With all the car shows fast approaching and all those people to impress with your vectra C / Signum, i thought people might appreicate a 'how to' guide and achieving the perfect shine on your car.
Ive done a large amount of research into what goes into the perfect finish. Frustratingly, the honest answer is colour. Dark paint colours will always outshine lighter colours. You can get Black to shine so bright you cant even see what colour it is due to the reflections. Red can look so deep you could almost dive in. Light cars, espesically light metalics like silver and gold will still get an amazing finish, but you just wont see it looking straight into the paint.
A simple way to achieve the perfect finish is a process with 4 key stages:
1) Ensuring the paint surface is contaminate free 2) Remove Paint Defects 3) Creating the Gloss 4) The final Wax.
1) Ensuring the Paint surface is contaminate free -
a) Wash your car with a good quality gloss car shampoo. Any good quality shampoo will do, such as those from Meguiars or Autoglym. Do use a new sponge and the 2 bucket method, (1 bucket for your shampoo water and an other bucket to rinse the sponge after each time you have placed it on the vehicle, this stops grit being dragged on the surface of the vehicle creating swirl marks. This should be your standard way of cleaning the car. Becoming more popular and definetly worth the investment (around £10) is a lambs wool wash mitt from meguiars. If looked after it will last 12 months. The wool draws the dirt up into the mitt and keeps it away from the paint, avoiding swirls.
Dry the vehicle with a microfibre drying cloth, or genuine chamois. People are tending to shy away from chamois as they cant be cleaned very easily, and may retain dirt on the surface which will scratch when you dry the car. The microfibre towels can be machine washed.
b) Examine your paintwork carefully it should be perfectly smooth use your eyes and touch, you can feel contamination often easier than seeing it. The paint should feel like clean glass. All the following create roughness on the paint and need to be removed.
Tree sap mist
Diesel fuel exhausts
Rubber particles from other cars
Bird & Insect droppings
c) If you feel or see contamination use a clay system initially, clay removes the mess from the surface. Meguiars do such a system it costs about £12.
2) Remove Paint Defects
a) Now the paintwork is really clean you can see all the other major paint defects. Touch up stone chips, scratches etc (Use a tooth pick and/or fine artists paint brush when touching up, don't use the brush in the touch up pot unless you want a big splodge ). You should then leave this to dry as long as possible.
b) Now it is time to also remove things like swirls and fine scratches. Use a good quality swirl remover, which is slightly abrasive. This comes down to personal opinion and with so many high quality Swirl removers on the market its impossible to say which to use. Companies like Zaino, Meguiars, 1z, Poorboys, Wolfgang and autoglym all make swirl removers and paint renovators
A typical example of a 'swirl'
3) Creating the gloss
a) Once the paint is defect free it is now time to create gloss to do this you use a fine hand polish that contains no abrasives. This stage feeds the paint with Oils that give a high gloss shine. Its doesn’t offer any protection. At the budget end, Autogylm Super resin polish or Meguiars NXT wax are both “polish and go type products” and give good results for little outlay. Getting more expensive are products like "P21S Paint Cleanser" which is a pure cleaner/polish. A huge favourite on the show car scene is a product called Klasse All in One. Its only available in the USA under that name, but Carlack68 is the same product and is available in the UK.
Our Approved traders will be able to advise you on the best polish for your car colour, as it does make a difference.
If you are preparing for a car show, theres a stage that you can add in here to give a higher gloss to the paint. If you add a ‘Glaze’ to the paint now it will hide any swirls or scratches you missed in stage 2 and create a deeper shine with more gloss
I use a product called One Grand ‘omega glaze’ but there are many more on the market. Speak to our approved traders for advice.
4) The final Wax
Now for the Icing on the cake. On top of the polish/glaze finish you put on your car, you now top this with a Carnauba Wax. This is a protectibe wax which will produce an amazing depth of finish. Dark cars will look as if you are looking into a reflection in a pool of water, for lighter cars warmth and depth occur.
Again there are lots of pure waxes on the market. I use a number of waxes depending on what im doing and how long I want it to last. A product by Pinnacle called Souveran wax is regarded as the premiership of waxes but has reports of lasting only a few months. P21s is a highly regarded wax, alongside Meguiars #16 mirror glaze. The important thing to note is that you must only use a pure wax. A polish and go product like NXT wax contains cleaners in it so will strip off all the work you can done so far.
You can put as many coats of Carnauba wax as you like and they will just add to the shine and protection
So that is the four stages, however once you have gone through the process it is easier to maintain. Stages 2 and 3 will not need to be done unless required. Make sure as you go through this process you only use soft terry towls or cotton, but best of all invest in Microfibre.
Now the above may seem like hard work but this is where if you are lazy like me you need a little help. It is much easier to use a Power Polisher like the Porter Cable 7424 or a Cyclo dual head polisher and some people insist that a better finish is achieved using a power polisher. Whatever you do, avoid the cheap polisher you can buy from ebay or halfords. They are just not up to the job.
To apply polish and waxes by hand, it is preferable to use foam applicator pads which will help you get a nice even and thin layer on the paint. To remove, use a microfibre cloth.
Its also a misconception that more polish = better shine. Its simply not true. The paint can only absorb so much and a thick layer of polish will only mean more elbow grease for you to remove. Aim for a whisper thin layer.
One little bit of bad news, it is advisable not to wax your car if the ambient temperature is under 10C many sealants and waxes do not cure well under this temperature or just take ages.
Do use a good quality shampoo to wash your car.
Do not take through a car wash. Ever.
Do use the "Two Bucket Method" to wash the vehicle
Do invest in a lambs wool wash mitt and microfibre polishing cloths