DIY: Full Auto Detail - Honda Civic Forum

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DIY: Full Auto Detail

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Old 11-15-2001
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DIY FULL AUTO DETAIL Make this STICKY!!!

For those that want to detail their own car & donít quite know what to do, I am going to break it down for you. All in All, this takes about 4 hours. This is the process I used when I worked for a detail shop here in San Diego. Any car should be fully detailed every 6 months.

Here is a list of supplies you will need for a good detail:

Obviously a place to do the detail that is COMPLETELY shaded
Long Hose
A high-pressure hose nozzle
A REAL Chamois (sp?)
Terry Cloth Towels
Cloth Diapers
A high-speed buffer (preferably NOT the orbital kind)
Good/New Buffer Pads
About 8 Sponges (big like a 3X5 or a 5X7 & not the ones with the scratchy side)
Engine Degreaser
Car Wash Soap (NOT DISH SOAP)
Car Wash Mitt
Dressing (for vinyl, tires, etc)
Wheel cleaner (optional)
Wax (3 recommended: A Swirl Away type, a normal liquid wax, and a paste wax to finish & carnauba is good for the last 2)
Shop Vac (one that blows air & Vacuums)
Bucket
Carpet Cleaner
Huge Sponge
Alot of normal Towels
Window Cleaner (I have found that a foam window cleaner works really good)
2 new small 1Ē paintbrushes
Air Freshener of your choice
Long Industrial extension cord (usually they are Orange)


Ok The Wash:
Rinse car down & pop hood. Use high pressure and rinse down the wheel wells real good & the underbody as well.

Make sure engine is cool; cover any part you do not want to get wet. On cars w/ a distributor, cover with a plastic bag grocery bag. Cover any parts you do not want to get wet with a plastic bag as well.

Spray/mist down engine, Do not high-pressure rinse it; use a spray setting on the nozzle.

Spray on your engine degreaser. DO NOT let it get on the Paint outside the engine bay. It will eat your paint off your car. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Spray/mist the engine degreaser off.

Spray on Dressing onto engine & soak it real good. This will make everything plastic have a nice shine to it. I would not recommend the 2001 or Armor All dressing for it collects dirt real bad! It does not matter about the dressing on the engine itself for it will evaporate when the car gets warm.

Close your Hood & proceed to wash your car.

Scrub Tires & use wheel cleaner on the wheels if you wish.

When done washing, spray Dressing into wheel wells. Soak it down good.

Use Chamois to dry car off. Wring out often. From the top down works best. Start with roof, then the windshield, side windows & rear windshield. Hood, Trunk. Sides then bumpers.

Once car is mostly dry, use the shop vac to blow out the water in all the cracks. Make sure to get the front upper & lower grill, the mirrors. Just go over every crack that you see. Carry the chamois with you so when you blow out the water, you can wipe it up. Also remember to get the wheels where the lug nuts are.

Once that is complete, open the doors, trunk, and hood & gas door.

Use a damp towel to wipe out all the doorjambs, under the hood, around the trunk, in the gas door. Do not use the chamois because you may get grease on it from the door hinges & that grease will get on your car in the next wash you do. The damp towel is so any water that has dried & left a spot will come up no prob.

Wipe down wheels as well.

Once that is complete, shut all the doors, hood & trunk.

You are now finished with the wash
Time for the Interior:

Pull all floor mats out & shampoo them.

Use the bucket w/ warm water & the carpet cleaning solution & the huge sponge. Wring out the sponge real good. Shampoo/scrub all the floor mats real well.

After you shampoo them, go back over them with a dry regular towel & scrub them again with the dry towel frequently flipping & refolding the towel so you are not scrubbing the dirt back into the mats.

Place them in the Sun to dry.

Repeat process for the carpet in the car.

Use soap & water & a big sponge to clean any dirty panels/plastic parts. Once washed, wipe with a dry towel.

Use dressing for all that you want a shine to in the car as you normally would. Stay away from the pedals & the steering wheel. I donít think I need to explain why.

Spray dressing on one of the 1Ē paintbrushes to get into the vents & hard to reach places.

Once you dressed all you are going to do, give it a final wipe down with a dry towel.

If you have leather seats, use leather cleaner to clean them.

You can shampoo the roof liner, but if it is fabric, I would not recommend it because water will ruin it more than likely.

DO NOT vacuum the car yet.
Time to get back to the outside of the car:

Get your buffer & a good buffer pad.

Some Rules to follow when buffing with a High Speed Buffer:
1: Do small sections at a time. About a 3í by 3í section is good. This is a must.
2: DO NOT hold the buffer in one place for any longer than a second. Keep it constantly moving. If you do not, you will burn your paint off!
3: DO NOT apply pressure to the buffer unless you know what you are doing. Just let the weight of the buffer apply the pressure.
4: DO NOT go over any non-painted plastic or the wiper nozzles with the buffer. Be careful around the rubber trim of the windows as well. It will burn the plastic!
5: FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BACK OF THE WAX BOTTLE.

Use the buffer & the swirl away/cleaner type wax & buff the whole car 1 section at a time.

Use the 3X5 or 5X7 DAMP sponge to apply the wax to the car. Follow the instructions on the back of the bottle.

Take your time. Usually in the same way you dried the car, from the top down. Make sure you keep a good amount of wax going while buffing. Once again, following the directions on the back of the bottle.

After that coat is done, start on the second coat. You do not need the buffer for this coat.

Continue with the small sections. Same order as before, Top on down. Avoid getting wax into the cracks of your car or on the non-painted plastic parts. Take your time!!

Remove wax with a terry cloth towel. Change out towels often so you are almost always using a clean surface on the towel to remove the wax.

Now, with that coat done, its time to dress the outside of the car w/ a damp sponge & the dressing of your choice. Use your dressing on any plastic, vinyl, etc. that you want it on but try & be neat about it, but if you cant, its not big deal if you are sloppy with it. It will be more work later if you are sloppy with it though.

Dress your tires with a separate damp sponge. The tires are always filthy, so the sponge will turn black almost immediately.

Remember that the dressing, if sprayed, will mist the WHOLE CAR! Take great care by putting the nozzle in the sponge & spraying it or holding it away from the car as low as you can to the ground without putting it on the ground itself. If you spray it from any distance, the mist will get on your car & if you donít plan on waxing it after the dressing, you will have spots all over & it does look like crap.

After you are done dressing the car, wash your hands. They will be greasy from the dressing.

Now, grab your paste wax (carnauba) and lets start the 3rd & final coat.

Apply with a new 3X5 or 5X7 damp sponge. Donít use too much, but donít use to little.

Do in smaller sections than the previous coats. This is the final coat so you want it to look the best.

Let it dry & buff off with a cloth diaper. TAKE YOUR TIME!! Follow the same rules above in regards to the wax on plastic, etcÖ

Once that coat is complete, get a clean cloth diaper & wipe down the whole car.

Use the other 1Ē paintbrush to clean the wax from all the cracks, emblems, around the wiper nozzles, etc. You get the picture.

Time now for the windows.

Crack all windows that you can roll down about a Ĺ inch to an inch.

Now you want to use 2 terry towels to clean the windows.

Spray window cleaner on towel & clean the top edge of the window. Buff dry with the 2nd terry cloth towel.

Once complete with all the edges of the windows, roll them back up.

Clean windows following the same process of spraying cleaner on window, clean window, and buff dry with 2nd terry cloth towel. Make sure to use ammonia free cleaner on tinted windows.

To get all the streaks, look thru window @ something dark from multiple angles. As you see the streaks, buff out with the dry terry cloth towel.

Now, Vacuum the inside of the car. This is the last step because of the pieces of fabric likely to come off the terry cloth towels in the car. Also, vacuum the floor mats after they are dry.

And last but not least, crack open your favorite beer & sit back & look @ your job well done.
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Old 11-18-2001
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Dude, good stuff! That must have taken some time to post LOL![IMG]i/expressions/beer_yum.gif[/IMG]
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Old 11-18-2001
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hey, thanks for the post. i wanna go detail my car now. too bad i don't have a freakin garage or anything.

anyway, do you have any suggestion on specific products for each of those things? thanks.

-james
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Old 11-20-2001
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As for what products to use, its your choice. Go with what you have had good experiences with. Meguires is good. THe products specifically used by the shop I worked for were from a whole seller & were not available to the general public as far as I know. I will look into it though. I use mequires for my full details & Eagle one wet for my quick details. Carpet stuff, same as wax. Use what you have had good experiences with. Resolve has worked well for me quite a few times. Dressing, its your choice as well, try something that you can add a little water too. It makes it go further & for some, it makes it look better.

Thanks for not making it stick up top WHERE IT MIGHT DO SOME DAMN GOOD!...
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Old 12-17-2001
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i thought orbital buffers were good since it lessens the chance you'll burn the paint [IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-confused.gif[/IMG]
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Old 12-18-2001
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After your job well done when your are ready to roll with your baby, with shiny paint, spotless mirror and a good tire black. rain comes it sucks when that happen.

Have you use NU FINISH before? it's a once a year polish it say's better than wax with 5 times protection
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Old 12-27-2001
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You know what I say, Spend the money and get it done, thats 8 hours a year that I could spend watching other people detail it. [IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif[/IMG]
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Old 02-14-2002
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yeah i agree with abfitch i cant be outside a whole 6 or so hours doing that, i rather pay someone to do it but if u got the time to kill go for it....
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Old 02-15-2002
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ya, that really cuz too much time[IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-blush.gif[/IMG]
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Old 02-17-2002
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A clean like this would make my car look brand spanking new.
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Old 02-25-2002
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Hey... I have a Silver Deuce EX... I use this stuff called XANEX (Zane-X - not sure on the spelling). My friend heard about it on an Audi TT forum and he bought it for his TT roadster. This stuff is the best! There's a complete package... soap, wax, finish, etc... anyhow, rain water rolls right off, birdcrap can be wiped away easily with a paper towel (even after a day or three), and my ride shines better than showroom quality (even after a roadtrip to The City (S.F.). I'll post the actually spelling and where you can find it sometime this week. He bought one kit, and since you only use a little bit of it at a time, he has enough for both of us to use on our respective cars for about 2 years... at least.
It takes some time and devotion, but hey, it's so worth it.
Later...
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Old 03-06-2002
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ImmortalEX,

Dou you use an electric buffer or an air buffer?
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Old 04-10-2002
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wow, call me lazy but how much would it cost to have a professional do this for me???? haha thats ALOT of work, but hey, then again workin on my civic is entertainment to me!
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Old 05-16-2002
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professional detail jobs are like 150ish.. to 200 depending on where you go, that is ext and int included. I also recommend bleche-white for washing your tirewalls before you put dressing on, it takes out the brake dust that accumulates in the tires and also reduces screeching in the process. If you have a 4x4 in addition to your civic like I do, with bleche white, the raised white lettering looks immaculate... it is like a transformation.
happy detailing...
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Old 05-17-2002
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I charge $100 for a full interior and exterior detailing. Trucks and black cars are more money though. If the customer wants the engine compartment detailed i charge an extra $25.
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Old 05-19-2002
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wish i had that much money to spend to watch someone clean my car.. but if i do it myself, i'll take higher pride in my car
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Old 05-29-2002
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Excellent info. for detailing-THANK YOU!!![IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-cool.gif[/IMG][IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif[/IMG][IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif[/IMG]
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Old 06-04-2002
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I highly recommend "Zymol".. Get a small sponge kinda thing, and buff it on and then wipe it off with a terry towel. Once you got the whole body waxed (takes a helluva while), spray it lightly with water to even out the wax, and then use a chamois to dry the car off.. never seen a better wax and shine.. Also Eagle One Wet is good to use for quick detailing like Immortal said.

Later
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Old 06-05-2002
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Dizzy,
Do you use the real Zymol, or do you use the Cheap Polish that they sell in the auto parts store?? If you use the real Zymol, it should cost you around $25 plus for 8 ounces. I find when I am using Zymol that if I refrigerate it, it is easier to apply and remove.
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Old 06-14-2002
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nice post......

I usually try to do this once a quarter or so!!! I also wondered if u thought that buffers would leave swirl marks if used it more than 4 or five times a year???

l8r
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Old 06-18-2002
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There really isnt any reason to use a buffer on a 2001 or 2002 car. If you have light scratches and oxidation they can be removed by hand....Polishing machines make swirls especially if you are using a wool pad. If you use a foam pad then you are less at risk of creating swirl marks. I usually do my cars by hand.
I start off with washing and cleaning the paint with the clay bar system.
I then dry the car
Then I use a paint scrub or polish. I use mostly commercial products to clean the paint, but I know that Meguires makes a pretty good body scrub
After you clean the paint and remove oxidation and light scratches, you need to nurish the paint. I usually use 3M hand glaze or Meguires #26 glaze. If you use the Meguires let it dry 30 minutes b4 removing. If you usde the 3m remove it as soon as you apply it to the whole panel. You cant let it dry.
Then I finish off with a quality carnuba wax, like Meguires Gold or Mothers Gold Carnuba or Kit wax or Gliptone Creme.
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Old 07-13-2002
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Recommendation for tire dressing: Meguiars High Gloss Dressing. Stays blinging through rain.
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Old 07-14-2002
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Thanks for the tips ..................
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Old 07-28-2002
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good work, good post!! [IMG]i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif[/IMG] it is a good idea to really detail your car, and its nice of you to ay out an order that was really helpful, thanks
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Old 08-05-2002
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Hi, my name is CivicSouldjaEX and I'm a cleanaholic thanx for the tips
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Old 08-05-2002
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meguires gold class paste wax is the top of the line for a red, white, or inca pearl civ, if you want clean wheels and tires(perhaps you have white wheels), stick with using bleach white. it removes everything from brake dust to tar.
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Old 08-26-2002
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If you really want to learn how to detail, I suggest you start here. http://autopia.ws/forums/index.php
Don't take the word of just anyone, paint and your car are worth learning.
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Old 09-13-2002
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Ok need a suggestion on a good window cleaner to use for the interior that's better at keeping that stupid film from building up. I'll clean the inside of my windows and then like 3 days later that film is back. Anybody know a good brand to use?
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Old 09-17-2002
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just use a simple vinger/water 50/50 solution. it does smell up the inside of your car for about a day or so but just roll the windows down and drive around it goes away fairly quickly. you can use it on the outside too (not sure with tinted windows how it would effect them, i dont have tint) and the rain beads up as if it were rain-x or something.
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Old 09-18-2002
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Yeah i've heard that's good, but I do have tint so I'm worried that that may affect it. If anyone has tried it or has another solution that can get rid of that nasty film let me know.
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