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Quadruple O.G.
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This is just some basic information - It can go WAY more in depth. No news here to the experts, but maybe this will help some people who is new to detailing, or are just interested in keeping their truck looking good.

First Off.

  • ALWAYS hand wash your truck if possible.
  • We all already know that touchless car washes do a pretty poor job as it is, and the ones that do touch your car have a tendency to pick dirt up off of other cars, and slap it around on your paint, marring the hell out of it.
  • DIY or "Quarter Washes" are never good, either. They use chemicals that are too harsh, and the brushes are always rough and usually contain dirt/pebbles from other people's dirty or muddy vehicles.
With that being said, lets move on.

There is a basic 5-step process to dealing with proper exterior care of your truck.

1. Washing
2. Cleaning/Prepping (Yes, this is a separate step from washing.)
3. Polishing
4. Protection
5. Maintaining



1. Washing:

This is the first step when properly detailing the exterior of your truck. There are a few things you will need for this.

  • Water (Usually a hose)
  • Applicator (Sponge, brush, mitt, etc.)
  • Wash Solution (Soap)
  • Two buckets with grit guards (one for soap water, one for rinse water)
1. Make sure the truck is away from direct sunlight, the whole detailing process will be easier.
2. Grab two clean buckets. Put the soap and water mix in one, and just clean water in the second.
3. Wet the entire truck.
4. Take your sponge or mitt and dunk it in the soapy water. Drag it along the grit guard to remove any dirt on the sponge/mitt.
5. Wash the truck from top to bottom, don't use too much pressure.
6. After each panel, dunk the sponge or mitt in the bucket of clean water and scrape it against the grit guard before putting it back in the soapy water. This will work most of the dirt that was picked up from the paint out of the sponge or mitt.
7. You're supposed to rinse the car once it's completely soaped/washed, but I like to do each area at a time. If I started on the roof, then moved to back window and trunklid, then windshield and hood (after cleaning sponge after washing each panel) I rinse them all off together.
  • Do not forget your wheels and tires! Do not use any rough brushes on the wheels, but DO scrub the tires with a stiff brush.
Drying:

  • Your best bet is microfiber or microfiber waffle-weave towels or a leaf blower.
  • Do not use old terry bath towels or t-shirts. Each of these can actually marr the paint.
2. Cleaning/Prepping

There are many paint cleaners out on the market today, some are in a liquid form (like wax), but the preferred method by most (if not all detailers) would be a Clay Bar.

Paint cleaners are generally used for removing below surface defects, and clay bars are used for surface paint cleaning and removal of bonded contaminants (brake/rail dust, sap, etc)and light to mild oxidation. Paint cleaners usally go on like wax or polish.

How to Clay Bar your truck:
1. Mold the claybar into a wafer or pancake shape.
2. Lubricate surface to be clayed. I like Meguiar's Quick Detailer Spray (with the pump bottle, not aerosol), apply liberally.
3. Rub the clay bar back and forth across the paint. Make sure to get every square inch, and make sure you use enough lubrication (keep it to yourself), or the clay will just stick and not glide across paint like it should.
4. Dry panel with microfiber towel.
  • After the truck is clayed completely, it may need re-washed or quick detailed, as clay usually leaves some sort of streaky residue.
3. Paint Correction/Buffing/Polishing

There are many buffers/polishers on the market today. The perfect one for anyone is the Porter Cable 7424 or 7336. It is a dual action polisher, so you can't burn or mess up your paint, but still get satisfactory results. Other buffers on the market are the Flex, the Cyclo (dual head, dual action polisher), etc. I use The Edge Pads, because their system is easy to use, the pads are two-sided, and because they make a convinient adapter, the pads are always centered. Hook and loop pads can often be off center, causing an off balance buffer and much vibration.

Rotary Buffers do the best work. However, if you are not highly skilled in using one already, do not attempt to take one to your truck. If you don't know how to properly use a rotary buffer, you can damage your paint severely. Brands include DeWalt, Makita, etc.

1. Apply polish to pad. Usually about two quarter-sized dots will do a whole panel.
2. Put the buffer on a very slow speed (1 of you're using a Porter Cable) to spread the product around on panel.
3. Once product is spread, begin working. You want to move the speed up (depending on what kind of polish and pad, you will adjust your speed accordingly. You will want to make passes back and forth, overlapping each path by 50%. Contine until polish has broken down (or become transparent.)
  • Depending on what polish/pad combination you go with, you may need to repeat.
  • Always start with the lowest cut polish/pad combination. If it doesn't work completely, move to the next (more abrasive) pad and polish combination, and so on.
  • Always wash out/clean your pads after each use. If you don't, they can gum up the next time you use them, or if the polish dries in them, the next time you use them, the dried polish in them may dust and make a mess.
4. Protection

This is the part where waxes and sealants come in. Always make sure you use any sealants or glazes first, then wax.

Glazes are applied to give your paint that wet, deep look. Wax is applied to protect the paint, as well as create depth, glow, and gloss to the paint. Wax is what causes water to bead on the paint when washed or rained on.

5. Maintaining

This is your Quick Detailers and Spray Waxes. Since you're usually not going to go through all of these steps every time you wash your car, spray waxes are a good idea between full details. Quick detailers are great for when the car gets dusty between washes.

Trim/Tires/Other

There are many tire shines and trim dressings available today. Make sure to stay away from foaming tire shines, as they usually settle streaky and spotty. Aerosol is fine, but make sure to not get on your wheels or brakedust will stick to it. Water-based tire shines and trim dressings are ideal, but are hard to come by as most are usually petroleum (oil) based. Make sure to put on your tire shine when you have some time for it to dry/cure before you drive, as most over the counter products WILL sling all over the paint if they aren't dry.

Some Side Notes:

  • Use dish soap to wash the truck ONLY when you are going to be claying/polishing/waxing it. If you use dish soap otherwise, it will just strip off any wax that was on the truck. Use only car-wash specific soaps that will not strip wax.
  • Do not use bristle brushes on the wheels or paint. These will more than certainly scratch the paint, at least to some extent. Try to use microfiber or sheepskin mitts/sponges whenever possible.
  • Make sure to tape off any plastic trim, emblems, or other objects the polisher could burn/damage. Mask off plastic trim because wax and polish will leave that horrible whitish chalky looking residue on them. (A little trick - put on your trim dressing on the plastic before you wax, then the wax will just wipe off of the trim.)
Below a list of good detailing supply companys.

Adam's Polishes
The Edge Polishing Pads
Stoner's Solutions
Poorboy's World
Meguiar's
Pinnacle
Wolfgang
Menzerna
Klasse
Black WOW
Leatherique
303 Aerospace Cleaners
Lake Country Pads
Detailer's Pride
3M
Collinite
Optimum Polymer Technologies
P21s
Zymol
Zaino
Surf City Garage
Chemical Brothers
 

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You forgot a company on there bud! ha and you NEVER want to use a brush on your truck. leaf blower works very well as well.
 

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I'm calling in a sick day at work before the LakeFront Tour in April to detail the truck! Can't remember the last time it's been waxed poor baby. Too bad the 4 hour drive is going to negate all my work. I'm sure I'll hit 2000 bugs on the way down.
 

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Nice man - I like totally agree on using the leaf blower as it saves time and prevents less swirls from using towels.
 

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US Army 19yrs and ......
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Well stated!
 

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3'' of glory
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very nice man

I thought I was the only one that maintainted. I usually detail on Sunday n use mothers instant detailer on wensday.

I also rinse by sections as well then use a shamy "the absorber" to dry
 

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I've washed and dried the whole truck panel by panel. Pain in my ass! The Escalade is so damn big and black :)ugh:) in the GA sun it is the hardest thing to wash.

Do your tires/wheels/wheel wells first, that way you dont get wheel/tire cleaner on your fresh wash job.
 

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Either that or your focusing on the sunny side to stay wet and forget about the shaded side? Done that a few times!
 

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ya autozone, pep-boys, advanced auto parts, walmart, k-mart and im sure im missing a few but any where like that will have either the Mothers or the Meguires claybar kit
 

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A leaf blower wont leave water spots?? Seems like it would just dry it faster. man that would save me soo much trouble lol
 

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CHEEZEDOODLE
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superman...yes. go on utube and find a vid of how to.

matt...leafblower =no spots. youre more pushintg the water off the vehicle with the air...not drying it on the spot. youll still need to use a microfiber rag or two.
 
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