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July 21, 2007

How to Detail a Car

Wet It Be

If you have a car it has probably encountered bug splat, bird crap, tree sap, brake dust, road crud, tar, salt and other contaminants that end up embedded in the paint like microscopic shrapnel.

Here are some kick-butt steps to giving your vehicle a sassy show-car look for under a hundred bucks. A deep, wet-look finish will not only jack up your image but will also elevate the value of your vehicle at trade-in time. In fact, by following these steps I once sold a seven-year-old Toyota truck for the same amount of money I paid for it new. Oh baby.

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Shine of the Times

Start by washing that baby. Use two buckets, one for clean, soapy water, and the other for frequently-changed rinse water. Use a natural sponge or a washing mitt to flood the car surface. A mitt will allow you to feel the contours of your vehicle better. Just make sure you buy a wool mitt that’s free of synthetic fibers like polyester, which leave microscopic scratches on the paint. Microfiber cloths made for automotive use are okay too, but cheap ones contain heavy polyester thread that scuffs up paint.

Use a commercial cleaning solution like Meguiar’s Gold Class Carwash ($14.99) or just plain warm water. Don’t use detergents, which dull your car’s finish.

Tough tar and grease comes off easily with Automotive Goo Gone (8.99).

TIP: Never use the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge on your car. You’ll leave nasty hazy spots where millions of scratches combine into whorls of shame. Trust me.

Clay It, Sam

Okay, this is the best tip EVER, for which I had to wade through 400 photos of two lads detailing a Bugatti Veyron in



The most radical way to remove all of the contaminants from your paint finish is to rub the whole surface with a lump of clay. If you don’t believe this works, take this test.

Drag a pair of old pantyhose or a silk scarf slowly over your car. If it snags and balks, your paint needs claying. Buy a claying system that includes lubricant (i.e. Mother’s California Gold clay bar paint saving system, $26 at Canadian Tire).

Work in 2-foot square swaths, spraying on lubricant and then polishing lightly with the clay bar. You can hear the change. It sounds scritch-y at first, and then quickly becomes so smooth, silent and slippery, you’ll feel like James Bond.

Klasse_all_in_one Top of the Klasse

Next, apply a finish that removes any chemical or wax residue, and also polishes and protects. One of the finest treatments in creation is a premium German product called Klasse All-in-One ($30 at eshine.ca), which removes existing wax, road film, oxidization and even minor swirls and replaces it with a tough, amazingly durable shiny finish that lasts for months and months. One treatment will change your car’s future. If you want hela-shine, follow with Klasse Sealant Glaze. Some show-car owners hand rub 12 layers of this stuff to get the mirror finish they crave. They have very firm deltoids.

Trim and Proper

Finish up by cleaning exterior plastic, vinyl, trim and tires with the astonishing 303 Aerospace UV protectant, which makes components look like new again.   Works great on interior leather and vinyl too, and won't create a weird murky film on the inside surface of your windshield.

Now that your car looks hot and shiny, it's a good time to pick a name for your ride.  Humans always take better care of things when they personify them.  I name everything.  Even the wheelbarrow (Alphonse).  Alphonse has a skin condition that I'm about to treat with the magic of 'rust converters', purported to convert rust molecules into an inert substance that will no longer rust.  Alphonse is cautiously optimistic.








Jason Smith

Mag, I ordered some Klasse All-In-One and the Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze from eshine.ca and it works great! Thanks you for the recommendations!

Trevor Matthews

I read your article in the July 14, 2007 edition of the Ottawa Sun in regards to tips on car care products. Your article mentioned 3M's Rust Avenger. I have been trying to obtain this item but have had no luck so far.
May I therefore respectfully ask for your assistance as to where I might be able to purchase Rust Avenger.

Thank You


Hi Trevor,
I screwed up, never imagining that 3M would have discontinued this perfect, brilliant product. Please see the update on my ignominy by clicking on 'Mag' below this post.


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