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Thread: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

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    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips



    Now that your car has a paint coating applied to the paint, (not a car wax or a synthetic paint sealant), either a ceramic or quartz based paint coating... how do you take care of it?


    The most important thing you can do is to wash your car as often as needed to prevent an accumulation of dirt and other foreign contaminants to build up on the paint. Coatings won't wash off so there's no fear of wearing the coating off as long as you're washing the right way. By keeping the coated paint clean you get all the benefits of the coating, these are,

    1. High gloss finish I call the glassy look.
    2. Maximum protection from any foreign substance that if the substance were to land on the paint it would cause damage.
    3. Fast washing since dirt is released easily.
    4. Fast drying since water wants to get away from the surface.
    5. Long lasting - Hey who doesn't like a product that lasts a long time.
    6. Increased scratch and swirl resistance.




    Those are the primary benefits off the top of my head... more than enough to make most people want a paint coating on their car's paint.


    But a paint coating is NOT an invisible forcefield protecting your car's paint. Even when a paint coating does reduce fine scratching my increasing hardness and slip you still have to wash and dry your car carefully. This brings me to what I call the Gentle Approach to washing a car. The Gentle Approach for washing a car is for a car that has had the paint perfected and is in new, like new or show car condition.

    I also teach a method called The Aggressive Approach to Washing a Car

    but this method is for getting a car surgically clean BEFORE you put the car through any machine polishing steps.

    There's a time and place for both methods and if you have a paint coating on your car's paint then you want to be using the Gentle Approach for Washing a Car to protect the coating and thus protect the features provided by the coating.


    The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car is REAL SIMPLE.

    Don't scrub the paint


    Most people don't pay attention as to how they move a wash mitt over their car's paint. In fact, the uninformed car owner hasn't got a clue and you can tell when you watch them wash their car. When they wash their car they move or push the wash mitt over a panel multiple, multiple times. And this is not only unnecessary it also inflicts swirls and scratches into the paint. If the paint is coated, it inflicts swirls and scratches into the coating and probably the paint.

    Here's why....

    If there is dirt on the car and you loosen it with the first few passes of a wash mitt, to continue rubbing the mitt over the paint will grind this loosened dirt into the paint.

    So don't scrub your car's paint when you wash it.


    How should you move the wash mitt? When washing the car body panels,

    Step 1: Start at the highest point, the roof.

    Step 2: Standing at one side, start your mitt in the middle of the roof and then make only a few passes from side to side until you work the mitt outward to where your standing. The direction you move the mitt would be from front to back or from the front of the car towards the back of the car and then back to the front. A simple, back and forth movement with only enough passes to get you from the middle of the roof to the side of the car.

    Step 3: Rinse your mitt off in a bucket of water (Grit Guard and Grit Guard Washboard optional), or spray the mitt off with a strong blast of water to remove any dirt gathered onto the mitt so you don't simply rub the dirt loosened of one panel and grind it into the next panel.

    Step 4: Move to the other side of the car and repeat this to the roof. Rinse the mitt after each use before using it again.

    Step 5: Repeat this to the hood and trunk lid. Rinse the mitt after each use before using it again.

    Step 6: Repeat this to the vertical panels starting at the top working down. Rinse the mitt after each use before using it again.

    Step 7: Wash the front of the car. Rinse the mitt after each use before using it again.

    Step 8: Wash the back of the car - usually one of the dirtiest sections besides the lowest portions of vertical panels. Rinse the mitt after each use before using it again.

    Step 9: Give the car a final rinse and then dry.


    Drying your car
    When drying the car either use a car dryer to blow the water off or use high quality drying towels and PAT the water off - don't wipe the water off.


    Now follow me...

    If you car has a properly applied paint coating - dirt already doesn't want to stick to the surface. So all you need to do is make a pass or two with your wash mitt to loosen any bond the dirt has with the finish and the FLUSH the loosened dirt off the panel.

    If you loosen the dirt and the make multiple, multiple passes with a wash mitt you will grind the loosened dirt into the coating and into the paint and now in order to undo the damage you have to start all the way back at the beginning. That is, compounding, polishing, chemically stripping the paint and the applying the coating.

    So S-L-O-W down and think about what you're doing when washing a coated car. This is how you can prolong the life of the coating and the beautiful finish the coating creates.



    Tools I use to wash a coated car
    A few weeks ago we applied Wolfgang Uber Ceramic Paint Coating to my wife's SL500. This last weekend was the FIRST time I washed her car since the coating had been applied. (I was in London for Waxstock for a week or I would have washed it sooner).

    Here's the tools I use to carefully wash and dry the coated paint on the SL 500



    Foam Gun to Wash
    I love the foam gun, it's the only way I wash my truck and the wife's car.





    Keep it Simple Simon
    I like to keep car detailing simple. In the forum and the Facebook world lots of guys like to brag about how many steps they do when detailing a car. I like to brag about how few I do.





    McKee's 37 One-Quart Foam Gun





    Autogeek's Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt
    These work great when you use them correctly. These are not the cheap ones you find at discount stores. You can throw these in the washer and dry and they won't fall apart.





    McKee's 37 Foaming Wheel Cleaner Gel
    Love this stuff. Works great when you wash your car/wheels often and it's safe for any surface or finish. It's the safety factor that is important to me as I don't want to refinish or replace the wheels on our rigs or anyone else's ride.





    Speed Master Wheel Brush
    You should see the wheel barrels on the back of the wheels on the Mercedes, they are just as clean as the face of the wheels because every time I wash the car I methodically wash the wheels including using the Speed Master Wheel Brush to clean the barrels and the back of the spokes by bending the brush.





    Wheel Woolies Black Boar's Hair Wheel Brush
    Love this brush, perfect balance of bristles that are not to stiff nor to soft. Worth its weight in gold when you regularly wash your car's wheels.





    McKee's 37 Tire & Rubber Rejuvenator
    This is actually the tire cleaner that's matched for McKee's 37 Tire Coating. I don't put a coating on the Mercedes tires but instead a dressing but the cleaner still works great.





    Low profile tire brush
    When it comes to scrubbing tires, a short bristle works better and is easier for you to scrub with. (that's two things)





    Water sprayer with a great shower setting
    I get these at the local hardware store. I really appreciate a GREAT shower setting for all kinds of car washing procedures like flushing wheels clean, flushing body panels clean and also for engine detailing when doing a traditional engine detail.

    Note you can see the brass quick connectors on all my water tools. You can use the sprayer that comes with the Foam Gun but it doesn't work anywhere near as good as this $5.00 sprayer and with the quick connectors it makes the rinsing a lot more effective and in the big picture saves me time.







    Guzzler Waffle Weave Drying Towels
    I use approximately 4 of the 20" by 40" Guzzlers to dry the car and then also wipe down all the jambs. AT the time I did this wash we had just received the new McKee's 37 Turbo Car Dryer. In future write-ups I'll share this tool for drying a coated car.







    Stretching
    This my friend is called stretching. It's when after you're finished washing your car you open all the doors, trunk lid and hood to wipe dry all the jambs. Kind of looks like a human stretching out before exercising.







    Perfect engine compartment
    I keep all the plastic trim inside the engine compartment treated with Pinnacle Black Label Leather/Vinyl Coating. Keeps the engine looking brand new all the time with no greasy look, feel or residue.





    With the top dropped this beauty is ready to roll!





    Questions? Comments?



    The Guz, emmjay, rajon and 1 others like this.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ViperGuy21's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Great article as always Mike!
    Currently: 2014 Jet Black Mica Mazda 6

    Previously: 2004 Milano Red Acura TSX

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    Senior Member Marc08EX's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Amazing and detailed write-up Mike!!! Thanks for taking time to do these so all of us can learn from you.
    JustJesus likes this.
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    Senior Member Jomax's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Very nice write up! Question though. Any reason you must PAT dry with a good MF during towel vs wipe it dry in a left to right motion? Isn't the surface clean already?


    My thing is Trying to PAT dry when doing a rinseless wash and traditional wash.
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    Senior Member Marc08EX's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Jomax View Post
    Very nice write up! Question though. Any reason you must PAT dry with a good MF during towel vs wipe it dry in a left to right motion? Isn't the surface clean already?


    My thing is Trying to PAT dry when doing a rinseless wash and traditional wash.
    The reason people pat dry a vehicle is to reduce the chances of scratching/swirling the paint finish.

    Yeah you already cleaned the paint but what if your towel catches a spec of dirt from a trim piece or wherever it may have dirt. What if there's an airborne contaminant that accidentally lands on your paint? There's a lot of what ifs that could possibly cause you to scratch your paint when you use a microfiber towel to dry your car the traditional (sweeping motion) way. The sweeping motion will cause that dirt particle to scratch the paint surface. On the other hand, pat drying the paint won't have this sweeping motion thus not causing the scratch.

    Like Mike said "don't scrub the paint".

    It's just an extra step for precaution. You worked hard at perfecting and coating your paint. You don't want to inflict unwanted swirls back at it again.

    It's like using a foam gun to pre-soak the vehicle. Is it really necessary? Probably not... But it's an extra precautionary step to further reduce the chance of swirling the paint when washing. And it's a lot of fun! Lol!
    JustJesus likes this.
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    Senior Member swanicyouth's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Good advice here. Something I think...

    I think the single most important thing that has kept my cars pretty close to wash defect free is pressure washing the vehicle fairly extensively before touching it.

    Regardless of the car has a coating, good wax, or good sealant on it - pressure washing with a pressure washer (opposed to a hose) really seems to remove 90+% of the dirt from the paint before touching it.

    I've done side by side tests on the same silver wheel with a hose and pressure washer - and you can see the pressure washer half is visibly cleaner than the hose sprayed half (just by rinsing - not touching).

    So, even though I hate dragging out the pressure wash, I ALWAYS will pressure wash it before cleaning the paint by any method.

    While patting a car dry seems to make sense as being "safer", IME it doesn't matter how you dry the car with a towel, as long as the towel is clean and of high quality and the car is clean.

    Another thing I've found is that it doesn't matter what wash media you use - as long as you use it correctly and its of high quality. I've used towels, sheep skin mitts, MF mitts, noodle mitts, boars hair brushes, etc... None of them scratched when following Mike's gentle approach.

    This is just what I've gathered from washing the same black car for the past 6 years. I get to see it each time and over time - so I can immediately tell if something works well or causes a problem.

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    Senior Member 57BORNTORUN's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Next up... how to clean a freshly coated Classic that wouldn't be cleaned with traditional water based methods.

    Sorry, can`t use mine as it rarely gets dirty enough.

    But I`m sure Mike has written about this subject in many articles.


    "Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line"

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    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by 57BORNTORUN View Post

    Next up... how to clean a freshly coated Classic that wouldn't be cleaned with traditional water based methods.
    Waterless wash. I'm a huge fan of waterless washing for SIVs or Special Interest Cars. The key is to use the product heavy or wet, that means use a lot of product for a lot of lubrication and a lot of cleaners working for you. The other part of the equation is to use LOTS of clean, dry microfiber towels and not just a few.


    Quote Originally Posted by 57BORNTORUN View Post

    Sorry, can`t use mine as it rarely gets dirty enough.
    The paint on your 1957 Chevy is also single stage and the only paint coating I've used for single stage with excellent results is the McKee's 37 Paint Coating.



    Quote Originally Posted by 57BORNTORUN View Post

    But I`m sure Mike has written about this subject in many articles.
    I have articles for using waterless and rinseless washes for cars in general but I don't believe I have any waterless or rinseless washes specific to cars with paint coatings. The tricky part about cleaning paint coatings is in a perfect world you don't want to leave anything behind on the surface as this negates the benefits of the coating... at least until the substance left by the car wash, rinseless wash, waterless wash or spray detailer wears off which is probably a negligible amount of time.


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    Senior Member 57BORNTORUN's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Pinnacle Black Label with the car cleaned after careful polishing due to thin SS old paint.Hard, well cured paint, Wolfgang Perfekt Finish Paint Prep for the cleaning.I tried to tape an area after completion as I was adding a new piece of molding and the tape just wont stick.That`s some slick coating, so take that road grime.
    "Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line"

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    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to wash a coated car - The Gentle Approach for Washing a Car by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperGuy21 View Post

    Great article as always Mike!
    Thank you. Just a simple article for a process that should be kept simple but effective.



    Quote Originally Posted by Marc08EX View Post

    Amazing and detailed write-up Mike!
    Thanks Marc. Again, just a simple process for maintaining a coated car. Currently in the Wolfgang line there's no dedicated or specific spray-and-wipe maintenance product that also offers a synergistic chemical compatibility like there is in the Pinnacle Black Label line.

    I think this is the weak link in all coating lines in that if the idea is to NOT apply something over the coating that defeats the features and benefits of the coating, then besides washing and thoroughly rinsing there's not much else you can use.

    In the past I used the Pinnacle Black Label Surface Coating on the wife's car and then after washing it I would use the PBL Detailer to remove any of the fine water spots that are left on the paint after drying and then either re-apply the Surface Coating or the Booster. Both restored that "Just Coated Look" that I really like our cars to have and also maintained the easy to wash, easy to dry and self-cleaning effect that makes me use a coating in the first place.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jomax View Post

    Very nice write up!

    Question though. Any reason you must PAT dry with a good MF drying towel vs wipe it dry in a left to right motion? Isn't the surface clean already?
    Great question.

    Marc already did a good job of answering you but I'll add my 2 cents...



    Years ago I learned about the least invasive way to dry your car from some guy that caused a huge wax war with the Zaino fans when he tested Zaino against Meguiar's Gold Class Wax on his black Porsche. (that's what I remember), the Zaino Fans took him to task and I think after some time he came around to seeing the Zaino light.

    Besides the wax wars incident, I believe it was this guy that shared his technique for drying his black Porsche, which was to pat dry the car instead of wiping the paint. The big picture being that IF a person wanted to do everything they could do to be as careful as possible so as to not re-instill swirls and scratches into otherwise flawless paint then patting dry was a safer option than wiping dry.

    As to your point, if the car is clean and the drying towel is clean and soft why would it matter if you patted the paint or wiped the paint? I think both are safe I just think one is more safe than the other.

    If you really want to DRILL DOWN DEEP (and I can drill down as deep and usually deeper than anyone), when you wipe paint you create more friction against the surface than when you pat paint. So lets play my forum game for AR People of putting things in extremes.

    Question: Does wiping paint add more protection to the paint?

    Answer: No.

    Question: What's the opposite of the word add?

    Answer: Subtract.


    So wiping paint is more aggressive to anything applied to the paint to protect it and make it look good than patting paint. Although coatings form a stronger bond to paint than car waxes and synthetic paint sealants, wiping them taken to the extreme would still be more aggressive than patting them.

    Besides the topic or removing via wiping via physical contact with some sort of drying media, if you want to go even deeper lets talk about gloss and shine. Again, lets use the forum game for AR people of putting things into extremes.


    Question: Does wiping paint add more gloss and shine?

    Answer: No.

    Question: What's the opposite of the word add?

    Answer: Subtract.


    So if a person has a freshly coated car and they are in absolute love with the high level of gloss and shine, i.e. the glassy look, then patting the paint dry will do more to preserve the high gloss finish than repeated wiping of the surface.


    Of course for those of us that do "something to our car's paint often enough that longevity of any measure is a moot point then wiping is perfectly okay.


    I'm not sure I can go any deeper than this but I think this is deeper than most people can go or think.






    Quote Originally Posted by Jomax View Post


    My thing is Trying to PAT dry when doing a rinseless wash and traditional wash.
    Patting takes more time and also takes more drying towels. One product that actually works really well for this is the Guzzler HD Waffle Weave Drying Towel. It has the same soft microfiber waffle weave outer material but also includes a water absorbing foam inter-core. So you place this towel flat on a surface, allow the water to migrate into the microfiber and then into the foam inter-core and presto... the water is gone and the surface is dry without wiping.



    6 Pack Cobra Guzzler HD Waffle Weave Drying Towels, 16 x 24 inches









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