Our garage is often the pride and joy of our home. We store everything inside- toys, camping gear, oddities from years past, and too many other things. If you’re lucky, you might even store your car inside. However it seems that far too often around Fort Wayne, Detailing tools are omitted from our garage. Here’s a list of 10 must have items to keep your car looking brand new, all the time.
One Bucket is Never Enough
Many of have heard of the two bucket. For those that aren’t familiar, essentially the idea comes down to retaining the cleanliness of your water without compromising it from your dirt. One bucket contains your cleaning solution while the other contains rinse water, preferably with a grit guard.
It might seem like a harmless idea to avoid this step. Be ready to spend hours cleaning scratch after scratch from the extra dirt accumulated from neglecting the two bucket method.
One might ask the reason or the third bucket. While cleaning the entire body of the car with two buckets is great, your wheels are one of the dirtiest parts of your car. They’re going to accumulate the largest amount of muck and grime. As such, it’s wise to use a third bucket to separate the road grime from the rest your car.
A huge amount of car wash products exist which will serve to get the job done. That being said a quality car wash product can make or break the timeliness and effectiveness of your wash. Your car wash is going to be the first step in ensuring that you don’t make the rest of detailing process take longer than needed. We recommend Optimum Car Wash, Meguiar’s Shampoo+, or Hyperwash.
Another important factor to consider is the use of rinse-less car wash. In many areas (especially here in Fort Wayne) hard water is a pressing issue. Conventionally, if rinsing and drying aren’t done fast enough you risk the chance of water spotting. Often times water spots will be difficult to remove, even after polishing and waxing. Rinse-less car wash allows you to speed up your washing process and generally avoid water spots. Optimum No Rinse and DP 1 in 4 are both great options.
Softer than a Teddy Bear
Microfiber is an extremely soft and moisture absorbent material that allows you to clean and dry your car with minimal risk of scratching. Today it’s easily found in nearly any store. While you don’t need the most expensive towels, it’s nice to have a good supply of them around. Often-times cheaper towels will break down sooner.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that these aren’t a one-time use. Our friend Mike from sweetcars.com has a great instructional video on how to properly wash and care for your microfiber towels.
Pick up What you Can’t Even see
If you don’t know what a clay bar is now is the time to find out. No, we’re not talking about your grandma’s recent sculpting material. Clay bars are the greatest thing you’ve never used.
Once we’ve gone through the entire process of cleaning our car, we often make the mistake of assuming that the job is done. That being said, micro-particles, contaminants, and a host of other things manage to get into our clear coat. Clay bars allow you to safely pull up these nasty items, leaving your finish clean to the eye, and to the touch.
Bring in the Power
Many like to make the argument that a car can be detailed without a buffer. While this is true, there’s no substitute that replaces the power and convenience of a dual-action buffer. If you’re unsure of how to use a dual action buffer, there’s a variety of tutorials online and in book stores. That being said, there is a definite learning curve. However you can plan on saving hours of time on wax and polish application in the future.
Something to note is that non dual-action buffers can seriously damage paint and should only be used by the most skilled of detailers. One risks damaging their paint, furthering hazing, and a variety of other issues that can arise. Spend the extra money on a DA buffer.
Wax on, Wax off
To go with your new buffer, you’re going to need wax and polish to go with it. While polishing is done on a yearly basis or so, wax is something can be applied frequently. Many people choose to wax their finish very thoroughly once, and reapply every other wash with a quick spray wax. Don’t overstress the need to wax constantly. Over polishing can be dangerous and burn through your clear coat.
Great products for first time users are Menzerna SF4000, and Meguiars #205. For wax, we recommend using Collinite 845 as a sealant, or any form of Waterless wax (Pinnacle Liquid Crystal Waterless Wash and Finish Kare 425 are both great options.)
Do you remember when your tires were brand new? Neither do I. However I do know how they can look brand new. Tire gel offers a great way to spruce up tires and bring back the original shine that your tires had at once point in their life. Most tire gels are going to function largely the same. There’s not a huge reason to spend huge amounts of money here. That being said, investing in a higher quality tire gel can result in longer lifespans.
Make your glass Invisible
If you find yourself constantly squinting to see through your glass, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a quality glass cleaner. All of us have Windex in our cabinet. While there’s nothing wrong with Windex, spend a few extra dollars on Stoner Invisible Glass. It’s one of the best products we’ve seen for glass cleaning. It’s even available in an aerosol can to make application easy and painless.
No garage should be considered complete without a shop vac. The usefulness of a shop vac is unmatched by most other tools you could own. Many of them have options to reverse airflow, effectively allowing you to blow out dust and debris from your garage and air dry your car.
Interior cleaning of your vehicle will go faster than ever. You can find a variety of attachments for shop vacs online to make getting the tighter areas easier than ever. Never again will you have to worry about finding cheerios from the inside of your seat.
No Task too big
A good all-purpose cleaner can make a world of difference for the interior of your car, as well the exterior. It’s satisfying to be able to buy one product and have it satisfy a multitude of uses. All purpose cleaner can be used for wheels, engines, interior dressings, and anything else.
We recommend investing in Optimum Power Clean, or Meguiar’s #101. Both will offer superior quality over conventional all-purpose cleaners like Lysol.