I personally enjoy reading articles like this on any subject. They always tend to make research and shopping for new items easier.
Friends and clients ask me all the time, “What should I use for X…” and “What’s going to make my car look like Y…”. There are so many choices and so many variables, but there are a few constants.
After working with and sampling hundreds of products over the years, there are a few which have stood the test of time, and the NY winters.
Here they are:
Poorboy’s Spray and Rinse: Diluted properly, this has cleaned the worst wheels I have come across. I’d not consider it for regular use, but for an initial cleaning of seriously abused wheels it is superior. The scent is powerful and I’d recommend wearing gloves when using. I’ve been using it for 5 years with great success on OEM finished wheels. Beware with bare aluminum wheel as this product may stain.
Optimum Opti-Bond Tire Gel: Simply the best finish I have seen to date on a properly cleaned tire. I tend to get 2 weeks out of an application even with some rain. It’s easy to use, and leaves a deep and even appearance when dry.
Optimum Opti-Seal: I use this product everywhere. Wheels, glass, plastic, engines door jambs, you name it. Simple to use and leaves a decent level of protection that does not attract pollen! I use Poli-Seal on my wheels, glass, and door jambs after every wash. I also use it on my interior wood trim to add some shine and protection.
Optimum Poli-Seal: A great 1-step cleaner. Cleans the paint surface while doing a little correction/hiding and adding protection. I use this between corrections on my own vehicles. Give them a deep gloss and cleans off just about anything.
Optimum No rinse: An extremely versatile product. I use this as a no-rinse wash year round, a quick detailer, a window cleaner, a clay lubricant, added to soap on my foam lance, you name it. It just works.
Leatherique Pristine Clean: The best leather cleaner I have ever used. Removes oils and dirt from leather safely and leaves the leather feeling and looking like it did when it was new. Try this on your leather wrapped steering wheel and you will feel like you are driving a new car. I tend use this product liberally and work it with soft brushes. You will be impressed.
Meguiar’s M105: If you want to remove swirls from paint, this is the product. I have used this with great success on Ferrari F40’s, Enzo’s, you name it. The ability to dramatically control the level cut with varying pressure and pads make this a top product. I have not experienced and nasty caking, or gummig with M105 as I have with some other products. In some cases, M105 has left the finish LSP ready and did not require any additional finish polishing. Used with the rotary or D/A, this product is incredible.
Blackfire Wet Diamond Paint Sealant: It is one of the most talked about products because it works. It’s very easy to apply, and just as easy to remove when allowed to dry properly. Leaves the paint finish with a superior gloss and visible depth that continues to improve the next day. It has endured a hard NY winter on one of my black SUV’s, road salt and dirt have not been an issue due to this product. I use this on every vehicle at this point.
Chemical Guys EZ Creme Glaze: A total surprise. I had zero expectations for this product when I read reviews about it. After trying it once, I was hooked. It’s a great cleaner and glaze post polishing and really sets the surface up well for a sealant or wax. Extremely easy to apply and remove, and adds plenty of gloss. I have no problem calling this a must-have product.
E-Z Detail Brush: I can’t imagine washing a car without these. I use both sizes as the smaller brush works great for getting between the wheel and the caliper, so you don’t need to move the car, and the large brush cleans the remainder of the bulk quickly and easily. This brush does not scratch the wheel finish in my experience.
And an 11th just for good luck:
Einszett 1Z Cockpit Premium: The scent alone is worth the purchase. It’s not a pleasant odor; it’s one that gives you the feeling that an “industrial cleaning” has taken place. Safe on plastic, leather, glass, LCD screens, wood, you name it. I prefer to use this with a microfiber mitt and it allows me keep my hand from smearing any surfaces I just cleaned.
So that’s it for me as of March 2011. Ill be rewriting this article in 2012 and re-ranking the products, stay tuned…