Once limited to professionals, detailing has increasingly become a hobby for car enthusiasts thanks to better access to chemicals, tools, and information. In turn, that has led to a lot of confusion about effective cleaning and restoration for both DIYers and those who pay professionals to help preserve their vehicles. Here are the most common misconceptions about auto detailing.
“It’ll Buff Out”
Whether applied to something requiring minor body repair or the complete destruction of a vehicle, this phrase has long been a joke among car enthusiasts for decades. So, what will buff out? This process physically removes a very thin layer of paint, leveling the surface. Done correctly, this removes minor scratches and swirl marks to create a smooth finish.
Using a Mechanical Buffer Will Destroy Your Paint
It’s true that buffing can destroy paint, but only if the operator is ham-fisted or doesn’t use the right tools. There are four key steps needed to get a good finish:
– Use the lightest pad and polish to get the job done. The less aggressive the polish, the less paint will be removed.
– Make sure the pad is saturated with polishing compound. A dry pad can scratch the paint.
– Use light pressure.
– Keep the pad moving.
Worried that you might mess up your paint job? Buy a body panel from your local junkyard and use it to practice your technique. Once you feel like you can get a good finish, you can move onto your car. Still unsure? Maybe it’s best to contact an auto repair specialist to professionally buff your vehicle.
Detailing and Washing are the Same Thing
A car wash is just that: soap and water are applied to remove dirt and grime. Auto Detailing involves carefully removing dirt and restoring the paint surface. This includes everything from using a clay bar to lift surface contaminants on a daily driver to painstaking restorations that more closely resemble the process applied to damaged paintings than your local express wash.
Diapers, Flannel and Old T-Shirts are the Best Materials for Polishing
This may have been the case decades ago, but compared to microfiber towels, the fibers that make up these fabrics are gigantic. This leaves larger scratches than you’ll get with a microfiber cloth, and in some cases can do more harm than good. Likewise, water blades, towels, and chamois can leave scratches when drying your vehicle.
Clearcoat Paint Doesn’t Need to Be Waxed
Clearcoat is tougher and less fade-prone than the solid pigment coats used on older vehicles, but it isn’t invincible. New waxes are formulated specifically for clearcoat, creating a layer of protection that deflects water and chemical damage, keeping your paint looking good longer.
You Don’t Need to Use Car Soap to Wash a Car
Dish soap, laundry detergent, and all-purpose cleaner may seem like good alternatives to car soap, and it makes sense to use something you have on hand. However, since they’re good at removing grease, they’re also good at removing wax, leaving your paint open to the elements.
Sometimes detailers will use harsher soaps, but only if they need to completely remove the wax layer for paint correction.
Using a Clay Bar is Safe and Fixes Most Paint Problems
Once a tool reserved for professional detailers, clay bars have made their way into parts and department stores, giving owners a new way to get a better finish. Its sticky surface lifts out dirt impregnated in the paint, cleaning deeper than is possible with a normal wash.
While it may be less drastic than polishing, clay is abrasive, so it removes a little paint with each use. While the final result may be far better than you started with, it’s something that should only be used if your paint is looking dull or dirty after being washed.
As with any detailing, improper use can lead to paint damage. If the clay is dirty, whether from use or dropping it on the ground, that dirt can grind into your paint, leaving scratches, especially if the surface isn’t lubricated. Fold the clay as you use it to keep the surface fresh, and always apply clay lubricant or quick detailer to the surface before rubbing down the body panel.
Tires and Wheels Should Be Washed Last
If you wash your tires and wheels last, you’ll splash water and cleaning chemicals onto the body panels, leaving them dirty. Worse still, most wheel and tire cleaners are too harsh for paint. Cleaning these parts first will make it easier to get your car completely clean.
Make It Seem Like Accidents Never Happened
When you have your car repaired at Merton Auto Body, we go the extra mile, fully detailing repairs so your car looks like new when it rolls out of the shop. If you want it to look like the accident never happened, bring your car into our shop. We’re located between Hwy 164 and Hwy 83, just off Moraine Dr. in Sussex, WI. We proudly service Waukesha County and the Lake Country area, including Pewaukee, Hartland, Delafield, and Oconomowoc.