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How to shine & protect your finish

The Wash:

I'm a big believer in washing by hand. The car wash down the street destroyed the finish on my 4th gen - there were scratches and nicks all over the place from the high pressure water powering contaminants across the finish. A good hand wash is safer, produces better results, and best of all: cheaper!

  1. Fill bucket with soapy water. Use around 1 fl. oz. of soap per gallon of water.
  2. Wet the entire car with the hose. Just let the water flow gently out of the hose - no high pressure water necessary.
  3. Using a genuine wool mitt or real sea sponge soaked in soapy water, wash the car one section at a time. Start at the top and work your way down. Do NOT use circular motions - this can cause swirls. Instead, use front to back motions. This way, if a contaminant does somehow get stuck under the mitt or sponge, it won't create a circular scratch which would be visible from every angle.
  4. Rinse with the hose. Just allow the water to sheet over the paint.
  5. Dry with quality microfiber towel or Absorber


I've collected quite a tub of junk, but here are my favorites:


Klasse All-in-One and Pinnacle Paste Glaze - Klasse goes on so effortlessly it's amazing. A small foam applicator with a small amount of water is all you need. And there's no need to wait for it to dry to a haze, so you can immediately remove it after application. Also, it doesn't stain your seals like other cheap waxes and since it's acrylic, you can apply it to all sorts of surfaces for extra protection (rubber seals, plastics, etc. And the best part: it lasts for 6 months!

Eagle 20/20 - This is an ammonia free glass cleaner, so it's tint safe. Steer clear of any glass cleaner with ammonia - it's harsh and will quickly discolor tint. This does a great job removing the chemical haze so common on newer vehicles that's caused by the chemicals in interior plastics slowly evaporating and leaving a hazy mess on the inside of the windows. By the way, this is a great reason to leave your windows open when possible.

Mothers Mag & Wheel Polish - This stuff is magic for exhaust pipes and interior metals like the chromed Maxima branded sills on the titanium edition Maximas. It's easy to work with and really restores the factory shine.

Platinum Tire Gel with Eagle One wipes - Not too shiny or greasy looking. Just right. Easy to apply with the Eagle One wipes. And it's nice that it doesn't brown your tires like the cheap junk from Armor All.

Green Microfiber - These come in handy all around the house. I even use them to clean my TV glass. Okay, back to cars - Microfiber is great for removing wax and applying various glass, plastic, and leather treatment products.

California Water Blade and Absorber - I've had my $8 Absorber towel from Wal-Mart for over 2 years and it has yet to show its age! This thing is a steal for 8 bucks and is super absorbant, soft, and easy to glide across the paint. I can't say enough about this little gem.

The Water Blade is also useful to knock off large swaths of water first, but I find it far more useful on larger, boxier vehicles like SUVs. The Maxima is a little too small and curvy for this to be that helpful.

Exterior Plastic (headlights/taillights, etc.:
Mothers Mag & Wheel Polish (yes, that's right!) followed by Plexus. It sounds strange, but the wheel polish really does a great job removing fine scratches from plastics. And Plexus is like polish and protectant for plastic. It leaves a glassy smooth finish and makes plastic so clear it's near invisible.

Leather & interior plastics:
303 is simply the only game in town worth considering. If you've been using Armor All, you've simply gotta try this. 303 offers far more UV protection, lasts longer, and offers a matte finish. Who wants a greasy looking dash?!

Clay Bar:
Many people think waxing is the most important part of the detail. Nope, preparation using a clay bar has a far greater impact on the results. Run your fingertips across your paint and you'll feel tiny contaminants in it that make the surface rough. This is what robs your finish of shine and can even lead to small rust spots. Clay Magic is my favorite clay bar since it's soft and easy to work with and reasonably priced. It can be a little difficult to find, but it's worth the hunt. Mothers clay bar is much harder to work with.

Touch up with Langka:
I purchased Langka from www.langka.com. It's a great product for removing the "blob" of paint that's left when you use factory touch up paint. When used properly the results are nearly invisible!

Here are a few shots after:

  • Wash like above
  • Clay Magic
  • Klasse AIO
  • Pinnacle Paste Glaz
  • Platinum Tire Gel
  • Mothers Mag Wheel Polish



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