I am planning to wash, clay, seal, and wax my car this weekend. For white cars I'd recommend adding a chemical cleaner too. Either use a sealant with a chemical cleaner formulated into the sealant, or use a dedicated cleaner.
Cleaners strip the paint and remove light imperfections (water spots, light tar, road film, etc) and keep the paint as white as possible (think whitening toothpaste for your teeth).
Detailers Poli-Coat Paint Sealant, Meguiars White Wax, Klasse AIO Polish, Meguiars Mirror Glaze #20 are all examples of sealants cleaners. All of these are non-abrasive too, so your not removing any clearcoat. If you start to see swirl marks or light scratches down the road, then you can look into an abrasive cleaner sealant product (like XMT 360).
OR you can go with a dedicated cleaner and a dedicated pure sealant.
Typically you get better results when you use dedicated products, but it does take more time. I like to stay in the same family of products, so if you want to use Collinite #845, use their cleaner first (Collinite Sapphire PreWax Cleaner #840).
Wolfgang Paintwork Polish Enhancer, P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser, Pinnacle Paintwork Cleansing Lotion, Dodo Juice Lime Prime Lite Cleaner Glaze and BLACKFIRE Gloss Enhancing Polish are all examples of pure cleaners. Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant 3.0, Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze, BLACKFIRE Wet Diamond All Finish Paint Protection, Chemical Guys JetSeal 109, RejeX Paint Sealant, Menzerna Power Lock are all examples or pure sealants.
Personally, I'd go with either Wolfgang Paintwork Polish Enhancer Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant or Pinnacle Black Label Surface Cleansing Polish Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Paint Sealant. Klasse AIO Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze is a super shiny combo too for the price.
Also, make sure you're applying trim sealant to any black plastic often. Contrast is king with white cars. So keep the white white and the black black for best results. Don't let the black fade or you'll with you started protecting it sooner.
I almost forgot to mention CarPro Hydro 2.
It's a spray on/rinse off sealant so its super easy to apply (as long as you don't apply too much product and have a strong stream of water to rinse it off) and looks amazing. It's a forum favorite. Two different coworkers pulled into the parking lot and their rides seems extra glossy. I asked them what they used: Hydro 2.
I love taking care of my car, it is almost a sort of zen moment for me.
I am going to provide some simple car care tips for your vehicle since keeping it clean and in good order is very important during the winter.
There are a number of things that you should keep in mind. Keep on eye on your car's exterior, and underbody. Salt and road grim will quickly destroy your hard work.
Washing your car
You should wash your car ideally every week, but not all of us have the time to dedicate.
So, the next best thing is two weeks. If that isn't do-able, once a month, but after that, you're on your own buddy.
To wash your car, simply employ the two bucket method.
Now, for most of you, you don't care about your car much, so, you won't be needing the foam gun or the clay bar. But you will need everything else.
Washed Your Wheel Wells!
You must work on your wheels, and more specifically, your wheel wells.
You have to get that hose up in there under your wheel wells and above your tires, in the suspension, everywhere, and get rid of all that road grime and sand and muck.
You will know you're doing it right when your hand is covering in brown sludgy water full of sand and you'll see it on the ground too.
Maintain Your Wheels
Cleaning your wheels is simple, get some wheel/rim cleaner, and spray liberally (haha) onto your wheels and rims.
Do one at a time, because this stuff works fast and dries fast.
You'll know you're doing it right when you're wheels have no cleaner left on them.
After this, rinse off your wheels extremely well.
Now for the hardest part, the undercarriage, a place that most forget to clean and the moan that it is rusty.
Your car is looking spiffy, amazing, shiny, but now we need to clean the down under, between it's legs.
I mean wheels.
You might need to sit on the floor for the best results, but anyways, take that hose/sprinkler, and shove it under your car, and try and wash every part of it. It would help if you had some ramps for your car to drive over, but it's not necessary.
Most of the salt will be under your wheel wells, washing the under carriage is just an extra step that should be taken in the winter.
Finally A Wax
Wax. Now now, waxing is not hard. We'll use the boring easy method, it's called spray waxing.
Spray waxing involves you firstly drying your car completely. After it's dry, crack open the nozzle and spray down one panel (not too much, not too little). Then massage your paint with the lubricating wax.
Once it's pretty much all gone, you're done that panel.
Now finish the whole car, it will take max 30 minutes to do the whole thing.
Pros of doing this are simple, you are taking care of your vehicle, you are keeping it cleaner, and you are prolonging the life of your body as well as frame.
By doing this, you are also keeping the streets cleaner simply by not tracking grime everywhere.
There are a lot of options when it comes to detailing your car. The first thing to realize as a hobbyist is detailing can become very expensive very quickly. Also there are hundreds of different products out there that all have their advantages and disadvantages. But I think that having a good idea of the different products is key to allowing you develope your own style.
I started with Adam's and am happy with their products for the most part.
They are on the expensive side however but one thing they have above anyone is their customer service. They back everything 110% literally. If you aren't happy, return it, get 110% back. Also offer a lifetime warranty on all their products.
On another note though, if you are familiar with CG, you will quickly notice extreme similarities between Adam's and CG. What a lot of people do not know if CG is one of those "good guy" companies. They will allow the purchasing of their product and you can relabel it and sell it as your own. Which behind the scenes has been discussed extensively about Adam's and CG. Of course Adam's will never admit to it and their fan boys will send you hate mail but it's blatantly obvious.
Once you actually have and compare the products most of it is relabeled CG.
Now some of the products Adam's has added something extra or done a little something different to make it their own but the base is still the same.
I have a mixture of Adam's and CG, the CG I have are replacements for the what I have found is the exact same product with an Adam's label at a fraction of the price.
I have been curious about Griots especially since Advance Auto Parts has started carrying it in store which makes it easily accessible but have yet to try any of it.
The only complaint I have about CG is they have TOO MUCH to choose from. Adam's is very simple, but pricey.
I just bought a membership to the car wash near me its $30/mo unlimited washes. I bought their "premium" package which includes the most expensive wash/wax/rust inhibitor/tire shine etc...
For glass: Zep
For tires and rims: Eagle One
Turtle Wax for the mats and Blue Coral for Upholstery.
The first 2 I highly recommend and the latter 2 are good but not great.
Microfiber cloths are awesome but they should be washed and dried without fabric softeners and dryer sheets (in other words, separate from clothes). All that crap built up on my cloths and got rubbed all over my windows. Learned my lesson. :p
For interior quick clean I use a lint brush, a sticky roller, End dust and Fabreze.
Rain-X on the windshield and (in case anybody is curious) I just bought the 3-M headlight restoration kit and it's amazing.
For an air freshener you can't go wrong with the Febreeze with Glade. It also comes in a spray so if you have especially smelly people it takes care of everything. I've gotten so many compliments on how my car smells.
One thing that I find crucial to keeping my car clean; all weather mats.
- During a cold start, wait for about 15 seconds before you begin to drive.
- Change oil at about 40% - 50%. It's all about preventative maintenance.
- Don't go to drive through car washes especially if your car is a dark color. The machines will put micro scratches in your paint.
- Get wheel locks. My '16 Accord has some nice wheels, and they're frequently stolen.
I know this sounds simple, but you'd be surprised at the amount of people that don't change oil regularly, please for the love of god keep up with the oil.
That goes for all cars.