Ask a Professional Detailer Thread...
As a new member of Audi-Sport.net Detailed Image would like to open up a thread where you can ask us about anything relating to detailing. There is a lot of good and bad information out there about how to detail properly, so we want to provide you a place to get clarification on your detailing questions. While we donít know everything, we do have a lot of experience with a wide variety of products that can provide you with meaningful insight. We specialize in helping people clean, shine and protect their vehicleís interior, exterior and engine bay. We have hand-selected each product on our site that will help give you top quality detailing results.
Below we have posted some before and after pictures of work Detailed Image has done with the service side of our business. These results can be achieved by anyone who is willing to learn about detailing properly with the right combination of products. We can help you pick out a detailing package that best fits your vehicleís particular needs. We also offer 10% OFF to all Audi-Sport.net members but it excludes buffers, vacuums and specials. Just type in "10offAS" and you'll get the discount when checking out.
Before - Notice the house in the background through the haze?
Side by Side Comparison:
Of course a pic of my B5 S4:
Don't be afraid to post up any questions that you have no matter how simple or complex it is. Weíll do our best to provide you a detailed and timely response. Thank you and we look forward to starting up some great dialogue!
Also, be sure to check out our new automotive detailing forum, Detail University, where there is lots of great detailing information and conversation going on.
George and Greg
Owners - Detailed Image
Swirls - Removal & Prevention
Tackling swirl removal can be a difficult and tedious task but perhaps the most rewarding step in any detail. Your results will come from the prep stages and typically will require multiple coats of polishes at different levels of aggressiveness. I will first talk about swirls, what they are and how to rid them, then proceed to discuss how to prevent future swirls from occuring.
Swirl marks are essentially dips and valleys in your clear coat. They typically occur during the washing and drying phase from using improper tools and techniques. Some swirls are deeper than other and may require multiple polishes and coats to effectively remove them. The way you remove swirls is by leveling out those dips and valleys, which means removing a small layer of your clear coat with an abrasive polish. Now this may sound scary in writing, but in reality when done correctly you have nothing to worry about.
Choosing your method of application is very important, you have 3 options.
1st option is hand application. You can apply polishes and get good results but expect an extremely sore arm and a lot of time consumed. With the proper applicator pad, such as the Lake Country Hand Applicator Kit, you can match the proper pad to the aggressiveness of the polish. For example, when using the most aggressive polish to really cut down on heavily swirled and oxidized paint you would use the yellow pad, for a finer finishing polish use the white pad, for something like a glaze or an even finer polish, the black pad, and to apply a sealant or wax apply with the blue pad. The benefit of using the hand applicator kit versus a regular applicator pad is that you can apply an even distribution of pressure and achieve consistant results. With a basic terry cloth or foam applicator pad you are only applying the pressure with your fingertips, which you need to exhert pressure on polishes to break them down effectively to remove swirls.
2nd option - best option - random orbital buffer
In my opinion there are only two model random orbitals that qualify as being powerful enough to effectively remove swirls and imperfections, the Porter Cable 7424 or the Cyclo. The buffer will be able to provide the most consistant results, constant pressure, generate enough heat to effectively break down the polishes, save time and yield better results. If you are serious about detailing, this is a sound investment to make. The Advanced Buffer Kit comes with everything you would need to get started with detailing: a velcro backing plate to easily switch pads and use a variety of pads, 1x orange cutting pad, 2x white polishing pads, 1x black finishing pad, as well as a few packets of Pad Cleaning solution.
3rd option - not recommended - rotary buffer
Leave this option to professionals. The speed of the buffer can generate enough heat to potentially burn thru the paint or create more swirls and haze if used incorrectly. I won't talk much about this since it is not a wise option for most detailers.
Now onto the polish selection. You always want to start your detail with the least aggressive polish to effectively give you the results you are looking for. You do not want remove more clear coat than necessary.
When using a buffer, my favorite line of polishes is the Menzerna line. To effectively remove significant swirls you will typically need a two-step polish. One that is more aggressive (medium) to quickly and effectively even out your clear coat and a fine polish (finishing) to make the clear coat as smooth as possible revealing maximum depth and gloss. The reason you use two coats of polish is because the medium aggressive polish can often leave a haze behind and the finishing polish clears that up.
Back to the polishes, the Menzerna Intensive Polish is my choice for a medium aggressive polish when using a buffer. I would typically use this with an Orange Cutting Pad and speed setting 5 - 6 on the Porter Cable. I follow that up with Menzerna Final Polish II with a White Polishing Pad and speed setting 5 - 6. Another great option, which I typically recommend when tackling this process by hand is the Poorboy's SSR Line of Polishes. The recommended two step polish in the SSR line is the SSR 2.5 and SSR 1.
At this point you should have little to no swirls (some may be too deep to safely remove). Preventing swirls from happening is relatively easy when you take the proper steps.
First off, never go through a car wash that has any kind of bristles, cloths, etc. touching your paint. These will add large sweeping swirl marks that are sure to dull the clear coat. Swirls are most commonly added during the washing and drying process so make sure your washing mitt/sponge and drying towels are as clean as possible. Contaminates get lodged between your mitt/sponge and the paint and they get grinded into the clear coat. Your washing tools should be replaced as they become saturated with debris, contaminates, etc. The safest and best washing tool I have is a Sheepskin Wash Mitt because of its ability to safely break up contamination and release contaminates when dipped in water. Its also very thick so itís less likely to grind in contaminates as it breaks them up. I dry with two microfiber Waffle Weave Drying Towels, because they are paint safe and absorb so much water. I donít really like cotton and other materials because they arenít always paint safe. I only dry areas that have been washed thoroughly (I donít use them to clean door jambs, panels underneath the vehicle, exhaust tips, wheels, etc.). Keep these towels as clean as possible. Do you use the two-bucket method? Basically one bucket has water another with water and shampoo. Dip your sponge and mitt in the shampoo and water mix and start washing some panels. After washing some panels, dip the sponge in the bucket with just water to release contaminates and then dip it back in the water shampoo mix and keep washing.
To help prevent more swirls from occurring, apply a durable layer of protection with a sealant. When your looking to apply the maximum protection for your vehicle you will want to use a sealant. Sealants are synthetic materials that are engineered chemically to replicate the characteristics of a wax. With improved technological advancements most sealants offer longer lasting protection than traditional waxes. Contamination tends to come off with a simple wash and dry when your vehicle is properly protected so make sure you paint has a proper coat of sealant on today.
One final note, for optimal results you will want to prep your paint with a clay bar prior to polishing. This will remove the most possible contamination and reveal your true clear coat. The polishes will work more effectively and your sealant or wax will last longer. It is a worth while step to do twice a year (Spring and Fall).
I know this is a lot to digest, so I'll be expecting questions. For more detailed information on the entire detailing process please check out our Detail University Section of our website. Understanding the process and what each step is doing is the first start to ridding your swirls.
George @ Detailed Image