Many years ago, Meguiar’s presented the “5 Step Paint Care Cycle” as an aid to help consumers to better understand how to care for their paint. The cycle is as follows: wash, clean, polish, protect, maintain. This is a simple, concise cycle for keeping your car in its best possible condition. Of course there are many aspects to each of these steps, and that is what I hope this site has described, but once you complete the cycle you should only need to maintain (which includes washing) your car. If you maintain your car properly then you will not have to complete the whole cycle for at least a few years. I can’t stress enough the importance of maintenance – it is the most important aspect of this 5-step cycle.
So, what does it mean to ‘maintain’. First, it means that you need to wash your car – at least weekly – using a method that will not damage either the existing protection on the paint or the paint itself. Included in the ‘wash’, you will need to dry the car and apply a quick detailer to the surface. Second, it means wiping down the interior with a microfiber towel – at least weekly. You can use an interior detail spray if needed or you can simply wipe away any dust with a dry towel. Third, it means vacuuming the car when it needs it and making a concerted effort to keep trash out of the car. And fourth, it means paying attention to the wheels, tires, door jambs, engine compartment, windows, etc, on a regular basis.
It shouldn’t take more than an hour/week to completely maintain your car…and you can alternate what you maintain – for example, you may do your windows every month, your tires every two weeks, the engine every time you change the oil, etc. It isn’t necessary to do everything every week EXCEPT that you must keep the car washed…and not via an automatic car wash. How often you maintain certain aspects of the car really depends on your climate and how much you use your car and whether you have a garage, etc. You will have to gauge how often certain things are maintained – the most important, however, is washing the car.
So, if you properly wash/dry and apply a good quick detail spray to the car after each wash/dry then you won’t have to clean (i.e. clay), polish, or protect your car for years. You will find many who will argue this point and insist that you need to apply a wax or sealant every three months (or more often) and those that state that you have to clay twice a year and those that state that you have to polish the car at least once a year…but if you complete the whole 5-step cycle and then wash/dry and apply a quick detailer (or booster if you have a coating applied) properly and often, you won’t have to complete the whole 5-step cycle again for many years. I am currently going on 5 years with one of my cars where after I completed the 5-step cycle, I have simply maintained it – and I routinely receive compliments on its condition. Now, detailing is a bit of an addiction – if you want to clay, polish, and protect more often then, by all means, go ahead…I am just saying that you won’t ‘need’ to. I often hear that detailing as a hobby is expensive…well, it can be…but it doesn’t have to be! Detailing is more of an addition than anything!
I go back and forth on quick detailers…sometimes I hate them and sometimes I love them. I can’t, however, live without them. The problem: most of them are terrible. It is not easy to make a good quick detailer – and it has taken me many years to find one (or two) that I like. Most of them streak even if the manufacturer guarantees that they won’t streak. On light colored cars, streaking is hard to see…but on darker colors, especially black, streaking is very easy to spot. There are probably a hundred quick detailers on the market…and I have probably tried 50-60 of them…and I have found only a handful that don’t streak. Perhaps the most underrated quick detailer is Surf City Garage’s Hot Rod Protective Detailer. This is an amazing quick detail spray that leaves an amazing shine…and it won’t streak…and you can even find it in some auto parts stores. On par with SCG’s product, Adam’s Detail Spray is also amazing. Both of these will leave your car looking awesome and add some protection. In addition to these two, Automagic’s Body Shine and 3M’s Perfect-It Clean and Shine (which are mainly water/alcohol products) are very good for removing light dust/smudges but they won’t offer any more protection than what is already on your paint. If you want to invest in the best, try Garry Dean’s Infinite Use Detail Juice – it is probably the most versatile product that I have ever used and I use it regularly.
Some detail sprays that I have found that won’t streak.
The procedure for using a detail spray is very simple. Just keep in mind that you probably don’t need as much as you think! Also, it’s best not to apply the spray in direct sunlight as it will flash too quickly. Just follow the directions and you will end up with a nice shine minus streaks!
A) Spray the detail spray onto the surface, B) Wipe with a quality microfiber towel, C) Buff with dry side of towel, and D) Enjoy!
This car has never been polished and is always outside. It was just washed, dried, and wiped down with Surf City Garage’s Hot Rod Protective Detailer