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Discussion Starter #1
I have read these forums and autopia and another one looking for help. While i learned a lot, everyone seems to be doing way more than i can afford to do. I dont have the time for a 5 or 6 step process. I pretty much have time to wax or whatever twice a year. And when it comes time for that, i'd like to keep it to a one stage process after the wash, but I'm willing to try two as long as there is not a long curing time between the two.

So what would everyone recommend? I'm not worried about showroom shine and the minute scratches being taken care of. I want to use something that will protect the paint and keep it looking nice (nice to me). I would really like it to bead up water for at least 6 months.

Also, what kind of rags/towels/whatever should i get for the waxing/polishing/sealant and for drying my car to prevent the spider webbing and swirl marks in the first place?
 

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Go to Zaino.

Buy the ZFX and the Z-2.

Wash the car with Dawn to strip any old wax. Then mix the ZFX and Z-2 per instructions and wax the car.

You can do additional coats (as many or as few as you want) after 1 hour dry time between coats. Zaino is about the only wax I've heard of that adherents consistently claim will last 6 months.

Total cost: about $44 for 10-16 (or so) waxes with another $21 required (a second bottle of Z-2) for another 10-16 (or so) waxes. Keep buying the Z-2 Pro until you run out of the ZFX, then buy more ZFX.

Or you can spend less (a lot less) on Meguiar's NXT and wash and wax every 3 months. (I've had it last 4-6 months, but every 3 months guarantees protection.)

Total cost: about $17 for 12 or so waxes.

Washing after the first time:

Rags? Get good quality microfiber and/or 100% cotton cloths for the wax. For the wash, a high quality Sheepsking Mitt for washing and a Microfiber drying towel or a good quality Chamois for drying. Also, get a good quality car wash that won't strip wax for subsequent washes. Only use the Dawn when you want to strip the wax. AND USE LOTS OF WATER! Rinse the wash mitt OFTEN and THOROUGHLY to avoid scratching the finish. Two or three buckets for rinsing, or use the hose to rinse. Either will work fine.


Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. Sounds like something I can handle.

I have another quick question. Sometimes, I get my car pretty dirty and usually just take it to the local brushless car wash to get the big stuff off. Is the high pressure water bad or not? I've heard people say its bad, but I have heard from others that it is not as bad as scrubing the car yourself.

Oh yeah, is there anything to look for in a good chamois? I'm sure not all chamois are created equal.
 

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I've never had a problem with a high-pressure spray, but I only use them a few times a year during the winter months. ANd then only rinse. Just don't get too close.

As long as you keep a good, soft mitt well rinsed, it won't damage your paint. People that damage hand washing are either rubbing too damned hard, not rinsing or using a mitt that isn't soft enough.

How to tell a good quality chamois? Use a lot of the same criteria you would use to pick a good quality leather coat. It's just a tanned hide, after all.

I sort of smell it, pull on it and just generally feel it. If it's too thin, smells bad or stretches too much, I'll pass on it. (I've looked at chamios you can see through when held to the light and stretched like rubber.) You want some give when pulled, and you want it to be heavey enough to suck up a lot of water. The thinner it is, the less water it will hold. But if it's too thick it stays too stiff even when wet. Also, get the largest one you can afford. The bigger they are the faster you can dry a car.

And brand seems to have little to do with it. I've had good quality and poor quality from the same company. Price also doesn't seem to matter, although if it's too inexpensive I'd be skeptical.

In the end, any chamois will work pretty well. The main thing is finding one that will last awhile. I replace mine about every 5 years.

Chamois pick up dirt really easily, so if you do decide to use a chamois, make sure you thoroughly clean the car before drying. And you can 'hand wash' a chamois using a really gentle soap - like Woolite. But never put it in a washer or use a detergent to clean it. The stains that develop won't hurt the finish as long as you rinsed it really well after you use it.
 

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Don't confuse a 5 or 6 step process that has a lot of detail, with something that's really time consuming. I spend much less time cleaning my car total now that I've got a good routine down. It's not really about large blocks of time, but technique and good equipment. The technique makes you much more effective with the time you have.

For example, it doesn't take any longer to wash with two buckets and a nice soft chenile sponge, than with one bucket and a crappy scratchy sponge. Yet you will scratch much less with the former setup. You then don't need to spend time buffing out your mistakes. Time saved.

I just posted a message here ("spring is here") about a full-up detailing, that probably took me about 4-5 hours to do total split across two days. In the big picture, if you consider professionals, even that's not a lot of time.

But you have to realize that I only do that once a year! Most other times I can be done in about 30-40 minutes. Wash with two buckets, get good technique and equipment, and be careful to avoid swirls, dry, and that's all you should need to do.

Clay and wax when you can, but certainly not every month even.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, i'm open to a 5 or 6 step process maybe once every two years or so. But I would really prefer a two step process twice a year. The washing is no big deal, i can handle the two buckets and plenty of rinsing. I just wanted to avoid having to use 3 different products of wax/polish/cleaner/etc... Plus my car is only a few weeks old. So i'm hoping if i start treating it right from the get go, i can avoid the need for higher quality detailing sessions.
 

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But I would really prefer a two step process twice a year. The washing is no big deal, i can handle the two buckets and plenty of rinsing. I just wanted to avoid having to use 3 different products of wax/polish/cleaner/etc... Plus my car is only a few weeks old.
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The number of steps doesn't matter. What's a step? It might take 2 hours or 20 seconds depending on who wrote it. It's the time you put into it.

If you can't put 5 hours into your car twice a year, and you still want it clean, then I recommend a one-step process: bring your car to a detailer.

You can't skip steps with good results. Let's say you decide to skip claybar and polish, and just do a cleaner wax twice a year. Without removing all the tar, bugs, brake dust, embedded dirt, and other crud, it's pointless to wax - you're just scrubbing grit into your paint and making it worse. It's like putting perfume on after working in a sewer. Sure, it's quicker, but it really doesn't solve the problem.

Or let's say you wash and claybar, but skip the wax. You'll get it clean, but the dirt will come back and stick so fast you might as well have done nothing in the first place.

How much time are you wiliing to spend on your car both monthly, and yearly (not total for the year, I mean time for a longer detail session that only occurs once or twice a year)?
 

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As for a good Chamois, I use something called "The Absorber".

It's very soft, doesn't create lint and doesn't scratch your car.

My roommate has it and I loved it and bought my own.
 

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As for a good Chamois, I use something called "The Absorber".

It's very soft, doesn't create lint and doesn't scratch your car.

My roommate has it and I loved it and bought my own.
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I've seen the Absorber demostrated at our State Fair, and gave it a try there. It's pretty good, but I guess I'm too old school as I still prefer natural chamois.

:)
 
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