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From bmw-digest.v4.n430 Sat Apr 13 17:01:47 1996
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 1996 04:53:08 -0400
Subject: Detailing Part II (polishing/waxing)

What many paople refer to as waxing is not always waxing. The following are categories of products used to restore and increase the shine of your paintwork(most abrasive to least abraisive):

COMPOUNDS: Harsh abraisives. These products are for heavily oxidized or damaged paint. They are to be used with extreme caution as they can easily remove alot of paint. (If you are reading this DO NOT even think about using a compound unless you are experienced).

CLEANERS: Abraisives. These remove light to moderate oxidation and contaminents as well as water/acid rain spots and swirlmarks. Some cleaners also remove scratches.

POLISHES: Very fine abrasives (some are hardly abraisive at all). These remove fine scraches, waterspots and swirlmarks. In general they also increase the shine.

GLAZES/SEALERS: They remove extremely light scratches. They fill scratches. They have the net effect of increasing the paints shine, depth of color and reflective clarity. If you don't follow them imediately with wax they disapear in the sun.

WAX: In its true form it is used purely to protect the paint from the elements and oxidation. It also protects the shine produced by polishing and the glaze and sealer. Some waxes are intended purely for this purpose and must be used only after removing defects with polish etc. Other "one step" waxes combine wax with the products above to clean, polish and protect in one coat. This is an easy way out but it does not produce the ultimate shine tha comes from using several single purpose products.

Deciding which products your car needs: If your paint is new or like new you will probably just need a fine polish/sealer/glaze (like Meguiar's #7 Show Car Glaze, or their #? New Car Glaze, Zymol HD cleanse ) and a good coat of wax ( Meguiar's Medallion,Meguiar's #26, Zymol or your favorite quality wax).

If your paint is several years old and has oxidation you will need to use a cleaner/polish before doing the above. The key here is to ALWAYS START WITH THE LEAST ABAISIVE and only get more abraisive if that doesn't work after a couple of applications. (Meguiar's has a wide array of cleaners and polishes in varying degrees of abrasiveness as well as some products to deal with specific problems like swirl marks. Zymol and many others also have polishes). If you are not sure which product you need you could try Meguiar's Medallion Paint Cleaner which is a general purpose consumer product that is pretty safe.

If your paint is beyound the above see an expert.

Always polish/wax in a shady and relatively dust free area. Before starting mask off all black trim to avoid getting ugly white residue on it.

Always work on a small area at a time (half the hood, half the trunk, a door etc.). These can be applied with a soft foam pad, or a very soft 100% cotton towel. The foam applicator pads are preferable because the lessen the chance of swirl marks. Some less abrasive products can even be applied with your bear hand if your skin is soft enough. Work in a back and forth motion ( not circular ) to avoid swirl marks. Do not allow the product to dry on as it can then become more abraisive. Immediately buff off the cleaner/polish with a very soft 100% cotton towel. The paint should feel smooth but not necesarily slick. Immediately follow with sealer/glaze and/or wax.

GLAZING/SEALING: Apply in the same way as polishes and cleaners but you should use less pressure. Do not allow it to dry. Buff to a high luster while semi wet. Note if the sealer/glaze feels like its sticking in spots and is very hard to remove then you are either: useing too much, allowing to dry too long or you need to go back and polish/clean the paint some more. Again the paint should feel smooth but not necesarily slick. If you still see light swirl marks apply more sealer/glaze. Immediately follow with wax or the sealer/glaze will disappear.

WAXING: Wax can be applied with a foam pad, terry cloth towel (or your hand if the prduct is a natural carnuba). Again do not apply in circles. With most waxes it does not matter weather you apply it in small areas at one time or the whole car at once but I prefer to establish a pattern of always dividing the car into the same areas for polishing and waxing. Allow the wax too dry and buff with a terry cloth towel.

TOWELS: Always use 100% cotton terry cloth towels with no synthetics. Synthetic fibers can scratch and cause swirl marks. Wash your towels twice every time; first with a liquid soap and second with no soap. Seperate your towels for specific puposes drying, cleaning, polishing, waxing. If you buy new towels wash them many times until they until they become soft and all the chemicals added to them to make the pile stand up are removed.

NOTE: If at any time during the polishing/waxing process you should drop your applicator pad or towels DO NOT continue to use them as any dirt , sand or contaminents can damage the finish.

Auto Detailing The Professional Way by James Joseph Ultimate Auto Detailing by David H. Jacobs ( both can be obtained from Classic Motor Books) Meguiar's Brilliant Solutions
Meguiar's Medallion Detailing Video
(free by calling 1.800.347.5700. This line also gives out detailing advice)

UPKEEP: I forgot to mention this in the washing post but Meguair's makes a product that no one should go without. (I swear by it) Its called Final Inspection or Quik Detailer. I always keep a towel and bottle of it in the trunk should a bird or some water get the car. It's also great for dipping Q-tips in when preparing for concours but thats another topic.

Note: I have no ties to any of the products or companies mentioned above.


Juan Bruce
BMW CCA 95025
85 ///M635
95 ///M3 ( back and being prepared for next week's clean car contest)

P.S. If you want to make this into a FAQ drop me an email.

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