There're only so many hours in the day and when it comes to detailing your truck for show and go it seems there are never enough. The key to one person being able to knock out detailing their truck to show standards in a day's time is a working knowledge of which products perform the best. By work the best we mean cleaners, waxes, and polishes that live up to the promises made on the bottle. Beyond the usual hype about shine and durability the following claims are usually about how easy the product is to use. This brings us back to the time factor. If a detailing product creates a recurring problem during its application it can make the job take too long, and rob valuable time away from other areas. For example, if an interior product designed to enhance gloss and leave a UV film behind causes a greasy overspray, the number of times needed to clean it off can become infinite. A good example is what can happen to a windshield while trying to treat a dashboard. Of course knowing the proper order in which to apply detailing products makes a considerable difference, but ultimately the products' inherent characteristics determine how good the end results will be. As with most learning curves, people will discover which detailing products they relate to using the best and how well they like the results. What we have provided here is a fast track to discovering which methods and products we believe work the best along with a few alternative choices some folks might discover pan out better for them.

1. Washing
It all starts with the water. In a perfect world water would come right out of the tap as pure and clean as if it had been de-ionized by nature. There are places such as Calgary, Alberta that have tap water this pure and clean, but for most of the people in the northern hemisphere the water supply is contaminated with harsh minerals that leave what is known as hard water spots (deposits). To compound the problems created by hard water all a person needs to do is use the wrong soap. The most common bad practice is to use a dishwashing detergent for car wash. Right off the bat, the last thing you want touching the exterior surfaces of your truck is a detergent-based product. It might work good getting the grease and grime out of your Levis, but when detergent hits the painted surface it strips the wax right down to the paint's pores, and in some cases can cause a haze on clearcoat finishes. The worst visible damage occurs to polished aluminum (billet or cast) in the form of a dulling streaky grayish-white haze. To deal with these issues, premium car wash soaps are ph balanced which means they are acidically neutral, and are formulated to minimize water spotting. In addition to chemical damage, further damage to your truck's exterior can occur by exposure to abrasives such as dirt and dust abrading the surface. The longer a vehicle goes without being washed more grit and grime is allowed to collect and dig into the surface. This destruction can be observed by inspecting all of the tiny and, not so tiny spider web scratches appearing in the paint. A well-intended uneducated person can make the damage even worse by proceeding to wash the truck the wrong way. Instead of plopping a wet sponge or car wash mitt onto a dry surface the first step is to hose the entire truck down and soak it with water. This process will float a lot of the surface dirt off, and begin to dissolve various water-soluble substances that have bonded to the paint and chrome. Next, a bucket full of water sudsy with premium car wash soap is used to scrub every square inch of the truck. The soapy water should not be allowed to dry or it will cause further damage to the finish, so it must be hosed off thoroughly with fresh water.

2. Drying
An experienced professional can wash and dry a vehicle in the sun without causing any damage. If one doubts their ability to move fast enough in the sun the only reasonable alternative is to wash and dry in the shade. The way to wash and dry is by starting at the top and then working down. One is still not out of the woods when it comes to damaging the paint. Use the wrong material to dry your finish off, especially with black, and you will have at the very least added swirl-marks. This is not to say a terry cloth towel can't be used, but it must be very soft, and get ready to use a whole stack of them. The way most pros accelerate the drying process is to use compressed air in conjunction with a towel or synthetic chamois. In our experience it is best to mop and lightly wipe the surface dry as opposed to dragging across, which scratches the paint. This combined method not only speeds up the drying time but by blowing water out of the cracks and crevices prevents water from seeping out after the truck has been dried. Without access to compressed air the old fashioned way is to accelerate the truck up to freeway speed and then dry-it-off all over again. Drying a vehicle without leaving watermarks can be a royal pain in the neck, but there are appearance products designed specifically to make it a lot easier, and leave a glossier finish in the bargain. The first product that comes to mind is Mothers Spray Wax that's applied by spraying on a partially dried vehicle, and then micro-fiber towel buffing it completely dry. Several of the top brands have offerings in this arena, and they all provide a major head start to performing a show-quality detail job.

3. Clay Bar
Not since the absent-minded professor invented Flubber way back in 1961 has there been anything as miraculous as detailing with a clay bar. Introduced in the early '90's claying replaced using a wheel (circular polisher) with rubbing compound to prepare a surface for wax and took the task from the exclusive realm of experienced professionals and introduced a foolproof method for rank amateurs to use. Clay has proven to be so superior to rubbing compound when it comes to removing surface contaminants such as paint overspray, rust particles, and mineral deposits that these days rubbing compound is only used to cut heavy paint oxidation, or rub-out a new paintjob. We've yet to see any paintjob exposed to even a minimum of driving that didn't need to be clayed as the first step.

4. Polish
After using a clay bar properly your truck's paint will feel perfectly smooth to the touch, but if it is oxidized, or has minor scratches that's where the clay bar leaves off and a good polish takes over. If it's been over six months since the last time you waxed your truck the odds are good the paint is already beginning to oxidize, or is stained from harmful airborne contaminants. Airborne contaminants aren't quite as bad as communist paratroopers, but they are almost as destructive. In our book, or should we say magazine, the only way to polish out a paintjob in record time is with a polisher (motorized device) and then access hard to reach areas by hand. All polishes will leave a white trace on the rubber, or fill the nooks and crannies with a white waxy buildup if they are allowed to make contact. The obvious solution is to stay away from rubber and crevices, but if you slip get ready to use some elbow grease and a soft rag soaked with a silicone stripper. Use of an effective silicone stripper will dissolve caked on wax or polish but might require a little assistance from a detailing brush.

5. Wax
After cutting the paint with a good polish the surface will be free from chalky oxidation and if the condition was corrected in time, the original hue of the color will be restored. With the previous steps completed your paintjob will look almost as good as the day it rolled out of the paint booth. That said, the next step, applying a quality car wax will return, if not exceed, the original gloss of the finish. A premium wax will enhance gloss and depth of the finish while offering protection from the elements. How glossy or how long the wax will last depends on the individual brand. In addition to intensifying gloss a good car wax will fill and conceal minor scratches and abrasions from the human eye. Filling imperfections provides a barrier from the elements that slows the oxidation process. Maintaining a good coat of wax can stave oxidation off indefinitely. Not all car waxes are created equal, the quality of the ingredients vary, and ease of application does as well.

6. Glass Cleaner
Washing windows on a vehicle, whether it's a car or truck, is a whole different animal than washing the windows in one's home. Using a household glass cleaner with ammonia as an active ingredient can be the fast track to doing irreversible damage. This can run the gamut from tinted window film to the knobs on your truck's dashboard. There's more than one person who used a household window cleaner on knobs marked with white paint discovered the painted digits and delineations dissolved upon contact. Even in the best-case scenario, ammonia-free household glass cleaners streak and waste valuable time trying to achieve satisfactory results. The glass cleaners in aerosol cans spit and sputter and drip everywhere, use a hand pump for better control.

7. NMF
The abbreviation NMF spelled out means natural metal finishes, and when we're talking customized classic trucks it pertains to leaving aluminum, stainless steel, brass, or copper in its natural state. In the truest sense natural state means an unpolished raw form or stretching the expression polished to the highest sheen possible. Maintenance and care of polished and unpolished metals requires two completely different techniques. For unpolished metals a cleaner should be used and for polished a metal polish must be used. Whether it's a cleaner or polish the label on the product container will specify (list) appropriate use.

This should be enough information to get you started on your trucks exterior. We'll deal with interior care in next month's edition of Custom Classic Trucks.

17991 Mitchell South
CA  92614
Booty Wax
Eagle One Turtle Wax
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