Hey guys, Nick and Chad here from The Last Coat with another quick tips blog post.
Want to keep your vehicle shining like the day it was built?
Now of course, we have a lot of experienced detailers and DIY’ers subscribed to our list. But we’re also always excited to share some detailing knowledge with those just getting into the game.
So below are 10 quick tips that we use in our daily detailing practice that are key for keeping your ride looking its very best. These tips will be great especially for those just getting started in DIY detailing or if you need a friendly reminder. :)
#10 - An Ounce of Prevention
As the old proverb goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preemptive maintenance is perhaps the best way to keep your car or truck looking new. With the widespread availability of protective coating products and quick detailers such as The Last Coat, it’s never been easier to keep your ride looking clean and sharp, ready for the red carpet.
If you’re a gearhead like us, then after a long drive it doesn’t hurt to take 5 minutes to wipe down your vehicle with a little bit of a booster such as AMP or The Last Coat. A little effort now can save a ton of work later, and make your life much easier.
#9 - Let’s Not Forget the Interior
For some reason, interior surfaces are often neglected, and we’re not even talking about the trash on the ground. Going over your interior cabin surfaces with a quick detailer can definitely extend the life of leather, vinyl, and trim surfaces. These surfaces take a beating and it only makes sense. Ideally, use a product that does not artificially shine the dashboard as this can be a distraction when driving. The Last Coat and AMP are examples of products that will retain the matte look of these surfaces.
#8 - Apply Products to the Towel First
We always recommend applying coatings to a towel or applicator, especially on interior surfaces. This gives you control over the quantity of product used as well as where it goes, and prevents overspray. For instance, if vinyl protectant gets on glass it can be incredibly difficult to remove. Avoid this from the get go and apply to the towel first.
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#7 - Handwashing Isn’t Always Better
You’ll often hear car guys refuse to take their babies through automatic car washes, fearing that all the impact from large brushes and flailing doodads will result in scratches. Yes, it’s true that the vast majority of damage done to vehicle paint occurs during the washing and drying process, just keep in mind that doing this by hand in your own driveway isn’t always better, especially if you’re using an old sponge that’s loaded with years of built-up dirt and grime.
As with anything, it’s all in the details. Using a microfiber wash mitt and a proper wash soap can make a world of difference. Or, if you’re really ambitious, using a foam cannon can be a great way to minimize the contact on your surface. As for soaps, yes you will see some people using dishwashing detergent when in a pinch, but they’re pretty aggressive. Ideally you can use a pH neutral soap meant for vehicles, not cleaning up after the casserole. The Last Soap is an excellent pH neutral soap that also includes a bit of protection.
#6 - Prep Is Key
A lot of people think that all you need to do is throw on a sealant or some wax and you’ll get a glorious shine that lasts. And although using a product such as The Last Coat, on a surface that has simply been washed, can work - you’ll often get the best results with some prep. At the very least if it’s required, the paint should be decontaminated. And if the paint has oxidation and damage, you’ll ideally want to get the surface polished at some point.
#5 - Get With Claying
One of the safest ways to get a slick, beautiful finish is to clay the surface using a clay bar or clay mitt. Clay bars have been around since the 1980s but a lot of drivers still haven’t heard of them. When people do discover them and use them properly, they think they are too good to be true.
Claying a vehicle quickly and easily strips off grit, grime and other above-surface contaminants that have bonded with the paint, allowing sealants and waxes to properly adhere, and, of course, provide the shine we all desire. You can often tell that your vehicle can use a good claying if, after washing, the surface feels a bit gritty still. If you’re new to the claying game or just want a quick solution, check out the Bare Slate Clay Mitt. With any claying tool though, always make sure to have a LOT of lubrication throughout the process. We like to dilute a soap, such as The Last Soap, to use as our clay lubricant.
#4 - Strip It Down for Cheap
Here’s a quick and cheap tip that people often overlook. Before applying any waxes or sealants such as The Last Coat for the first time, it is a good idea to strip off any prior waxes or sealants after claying. A cheap way to do this is using a prep spray, but even cheaper is to use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. Yes, the same stuff you buy from the pharmacy. Don’t use any stronger concentration than 70%, and do not use denatured alcohol. 50%-70% Isopropyl Alcohol tends to work best. Just a few sprays on a microfiber towel applied to your cleaned surface, and let it evaporate off.
#3 - A Little Goes a Long Way
In general, whether using a polish or applying a sealant or wax, a little goes a long way. Keep in mind that your vehicle surface can only use so much at one time. For example with The Last Coat, an average vehicle exterior doesn’t need more than 1-2 ounces. A deeper, richer shine isn’t accomplished by simply using more – it’s done so by applying more layers, but waiting 24 hours between applications. The layering of The Last Coat will amplify the shine, reflection, and protection as well. If you simply bathe your car with a wax or sealant, it can simply lead to hazing, streaking, and more problems. Just lay it down thin and apply as directed.
#2 - Glass Streaks Aren’t Cool
When cleaning your car’s windows there’s an easy way to tell which side is streaked and needs more attention. First off, always use a clean microfiber towel for glass, and use a small amount of your glass cleaner with the towel folded up. Buff the glass to remove the dirt and dust, then use the towel’s dry side (or a separate dry towel) to finish it up. Using hashtag type patterns when wiping can and buffing can also help avoid streaks. Also, applying protectants on glass should definitely be done when the surface is cool to the touch and ideally out of direct sunlight.
#1 - Bird Droppings = Game Over
One of the most dangerous things that your vehicles finish has to deal with are bird droppings. In all seriousness, they just might be enemy #1. Bird droppings are highly acidic and when left on your vehicles surface for hours or even days, they can end up etching the surface, and this can be expensive and laborious to fix. It’s always good to leave a product such as The Last Coat or AMP in your car, or a quick detailer product, along with some towels to wipe off bird poop as soon as you see it. Even if you have a fancy high end ceramic coating on your vehicle, the coating can still be etched by bird poop that has been left to sit. It’s powerful stuff that should be dealt with ASAP!
That’s it for today, thanks guys!
Chad and Nick - Team TLC
P.S.: If you want to take advantage of these fast tips, then make sure to use coupon code FAST20 at checkout to save 20% off any purchase at www.TheLastCoat.com