How To Detail A Brand New Car

November 25th, 2013

Taking delivery of a brand new car should be a magical experience. From the moment you settle on what make and model you want a sense of anticipation sets in, which then steadily grows as you work your way through the process of picking the options, negotiating the best possible deal and waiting patiently for it to be built. And when the delivery date finally comes around and you’re on your way to the dealership to collect it that sense of anticipation turns into child-like excitement; all you want to do is see it, touch it and smell it (which might sound odd, but if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to take delivery of a brand new car you’ll know exactly what I mean).

Unfortunately it’s at this point that the experience suddenly turns sour for some buyers. The sad reality is that vehicle presentation standards in the motor trade often fall well short of what we, as car care enthusiasts, typically expect. As a result it’s not unusual for many brand new cars to be handed over with a variety of bonded contaminants in situ, fresh swirl marks and fine scratches in the finish and product residue left on the trims and in the panel gaps. The second to last brand new car we took delivery of (a Fiat 500) was plagued by all three problems, along with an additional issue in that the off-white interior had obviously been wiped down with a dirty towel.

Surely this is an exception and not the rule? Unfortunately it isn’t. While the vast majority of new car handovers probably go smoothly and might well be magical experiences, the bottom line is that the vast majority of people aren’t car care enthusiasts and probably don’t notice such problems. However, we receive hundreds of enquiries each year from more discerning individuals (like you) who have noticed such issues and need our help to fix them, by way of us either offering remedial advice and product recommendations or booking the car in to be professionally detailed. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so the question is what can you do differently?

The answer is detail your brand new car yourself. There is nothing stopping you from doing so and most dealerships will oblige you if it means sealing the deal on a sale (our local Fiat dealer wouldn’t allow us to take delivery of our 500 without them valeting it fully first, but in hindsight we should have walked away and bought it elsewhere). All you need to do is ask the dealership to leave any plastic shipping wraps in place and not wash or valet the car in any way. This will not prevent them from doing their pre-delivery inspection (PDI) safety checks nor will it affect your warranty in any way. The dealership staff will think you are mad but don’t let this put you off!

Assuming you decide to follow the above advice some obvious questions arise, i.e. what exactly will I be facing and how should I go about tackling the work? The easiest way to guide you through the process is to present you with a real world example and as luck would have it I took delivery of a brand new Fiesta ST just a couple of weeks ago. Having done exactly as I advised above (i.e. I asked the dealership to leave the shipping wraps in place and not wash or valet the car in any way) I was able to record the detailing process I performed from start to finish. So, without further ado, here is an in-depth write up showing you how I detailed my brand new car…

“I collected my new car from the dealership on a Friday afternoon and drove it back to our studio wearing trade plates (there was no point affixing my own registration plates at this point as I wanted to detail the car without any plates in place). My first tip concerns trade plates; dealers tend to hang the rear one on the rear wiper meaning it can flail around and potentially damage the tailgate and bumper. A far safer option is to sit the rear plate in full view on the parcel shelf before driving off; I did exactly this and I strongly advise you to do the same if you opt to drive your new car away wearing trade plates. Moving on, this is what the car looked like at this point…

As you can see it was in quite a state! However, this is not unusual for brand new cars and merely reflects the nature of the journey they take from the production line to the dealership. The last image above shows the master tracking label that was stuck to my car. From it I’ve been able to determine that it was manufactured in Hall N at the Ford assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, on the 09/10/13 and then transported down the river Rhine on a barge to Ford’s international distribution centre at Vlissingen (Flushing) in the Netherlands. It remained there until the 24/10/13 at which point it was shipped to Ford’s national distribution centre at Dagenham in the UK.

From Dagenham it was then transported by rail to a Ford depot at Mossend, Glasgow, before finally being driven up the road to my local dealership on a transporter. Although it actually turned up at the dealership ahead of schedule on the 02/11/13 it had still spent over three weeks travelling by water, rail and road without being washed once. And as you will see later on the obvious dirt and grime was the least difficult issue I had to contend with as a result of this journey, but it was still the first thing I needed to tackle. Accordingly, after peeling off the tracking stickers and shipping wraps, I started the detail proper by foaming the exterior with Auto Finesse Avalanche

This was left to dwell for around five minutes, during which time the citrus-based cleaning agents gently loosened the accumulated dirt and grime…

I then rinsed the exterior thoroughly, paying particular attention to the panel gaps and shuts; a lot of pine needles emerged from some of them, indicating that the car must have sat under trees at some point during its journey to the dealership…

Next, I cleaned the exterior trims using Swissvax Plastic Wash. This is an expensive product, but it’s incredibly good at removing product residues and other stains from plastic surfaces, and leaves them perfectly prepared for adding protective coatings…

After rinsing off the trims I turned my attention to the shuts, using Auto Finesse Citrus Power and agitating it with a Meguiar’s Microfibre Wash Mitt and a suitably-sized brush from the Raceglaze Detailing Brush Set. Because we use so much Citrus Power (it’s the best bug and grime remover on the market by some margin) we tend to apply it using a MESTO 1.5 L CLEANER Pressure Sprayer, but it works equally well using a standard spray bottle…

I adopted a similar approach when tackling the honeycomb-style front grill, but switched to using a PB Boar Hair Wash Brush for all of the agitation work, as its soft, long bristles proved to be perfect for accessing the depths of the somewhat fiddly design…

With all of the exterior details cleaned, it was finally time to break out two PB Clear Wash Buckets and hand wash the bodywork, lights and glass. I chose GYEON Q2M BATHE as my shampoo, as it feels well lubricated on bare unprotected finishes and rinses freely, and I used it in conjunction with a Microfiber Madness Incredisponge, which has fast become my favourite wash implement. Unlike lambswool wash mitts, it generates a huge amount of suds (because the high-quality sponge it contains naturally aerates the shampoo solution in your suds bucket) and it releases the dirt and grime it picks up very easily indeed, meaning it says cleaner for longer…

With the car now washed, and having rinsed it off again, I proceeded to check it for bonded surface contaminants. You should do this in two ways. The first is to visually inspect each and every panel for obvious spots and speckles; this is very easy to do on lighter coloured finishes but becomes trickier on darker colours. The second is to run your fingertips over the (still wet) panels and trust what they tell you; if there is any contamination present you will feel it (uncontaminated paint feels perfectly smooth, so if you detect any grittiness whatsoever, however slight, then contaminants are present). Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have to look (or feel) very far…

The first image above shows one of a number of stains that survived the wash process. All were located on the uppermost panels of the car and most of them felt slightly tacky. My best guess is that they were organic in nature and most likely deposited from the aforementioned trees that the car sat under at some point during its journey to the dealership. The second image above shows speckles of iron contamination; at first glance you may only see a handful of darker coloured spots, but if you look more closely you’ll see many more, some of which have turned orange, indicating that the iron filings in question had already begun rusting in situ.

Is this level of contamination normal for a brand new car? Unfortunately it is. If you consider the journey my car took from the factory to the dealership it’s actually not that surprising. My car spent three weeks out in the open, travelling through the industrial heartland of Europe, and covered several hundred miles of its journey by rail. The passage of iron wheels over iron tracks generates a huge amount of iron-rich dust on railway lines and this has a tendency to stick to train carriages and whatever goods they happen to be carrying. Indeed, railway dust is by far the commonest form of contaminant found on brand new cars in Europe.

Moving on with the detail the first thing I did to tackle these issues was to treat the bodywork and glass with Autosmart Tardis. This is a spirit-based solvent that cuts through organic contaminants with ease. It’s particularly good at dissolving tar spots, but also works a treat on organic residues deposited by trees and insects, and has the added benefit of being an excellent glue remover too (some of the stickers I peeled off left sticky residues behind). Furthermore, as I was working my way around the car I also removed the foam pads for the registration plates; these are only needed if you intend to screw your plates on, which I never do (I stick them on instead)…

After rinsing off the Tardis, which fully removed all of the organic stains shown above, I set about removing the iron contamination using Auto Finesse Iron Out, which is an intensive iron-dissolving gel. As you will see from the following images, this revealed the true extent of the railway dust present on the car, most of which was too fine to initially see. The trick to removing this amount of iron by chemical means is to allow plenty of time for the iron remover to work. Therefore, I moved the car inside, soaked it with the Iron Out and then left it to do its thing for around half an hour. And this is what was revealed during this period…

In fact, so severe was the level of contamination that a second treatment was ultimately required to ensure that every last trace of the railway dust was fully removed. However, this did the trick and afterwards the bodywork and glass felt perfectly smooth, indicating that no other inorganic contamination was present. This was heartening as it meant that there was no need for me to perform a claying step (a task I find tedious at the best of times). As such, I moved the car back outside and gave it a final rinse before moving it inside again and drying it with our Metro Vac Air Force Blaster

Now for the moment of truth; the paint inspection. With the car not having been washed since it rolled out of the factory in Cologne I was hoping that the paint was going to be in perfect condition, i.e. swirl- and scratch-free. Of course this is never guaranteed because sometimes such damage is inflicted on the production line and missed during the final quality control checks, but in most cases if dealership valeting has been eliminated from the equation then brand new bodywork should look spot on. And luckily for me this turned out to be the case; after carefully wiping down all of the panels with GYEON Q2M PREP our 3M Sun Gun revealed zero defects…

Unfortunately, though, I did discover one issue; the rear spoiler was missing a little bit of paint, right on the corner where it meets the main roof panel. The only logical explanation for this is that it was caught by the edge of a machine polishing pad on the production line. I felt pretty gutted when I first noticed the damage but quickly realised that it wasn’t the end of the world; with the spoiler being made of plastic there was no risk of any corrosion setting in. So, I simply made a quick trip to the dealership to pick up a Frozen White stone-chip kit (which they kindly handed over free of charge) and then touched-in the damage using an artist’s paint brush…

At this point I decided to call it a day. I’d been at it for over eight hours (washing and decontaminating a new car properly takes time!) and I wanted to leave the touch-up to dry fully before doing any more work. After a good night’s sleep I made an early start the next day and set about protecting the brand new winter wheels I’d previously bought for the car (due to the more extreme weather we get up here in Aberdeenshire I run smaller winter rims and snow tyres from Nov-Apr and larger OEM rims and summer tyres from May-Oct). With the wheels being brand new all they required in terms of preparatory work was a thorough wipe down with GYEON Q2M PREP

I then treated the gloss black rims (and bolts) to two coats of GYEON Q2 RIM. This quartz coating is by the far the most durable wheel sealant we stock and is ideal for winter protection purposes as it seals treated surfaces against the corrosive effects of road salt. Even if you don’t plan on changing your wheels for any reason I do recommend taking them off and protecting them properly from the outset. The following images show the quartz coating being applied and buffed off, and then force cured for ten minutes using an infra-red heat lamp. The latter device simply shortens the curing time of the coating, meaning you can apply multiple coats in quick succession…

With the new winter wheels protected I removed the OEM wheels and spent several hours cleaning and protecting all of the exposed surfaces in the wheel arches (e.g. the arch liners, suspension components and brake calipers). Although our scissor lift makes it easier such work can still be done a corner at a time using a trolley jack; this is how we always did it prior to investing in the lift. It may seem over the top to spend time protecting such areas, but it’s easy to do and will help to keep everything looking fresh for years to come. I used GYEON Q2 RIM on all of the painted and bare metal surfaces, and GYEON Q2 TRIM on all of the bare plastics…

While the car was up on the lift I took the opportunity to treat the underbody with an anti-corrosion wax. I’ve never tried this approach to underbody care before, but having observed the toll three successive winters took on my previous car from new, and in line with the mantra of prevention being better than cure, I figure it’s a method worth trying out. If the wax I used performs well we will likely add it to our store sometime next year…

Getting back to the detail proper I fitted the winter wheels and then sealed the tyres with GYEON Q2 TIRE. This product is incredibly good and has well and truly raised the bar in terms of the durability it offers, which can be extended further if it is force cured. You can do this in a variety of ways (a hair dryer set to hot will do) but I simply used our heat lamp…

Next, while the car was still up in the air I polished and sealed the exhaust tips. Again, doing this properly from the outset pays dividends later on, because it’s sometimes hard to fully restore the appearance of exhaust tips if salt corrosion has set in. I used Swissvax Metal Polish Fluid to give them a light polish followed by GYEON Q2M PREP to remove the residual oils. I then applied two coats of GYEON Q2 RIM, allowing an hour between them to cure…

At this point I headed home for a few hours to see the kids, have something to eat and take a shower, as I still had a lot to do and I knew that a very late night was going to be needed to get it all done. When I returned to the studio I decided to tackle the trims first, using GYEON Q2 TRIM. This flexible quartz coating works brilliantly on all plastic surfaces, making it suitable for use on light clusters, high gloss mouldings and textured trims (but not rubber seals)…

I ummed and ahhed for a while before treating the honeycomb-style front grill, as I knew the fiddly design would make the buffing off difficult. However, knowing that I’d probably get well over six months of solid protection from a single coat, I bit the bullet and went ahead and applied a coat of the Q2 TRIM. And, as I predicted, I then had a nightmare buffing it off, the main problem being that my fingers were too big to get into the corners of the honeycombs. Having no choice but to cram my fingers in (until they bled!) and just get on with it, I spent the best part of an hour carefully checking each honeycomb for residue with our Brinkmann Maxfire Dual Xenon Spotlight. I may think twice about treating the grill in this way in future…

Next in line was the part of the detail I had been looking forward to most; adding protection to the bodywork. Deciding on what last step product to use is arguably the toughest decision you have to make when detailing a brand new car, because there are numerous technologies and dozens of products to choose from these days. I suggest narrowing down your options in two ways. Firstly, consider where you will be performing the detail and rule out any products that have stringent application criteria that you cannot meet. For example, most silica-based coatings must be applied (and left to cure for an extended period) in warm, dry conditions; therefore, they should only be chosen if you have access to an indoor workspace.

The second way to narrow down your options is to consider whether looks or durability is more important to you. If obtaining the best looking finish is your priority then choosing the appropriate product group for the colour of your car is the best way to proceed. For example, if you have a red car then choosing a natural carnauba wax will always give you a better looking finish than a synthetic sealant. However, if obtaining the longest lasting protection is your priority then you may have to forgo a little aesthetic quality in order to obtain it. For example, if you have a red car then a natural carnauba wax may well look better but going for a quartz coating will give you two to three times as much durability. Sometimes a compromise is necessary!

In my case I chose to use GYEON Q2 PRIME as my last step product. I came to this decision because I value durability over looks (Q2 PRIME is a quartz coating that offers twelve months of protection per application) and I have access to an indoor workspace. However, this decision didn’t end up sacrificing any aesthetic quality, as Q2 PRIME just happens to deliver a really awesome finish on solid white paint too! For a silica-based coating, Q2 PRIME is really easy to apply and buff off. Working on small sections at a time, you simply load up the supplied applicator with product, wipe it on evenly in an overlapping pattern, buff it off immediately with a microfibre towel and then finally check the section for smears (with a torch and a second towel) before moving on…

After applying the Q2 PRIME I force cured it by baking each panel at 60°C for ten minutes using our infra-red heat lamp. As per the wheel treatment, this was by no means an essential step in the process (I could have simply left the freshly applied coating to cure naturally for twenty four hours) but given that the equipment was on hand I opted to use it…

By now it was 2 am on Monday morning so I called it a night and went home to grab a few hours’ sleep in readiness for the working day ahead. Unfortunately the Monday turned out to be a really busy day at work and I didn’t manage to get back to the detail. However, I managed to squeeze a few hours in on the Tuesday morning, and this was sufficient to finish the exterior work off. This involved cleaning and sealing the exterior glass with GYEON Q2 VIEW

…and adding a final layer of protection to the bodywork, in the form of GYEON Q2M CURE, which is an anti-static spray sealant that adds further gloss and reduces the mineral affinity of the quartz coating (meaning it helps to prevent water spotting)…

After covering our office in the afternoon I attended to the last few details on the Tuesday evening. Although the interior looked pretty messy all it really needed was a systematic clean. I tackled all of the hard plastic and vinyl surfaces with Auto Finesse Total and sorted out the grubby looking glass with 3M Glass Cleaner. Although they didn’t really need it, I gave the seats a wipe down with some leather care wipes we’ve currently got on test. These clean and protect modern leather upholstery in a single step and will be making an appearance in our store soon. Finally, I vacuumed the carpets and fitted the mats (which I had already proofed with Nanolex Textile & Leather Sealant), and voilà, the interior was done…

I finished off the detail by affixing my registration plates with sticky fixer pads (using masking tape to create a positioning guide for the rear one and a heat gun to warm up the pads) and swapping the front and rear indicator bulbs for silver-effect ones; I don’t know why, but I have a strong dislike of the way that orange bulbs look in transparent light clusters!”

I hope you enjoyed the above write-up and that the information provided proves to be useful to you in future. Although I used some items of equipment that you probably don’t have access to (e.g. heat lamp, scissor lift) and protective coatings that necessitate the use of an indoor workspace, there’s no reason why the detail itself could not have been performed in a domestic garage or even outside on a driveway. If I had been forced to work at home on my driveway all I would have done differently is to miss out the underbody protection step and to use alternative last step products that are tolerant of outdoor use (e.g. Auto Finesse Mint Rims instead of GYEON Q2 RIM and the Auto Finesse Tough Kit instead of GYEON Q2 PRIME. This would have yielded an equally good result from an aesthetic point of view and would have laid down enough protection to see the car safely through to the spring. Therefore, my closing point is this; if you are inclined to do so then there is no fundamental reason why you shouldn’t detail your brand new car yourself. If you fancy giving it a go but are unsure about which products to use, drop us a line telling us about the car (i.e. make, model, colour) and your workspace (e.g. driveway, garage) and we’ll happily make a few recommendations for you to consider.

Rich @ PB

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73 Responses to “How To Detail A Brand New Car”

  1. Dave says:

    Beautiful job, looks a million dollars. Will you do mine?!

  2. Chris Dyson says:

    A really thorough and interesting write up. Thanks.

  3. Neil says:

    Brilliant write up. I did exactly as you suggested in your last couple of lines, phoned up and got some advice tailored to me and it was the best thing I did. As has been said on here many times, the service and knowledge is simply second to none in the country. Enjoy your new ST and keep up the great work you guys do!!

  4. Scott says:

    Excellent job and attention to detail Rich!!! I read that with great interest as I just picked up my brand new frozen white Fiesta ST last week.

  5. Kashif Munir says:

    Thumbs up. A perfect way to treat your new car. The product usage is very professional. Now I would like to have them in my inventory.

  6. Phil says:

    Wow! Great read and excellent job Rich, bet you’re pleased.

  7. @Dave @Chris @Neil @Scott @Kashif @Phil – Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the write up. And yes, I’m really enjoying the car – it’s a little rascal!

    PS @Dave – For sure; our prices are on the main website!

  8. Marco says:

    Excellent post Rich! Better explained? Impossible! Congratulations colleague.

  9. Tim Keating says:

    Great detail and blog. I’m amazed you didn’t need to correct it! It just shows the damage done by PDI valets at the dealers. I run my own valeting business and I see loads of new cars ruined by them. I don’t do paint correction, I wish I did. Although I wouldn’t need to do corrections if they did as you did. I might make a start now as a few are getting new cars. Thanks.

  10. Richard Hanson says:

    Very interesting post, love your new car. Dealers are very poor at new car prep period!

  11. @Marco @Tim @Richard – Thanks for your comments; I’m glad you enjoyed the write up!

  12. garry booton says:

    After reading this I think I will do the detailing myself whenever I purchase a new car from now on. Thanks for opening my eyes to this.

  13. Rob D-W says:

    An excellent and most informative website. Having just picked up a new car myself which wasn’t touched by the dealer at my request, this has given me some useful pointers. Many thanks.

  14. Carl says:

    Looks so good. Lots of hours work gone into it and it shows.

  15. Carl says:

    My focus was all done my myself last weekend completely swirl free looking good. Went into ford for its service this weekend and they washed it, now when the sun shines swirl marks all over it not happy. Must have washed it with dirty water and a sponge.

  16. Graham says:

    Excellent! I’ve just spent nearly all of the afternoon on this website reading the how-to’s and trying to get my head round the whole detailing subject. It’s become clear that I didn’t know what I thought I knew!

    I just wanted to say thanks for writing everything in a language that novices like me can understand, explaining things in detail and basically providing a one-stop shop for products and advice.

    I now have a wee shopping list sorted out (and once I’ve paid for christmas) I’ll be prepared for the spring. Just don’t tell my boss I’ve done nothing all afternoon!

    Excellent work!

  17. @ Garry @Rob @Graham – Thanks for your comments; I’m glad you enjoyed the write up and found it useful.

    @Carl – That’s not good; I hope you took the issue up with them? Unfortunately dealerships aren’t going to get the message or improve what they do until a lot more people start to point out the error of their ways. Hope you get it sorted asap!

  18. Steve Ward says:

    Great article Rich, I really hope this approach will become popular among new car owning enthusiasts and also the general public to an extent. As you’ve shown, its well worth the effort and so much benefit is brought by doing it right at the beginning of your time with the car. Having seen the state of some new cars on various forums, the dealerships really need to up their game and change their approach as well. They’ve remained steadfast in their lack of car care for far too long!

  19. Bob says:

    In the same vein as recommending the AUTO FINESSE TOUGH KIT for those detailing paintwork outside what would you suggest in place of GYEON Q2 TRIM for trim and plastics in a similar situation?

  20. @Bob – In fair weather conditions (i.e. dry!) the obvious choice would be Nanolex Trim Rejuvenator; this too is very durable but it cures almost instantly.

  21. Carl says:

    Ford didn’t want to know and didn’t really care. Had a survey email from main ford to and put it to them, still no reply. Don’t trust them with anything anyway. Sorted it myself now with Auto Finesse Rejuvenate brought from your good selves. Super fast delivery again.

  22. David Panchal says:

    Great write up again. Taking delivery of an Estoril Blue 320d M Sport in March – any suggestions on products and only driveway for me :-)

  23. @Carl – I’d like to say I’m surprised, but sadly we hear similar stories all too often. However, I’m glad you managed to sort it yourself.

  24. @David – Estoril Blue is a really lovely colour and many products look really great on it. Given your working environment I’d personally choose between the Blackfire Wet Diamond Kit and the Werkstat Acrylic Kit. Both look terrific on mid-tone metallic blues and both work like a charm on the driveway. Pick the former if you want maximum wetness and gloss or the latter if you’d prefer a sharper more reflective finish with more obvious flake pop in sunny weather.

  25. David Panchal says:

    Thanks guys. Still got the full Werkstat kit I bought from you so will give it a go when it gets delivered :-)

  26. Rob says:

    A great write up there thanks. I’ve just ordered a fiesta ST in red and having read this I’d have the confidence to tell the dealer not to go anywhere near it with a hose, brush, cloth or sponge. Are there any other products you’d recommend for the honeycomb grill that would be slightly less fiddly to use than the Q2 trim?

  27. @Rob – I think come the summer months I’ll be trying Auto Finesse Dressle on mine. This is a cracking new dressing from Auto Finesse that you can spray on and leave to dry naturally (there’s some really nice pictures showing this over on their blog).

  28. Lance Hutchin says:

    I’m just about to get one of these superb cars, can you tell me where you got the winter wheels from please?

  29. @Lance – I bought them from Rimstyle. In terms of their sizing, I went with 15″ x 6.5″ rims (offset = ET40, bolt pattern = 4 x 108 and centre bore = 63.4) fitted with 195/55R15 tyres – this combination fully preserves the factory rolling radius and thus ensures that the speedometer and odometer remain 100% accurate. I hope this helps!

  30. Greg Godden says:

    Hi PB, just tuned into your website and love the way its laid out, easy to use and the individual product write-ups are great. I’m just about to get my new car (CLA45 AMG) and its white so I was keen to read up on your article. Although the car is at the dealers I’ve seen her and it looks like she may have already had a first wash, tape, stickers etc have all been removed. The following is a list of kit I’m looking to buy from you, when you get a min, could you look over and make sure I haven’t missed anything too obvious please (I will be doing all of my detailing outside on the drive)…

    1 x Auto Finesse Tough Kit
    1 x Werkstat Wash
    1 x R222 Wheel Cleaner
    1 x Poorboy’s Wheel Sealant
    1 x Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner
    1 x Werkstat Prot
    1 x Raceglaze Leather Balm

    Perhaps not the ultimate list but I’m hoping the above will be a good compromise of product and price that will produce an outstanding result. Cheers guys and good luck with the business. Greg.

  31. @Greg – Given that you’ll be working outside you’ve made a good set of choices. The only things to consider are as follows: (i) don’t forget to make sure you have two buckets and a good set of mitts/drying towels for the wash stage (ii) if you don’t already have a wheel brush then you may wish to get one in order to ensure you can clean the rims right through to the back (iii) I’d personally upgrade the choice of wheel sealant to Auto Finesse Mint Rims, as it costs only a little bit more but performs a lot better in terms of heat resistance and durability. Other than these points, you’re good to go – enjoy!

  32. Greg Godden says:

    Cool thanks Rich, I’ve just ordered a trolley jack and axle stands so I can get the wheels off and get in there. Cheers and will get the order over tomorrow. Greg.

  33. peter ross says:

    With regards to detailing a brand new Mitsubishi Outlander with pearlescent paint white, please advise your recommendations. The work will be done on the street but the car will be kept in my garage over night. Thanks and regards, Peter.

  34. @Peter – Given that you’ll be working outside and you’ll be wanting to make the most of the pearl effect in the paint, I’d personally go with the Werkstat Acrylic Kit. This will add a sharp, wet looking shine and enhance the look of the pearl effect in bright, sunny conditions. Furthermore, it’s quick and easy to apply, which is always welcome when working on a larger-sized vehicle.

  35. peter says:

    Rich, thanks for that, Peter.

  36. Rhys smith says:

    Great article – very informative. Wish I’d found it sooner. Any chance some impartial advice? I have a 62 plate rallye green skoda fabia vrs that has gloss black a pillars. Hard water left streaks that didn’t buff out so I tried a clay bar (wish I hadn’t). Now the pillar is perfectly smooth but instead of a gloss it is a dull matt. I think I’ve ruined it. Before you ask – the car was nice and clean; it was a new clay bar with plenty of lubricant. I’ve no idea what to do next or what products to use, so before I throw good money at something drastic, some wise words would be very helpful.

  37. @Rhys smith – Don’t panic, you haven’t ruined it. High gloss black plastics like these are always extremely soft and mar very easily – all you’ve done is mar the hell out of the surface with the abrasives in the clay (it’s hard to avoid doing this on such surfaces, even if you use plenty of lubricant). To fix the marring, and thus restore a beautiful high gloss finish, what you need to do now is burnish the surface with a super fine finishing polish. My go to product for hand use in this situation is Menzerna 85RE, applied using a Lake Country Hydro-Tech Finishing Hand Pad (Crimson). It may take a few goes to get it perfect, but this will fix the problem. If you have a dual action machine the ideal process is nearly identical (85RE applied using Lake Country Hydro-Tech Finishing Pads). I hope this helps!

  38. Richie says:

    Hi there, this is a really helpful write up and the car looks amazing. I have a couple of questions:

    1) I’m interested that you removed the organic staining and glue residue before treating the surface for the iron residue. Is there a particular reason you chose this order? (my instincts would be to remove the iron first as I’d expect it to be abrasive but my experience of detailing cars to this level is zero)

    2) After leaving the iron removal product to work it’s magic, do you simply rinse it off? And repeat as desired?

    Once again, thanks for posting this and enjoy the ST;o)

  39. @Richie – I’m glad you found the write up useful. We always tackle the organics first, as they tend to comprise larger particles and/or sticky residues that often feel quite grabby. In contrast, heavy build-ups of microscopic iron particles don’t often feel as bad – rough certainly, but not grabby. However, this is more of a personal preference than a rule; plenty of detailers tackle the inorganics first and the organics afterwards, and they don’t seem to encounter any issues, so it’s nothing to get too hung up about. Moving on to working with the iron remover; yes, after applying it and leaving it to work its magic, it is simply rinsed off, although we find it’s always worth gently wiping each panel down with a microfibre towel first, as this helps to lift away any stubborn particles that haven’t quite fully dissolved. We demonstrate this technique in our demo video for Auto Finesse Iron Out.

  40. Martin says:

    Hi Rich, excellent write up. I keep reading it over and over in anticipation for my own Spirit Blue ST-3 that’s arriving in mid May! Never owned a new car before so I’m properly excited. I’ve purchased a heap of products, specifically GYEON ones, from you guys for the detail as soon as I get it and I’ve even booked a week off work(!) to spend as much time as required to get it done to the best of my ability. Anyway the questions on my mind are pretty nit-picky but hey that’s what us detailers are all about isn’t it? Did you seal the paint on the insides of the door shuts, boot lid etc too? Is it that just my OCD playing up? Also the illuminated ST door sills, did you seal them? I’m guessing they’re brushed aluminium with plastic surrounds? If so would you use GYEON sealants on these parts too? Also with regards to GYEON products – have you ever used GYEON MOHS+? I purchased TRIM, RIM, VIEW and MOHS from your store but didn’t see MOHS+ so I’m curious as to why, as I’ve read the durability for the + kit is double that of the standard MOHS kit. Sorry for the essay, hope you can get back to me. Cheers, Martin.

  41. @Martin – You’ve got a lot to look forward to – it’s a great car! Answers as follows. Did I seal the paint on the insides of the door shuts, boot lid, etc, too? I certainly did, but only with Q2M CURE. Because these areas aren’t anywhere near as exposed as the exterior I’ve found that the CURE has lasted well (it’s still there five months on!). Did I seal the illuminated door sills too? Yes, I did them with the CURE too, although the metal areas got an initial treatment with Werkstat Prime Acrylic as well (which is great for cleaning/sealing brushed metals). Yes, we do use MOHS+, but you have to be a GYEON certified detailer to get your hands on it, which is why we don’t advertise it for sale on our website. The MOHS+ kit adds in PHOBIC, which is a hybrid topcoat that adds extra protection (it’s graffiti-resistant!) and gloss. However, it doesn’t generate twice as much durability… only a few months extra at most.

  42. Mark-B- says:

    Hi Rich, great step by step guide! I took delivery of a Jaguar XF R Sport in Polaris White 6 weeks ago and I’m just barely keeping it clean with the constant rain we’ve had up here in Scotland! Desperate to get stuck in and properly clean it when the weather allows and looking for your thoughts on the best way to keep this daily driver in mint condition. I drive around 2000 miles every month. Is the Werkstat Acrylic system the way to go? The car is outside, not garaged. Thanks for your help! Cheers, Mark.

  43. @Mark-B – Yes, Werkstat Acrylic is a great choice for solid white finishes, as too is the Auto Finesse Tough Kit. Both of these systems are easy to use (and maintain), and both are happy being applied outside. Given the mileage you do you’ll need to decontaminate the exterior more frequently than usual, and you may find a post-wash maintenance spray (such as GYEON Q2M WETCOAT) a very useful addition to your collection. I’ll send you a separate e-mail with details, tailored specifically to your car – this should help you to stay on top of it better, despite the weather!

  44. Ian says:

    Hi, in the next couple of months I will taking delivery of a Volvo XC60 and would like to know what products you would recommend for me to help keep my vehicle in top condition. I would like to thank you on such a thorough write up to enable other people to prep there vehicles. Unfortunately I will not be able to do anywhere near the job you have done as I am disabled but will try to do some of it, and knowing the correct materials will help. I would also be able to get professional help with hopefully the use of my own materials. Thanks again. Ian.

  45. @Ian – I’m glad you found the write up useful – we are planning on publishing a number of similar articles in the future, covering verious aspects of enthusiast-orientated car care. In order to answer your questions properly I need to know a little bit more about the new car and about you and your abilities. Therefore, rather than carry on here I’ll pop you an e-mail shortly to get the ball rolling.

  46. Nathan says:

    Hi there, I will be taking a delivery of a pure white Volkswagen Golf GTD next month and I’m looking to give my car the best new car protection and the cleanest look possible, also a treatment for the alloys to protect and keep them clean, last but not least an interior protection product too. As a rookie in the detailing department I was hoping you could recommend some products for me to help me achieve the finish I’m aiming for. Many thanks, Nathan.

  47. @Nathan – If you have access to a warm, dry indoor workspace then simply follow the entire procedure outlined above (you don’t need to use an infra-red heat lamp to force cure the coatings – you can just leave them to cure naturally for 24 hours indoors instead). I say this simply because the procedure I followed above is the best you can currently follow for a solid white car, where the aim is to not only obtain an excellent finish, but also to maximise the level of protection on the car. However, if you are unable to work indoors, or don’t have the confidence to use the above products, then another great option would be to wash and decontaminate as per above, and then use the Auto Finesse Tough Kit to protect your paint, Auto Finesse Mint Rims to seal your rims and Blackfire Interior Protectant to protect all of your interior surfaces. These products are all simpler and easier to use, but will still deliver excellent results.

  48. Craig says:

    Hi Rich, great post – really admire the “detail” in the use of the products you give in the blog. Have recently took delivery of a brand new Seat Leon FR in solid white – have a query regarding a weekly maintenance schedule. On the assumption that I have carried out a full intensive detail as per your blog above, what products/methods would you recommend for a “quick” weekend wash? I don’t do a lot of miles and only have access to outside driveway. Cheers, Craig.

  49. @Craig – For the wash process I’d recommend our PB Advanced Wash Kit and a pair of our PB Clear Wash Buckets – this covers all bases for keeping the exterior clean. If you’d like to occasionally top the finish up after a routine wash then I’d suggest using either GYEON Q2M WETCOAT (if the bodywork is protected with a synthetic sealant) or Auto Finesse Finale (if the bodywork is protected with a natural wax).

  50. Dave says:

    Hi Rich, dropped you an email today to see if you can do a Seat Leon FR in Emocion Red, sometime in September. Appreciate your response on availability and cost. Thanks.

  51. @Dave – I couldn’t recall receiving this so I just double checked our e-mail system and can see that you resent it earlier today – we now have it and I’ve forwarded it on to Clark for his attention. He’ll come back to you shortly with availability and cost information.

  52. Niz says:

    Wow, really enjoyed reading this write up. So thorough and well explained. Many thanks for putting it together.

  53. Tom says:

    Hi, I’m about to take delivery of a Fiesta ST myself, I noticed you didn’t protect the cloth parts of the seats is there any particular reason for this? If you were to then what product would you recommend? Would you cover the leather parts to protect from over spray? Great write up! Thanks, Tom

  54. Phill says:

    Hi Rich, I have just taken delivery of a new (64 plate) Golf Gtd in Pearl black. Simple question, how do i keep it looking like it did in the showroom, or better? It’s used daily, 1500 miles average per month it wet Wales. Also all cleaning will have to be done out on driveway. Many thanks and keep up the good work. Regards, Phill.

  55. @Tom – Apart from the carpets and mats, I don’t usually proof any other interior surfaces, simply because it’s usually only me who uses my car, and I don’t drink or eat in it. However, if I were to proof it, I’d use either Nanolex Textile and Leather Sealant (and therefore treat the leather at the same time too) or GYEON Q2 FABRICCOAT (in this case covering the leather first with pre-used masking tape, i.e. you stick it to your clothes first to reduce its tackiness before applying it to the leather). Either of these options will work great.

  56. @Phill – That’s far from a simple question(!), as I’ll need to provide you with a complete annual detailing routine to follow – there’s various stages to go over and thus lots of ground to cover. Therefore, I’ll reply in full by e-mail later today.

  57. Jon says:

    Hi Rich, sorry to be another burden, asking for more info and recommendations but here goes. We have taken delivery of 64 plate A5 Sportback Black Edition in pearl-phantom black. Unfortunately I didn’t see think article beforehand so it has had the dealer detail valet. We also had A-glaze applied, as I wanted to give the paintwork some sort of protection from day one. I enjoy detailing my cars, maybe not as extremely as some. However I find I’m always trying different products and not really finding a happy medium of core products. Basically I would like some recommendations for a weekly routine and a few products to keep the car looking and feeling good. I would like to go for a prewash to be applied prior to a snow foam, a nice shampoo, polish, sealant and a wax. All to be carried out on a driveway, I do have underground parking so the elements shouldn’t be a problem, however the lighting isn’t brilliant under there. Previously I rinsed down, sometimes used a bug shifter, rinsed, washed, polished and sealed, or polished and waxed. I guess I would like to aim to keep the car as swirl and scratch free as possible, without spending an absolute bomb going from one product to another looking for the ideal mixture. Great work on the article. Cheers in advance.

  58. @Jon – As per above, this is a bit too involved to be answered in full here, so I’ll pop you over an e-mail instead.

  59. Gareth says:

    Hello, what a fantastic article btw! I’m taking delivery of new car soon (Alfa Red). In your article you talk about silica-based products (better protection) vs carnauba wax (better finish), especially on red paint. Could you apply wax over a silica-based product and get the best of both worlds? Regards, Gareth.

  60. @Gareth – You certainly can and many people do indeed decide to do this for the reason given. However, the only thing to remember is that once the wax is on you are limited to topping up the finish with more coats of wax or a wax-friendly quick detailing spray (as opposed to silica-friendly options such as synthetic quick detailing sprays and post-wash maintenance sprays, such as GYEON Q2 WETCOAT). This isn’t necessarily a big deal, but just something you should bear in mind.

  61. Phill says:

    Hi Rich, sorry to bother you…

    Polished Bliss says:
    September 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    @Phill – That’s far from a simple question(!), as I’ll need to provide you with a complete annual detailing routine to follow – there’s various stages to go over and thus lots of ground to cover. Therefore, I’ll reply in full by e-mail later today. Best regards, Rich.

    Did you send it? As I have not received anything yet.


  62. @Phill – I certainly did (same day as promised) so it’s a little bit odd that you didn’t receive it. The usual reason for this sort of problem is an overactive spam filter at the receiving end. Please would you (a) check your spam folder (if you have one) for my original message (b) send an e-mail to the address shown on our contact us page and add the same e-mail address to any ‘not-spam’ lists your e-mail software uses. We’ll then reply to your e-mail and hopefully it will get through to you.

  63. Anthony Lodge says:

    Well done. This sort of post is what keeps me using Polished Bliss for all my products and information. I appreciate the time and effort you take to make these blogs so interesting. Keep it up guys.

  64. Big Dave says:

    Great write up! Can you advise what product I should use on the wife’s new car. I’m keen to treat it myself but it will be done in the driveway. It’s a Nissan X-Trail (T32 2014) Tekna in Titanium Olive. Should be getting it this week, it is our first brand new car. Thanks.

  65. @Anthony – Many thanks, will do!

  66. @Dave – Given the size and colour of the car, and the fact that the work has to be done outside, I’d strongly suggest the Auto Finesse Tough Kit. If you’d like to go over anything in more detail please either give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’ll be happy to help.

  67. Jonathan G says:

    Hi Rich,

    This guide is brilliantly thorough and really fantastic. I’ve just bought a Mercedes C220 AMG sport in Silver a month ago. The dealership said they had put StarGard on (there is some water beading and it does have a shine when I wash it, however I have heard the 3 year protection claim is rubbish).

    I’m looking to give the car a proper detail before the winter really sets in, however it’s kept on a cramped driveway (a dedicated space, but the neighbours are right next to us) and was hoping you could give me some suggestions on what and how to do it. I’m particularly unsure how to do the wheels as the brake discs are very exposed and I don’t want to damage them.

    Thanks in advance.


  68. @Jon – As per some of the previous questions posted above, this one is a bit too involved to be answered in full here, so I’ll pop you over a detailed e-mail later today instead.

  69. Julian says:

    Hi, greatly informative “how to do” guide – many thanks. I’ve just ordered a load of stuff from your guide to detail my soon to arrive new car. As you say I have seen some really shoddy prep work by dealers, so I have taken the plunge to receive the car in shipping condition. I’m aiming to pretty much follow the guide, using the GYEON coatings. At what stage would you recommend polishing the car is necessary and what polishes would you suggest please? The car in question is a Mk7 Golf R in Lapis Blue. Regards, Julian.

  70. @Julian – On new cars polishing is only really needed if the bodywork is blighted by marring (or worse) left over from the production line (or inflicted by the dealers). The polishing stage (if needed) comes in between the decontamination and protection steps, i.e. you decontaminate the paint to get it squeaky clean, then you polish it to correct any sub-surface defects, and then you protect it to lock in the (now flawless looking) finish. As per my case above, if the paint looks spot on after the decontamination step then hooray, there’s no need to polish it, but if not then you’ll need to adopt a polishing approach best suited to hard VW paint. If you read through the following guide you’ll find detailed polish/pad recommendations for how to correct hard paint by both hand and machine – What polish should I use?. This should keep you straight, but if you have any further questions afterwards then give us a call or fire through an e-mail with the details and we’ll be happy to assist you further.

  71. Gareth says:

    Firstly I would like to say thanks for such a great guide on detailing a new car. I’ve recently got one of these STs in blue so I found this very helpful. My queries are: (1) I have been looking for some winter wheels but have been told the recommended tyre size is 195 50 15, is this right or does it not matter? (I don’t really know much about wheel sizes); (2) What did you use to stick number plates on, I have some waiting to go on my car. Thanks in advance, Gareth.

  72. @Gareth – For winter wheels, you need 15″ x 6.5″ rims (offset = ET40, bolt pattern = 4 x 108 and centre bore = 63.4) fitted with 195/55R15 tyres – this combination fully preserves the factory rolling radius and thus ensures that the speedometer and odometer remain 100% accurate. For the number plates, we use Signum 6 mm sticky fixer pads – you can either buy these online (search for ‘sticky fixers for number plates’) or in most motoring shops.

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