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Ask CATS 6: Get the details for detailing your car.

Rael Tooch April 28, 2016
Chevy Corvette close up of steering wheel.
Our Consumer and Technical Services (CATS) team receives questions about car care, buying a new or used vehicle, auto repairs, vehicle inspection, driving costs and more. If you have a question for CATS, call 1-866-464-6448 or email: cats@caasco.ca

We’d like to thank our automotive detailing expert, John Tewogbade of DetailnPlasti, for helping out with this edition of Ask CATS.

Ask CATS #6: What is the benefit of detailing your car?

Picture the scenario – a beautiful sunny spring day, birds chirping, the stereo playing some of your favourite songs, you’ve got the garden hose in one hand and the sponge in the other and you’re getting ready to freshen your car up, considering it just endured a brutal winter.

As you’re about to set the water free and hose down your car, you look over and there’s your neighbour doing the same thing – only he has numerous products and tools. The difference between you and him – he’s going to detail his car, you are just going to wash yours. Both are good options, but detailing really ensures that your car gets the TLC it deserves.

Detailing a car is generally done by a professional, but more and more people are choosing to do it themselves. It’s not just for the savings; it’s more for the enjoyment. Many car owners find it therapeutic and a personal sense of achievement. Especially when it’s the only car on the block looking like it just rolled off a new car lot.

Detailing your car may sound complicated. But it’s actually not. There is so much information readily available on the Internet – simply watch a video on YouTube or read the numerous articles and you’ll have your car looking like new in no time.

For now, here are some great tips to get you started.

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Tip #1: Detailing your car.

  • Only wash in the morning or evening when the sun is not at its strongest

  • If one has to wash their car in the sun, wash and rinse one section at a time to avoid soap drying

  • We recommend a soft car wash mitt made from microfiber

  • Purchase two buckets- one with soapy water for the wash and the other with only water to be used to rinse the mitt before putting it back into the soapy bucket (This added step helps prevents removed materials from being reintroduced to the soapy bucket and back on the vehicles paint, which may cause scratches)

  • Soap will dry out in the sun leaving water spots behind that are difficult to remove

  • Rinse the vehicle well with a pressure washer to remove all the loose contaminates

  • Do not use any type of soap, only products that specify that it is carwash soap. Non car wash soaps can strip wax and dry out plastic and rubber seals, trims or mouldings

  • Start the wash from the top of the vehicle and work downwards, as the lower parts of a vehicle are normally dirtier than the upper regions

  • Air blast drying (cordless leaf blower) is a fast and effective alternative to drying the exterior of a car, rather than using drying clothes, which run the chance of causing scratches

  • A rigid brush and a spray bottle with half water and white vinegar will break down salt on carpets. There will be a noticable vinegar smell that will dissipate as the carpet dries (be prepared to air the vehicle out before when removing salt). Steam works well on salt stains for those looking to purchase one

  • Clean your car tires with non-acid products

  • Use wax to give your car that new sheen and make sure you do it every season

  • Make your car windows shine, use an ammonia-free glass cleaner

  • Use a soft hair brush, similar to the ones used to apply facial cosmetic powder, to clean vents
Old fashion car dash.

Tip #2: Quick detailing spray (liquid wax) & microfiber towels.

  • Purchase an automotive detailing like Meguiars Ultimate Quick Wax spray wax and soft microfiber automotive towels – Simoniz microfiber towel

  • Quick detailing sprays contain polymers and waxes, that act as a lubricant over painted surfaces, which is key when immediate removal of decontamination is necessary

  • A plush micro fiber is gentle on paint when used in combination with a quick detailer

  • Microfiber should be folded into four equal parts before use

  • A light misting of quick detailer over the decontaminated area of the vehicle

  • Before gently wiping the contamination away, give the micro fiber a very light mist of quick detailer, because a damp cloth insures further protection from scratching

  • Once one side of the microfiber has collected decontamination, switch to a clean side to gently remove any excess detail spray or residual contamination

  • Every season you wax your car, inspect the wax applicator for embedded dirt before you start. If in doubt, use a fresh applicator to prevent scratches.

Tip #3: Removal of bird droppings.

  • Bird droppings contain high levels of Uric Acid and should be removed from a vehicles painted surface immediately

  • Sunny spring days will bake the acid from bird droppings into clear coat, with the possibility of causing irreversible damage

  • Once bird droppings stain automotive clear coat, only rubbing compound or wet sanding from an experienced detailer offer the best shot at reversing the damage safely

  • Waxes and sealants are the best do it you self-option, but offer little protection from bird droppings that require immediate removal once in contact with vehicle paint
Old fashion Mercedes car.

Tip #4: Removal of evergreen means tree sap and pollen.

  • If caught early, Automotive detailing products that contain solvents work well on tree sap

  • Autoglym sells a product called, Intense Tar Remover, and works well without harming the paint finish

  • Pollen can only be safely and properly removed with a thorough handwash with soapy water and a wash mitt

  • A thorough pressure wash will remove pollen that has not adhered to the surface

  • Soapy water will trap the spores in its bubbles that can safely be wiped away with a wash mitt

There are numerous things that can spoil or damage your car, but if you detail it frequently, the chances are lessened. Also, you get to have the best looking car on the block, that’s reason enough.

Got a question for CATS? Call us at 1-866-464-6448 or email at cats@caasco.ca