Detailing Your 3000GT or Stealth
- 1 Tips
- 2 Getting Started
- 2.1 Inspection
- 2.2 Wash
- 2.3 Prep
- 2.4 Polish/Wax
- 2.5 Interior
- 2.6 Odors
- 2.7 Final Details
- 2.8 Conclusion
- 3 Boost4VR4's Guide
Originally written by: Gabe "RacerX_GTO"
Summer is in the air, which likely means you want your car looking its best. You may or may not be ready to start waxing up your ride so I went ahead and, for the complete heck of it, wrote up this comprehensive guide to instruct on how to detail your Mitsubishi 3000GT and Dodge Stealth.
"Yeah Racer, that's nice, but I already know how to do my own car," you say. This is not intended to change your way of doing things or sway you to use another product. If you are satisfied with your method, then keep doing what you have been doing. However, if you are not sure where to begin or what to use, this guide may help based on my experience. Additionally, you may learn something that you never knew. So, let's begin!
Detailing is like playing music. The more you practice the better you get at it. In detailing, there is always a new product to try and quicken the process and save you time. What it boils down to is this: you can only save so much time before you have more products than you need instead of putting more time into using the few that you have.
Before digging in too deep, it is worth setting a few "ground rules" so-to-speak that many of us have learned the hard way. Remember these at all times.
- If it touches the ground, consider it useless. Unless its a wheel brush, and especially the clay bar! Touching the ground picks up glass, gravel, dirt, quartz, and other kinds of crap and you can rub this into your paint with the lightest of pressure and it will create scratches. This happens the most to wash mitts, applicators, and drying/buffing microfiber cloths. Each of these tools are covered in further detail below.
- Never use moderate or heavy pressure. If you need moderate or heavy pressure, your doing something wrong. Use a lubricant, a spritz of water, remove the product and try again with a thinner coat.
- Have a bottle of water or Gatorade. Do not drink soda pop or fruit juices. Beverages with a lot of sugar will mess up your hydration process. For your own wellbeing, be sure to take care of yourself while taking care of your car. If you dehydrate and collapse from heat exhaustion, don't try to come after me.
Detailing can be very intensive in regards to technical details. It can be broken down into three major areas:
- Restoration, and
Repair and restoration may involve, but are not completely limited to, replacing and repainting surfaces. Rejuvenation, on the other hand, works with your existing condition with minimal amounts of cost and labor. This is just a basic guide, so I'll keep it simple.
Inspecting your car surface will reveal how you need to prepare for the rejuvenation process. Deep cuts down to the primer or metal, deep scratches, rock pits, clearcoat peeling, missing or fading, blotchy patches, permanent discoloration, chemical burns, graphic vinyl anomalies, and even bird droppings that have been unaddressed in a timely fashion will require paint repair. This guide assumes that all surfaces on your 3000GT or Stealth are at least in "good" to "excellent" condition. Many times you will hear me say surface rather than paint, that's due to the fact that a stock 3000GT and Stealth paint job has a clear-coat finish. We are not really detailing the paint, we are detailing the surface (clear-coat).
A word regarding...
- Custom paint: If you painted your car with an acrylic or enamel, there is no need to alter the procedure. Lacquer, just be careful on polishing.
- 3M Protective Films: You should have received care instructions from the application firm, nonetheless, you do not polish this film with conventional methods. It should be maintenance free with occasional detail spray care.
I usually get this out of the way first. There are do it yourself engine detail kits or you can take it to the self service wash. What I prefer to do is send the car out to have just the engine cleaned and dressed so I can focus on the surface. Some shops can put the car on a lift and scrub under the car as well. But keep in mind if you do it yourself and you have a nice driveway, it will mess it up as grease, grime and whatnot drips out of your engine compartment and flows in the gutter. Technically, there are Federal/State laws prohibiting fluids other than water from going down the drain. Hey, I'm just passing the message along.
Important! Ensure the car surface is cool to the touch, it is best to start in the morning after the car has sat overnight. Warm panels will soften clearcoat and cause swirls, especially on dark or black cars! Rinse the car with a wide nozzle, rinse the wheels using a dense stream. This will remove loose dirt and remove the first layer of brake dust off. Fill a bucket with a heavy concentration of Dawn and fill with water. Put in your first microfiber wash mitt to soak. When starting the wash process, always start at the top and work your way down. Dawn has a high alkali content which is good for removing stubborn debris and some layers of wax with each wash. I call it, the "First Blood" car washing liquid. The benefit is you have a "clean" surface from wax and polish, kind of like a painter using a new canvas and not a canvas of scrubbed clean of paint. I don't recommend using Dawn with every wash after you applied your wax for the season. Wash your car with either Zymol Wash or Meguires Gold Class. I cringe everytime I see local car wash groups using dishwash soap or when they dry towels on the hot asphalt. If you read my primary rules, you see why that is a big no-no.
Tip Mr. Clean wash system can be used to shorten wash duration after your detailing is completed.
Rinse the car again. Gently wash with lots and lots of soap. Stay away from the lower 1/3 around the entire car as this is where it tends to really get grimy, especially along wheel wells and bumpers. Rinse the car.
Change the soap out and wash the same upper 2/3 again, this time, wash the lower 1/3 and change out soap and the wash mitt if it starts getting funky fast. Rinse and repeat.
The goal at this point is to be able to wash it with a clean untouched mitt and not discolor the wash mitt. The mitt will collect the grime and become unusable the next time around.
Spray the wheels with a wheel cleaner depending on the type of wheel finish, ex: Chrome, alloy, polished alum, machined alum. This will loosen the tough brake dust caked on your wheels. Using the bucket of soap that should still be clean, use a "soft" brush and soak it in the soap, lightly scrub the wheels and rinse.
Is a chamois good? No, use a larger microfiber towel or a clean cotton beach towel. Take your leather chamois, tie it up and give it to the dog to bury somewhere. The waterblade can be used, as long as it is clean and dust particles do not engrave even lines into your surface.
Important! Ensure the location you have chosen is clean. A shady tree is good as long as that tree does not vomit excessive amounts of sap. If you live near a dusty gravel or dirt road with frequent traffic, you are screwed. It's best to park the car in a garage or take it to a friends house where the air is free of dust.
Take the stick of clay and put it in your back pocket. Get it warm. Automotive clay is designed to "pull" contaminants from the paint that are invisible to the naked eye and adhere to the surface of the clay. Your paint is like your teeth, it may be smooth, but its definitely porous under extremely close scrutiny. Scratches also hold contaminants in them. Even after a through job washing the car the first time, stuff will still be in the paint. The clay bar helps remove fallout/pollution, sap, and embedded road grime.
Now the clay bar, flatten it like a pancake. With a spray bottle of lubricant (small concentration of soap, the rest water, most clay bar kits come with a bottle), spray a 8x8 inch section so its nice and wet and in a straight motion up and, rub the clay on the paint using plenty of lubricant and do this to the entire car, top 2/3 first. A clay bar should be able to do 2 medium size cars or one car in bad shape.
After claying, rinse the car and wash it once using the still pristine wash mitt and a new bucket of soap.
Once the car is dry, take 3/4 inch wide, blue painters tape by 3M/Scotch. Begin taping the open seams that separate body panels. The purpose here is to prevent polish, wax dust and build-up in the seams making it more difficult to clean in those tight spaces. The last thing you want to waste time with a q-tip getting the stuff out.
Machine or Hand?
I use an orbital buffer with a 7" polishing head. "But Racer, I have the 12" heavy duty one!" Are you polishing RV's? NASCAR trailers? Airplane wings? The 7" and 5" heads are great for sports cars, they can get into the irregular curves nicely. Sorry, but toss your 12 or save it for the racing trailer and get something smaller for your Stealth or 3000GT. "But Racer, don't the pro's use Porter Cable and Bosch?" Yes, the pro's use those angle grinders, and they grind nice bonnet swirls into a perfectly good paint job very well too. What I'm saying is, unless you know how to use the professional line of buffers without creating a nice swirled pattern, stick with the orbital. It's very forgiving and not as prone to create swirls on your finish. Have about six extra terry cotton bonnets ready to go. Compound?
3M make some of the most widely used and proven compounds. A compound is used to remove wax or remove scratches. For scratches, its essentially a liquid that has the ability of 1200-2000 grit sandpaper. Ultra fine and used carefully. Best left to a professional unless you practice on junk yard panels. The safest bet is Kit Scratch remover or Scratch X.
Wax is like picking a girlfriend. A group of them might share a lot in common, but there will usually be one girl that EVERYONE goes after and for different reasons. Pick your wax the same way.
Short summary of various products
- The best looking are Zymol, Carnauba and Zaino.
- The least expensive is the Meguiar's and Mothers.
- The most durable by far is the Carnauba coat, Zaino followed by Meguiar's and Mother's.
- The easiest to apply and remove are Zymol, followed by Meguiar's, Mother's, and Zaino.
- If you want 'strong like bull' durability with in the middle optics, Zaino is your product.
- If you don't want to make it an all day adventure and just want a one bottle solution, pick up a bottle of Zymol Cleaner Wax. It can be applied with a buffer and wipes off very easy. For the money and shine, this is the best all around product. You can do a Zymol bottle and call it quits for the day. If you are a perfectionist or are entering the car into a show, read on.
- Use the waxes sparingly. Thicker doesn't do anything except take longer to cure and is harder to wipe off, especially if a wax that must cure. Use a consistent coat across each panel. Use a slightly damp microfiber applicator and remove with a microfiber cloth. Its applied in the same up and down and side to side motion as the glaze and is removed with a back and forth motion. Allowing it to cure after you removed the residue based on the instructions for each will provide the best results.
The Only Three Products You Will Ever Need
- Meguires Mirror Glaze #82 Swirl Remover
- Meguires NXT Next Generation
- Yellow Carnauba paste ()
I will put this formula up against anything you want to throw at me, that's how sure I am of this combination.
Using Swirl Remover
Either by hand or with the orbital buffer, apply swirl remover to the bonnet pad first, never apply product to the finish. The key here is to get enough product on the pad so that dry pad does not touch the surface. Once you've applied enough swirl remover on the pad, place the pad on the car surface and switch it on. Let the weight of the buffer do the work, do not push down on it like you are driving a jackhammer into concrete. Some liquid may splash around once you switch the buffer on, but you will also learn how to apply enough product to prevent splashing. Never let the buffer go dry, reapply as necessary. Work small sections at a time, wiping just before it dries. You can work the same section over again until the swirl marks are worked out of the clearcoat. Wipe with a soft, clean cotton terry
This will go on much easier than the swirl remover at this point. CHANGE THE BUFFER PAD with a CLEAN one. Do the same thing as you did with the swirl remover, pre-soak the pad with NXT and go for it. You will notice the NXT almost glides on very slick. Wipe with microfiber towels when using NXT, you are now laying down a synthetic glaze that will shine your car like you've never seen. But we are not quite done yet. After the wipedown, let NXT cure for about an hour. Technically, you could stop here, but if you want that much more of a shine and protection, continue with the last step.
I have spoken with Meguires technicians about laying Carnauba over their NXT and I received mixed responses about doing it at all, but they agreed on one aspect as serving the final layer. The elements will attack the carnauba layer first over the NXT layer, keeping the shine going until you recoat the surface again with carnauba as part of a maintenance schedule. If you use ProWax's Yellow Carnauba, you are using the same carnauba professional detail shops use. It's rugged and creates that much more of a shine in addition to the NXT. The way you apply the wax is with a foam applicator. Now, unlike the blended carnauba waxes that you buy off the auto parts store shelves, this carnauba is pure, and will haze white, very white! That is normal with this type of carnauba. Wipe the carnauba with microfiber clothes.
Buff out with a new set of microfiber towels. Check and recheck your work to make sure you didn't miss an area.
Note Moreso with dark colored cars, the surface may haze up on the hood or anywhere it gets hot afterward, carefully wipe the haze with microfiber. So what does that mean? Whether you know it or not, all waxing products evaporate off your car surface if they don't get washed off. The evaporation haze shows on darks unfortunately.
Addressing the 3000GT Fake Glass Panel
First gen through 1998.
If you are an owner of the 3000GT and have a fake glass panel that has seen better days, this will interest you. The fake glass panel itself is plastic with a clearcoat film that turns yellow from being UV'd to death. If the current condition of your fake glass panel is somewhat dull or just a little shiny, take a cotton terry cloth and Kit Scratch remover and work it over and over until it shines again. Once it shines like brand new, layer the heck out of it with carnauba wax. Put several layers on it and continue to keep carnauba on it as part of maintenance. Should the fake glass panel turn out shiny with blotches of dull, then the surface is too far gone to rejuvenate. It needs to be replaced.
Pull the painters tape off and touch up the seams with NXT by hand with a cloth. Do not rub with heavy pressure, the seams are the thinnest of the painted surfaces and it doesn't take much to wear the paint off!
Black Trim, Rubber Window Trim, Foglights
Apply with Lexol Vinylex (baby blue bottle). Be careful not to accidentally dab your waxed surface, it won't hurt it, it just looks like an oops. Apply wax on your light pods. If you have glass pods, don't worry too much about it, but if you have plastic pods, the wax will protect them from peeling and fading.
Use your white cotton terry's for the interior.
Use clean microfibers for the glass.
Some of you use Windex. Some of you swear by Windex. Don't use Windex for automotive glass. Yes, I am flat out telling you not to use Windex. Use automotive detail glass cleaner. I recommend Turtle Wax Detail Window cleaner. Use it on the inside and outside. If your wiper blades chattered all winter, they won't anymore when you use this type of glass cleaner. Others say use RainX, but after time the RainX wears off and the chattering starts again. With the glass cleaner, you don't have that problem. Dashboard, door panels and everything plastic.
Take a bucket of warm water and Dawn soap. Get a new dishwashing sponge that has soft sponge on one side, and synthetic scrubbing nap on the other and drop it in the bucket. Take the sponge, squeeze the water out of it and begin to scrub your dashboard. Do the same with the door panels. Avoid cloth parts. "Wait, Racer, wont you scrub the natural oils off of the plastic parts using Dawn?" Yes, you will, but that's why you recondition those surfaces with Lexol Vinylex after you are done cleaning. Those of you with beige door panels, if your handle is black from months of grabbing it with dirty hands, you will see some magic happen before your eyes, a clean door! Keep working with the sponge, over and over again until it is clean. If there still exists dirt in the cracks, take a soft bristled toothbrush and work it out that way using the soap wash in the bucket. Continue to do the same for the shift column, rear panels, hatch shade. Wipe dry with terry clothes. Get a large box of q-tips and scrub out the vents and any hard to reach areas.
If you have leather, you can use a damp rag to wipe dust and dirt. Lexol Leather Cleaner(orange bottle) will help break up some of the soils in the grain. Use a very soft bristle toothbrush to get deep in the grain. Careful with leather as to not scrub off the sheen. Recondition the leather with Lexol Leather Conditioner. Apply with a terry cloth and wipe off the excess with another terry cloth.
Cloth patterned seats, please refer to my carpet cleaning notes. Automobile cloth seats are made of extremely durable olefin fabric and can take a good scrub. After cleaning, you can apply Teflon or Scotchguard in a spray bottle. Use a horsehair brush to spread it out evenly.
Using a clean white terry cloth, take Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol(90%) and apply to the cloth and gently touch up dirty areas. Be careful with the headliner, if its the original, it should be a very delicate fabric by now. You may want to dab the soils out rather than swipe. "Racer, why alcohol?" Alcohol is another wonder. It's solvent enough to break up grease and oil, it evaporates clean and stays clean.
We never, ever shampoo carpets. Ever. Do not use those upholstery cleaner cans in automotive section. Do not use that self serve gizmo at the car wash and for gawd sakes, do not use that Rug Doctor/Bissell crap. "Why Racer?" These type of products are soapy and leave behind a residue that is a magnet for more dirt and dust to cling. Before long, your carpet will be dirty, but worse! Do not use Resolve or anything with that Oxy cleaner in it. "Why Racer?" These products bleach carpet and use optical brighteners to mask the bleach stain. A tell-tale sign that Resolve has been used is a bleached stain with a tint of green. "So what do I do Racer?" The absolute best way to clean your automotive carpet is by a hot water extraction method that uses solution based cleanser, dubbed 'steam cleaning'. You can have it cleaned by a truck mount carpet cleaner too. The solution revolves around this important ingredient and I'm going to throw you a big word. EVERY carpet cleaner should know exactly what they are using in their cleaning solution. Trisodiumpolyphosphate(tri-sod-ee-um-pol-ee-fos-fate) is the base of a hotwater extraction solution. Shampoo base solutions will not have this ingredient. IF you must use an off the shelf carpet cleaner in a spray bottle, use Folex. Otherwise I recommend Prochem carpet spotter or Stanley Steemer Spotter bottle. I often refer to those two spotters are miracle carpet cleaners.
IF you own hot water extraction cleaning equipment, or, if you want to rent one, you want to find a professional carpet cleaner supply store and grab a small jar of Dry Slurry made by Prochem. If you do end up renting a cleaning machine, toss out their soap and get some Dry Slurry. You want to use the upholstery wand to clean automobile interiors. The best cleaning procedure is to hold down the trigger while sliding the wand foreward and back in one direction. Then let off the trigger and go over the area you cleaned with dry strokes. If the area is too tight to go foreword and back, use 'pull' strokes. Place the wand at a starting point, pull the trigger and pull the wand toward you, then let up off the trigger. After a while you get the hang of it.
Spot cleaning can be done by spraying a small amount of different spot cleaning solutions and extracting with the cleaning equipment.
- Grease/Oils - Isopropyl Alcohol or Citrus cleaner for carpets
- Pepsi, Coke, etc - Tannin Spotter
- Lipstick - Citrus spotter
- Coffee - Tannin spotter, apply, let sit for 10 mins then extract clean.
- Gum - Work out with Citrus gel then extract clean
- Milk/Latte - Protein spotter, work out then extract clean
- Kool-Aid, Hi C, - YOU ARE SCREWED. The coloring additive is an acid dye which is similar to that used in, of all things, dyeing carpet.
Coffee can be a pain, because if it landed on the carpet hot, chances are it may have burned in the carpet fibers making it difficult to release the color from the fibers. Remember, spots come out, stains are forever. I always advise Teflon or Scotchguard carpet protection to protect and help carpet fibers resist spills and wear. It's not a gimmick, the stuff works. "Ok, Racer, that sounds like allot of money just to clean carpet, and I don't exactly have one of those fancy machines you mentioned, what if I don't want to do all of that?" Alright, have you received any estimates from detailing shops or carpet cleaners? It should at least be their minimum charge. If you do not want to go through all of that trouble, get yourself a shop vac, a bottle of one of the two spotters I recommended and leave it at that.
Nothing is worse than a car interior that smells like a$$, piss or sour milk. I'm not going to comment on cigarette smoke, but it can be removed. Finding a pet accident is as simple as going through your car with a black light at night. The black light will reveal piss stains by a turquoise bluish glow. If you are one of those who has seen the MTV episode "Room Raiders", don't believe the crap that they find with the black light inspection, its BS, well it's MTV, do I need say more? I'm going to tell you, from what was told by me from a Sheriff CSI, because I know you are all thinking the same thing, but "man juice" under a black light will have a dark purple glow. There, you happy?
So if you find a dark purple streams on your seats in a very peculiar pattern... do I have to say it? Ok, I'll say it, it means somebody didn't score, they missed. Moving right along, once you pinpoint a pet accident, remember where it is so you can clean the area. There is urine stain remover from carpet cleaning supply stores as well as odor remover. An odor remover with active enzymes will eat away at odors and leave behind a fresh scent. Heck, you can find odor remover for skunk smell if you had that sort of problem in your car. A great odor remover product to put in a spray bottle is Stanley Steemer Odor Out.
Ok, smoke has an awful smell that embeds itself onto surfaces. Smoke damage comes in two forms, one is from a car sitting in a garage of a house that was on fire. The second is tobacco products. Removing smoke smell from your car is a tedious process. Saving a car from smoke will yield high charges from a restoration company, that insurance companies will almost always write the car off as a loss than pay to have it restored. Depending how bad the damage, most of it can be 'zapped' out of the car.
Instead of scrubbing the interior with Dawn dishwash soap, scrub with Prochem - Ultrapac Restore. Use latex gloves. The product was designed for various surfaces, but will chew on your skin a little more than you care to experience. Leather seats or cloth seats will be difficult to get smoke scent removed. The same with everything behind the dashboard and in the vents. It's usually best to replace the seats all together but you can hope for the best with the next info.
Zapping the smoke smell out of interiors can be accomplished with an Ozone machine. Not to be mistaken for an Ion(Ionic Breeze) machine. Ozone takes away an oxygen molecule from the air, something that odors feed on. Ozone is a poisonous gas to humans as well. Ion machines just zap particles out of the air. Using a small fan to create circulation, and a small ozone machine on its low setting, seal the windows and let it run over night.
Important! -> If you plan on running an ozone machine, ensure that no water or moisture is present. Ozone, when mixed with water will make hydrogen peroxide and bleach out moist carpet. Keep ozone away from gas water heaters, for they are an explosive combination. Poorly made rubber products will degrade as well.
If you don't want to use ozone, a cost effective alternative if the fog machine. Using a fire restoration fog chemical and a small fogger, you can fog the interior of the car to help rid of the smoke scent. The chemical has a texture like oil. When it runs through the fogger, it goes through a heated tunnel that turn it into fog which is basically tiny particles of the chemical. The particles float around in the car and attach themselves to the odor causing bacterium and neutralize them. To apply the fog, seal the car seams with painters tape. Roll both windows up but leave one down just enough to get the nozzle of the fogger through. Remember to close the heater A/C control on the car to recirculation. Fog will leak out of the car through the vent grille just below the window. The only great thing about that is that it looks cool watching white fog come out any way it can. The bad part is that you loose the fog effectiveness if it leaks out. Plug in the fogger, let it heat up and fog away. Do not over saturate. Then stuff the open window shut with a large beach towel. Let the car sit for a few hours till the interior is clear again.
This part is after you have completed everything, put all your tools aside, go over the car three more times and fine tooth comb everything you have done. This way if you missed anything, you can catch it.
Now, you can coat the tires with Meguires tire gel. I save the tires for last because if you gel them first, all the dust and crap just sticks to them making life miserable because you have to clean them again.
Everything here is just a basic outline of how to do a spring cleaning of your car. If you'll note, I didn't include painting certain trim, retouch the wheel wells etc. This could easily turn into a book. But for what it's worth, I hope you find this info useful in future preparation of your baby. Indulge in life... enjoy!
I want to expand a bit on Racer_X_GTO's guide to detailing your 3/S. There are a couple of other methods that I have found to provide the best results. If you are one that takes your car to shows, meets, or just like your 3/S looking perfect, here's the guide for you. I will start off saying this, professionally detailing your car using this guide may take a full weekend unless you have some help, then you can complete this in one day.
Tools & Supplies
Here's what you need:
- Cotton Q-Tips or Detailer's Q-Tips (These are longer for cleaning interior vents)
- Porter-Cable 7424XP Random Orbital buffer with 6.5 inch backing disc
- 6.5 inch Hex-Logic hook and loop backing pads
- Favorite Compound (I use Meguiar's Compounding solutions)
- Favorite Wax (I use Mother's Caranuba wax or Meguiar's)
- Favorite Detailing Spray (I use Mother's Quick Detail Spray)
- Favorite Medium Clay Bar (I use Meguiar's Medium Clay Bar)
- Danase Nu Look
- Danase Leather Cleaner
- Mother's PowerBall
- Variable Speed Drill
- Aluminum Polish for Aluminum/Mag Wheels
- Chrome Polish for Chrome Wheels
- Painter's Tape
- Wheel Brush
- General purpose nylon brush
- Engine degreaser
- Car Wash solution of your choice (I use Turtle Wax Car Wash Solution)
- Microfiber wash mitt
- Microfiber towels (at least a dozen)
- Paper Towels
- Invisible Glass
- Foammaster II Half Gallon sprayer or 2 buckets
- Metric Set of Tools
- Upholstery Cleaner/Carpet Cleaner
- Carpet Cleaning brush
- Leather Master's Leather Cleaner
- Wheel Cleaner of your choice
- Bonus: Paint Sealant of your choice
This will take about 1 hour
First, I want to point out two ways to detail the engine bay, you can either have it steam cleaned at a professional place that disposes of the grease, grime and fluids in an environment friendly method. If you know that your engine is fairly clean and just needs a little cleaning or you live in an area where you can let this dirt, grease, grime and fluids go down the sewer system, read this quick guide.
- Make sure your engine bay is quite cool. Since you will be exposing a lot of components in your engine bay with water, degreasing agents, etc, you will need to tape off all major connector components and put a plastic bag around your filters if they are exposed.
- Let's talk about engine oil and grease. The best method of degreasing your engine bay is literally applying more grease to clean, so any degreasing cleaner will work. Most if not all engine degreasers have some sort of grease in them and cleaner all in one can. Spray liberally and use nylon brush to clean engine bay.
- Also keep in mind to degrease your hood. If you have the heat shield still, DON'T spray the heat shield with degreaser! The heat shield will absorb the degreaser and when the engine heats up, you could have a fire while driving!
- Now we can rinse the engine bay and hood. Use a gentle water and rinse the engine.
- There is still some residue of the engine degreaser on the engine components, so mix up a small amount of car wash solution and a bucket of water. The ratio should be about 1-2 caps to a 3 gallon bucket. Get it sudsy and use the nylon brush and solution until the entire engine bay is clean. Repeat step 4 and this step until engine bay looks the way you want.
- Optional: Apply an engine dressing. The key to applying an engine dressing is to use a light amount of dressing, I personally do not like engine dressings because they attract more dirt, but they make your engine bay look glossy so apply as desired. Never spray engine bay directly with dressing, use a microfiber towel to apply the dressing and use another microfiber towel to wipe off the excess.
This will take about 2-3 hours
I know this section will be odd, since it requires the removal of components, but bear with me.
- Get out your tools and get ready to pull seats. I believe it is a 15MM socket for the front seat bolts. Unbolt the front seats and unplug the driver's side harness underneath. Repeat for the passenger's side seat.
- Take out the amplifier under the passenger's side.
- Pull the tabs to the rear seats and unlatch the top half of the seats and pull the seats out.
- Now that we have the seats out, we can address the seats separate from the rest of the interior.
- Take your shop vac and vaccuum the entire interior out. Try to vaccuum as much as possible from the vents as you can, but don't stress too much about these, we'll come back to these vents.
- Let's apply the carpet cleaner to the carpets. Spray or scrub in the carpet cleaner with the carpet brush. Most if not all of the dirt that was ingrained in the carpet will come up and stains should start to dissolve away. Srub until you get the vast majority of the dirt, grime, and stains up.
- Vaccuum again until carpet looks nice.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 until carpet looks as desired.
- Now that the carpet is cleaned, let's move on to the headliner. The headliner can be cleaned the exact same way as the carpet. If you have a moonroof/sunroof, tape off the moonroof/sunroof glass and trim/molding/rubber parts.
- Note: If you have smokey, musty, or other interior issues, these need to be addressed prior to doing anything else.
- Smoke : Use a little car wash solution and a microfiber towel with a bucket of water and scrub the dashboard, A pillars, B pillars and C pillars to get the smoke out.
- If you don't have these issues, we still need to clean the dashboard, a, b, and c pillars with car wash solution. Use less than a cap full to a gallon of water. Use a microfiber towel and scrub the dashboard, a, b, and c pillars as well as the center console, steering wheel ignition area, dash pads, etc until they are quite clean.
- Apply Danase Nu Look to dashboard, a, b, and c pillars
- For the shift boot and emergency brake boot, clean these with Leather Master's Leather Cleaner. Once these are clean, wait until dry and then apply Danase Leather Care to these components. Don't use these products on the shift knob if you have a leather shift knob as it is a component that you use with your hand.
- Apply the Invisible Glass to the rearview mirror, hatch windshield, front windshield, and driver and passenger windows.
- Now the seats are out of the car, these will be a lot easier to address. If you have cloth seats, use the carpet cleaner and carpet brush and scrub the seats softly. If you have a carpet shampooer, you can use this as well. If you have leather seats, this can be tricky. Assuming your seats are undamaged, use this process, otherwise, address your damaged seats. Use a new microfiber towel, Leather Master's Leather Cleaner and apply the leather cleaner to the seats. Vigorously rub the leather cleaner into the seats until the seats are cleaned up. Use another microfiber towel to rub off the leather cleaner.
- Apply the Danase Leather Care to the seats.
- Install rear seats and then install front seats.
The timeline with this can be up to 6 hours if you are very anal. This section is very time-consuming and very strenuous and you may want to take a break, maybe do this the next day. If you're a warrior and want to have a really clean car, continue on.
The exterior of these cars contains the following: primer, base coat, top coat, pearl, clear coat. All cars nowadays have a clear coat finish because it saves the actual paint from damage to the elements. Most of the time, there are at least 3-4 layers of clear coat finish on the car, the 3/S has a thin paint from the factory, but plenty of clear coat to work with. In this part of the guide, I am giving a word of caution. If you do not take great care, you can severely damage your paint and I cannot be held responsible for any damages that have been inflicted on your vehicle. This is the professionals' method.
First and foremost, I want to talk about how to wash the car. I want to point out a couple myths about washing your car. Washing your car with dish soap is the best method. This is 100% false, it is the worst way to wash your car and will wreak havoc on your paint. Touchless car washes are better than "You-Do-It" car washes. This is a no-no. Never take your car through any automatic car wash. Automatic car washes are cheap for a reason. They use the harshest detergents and their water is not filtered and in most cases, not treated at a waste treatment plant. You-Do-It car wash places are OK, but don't use anything but their water to rinse your car, their detergents and soaps are way too strong for your paint and their wash brushes are never cleaned and will wreak havoc on your paint. Here's a misconception that I do want to clear up, though, washing your car when the paint is hot will scratch your paint. This is somewhat true, washing your car in direct sunlight, in the heat, or when the paint is hot is fine, as long as you are using a generous amount of car wash solution.
Paint is very sensitive to anything on it's surface. If you took a salt grain and put it on your finger and rubbed it on your paint, you will see it scratches the surface. That's because clear coat is not 100% solid, in fact, it is more like a jelly skin on the exterior of your car that is highly flexible, pliable, and durable. Most of the scratches, swirls, and lines in your paint are really in your clear coat.
Enough science for now, let's move on to making your car beautiful.
- Let's start with a wash. If you don't have a FoamMaster Half Gallon Spray gun, no problem let's use the two bucket method. The two bucket method is simple, fill one bucket with clean water and fill another bucket with about 12 ounces of car wash solution and then fill the bucket with water and get the combination sudsy. If you have a FoamMaster Half Gallon Spray gun, fill 12 ounces car wash solution in the container and fill the container with water until it's sudsy. Set your FoamMaster to the 1/2gallon to 12 ounces setting.
- If you are using a FoamMaster gun, foam up the car completely and clean with a microfiber wash mitt. If you are using the two bucket method, spray the entire car with water. Use the microfiber mitt and the sudsy bucket and wash the car rinsing each half of the car as you clean the car. The two bucket method is wash the car with the mitt, rinse the mitt in the clean water bucket and wring it out, dip in the sudsy solution and clean the car again. Do this for each body panel. It is imperative that you use this method to prevent any additional marring, scratching, or any other damage to the clear coat. This will also cut down on how much time it will take to polish the paint, but that's later. Also at this stage, we want to clean the wheels. Use the wheel cleaner and the wheel brush and clean the wheel.
- Rinse car off.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until car is clean.
- This may sound silly, but if you have a leaf blower, we're going to put it to use in the oddest fashion. I don't recommend using water blades unless the water blade is very clean, and I don't even recommend using towels to dry the car at this stage, pull out the leaf blower and blow all of the water off of the car until there is very very little water left on the surface.
Clay Bar Process
- Grab the Quick Detail Spray and the clay bar and let's start this process. This process can be intimidating because it's kinda hard to hold the clay bar if you accidentally spray the surface of the clay bar that you are holding. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not drop the clay bar on the ground, you will really cause yourself a lot more work if the clay bar hits the ground. If it does hit the ground, a lot of detailers say, throw it out, but you can use it again, just run the clay bar under warm water and dont make contact with your hands with the surface that touched the ground. The way the clay bar works is it cleans the clear coat of contaminants and stubborn debris that otherwise don't come out easily.
- Spray liberally on the surface of the car the quick detail spray and glide the clay bar across the surface. Do this for all of the body panels. After half of the car is done, fold the clay bar in itself and remold it flat and continue the process.
- Now the paint is cleaned, let's not forgot the windows and mirrors. We need to clay bar the windows, so use the quick detail spray and the clay bar and clean the windows in the same fashion.
- Next we wash the car again, use steps 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Now the paint is prepped for some scratch reversal and conditioning. These next steps are very time-consuming and you may want to take a break or move this to the next day, however, if you are going to brave it, continue on. If you are running out of daylight by this point, either bring the car into the garage with a lot of light or do these steps the following day. It is critical that you have as much light as possible during this process. I cannot stress how important it is to also have the correct buffer for this process. If you buy a cheap buffer, forget doing this process because it is not going to provide the same results.
- The important aspect of this process is that the car is prepped well. All of the door moldings, trim, rubber, glass needs to be taped off from the body panels. Use painter's tape to prep.
- Also another important aspect of this process is to also tape a halfway spot on each body panel so you can compare your results of the polishing versus before polishing.
- Armed now with your Porter-Cable 7424XP and the 6.5" hook and loop pads. If you have the whole Hex-Logic 6.5" pad set, use the Orange pad which is a scratch removal pad.
- Let's start compounding. Take out your componding solution and squirt it on the pad in a swirl. Apply it lightly on a body panel at speed 1 on the PC then when you feel confident you have evenly spread the compound, slowly kick up the PC to speed 3-4. The key here is smooth, even passes in a horizontal fashion. Don't get the pads snagged on anything. If you are really confident, you can run the PC at a 5-6 speed if you have some major swirls to get out. The amount of pressure that is allowed is enough where the entire pad is making contact with the surface. On A-Pillars and such, you want to have some pressure. Do not apply so much pressure that the PC cannot rotate the pad.
- Check your progress by peeling back some of the painter's tape and using an LED flashlight and shining the paint directly at the line made with the painter's tape and comparing results. You will start to see some improvement, be patient though.
- Make a few more passes in this fashion making sure to wipe off the body panel with a new microfiber towel and going over the surface again with the PC. You can continue using the same pad, don't change pads. When completing half a body panel, pull the tape and finish the panel in the same fashion as the 1st half.
- Repeat steps 13-15 until all the body panels are completed.
- Well, since this is completed and you can see a definite change in your car's appearance, let's move on to the next step.
- Now the surface is looking amazing, so now it comes down to applying some added protection for the paint. At the minimum, the paint needs at least a coat of wax applied to it. If you use the Hex-Logic pads, grab the blue pad (glazing pad) and your favorite caranuba wax. If you have a caranuba wax in a brick, that works even better. Start your PC on speed 1 and rub your caranuba bar into the pad until it's coated very richly with caranuba wax. Also wet the pad a little bit when doing this, but use bottled water, not tap water.
- Tape off all your rubber, moldings, trim, and window edges and mirrors.
- Apply the wax to the entire surface of the car with the PC at speed 2. If you need more wax, apply more to the pad.
- Take the wax off with a fresh microfiber towel by hand after it glazes.
If you want to seal the clear coat of your paint finish and make it look much better, follow these steps. Note, you want to do this process prior to waxing the car.
- Grab your Paint Sealant and the medium glazing pad, if it's a Hex-Logic pad, it should be the white one. Tape prep the car taping off moldings, trim, window edges, and rubber.
- Apply the paint sealant on the surface. Let it glaze and sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Use a fresh microfiber towel and take off the paint sealant.
- Reapply as necessary
- Follow the Finishing process.
Obviously, the wheels will do the ultimate justice for your 3/S. The best way to polish the wheels is to use the Mother's PowerBall and your choice of mag/aluminum wheel cleaner or chrome cleaner and taking it off with a fresh microfiber towel. Optionally yet, you can take your wheels completely off and use the powerball and cleaner on your wheels front to back and the surface.
Your car is looking sharp and the only additional steps you need to take care of your car's paint now is to just make sure you keep the car clean.