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What Should I Do First?

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This was requested by a member in another thread. Another member responded that this would be difficult to do because everyone uses different products and he is right. But in all honesty there really is a set sequence of steps that are done when you detail properly. There is some variance in product usage, but not in the technique.

First of all I'm going to mention several different possibilities of products used for each step. You'll notice that most of these products are professional grade and probably will have to be ordered online. That is because in my experience the consumer products are just that, designed for consumers who don't know or care about having the best finish possible. Professional grade products give the experienced hobbyist and professional detailer greater control over what is being done with the paint.

Here are the ESSENTIALS you will NEED these to get started.

-Several Microfiber towels, I say 6, 3 small 3 big. I reccomend them from our site www.lexuscarcare.com or www.pakshak.com. MF will be mush less prone to scratch than cotton.

-Several 100% cotton bath towels, 3 or so. These will be used folded up to work in swirl removers and polish because they have more "bite" than MF. MF will be used for removal.

-Several foam and MF applicators, you can get these where you get the towels.

-Eagle one Tire Swipes for spplying dressing to tires

-A semi stiff brush for tires and wheel wells

-2 nice 5 gallon buckets

-Some sort of paint cleaner like Meguiars #9, #82 Swirl Free Polish, 1Z Paint Polishes (which work very well by hand)

-Some sort of polish like Meguiars #7, P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser, #81 Hand Polish from Meguiars.

-Some sort of wax. We're following a carnuaba/hybrid system here as thats whats best to use if you're only working by hand. So something like Meguiars #26 Tech Wax paste, P21S, or Meguiars NXT, Poorboys EX or EX-P, Blackfire woul\d work well

-Glass cleaner- I reccomend Eagle One's 20/20.

-An all purpose cleaner like 1Z Cockpit Premium for the interior plastic and carpeting with a nice soft brush.

-Woolite and water dilluted 5:1 for leather

-A good tire dressing for the tires and the wheel wells after they are washed.

Things that would be NICE:

-A Porter Cable dual action polisher with 2 cutting pads, 2 polishing pads, and 1 finishing pad. Its tempting to buy a cheaper buffer from Sears or Pepboys or something but trust me when I tell you, if you want the best and safest results the PC is worth the investment. Cheap buffers (Waxxpro, Craftsman) have weak motors that bog down and cumbersome bonnet type systems that either remove too much or not enough paint. If you're gonna spend the bucks anyways, spend twice as much and get the right tool for the job.

-A higher cut compound for real swirl removal with the PC like Meguiars #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish, Poorboys SSR2, Menzerna Intensive Polish

-A Bissel Little Green Clean Machine for cleaning carpeting

-Plexus plastic polish for all clear plastic

-Clay (ClayMagic or Mothers)

First clean the interior. Spray the all purpose cleaner on all plastic parts, agitate with the soft brush and wipe clean, use the woolite on the seats and wipe off with a damp towel. Vacuum the carpets well and spray the cleaner and agitate of needed. Pay attention to the nooks and crannys! Always do the interior first so you dont get dust on clean paint.

Now, nextthing to do is wash with a good carwash using a good Microfiber, Chenile or Lanswool mitt. Use two buckets, one with soapy water and one with clean for rinsing the mitt after each pass. Wash in straight lines only, never touch the paint in circles. Wash from the top down then do the wheels last as that is where the most grime is, you don't want to drag that up onto the paint. If its hot rinse each panel after washing it. Dont forget to scrub the wheel wells!

Next if you have the clay, clay now. Resoap each panel, clay, rinse until the whole car and the windows are done.

Now dry the car using your MF towels, use two towels again in straight lines until the car is dry.

Now, dress the wheel wells by spraying the protectant up inside them, then spray the protectant on the tire swipe and do the tires. I always do this before the next steps so it doesn't leave overspray on the car.

Now its time to start detailing! If you have moderate to heavy swirls and you have the PC start with it, the DACP and a cutting pad, only work 2'x2' sections at a time. Don't use too much DACP, 3-4 dime sized drops a panel is plenty. Make each section look its best before moving on. Use the PC at high speed (5 or 6) and use random overlapping strokes with moderate pressure until the product almost dissapears. The swirls will come out it just may take time. This stage could take hours so be ready for that but the results are worth it. Work your way around the car, when it stops working as well swap out the pad for a clean cutting pad thats why you have two. If the swirls aren't bad use DACP with a polishing pad instead in the same way.

If working by hand fold up one of the terry towels into 8ths, apply the #9 or #82 and work into the paint using moderate pressure. Again work 2x2 sections until almost clean and make each section look its best before moving on. This will not remove all swirls but thats left to later steps to hide.

If you used the DACP and a cutting pad then you need to go around with DACP and #9 or #82 and a polishing pad afterwards as DACP and a cutting pad will leave micromarring behind.

Next, polishing! If you have the buffer use a clean polishing pad and your polish of choice, use it like the DACP but you don't have to work it as long.

If by hand same deal, fold up a terry towel and go to town.

Now, stand back and admire the work. The paint should be perfect now, no swirls, smooth as glass, good proper color. This is where you look for areas of problems and do them again until it looks right.

Now comes the waxing! You can wax by hand or by PC with the finishing pad. Use straight lines and put down a thin coat. Wait depending on the instructions on the wax then buff off IN STRAIGHT lines with an MF towel. Layer and add coats as you see fit. Don't forget to wax the wheels.

Next is windows. Get your 20/20 and some paper towels, and newspaper. Spray the 20/20 on the paper towel until its soaked, then scrub it into the window. Next, wipe clean with the newspaper, inside and out all the way around. You can now wax the windows if you'd like but its not neccisary.

Now thats it, you're done, sit back and admire your work. Watch for missed patches of wax and wax stuck in creases and crevices. Congratulations!

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Thats why I didn't sticky it, I want people to be able to ask questions ;)

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Good Job!!! A great plan of attack. Let folks master that, then they can try the other good products out there.

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Superb piece Steve - well done and thanks.

If you don't mind - I'll add the details here of how to buy some of these products from autopia detailing store - Autopia Car Care

That link carries a 10% discount too!!!

pretty much a one stop shop for those people looking to fully details their Lexus, and make it look it's best ;)

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Hi my name I Christopher, an Electrician here on Long Island.

I'm sort of a newbie here and really interested in keeping my Black 2003 GS-300 shinny and new looking for as long as I can.

I’ve read your posting on the “WHAT SHOULD I DO FIRST” and have taken a few notes too.

As I write this I am expecting my new PC 7424 any day now.

I have been told by some of my neighbors and customers that I lean toward the meticulous side a bit too much. This must be why I’m so frigg’n nervous of screw’n this up.

If you don’t mind me asking a few questions as I go along that would be great. I think I need a little handholding.

I have been hand washing my car with a micro fiber wash-mitt and drying it with micro fiber towels sometimes even with my leaf blower. (I like the tip about wrapping the side view mirrors w/ plastic)

The wax I’ve been using is a cream wax that I’ve been applying by hand with a small micro fiber towel and removing it with a clean small micro fiber towel. After the washing and waxing to achieve that really shinny look I’ve sprayed something called Mist but it just doesn’t last like it does with whatever the professionals put on it. Isn’t that the Glaze? Is that what goes on last? I didn’t see that on the “WHAT SHOULD I DO FIRST”.

I'm looking for a great shine during the summer months when I have time and the space (outdoors) to maintain the car and the a good protestant shield for the winter months, my garage isn’t big enough to work in comfortably or safely (for the car) and it isn’t heated either.

I’m willing to post this on the website but I thought it might be a bit long winded. I just wanted you to know about my situation and me. I can shorten this for posting purposes.

I hope you can find time from busy schedule to help me out with my concerns; you seem like a compassionate person and someone else who like to as close to perfect job as possible.

Thanks in advance,

Christopher Sparks

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~ One man’s opinion / observations ~

Matthew McNally / SWO3ES great job guys, that’s what sharing knowledge / experience is all about…Thanks

~Hope this helps~

Knowledge unshared is experience wasted

justadumbarchitect / so I question everything/ Jon

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Sorry Chris, sometimes its hard to notice new posts in thread that are stickies at the top of the forum. I hope you get this.

Basically a glaze is designed to be applied UNDERNEATH a wax and serves as "makeup" for the paint. Its not going to last long. I think your problem is in your prep, for the best look that lasts the paint needs to be as perfect as possible before you wax. Sounds like your problem is that you're relying on things like wax, glaze, and quick detailers to make the paint look good, these products will do that but the look won't last. Read around on here, on autopia.org and at lexuscarcare.com for ideas about products and tecniques.

Hope that helps!

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Hey there Steve:

Thanks for replying and thanks for clearing that up for me. The guy at the detail supply shop didn’t explain it that way at all…. In fact he didn’t explain the glaze process at all. <_<

I know nothing last forever. I’ll just have to make more time to keep my baby as looking as nice as she does now. :wub:

My “03” GS-300 is a year and half old and only 10500 miles on it, the paint is in nearly perfect condition. Now I feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to do this without messing it up.

Thanks again, keep up the good work

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Howdy Chris,

While I agree with most of what has been said, especially that the prep is 90+% of the appearance, I'm probably a heretic on the Lexus board.

But one of the best lines of car care products not mentioned here is (located in New Jersey). They have just come out with a Z-2 PRO which is supposed to be nothing short of incredible. I am a Lexus, Excalibur, Reatta, and VW owner and a "Zaino Zealot" as well as a discussion member on www.autopia.org and the Buick Reatta board. Please check out the discussions of sealants on autopia as well as www.zainostore.com Zaino is generally conceded to be the most durable of all the car protectants/sealants/waxes by most of us obcessive compulsive detailers including the Klasse advocates (on most car discussion boards). "Google it" and see.

Waxes generally last only a short time (few days to weeks, depending on the temperature and polutants in the air and rain). Sealants last months; the new Z-2 PRO is touted as lasting at least 6 mos. I've had great luck with the "old" Z-2 and Z-5 and have been using them for 5 years, and they last 6+ mos on my cars. My Z-2 PRO is on order and I hope to use it within the next couple of weeks.

Again, check out the autopia discussions and reviews, especially regarding the Zaino line of car care products. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Me, I'm a 64 year old retired physician here in North Carolina who likes to hear people ask me how I like my "new" car (after I've detailed it), even if it is my 14 year old Reatta Convertible or my 28 year old Excalibur Roadster. The 2002 LS430 always looks new, too.

Happy Detailing,

HRP

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HRP- I've asked you several times, please don't pound Zaino on my board. You may always offer it as an option and give your opinion of it, but lording it up and implying that EVERYONE who knows what they're talking about uses it and feels its the best isn't appropriate. You know thats not so, I'm an Autopia member too and you know as I do that its not one of the most widely used products on Autopia. In fact it gets a lot of resistance on Autopia because of the attitude of "Zaino Zealots". What you're telling people (that waxes always last only days or weeks and that Zaino will ALWAYS last at least 6 months, that people ask if you like your new car only because you use Zaino) are downright lies, and I wont allow the LOC members to be lured into buying a product line because of lies, you can present them the TRUE information all you want. The TRUTH is some waxes will last 6 months depending on where you live and how you wash, and that Zaino may last significantly less depending on the same variables, all sealants are not created equal and some don't last very long at all, while Zaino does offer significant protection some feel the tradeoff is a more sterile look, and they're definately harder to work with as you must polish to 100% perfection as you can't use any glazes, people are stupid and they'll always think your car is new if you keep it cleaned and protected from the start. Again, this is fact. If you're going to keep posting links to Autopia then present yourself as an Autopian, impartial. You would have been drummed off Autopia for that post. For one thing he didn't even ask about an LSP, he asked about glazes. You can't even use Zaino with glazes!

You aren't a heretic because you use Zaino, you're a heratic because you talk about it like its some great drug that you can't get enough of. Its a good product, but there are MANY good products out there.

I wont allow the zaino zealotism that sets in on other boards to happen here, please cooperate with me on this. I'm not saying you can't reccomend zaino, you certainly canbut if you can't be objective I will have to moderate your posts to make them so.

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Hi Steve -

Thanks for the wonderful outline.

I would like to trouble you for further clarification:

I’m in the process of purchasing a porter 7424. I’m getting a bit confused on the names of the pads.

Can you clarify what you mean by cutting, polishing, and finishing pads?

I’m on consumer site and they have listed for available pads are:

Backing pads – The base for the pads.

Sponge applicator – I’m thinking this is the cutting pad?

Lambs wool pad: finishing pad?

Foam polishing pad: polishing pad?

I’m also wondering if you had a preference: contour backing or straight?

I appreciate any insights you might be able to share.

Thanks.

Bill aka Laricecooker.

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This was requested by a member in another thread. Another member responded that this would be difficult to do because everyone uses different products and he is right. But in all honesty there really is a set sequence of steps that are done when you detail properly. There is some variance in product usage, but not in the technique.

First of all I'm going to mention several different possibilities of products used for each step. You'll notice that most of these products are professional grade and probably will have to be ordered online. That is because in my experience the consumer products are just that, designed for consumers who don't know or care about having the best finish possible. Professional grade products give the experienced hobbyist and professional detailer greater control over what is being done with the paint.

Here are the ESSENTIALS you will NEED these to get started.

-Several Microfiber towels, I say 6, 3 small 3 big. I reccomend them from our site www.lexuscarcare.com or www.pakshak.com. MF will be mush less prone to scratch than cotton.

-Several 100% cotton bath towels, 3 or so. These will be used folded up to work in swirl removers and polish because they have more "bite" than MF. MF will be used for removal.

-Several foam and MF applicators, you can get these where you get the towels.

-Eagle one Tire Swipes for spplying dressing to tires

-A semi stiff brush for tires and wheel wells

-2 nice 5 gallon buckets

-Some sort of paint cleaner like Meguiars #9, #82 Swirl Free Polish, 1Z Paint Polishes (which work very well by hand)

-Some sort of polish like Meguiars #7, P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser, #81 Hand Polish from Meguiars.

-Some sort of wax. We're following a carnuaba/hybrid system here as thats whats best to use if you're only working by hand. So something like Meguiars #26 Tech Wax paste, P21S, or Meguiars NXT, Poorboys EX or EX-P, Blackfire woul\d work well

-Glass cleaner- I reccomend Eagle One's 20/20.

-An all purpose cleaner like 1Z Cockpit Premium for the interior plastic and carpeting with a nice soft brush.

-Woolite and water dilluted 5:1 for leather

-A good tire dressing for the tires and the wheel wells after they are washed.

Things that would be NICE:

-A Porter Cable dual action polisher with 2 cutting pads, 2 polishing pads, and 1 finishing pad. Its tempting to buy a cheaper buffer from Sears or Pepboys or something but trust me when I tell you, if you want the best and safest results the PC is worth the investment. Cheap buffers (Waxxpro, Craftsman) have weak motors that bog down and cumbersome bonnet type systems that either remove too much or not enough paint. If you're gonna spend the bucks anyways, spend twice as much and get the right tool for the job.

-A higher cut compound for real swirl removal with the PC like Meguiars #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish, Poorboys SSR2, Menzerna Intensive Polish

-A Bissel Little Green Clean Machine for cleaning carpeting

-Plexus plastic polish for all clear plastic

-Clay (ClayMagic or Mothers)

First clean the interior. Spray the all purpose cleaner on all plastic parts, agitate with the soft brush and wipe clean, use the woolite on the seats and wipe off with a damp towel. Vacuum the carpets well and spray the cleaner and agitate of needed. Pay attention to the nooks and crannys! Always do the interior first so you dont get dust on clean paint.

Now, nextthing to do is wash with a good carwash using a good Microfiber, Chenile or Lanswool mitt. Use two buckets, one with soapy water and one with clean for rinsing the mitt after each pass. Wash in straight lines only, never touch the paint in circles. Wash from the top down then do the wheels last as that is where the most grime is, you don't want to drag that up onto the paint. If its hot rinse each panel after washing it. Dont forget to scrub the wheel wells!

Next if you have the clay, clay now. Resoap each panel, clay, rinse until the whole car and the windows are done.

Now dry the car using your MF towels, use two towels again in straight lines until the car is dry.

Now, dress the wheel wells by spraying the protectant up inside them, then spray the protectant on the tire swipe and do the tires. I always do this before the next steps so it doesn't leave overspray on the car.

Now its time to start detailing! If you have moderate to heavy swirls and you have the PC start with it, the DACP and a cutting pad, only work 2'x2' sections at a time. Don't use too much DACP, 3-4 dime sized drops a panel is plenty. Make each section look its best before moving on. Use the PC at high speed (5 or 6) and use random overlapping strokes with moderate pressure until the product almost dissapears. The swirls will come out it just may take time. This stage could take hours so be ready for that but the results are worth it. Work your way around the car, when it stops working as well swap out the pad for a clean cutting pad thats why you have two. If the swirls aren't bad use DACP with a polishing pad instead in the same way.

If working by hand fold up one of the terry towels into 8ths, apply the #9 or #82 and work into the paint using moderate pressure. Again work 2x2 sections until almost clean and make each section look its best before moving on. This will not remove all swirls but thats left to later steps to hide.

If you used the DACP and a cutting pad then you need to go around with DACP and #9 or #82 and a polishing pad afterwards as DACP and a cutting pad will leave micromarring behind.

Next, polishing! If you have the buffer use a clean polishing pad and your polish of choice, use it like the DACP but you don't have to work it as long.

If by hand same deal, fold up a terry towel and go to town.

Now, stand back and admire the work. The paint should be perfect now, no swirls, smooth as glass, good proper color. This is where you look for areas of problems and do them again until it looks right.

Now comes the waxing! You can wax by hand or by PC with the finishing pad. Use straight lines and put down a thin coat. Wait depending on the instructions on the wax then buff off IN STRAIGHT lines with an MF towel. Layer and add coats as you see fit. Don't forget to wax the wheels.

Next is windows. Get your 20/20 and some paper towels, and newspaper. Spray the 20/20 on the paper towel until its soaked, then scrub it into the window. Next, wipe clean with the newspaper, inside and out all the way around. You can now wax the windows if you'd like but its not neccisary.

Now thats it, you're done, sit back and admire your work. Watch for missed patches of wax and wax stuck in creases and crevices. Congratulations!

I am new to the Lexus world (LX 470), new to detailing and new to this Club. All are wonderful. I have been reading about detailing including this informative post and many from other locations. For a beginner it is very confusing. I would like to purchase the necessary products to do my very first detailing project and would appreciate advice on what would be best for my LX 470. In other words, I would prefer to place an order with one or two vendors rather than 6 or more. Is there a kit available that includes the basic necessities for starting what may turn out to be more work than I can handle. I apologize if I have imporperly posted this but thank you for any suggestions.

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There are kits availiable, check out www.properautocare.com and see what they've got.

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There are kits availiable, check out www.properautocare.com and see what they've got.

Thank you. Any experience with products from Griot's Garage?

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