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October '15 Winner
Congratulations to Pravin Aswani for winning our October show and shine. Having generally washed all of his previous cars with washing up liquid and a sponge, Pravin decided that his newly acquired Porsche Macan deserved better, so he contacted us for some friendly advice. After arming himself with a comprehensive wash kit, decontamination products and a paint protection kit, Pravin got well and truly stuck in, even pinching his toddler's spare toothbrush to clean around the wheel nuts. That's dedication for you; good work Pravin!
"I am sure you will be horrified to hear this, but up until now I have generally washed my cars with washing up liquid and a sponge, or put them through petrol station car wash machines. I might just have known that 'chamois' was not a type of French haute cuisine, but the word 'detailing' was definitely not part of my vocabulary. However, having recently purchased a brand new Porsche Macan, I felt that I needed to invest some time and effort looking after it properly. I asked a car enthusiast friend of mine for tips and he immediately pointed me to the Polished Bliss website.
I read through all of the excellent guidance on the Polished Bliss website and put together a preliminary list of detailing products to buy. I was still a bit confused as to which finishing products would be best for my car, so I called Polished Bliss for some advice. I got through to Clark, who patiently went through all of my requirements, answered all of my newbie questions and helped me finalise my shopping list.
Step one in my first ever detailing journey was to give the car a thorough rinse with a pressure washer. As I had recently been on holiday in Devon, and stayed on a farm, the car had a lot of mud and grit caked to the front and sides. I therefore used a PA Foam Lance to cover the car with Auto Finesse Avalanche, on maximum foam setting. I left it to dwell for about five minutes then hosed it off. The snow foam did a great job of softening and removing a lot of the caked on dirt.
With the pre-wash done, I washed the car with Auto Finesse Lather using the two bucket method. I had bought two clear buckets from Polished Bliss so I could clearly see when the water had become too dirty to use. I probably changed both the wash and rinse bucket more frequently than necessary but I wanted to minimise the risk of rubbing grit into the paintwork. I used a Meguiar's Lambswool Wash Mitt for everything except the wheels and wheel arches, on which I used a Meguiar's Microfibre Wash Mitt.
To clean the wheels, I sprayed on Auto Finesse Imperial (pre-diluted) and agitated it using the aforementioned wash mitt and a large EZ Detail Wheel Brush. I already owned a Meguiar's Ultra-Safe Wheel Spoke Brush but was concerned by some of the user reviews I had read about it online, so decided to buy the EZ brush as well. I was able to reach most of the wheel with the wash mitt, but the EZ brush was invaluable in helping me clean right to the back of the rims and around the brake calipers. I perhaps went a step too far when I sacrificed my toddler's spare soft bristle toothbrush to clean around the wheel nuts, but I was on a roll.
As an experiment to see how effective the Auto Finesse Imperial really was, I tried washing one wheel without it, using just a soap solution. The difference was stark - it was clear that it was the Imperial that was getting the wheels from clean-ish to sparkling, and significantly reducing the amount of manual labour required. I hosed the car down, then dried it using a couple of PB Luxury Drying Towels. I mostly pat dried but I must admit I did get a bit impatient when water kept leaking out of the door joints and seals, and in the end I did resort to very light wiping with the towels.
Next step was to obliterate the tar spots and other organic residues with Auto Finesse Oblitarate and an Atomiza Microfibre Work Towel. Whilst it was very effective, I found that there were some residues left over that needed claying. I had been a little sceptical as to whether a clay bar was really necessary seeing as I had pressure rinsed, snow foamed, washed, then Oblitarated the paintwork. However, Clark advised me not to leave this step out if I wanted the finish to look as good as possible. I am glad I listened to his advice. I found myself reaching for the clay bar over and over as I got to the finishing stages. The cleaner the car got, the more obvious it became where the paintwork still had very faint residue marks. Sometimes, the residues were invisible and only detectable by running my fingertips over the paintwork.
I used Auto Finesse Clay with Auto Finesse Glide. I was relieved to find the claying process quite easy, and quickly realised that the key to claying off stubborn marks was to do plenty of passes with the clay, using lots of lubricant and fingertip pressure (and not rubbing harder). I divided my clay bar into six pieces and only ended up using three of the pieces, which were kept in a bowl of warm water when not in use. Despite my best intentions, I dropped a couple of the pieces on the road as I was losing concentration towards the end. Although tempted to try to cut the gritty clay off and rescue the remaining clay, I bowed to the inevitable and threw these pieces in the bin.
For the finish, I had purchased a Carlack Acrylic Kit as I had it seen it recommended for mid-tone metallic greys on the Polished Bliss website and I liked the razor sharp, reflective look. The car already looked pretty good at this point, and I wondered how much better the Carlack kit would make it. I followed the three-stage process on the Polished Bliss website to the letter. The first step was applying Carlack Complete with a Meguiar's Microfibre Applicator Pad, then buffing off with a PB Super Buffing Towel. The second was applying Carlack Long Life then buffing off with a PB Deluxe Buffing Towel. The paintwork was already beginning to look fantastic at this point, but after I applied the Carlack Fast Detailer and buffed off with a PB Luxury Buffing Towel, the finish was truly mirror like. In fact, I had to discard a lot of the pictures I took for my entry because you could see clear reflections of me with the camera, or my detailing materials lying around.
The final step was to clean the windows, mirrors and lights with Auto Finesse Crystal. At this stage I had to go back to the clay bar a few times to remove a few faint traces of hardened bug splatter from the windscreen and headlights, but after this the Crystal gave the final sparkle. I am really pleased with the end result, especially the way the Carlack products have brought out the best in the Agate Grey coloured paintwork. The car now looks even better than the day I picked it up at the showroom, which is not something I ever expected to achieve by myself. I think my washing up liquid and sponge days are now well behind me!"