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Clean, Polish, And Wax, Or 1-step Cleaner Wax?


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I have read many of the great tutorials on detailing here, and I just purchased a '98 that is clean but probably has never been detailed. I intend to use the car as a daily driver, and don't necessarily need a showroom mirror finish, but of course I'd like it to look great and renew the finish. I intend to wash and clay the body, but my question is, after that step, can I use a product like Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and be done, or is it better to do the entire process including paint cleaner, polish, and then wax?

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its better to do the entire process, initially

just the cleaner wax isn't gonna do it (the manuf. might say it is but it isn't efficient enough), you have to seal it up afterwards.

clay is a must, then cleaner wax, (like you said), then follow up with a glaze, then seal it off with your favorite sealant ( you can skip the glaze part, if time is an issue)

after you do all of that, you wont' have to do the entire process for a while, you can just wax, and/or use wax as you dry

its just the initial treatment, that keeps you in line........get all the embeded crap off of you paint ect......it is like starting with a fresh pallet.

i would recommend you buy a porter cable 7424, especially since you have a dark color paint job like i have, it really works wonders on dark paint.

if you want more info on that, PM me, and i will answer any questions you might have

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Why use a cleaner wax when its not going to be your last step product? A lot of people do that and it doesn't make sense. A cleaner wax is a combination of two products, a paint cleaner and a wax. It is niether a very good cleaner nor a very good wax as the addition of each product reduces the effectiveness of the other. Using a cleaner wax is a time saver for people who don't want to have to do both steps, if you're going to glaze and wax OVER the cleaner wax, theres no reason to use a cleaner wax instead of an ACTUAL paint cleaner. Cleaner wax is like combination shampoo and conditioner, it niether shampoos nor conditions your hair very well.

If you're working by hand you're not going to be able to accomplish much swirl removal so its probably best to stick to something that can chemically clean the paint, like Klasse AIO or Poorboys Pro Polish or PwC. Then you can go from there. If you have swirls (which I'm sure you do) I'd reccomend a good quality glaze (Meguiars #7 Show Car Glaze should be availiable locally, its not the best but it'll do). Followed by something that has been proven to hide swirls and imperfections. Meguiars NXT will work here but if I were you I'd choose a product called Mothers SynWax. Its much like NXT but its supposed to be much better at hiding swirls and last much longer.

Like silvermate I also suggest you pick up a PC, if you decide to do that we can set you up with a regimen that can actually remove swirls.

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Thanks a lot for the detailed info. I sounds like it is strongly recommended that I buy a PC. The cost I know is easily worth it, especially considering what we pay for our cars, but I don't know if I will have the dedication to the serious detailing that some people do, especially with a our first baby due in April. How much is the PC and is there a specific model? I have an orbital buffer with terry cloth pads but I understand this is just for applying wax. But I'd like to do it right to recondition it the best I can initially, and will definitely use the individual step process to bring this paint back. I have a hard time seeing the swirls but I know they are there. As you said mine is a deeper blue (I think it's Atlantis Blue Mica?) and I can feel some roughness in the paint from tar, etc. and it needs work. There are a few small faded areas and in general the paint shines but does not gleem. I know this car's high quality paint job is worth the effort, unlike many of my older Fords with absolute garbage paint jobs!

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My current personal favorite cleaner/wax is Zymol which is available at stores like Advance Auto for about $10. If I remember correctly, it was top rated in the last Consumer Reports Magazine evaluation of car waxes.

A big plus of Zymol is that it causes fewer fine marks than most other cleaner waxes. It is particularly easy to apply. The application instructions say to apply it only with a back and forth motion - never with a circular action.

I apply Zymol with a damp soft cotton towel which I have rinsed in clean water and rung out. The instructions say you can use a wax applicator too. Waxing our LS takes only about 30 minutes and seems to last about three months - it would last longer but it didn't sit outside on weekdays.

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But the Zymol cleaner wax isn't doing any serious cleaning.

Since you have a baby on the way you might want to think about finding a good quality detailing shop and let them do an overhaul on the paint. You can even find one that does PDR and have them take care of that ding at the same time. The grittyness can be taken care of easily with clay and the dullness is oxidation and micro surface marring that will dissapear when the car is buffed out and waxed. These cars have great paint (the paint on the 98-00 LS400s is a lot better than the paint on the new ones which has some orange peel) and they look great detailed.

My guess is you'd be at $250-$275 including the ding removal. May be worth it for you.

The Porter Cable runs about $160 or so with the backing plate and pads that you'll need, throw in $50 more for polishes and waxes. Even if you are COMPLETELY careful in washing and caring for the car it will need to be re-buffed every 6 months or so, I'm very anal about mine and it gets marring on it sufficient that it needs to be buffed every spring and fall.

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But the Zymol cleaner wax isn't doing any serious cleaning.

I don't know, Steve. The buyer of the 90 LS I owned for 13 1/2 years told me that his neighbors thought it was brand new. And I didn't use clay, orbital polishers or multi-step processes to keep it looking great. All I did was to keep the car clean and garaged and wax it with cleaner wax a few times each year.

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Yeah if you keep up on the paint using something like a cleaner wax since new you wouldn't need to do any kind of more aggressive paint preperation, especially on white. The question is what kind of condition is his paint in now, and what does it need because of that condition and because of it being a darker color. Imperfections will show on his you'd never be able to see on yours, trust me my last car was white too and this will be the last dark colored car I ever buy. They need much more attention. I just went through 3 hours trying to get it cleaned up a little after all this rain, finding a touchless carwash, the rinse was broken so I had to spray it off at a wash bay real quick before the soap dried on the paint and etched it. If it had been silver I could have just run it through the car wash.

The only reason mine needs to be polished out twice a year is because of the color. My dad's 98 LS was never buffed once and it looked new at 160k when he traded it because it was silver, washed weekly, and waxed several times a year. The dark colors just magnify everything and they look terrible when they're swirled up.

A cleaner wax isn't going to do any kind of correction of problems that may already exist. Thats why I suggested he have a professional polish it out with a rotary to get it to where it needs to be and he can just maintain it.

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I have read many of the great tutorials on detailing here, and I just purchased a '98 that is clean but probably has never been detailed. I intend to use the car as a daily driver, and don't necessarily need a showroom mirror finish, but of course I'd like it to look great and renew the finish. I intend to wash and clay the body, but my question is, after that step, can I use a product like Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and be done, or is it better to do the entire process including paint cleaner, polish, and then wax?

Sttrongly suggest that you ask the expeerts on www.autopia.org. Get their opinion(s). Also read the Learn box at the top of the page. They have a lot of good solid info on your 1st detail.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not really actually, I haven't found one.

I do know a private detailer I can reccomend in VA, he's mobile so depending on where you live he'd probably come out to you. If you want his info shoot me a PM.

EDIT- Well post one more time to make 20 posts THEN shoot me a PM ;)

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Not really actually, I haven't found one.

I do know a private detailer I can reccomend in VA, he's mobile so depending on where you live he'd probably come out to you. If you want his info shoot me a PM.

EDIT- Well post one more time to make 20 posts THEN shoot me a PM ;)

I've taken it to couple of well known places in maryland, but I've never been satisfied with their service. It's more like they clean the car inside out instead of paying attention to details....which is what I want.

OK I'll shoot you a pm to let me know who you would recommend. But have you seen his work to say that he does a good job?

Thanks.

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