Saturday, October 17, 2020

Car Detailing Madness

I've always taken care of all my vehicles. Mechanically and otherwise, but within reason.

What I mean by "within reason," is that cars, trucks, motorcycles, and the like, are meant to serve a purpose, be it for work, transportation, pleasure, or a combination of all three.

So I try not to go overboard with the latest and greatest gadgets or products.

Above: Places like AutoZone, Advance Auto (shown in pic), and many others, 
usually carry a wide selection of car detailing products.

Vehicles are a means to an end, and that is to get occupants from point A to point B.

But we're human after all, so I'm guessing that from the early days of the "horseless carriage," automobile owners were mindful about how their vehicles looked, and the car appearance aspect became part of owning a vehicle.

For many decades, maintaining the finish of a car was pretty basic stuff. All that was required was a garden hose, a bucket for water, a few rags, and—usually—a squirt of dish soap.

However, thanks to advances in chemistry and (especially) marketing, there are now thousands of car detailing products available.

The ever-growing list includes soaps, washing towels, polishing towels, drying towels, interior towels, waxes, ceramic coatings, tire and wheel cleaning solutions and detailing products, brushes, polishers, polishing and buffing pads, special hoses, spray nozzles, soap sprayers, pressure washers, air dryers, hand-held, rolling, and wall-mounted vacuum cleaners, and ozone machines, to name a few.

Some enthusiasts even ensure they have enough buckets—with dirt screen inserts, of course—to avoid "contaminating" this or that or the other. Not to mention specifically-designed and engineered caddies to roll those buckets around.

And one cannot argue that most of the cars that receive—what oftentimes adds up to hundreds of dollars worth of treatments—look better than they did when they were brand-spanking new.

You are only limited by how much you want (or are able) to spend on car detailing products and accouterments.

And if you spent a lot of money purchasing a vehicle, it makes sense to protect your investment by having someone shield your vehicle's body with the latest nano-ceramic coating. And if that's not enough, a nice layer of urethane clear coating film may be what's required to keep the finish safe from damage.

I am not trying to ridicule the car-detailing hobby or business. I spend plenty of time cleaning, waxing, and polishing my 1976 Corvette Stingray, albeit on a budget.

So instead of blowing my monthly grocery allowance on a top-of-the-line polisher, for example, I bought a cheap 6-inch Black & Decker random orbit waxer/polisher that does a pretty nice job, despite its affordable price and limitations.

I also use a pressure washer I purchased from Harbor Freight Tools that I modified to make it more user-friendly, and also so I would be able to use a "real" foam cannon.

I only spent $79.99 (plus sales tax) and maybe another $40 or $50 buying a wand, spray nozzles, quick-connectors, etc. I wrote a pretty detailed article about the pressure washer, all the accessories I added, and using it to wash my '76 Corvette.

To be honest, I have questioned spending money on a pressure washer, but since I've also used it to wash my whole house, the patio, entry walkway, and driveway—with great results—I don't feel guilty about splurging.

Again, I am not against car detailing, actually, quite the opposite. But the never-ending availability of products flooding the marketplace can be mind-boggling. Case in point... I had no idea that there was such a thing as a specially-formulated wax for black cars!

I've never owned a black vehicle, so I admit that I have no clue as far as the specific need for such a product. Do they also have a special soap? Or drying and polishing rags? So yeah, it sounds a little crazy.

The variety of auto detailing products can also lead to confusion.

A few weeks ago I heard about a great spray ceramic wax by Turtle Wax. So while at the local Super Walmart I stopped by the well-stocked car-detailing aisle. Yes, Walmart has an aisle for car cleaners, waxes, soaps, towels, and more.

But once I found the product, I realized they have four different yet related Ceramic Hybrid Solutions branded products:

  • Ceramic Wash & Wax
  • Ceramic 3-In-1 Detailer
  • Ceramic Wet Wax
  • Ceramic Spray Coating

I read the labels to try to understand the purpose of each product, but eventually, I walked out of the store confused and empty-handed.

Does it really have to be THIS difficult?

Thank you for following my '76 Vette Blog!

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  1. Great article! much as I want to maintain my vette or any of my cars for that matter mechanically, the same can be said for it's appearance. I want them running for reliability and longevity AND safety, but as far as appearance goes, it's more of a pride thing, plus a little of resale value although they aren't really considered investments; there's something to say about driving to a family party or the grocery store and your ride is immaculate. ESPECIALLY when it's your fun ride like the vette!

  2. I did want to add that going through the best ways to maintain my rides has been a frustrating experience as you mention in the article. We have ended up paying a professional to paint correct and ceramic coat all of our vehicles. I now maintain them all pretty much using a pressure washer, microfiber towels and a few ceramic detailing sprays. It's been a few years and so far the vehicles still look better than when we bought them brand new and the vette is the vette - didn't buy brand new, but it looks brand new, so I'm maintaining it the same.

    I LOVE the turtle wax products and use them. I also use some of the Chemical Guys products as well.

    But there are some great youtubers out there that can help sort out this mess to a certain extent. The reviews, side by side comparisons and the torture tests on some of these products are incredibly educational as well.

  3. Oh, another of the things that can be frustrating is that there is more to detailing then just paint. There's tires, undercarriage, wheel well, engine bay, wheels, interior, glass, etc......I focus mainly on pain, but tires can be a pain and I've found some pretty good stuff that doesn't SLING or stay wet after putting on.


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