



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