Subject: Cleaning Your Paint, Part 2
   by Larry Reynolds
   These articles are written to assist the average auto enthusiast in
   maintaining their pride and joy. With that purpose in mind, I have
   often stated that power tools and fine finishes do not mix. The use of
   a power buffer is a learned skill, and the mistakes made during this
   learning curve can make you very unhappy. In the hands of a skilled,
   caring professional, a power buffer is a marvelous tool that will
   result in an immaculate finish. I am fairly adept at carving the
   Thanksgiving Turkey, but I doubt if there are a gaggle of people who
   would care to have yours truly perform open heart surgery on them (I
   would leave your insides with a nice coat of wax). So, caress your
   pride and joy with your hand, and leave the power tools to the pros.
   In Cleaning Your Paint, Part 1, we defined some of the major types of
   cleaners, but realize that the numberless manufacturers do not all
   conform to the defined nomenclature. I personally prefer a glaze over
   a polish to clean and prepare the paint for wax. The difference is
   that a glaze uses a superfine abrasive cleaning agent, whereas a
   polish usually uses a chemical cleaner. The glazes tend to smooth out
   the paint more effectively than the polishes. If the paint does not
   have any imperfections, then a polish may be enough.
   The first step to your cleaning/waxing regimen is to wash your car
   with a quality car wash and dry thoroughly. The benefits of a clean
   surface cannot be over emphasized unless you are a fan of swirl marks
   and feel that hairline scratches are attractive. Wash thoroughly
   before starting.
   Pick a section of the car such as the hood, door, top or whatever.
   Glaze/polish this section of your car completely, redoing any
   section(s) that need additional help. The glaze/polish should produce
   the deep gloss that you desire. Once this section dazzles you with its
   brilliance, then, and only then, apply a coat of wax to this section.
   Realize that the wax is nothing more than a clear protectant and will
   not remove or hide scratches or swirl marks. Once this section of your
   car has been completed, move onto another section and begin the
   glaze/polish and wax process again.
   If your paint has swirl marks, acid rain marks or faint scratches,
   then you may wish to use a glaze. The definition of a faint scratch is
   one that you can see but not feel. If you can feel the scratch with
   your fingernail, then it is beyond the scope of this article and
   should be treated as a paint chip. Rule #1: Use the least aggressive
   product/technique to get the job done! It is very easy to repeat an
   application of a mild product to achieve a result, but is very
   expensive to replace paint when you have gotten too aggressive. If
   your paint does not have swirl marks/scratches, but has lost some of
   its luster, then you may consider using a polish. I prefer glazes over
   polishes, but that is somewhat subjective.
   All glazes/polishes should be applied to a cool surface and in the
   shade. Never wash, clean or wax your car in the hot sun. Rule #2, if
   you can hold your hand comfortably on the surface of the paint, then
   you can clean and/or wax your car. Apply with your choice of a soft
   100% cotton cloth, applicator pad, or closed cell foam pad. Squirt a
   small amount onto your pad/cloth and then apply to the paint surface.
   Do not apply any product directly onto the surface, as you will tend
   to use too much and may wind up with an uneven result. Work into the
   surface with a linear motion, front to back, back to front, the way
   the air flows over the car. Do not go around in circles. If a piece of
   grit lodges under your pad, you have made sandpaper and a circular
   motion will produce a 360 degree swirl mark.
   All scratches are most visible at a 90 degree viewing angle, so a
   circular swirl is visible from any vantage point. A linear type
   scratch is only noticeable from a very narrow viewing angle. Work the
   glaze/polish into the surface using moderate pressure until all that
   is left is a slight haze. (Read the directions on the bottle to
   determine the manufacturer's recommended method.) Buff out the slight
   haze with a soft 100% cotton towel/cloth. Buff out a small section,
   shake out the towel (away from the car) to remove any grit and rebuff
   with a new section of towel. Keep using new sections of towel and
   change towels frequently. I use my wife's old flannel sheets. They are
   super soft and produce a brilliant shine. (Try not "borrowing" the
   sheets from the marital bed as this may lead to some spousal
   discontent.) When the chosen section of the car has been completed,
   rebuff with another clean towel. If you are happy with the shine and
   deep gloss of the section, apply a coat of your favorite wax.
   One of the keys to applying wax is to apply it sparingly. Apply the
   wax with a small piece of 100% cotton terry cloth, closed cell foam
   applicator pad or a terry cloth covered sponge applicator pad. An even
   better method of application is to use your fingers. Hold your fingers
   together to form an "applicator". Rub the wax thoroughly into the
   surface. Your fingers will give you the tactile feedback to let you
   know when the wax has been worked into the surface. Your body heat
   will also help "melt" the wax, making it flow onto the surface. This
   is NOT a situation where a little is good, so a lot must be better.
   Your paint will only accept X amount of wax. If you apply 100 times X
   then you will have to remove 99X in the form of dried powder. It will
   make waxing more difficult, require more buffing and create clouds of
   white dust.
   Work the small amount of wax into the surface until all that remains
   is a slight haze. Use of your fingers will also tell you when the wax
   has been thoroughly worked into the paint and will help prevent you
   from using too much wax. Most waxes work best when this slight haze is
   allowed to dry. There are some waxes that require you to buff
   immediately after applying. Zymol or P21S Concours are classic
   examples of this type of wax. If you allow Zymol/P21S to dry before
   buffing, you will need a belt sander to remove them. Read the
   directions on the can to determine the proper method. Buff out the
   slight haze with a soft 100% cotton towel, using the same techniques
   as used with the glaze/polish. Once the wax has had time to harden
   off, give it an extra buffing to bring out a deep shine. If there are
   areas that are hazy or cloudy, and you are using a carnauba-based wax,
   the wax has become hydroscopic and has absorbed a little water. Mist
   the cloudy areas with a small amount of water (a plant mister works
   well) and rebuff. This should remove the clouding.
   In Cleaning Your Paint, Part 3, I will list several of the better
   products on the market and give my personal experience with each one.
   If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call.
   Larry Reynolds also operates Car Care Specialties Inc.,
   Distributors of Quality Porsche Care Products,
   Post Office Box 535,
   Saddle Brook, NJ 07663-0535.
   Phone 201-796-8300, Fax 201-791-9743,