Ask-A-Pro: How to Maintain my Car After a Detail?by Eric Schuster
Reading through a lot of the topics at the end it is always recommended to follow a maintenance schedule. What do you suggest as a proper maintenance schedule after a complete detail? Do you prefer a full bath, dusting or just go with a waterless wash. How often should put another coat of wax or sealant on?
Hey Chris, that’s actually a really good question and one that I get asked every single time I do a paint correction detail from my clients. Here is what I tell each and every one of them, regardless of the car:
A good regimen to keeping a car looking its best all year long is something along these lines:
• Month 1 – Reconditioning Detail inside and out – this gives the car a fresh clean start to maintain without having to “cover-up” or “mask” defects. It is easier to maintain a clean car rather than a dirty one!
• Month 3 – Waxing for protection – washing will be easier on a freshly waxed car, fallout will not stick to the paint easily, and will maintain that smooth/slick feel.
• Month 5 – Complete Detail inside and out – exterior wash and wax with interior protection added to prevent fading
• Month 7 – One step or two step machine polishing to remove defects/swirl marks
• Month 9 – Complete Detail inside and out
• Month 11 – Waxing for protection
-A reconditioning detail is where you would take your car back to a like new or better than new state. You would perform paint correction work (should be just polishing, no compounding), thorough interior cleaning of all surfaces with proper protection/conditioners applied, and an overall once over on the whole car.
-Waxing is just that, a fresh coat of wax to keep the protection going on your paint.
-A complete detail would be a wash and a wax, along with interior conditioning and protection. The interior needs some routine love just like the exterior does.
-A one step machine polishing would be just a light polishing to restore gloss, remove any oxidation build up, remove light swirl marks, etc. It’s not going to remove deep defects, but its main purpose is to restore the deep wet gloss to the paint. Anytime you are going to be polishing, you might as well clay the car too! Claying is vital to removing the embedded contaminants from the paint so the polish is actually working on the paint, not the debris! Also, claying is slightly abrasive, so you have to polish afterward, so it makes sense to clay only when polishing.
-Clay twice a year to keep your car feeling smooth as can be!
By following a similar routine, your car will stay looking good for years to come.
Now for the weekly washes and maintenance, you have a couple of options. You can either perform a traditional wash, a rinse-less wash (if the car is just slightly dirty) , or a waterless wash (only if the car is just dusty from sitting). I would only do a traditional wash in the early morning or late evening, and never when the sun is at its highest! With a product like ONR , you can get away with washing anytime of the day, anywhere (garage or driveway), and it’s relatively fast and works just as well as a traditional wash in most cases. With a waterless wash product, I would only wash inside, out of the sunlight.
In regards to when to wax, think about the washes you put your car through and what kind of wax you are using. If you wash with ONR, it has polymers in it so you are “boosting” the protection a tad with each wash, where if you take it to the touchless car wash, you are sure to be removing protection due to the harsh chemicals used. As outlined above, I like to wax every other month. By doing so, you will always have a solid coat of protection on the car since many sealants typically last for 3-4 months (some longer when applied properly). You never want to wait until the sealant is completely gone to re-wax. Another good option is to use a spray wax like optimum car wax. OCW is so easy to use and only adds about 10 minutes to the wash time, but the benefits are HUGE! Slick paint, protection, and ease of future cleanings make OCW one of my go to for maintanence wash and waxes! A general rule is that waxes will last 4-6 weeks and sealants 3-4 months, some as much as 6+! There are some that will last less or more, but that is a good “rough estimate”. Of course, wash technique, frequency, and environmental situations all play a role in the durability of a wax/sealant.
Sticking on a good routine will help keep your car looking its best for as long as you own the car! I have seen 5 year old cars look better than 1 year old cars just because the owner maintains it, which sounds like what you are planning on doing! Best of luck…
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Thanks for a great write-up. In regards to the different sealants, which ones last the 3-4 month range and which are the longer, 6+ lasting ones? I know their durability depends greatly on environmentals but I was looking for rule of thumb/ballpark estimates.
Blackfire wet diamond will last anywhere from 4-6 months
Poorboys EX will last about 4 months
meguiars 21 sealant will last about 3-4 months
Those are the ones I have personally used in the past! of course, DI sells them all!
I’ve been sealing every 4 or 5 months, then waxing monthly; and my silver 328i looks great all of the time. I wash my car weekly with ONR and dry the car using CG Synthetic Quick Detailer.
After monthly waxings with P21S, I’ve started using Meguiars Ultimate Quick Wax after every wash, as a gloss booster to enhance the P21S.
Do you see any problem with this? Could the Meguiars QW diminish the protection of P21S? Any other potential ill side-effects? Thanks Eric. -Albert
Good job keeping up on the car maintenance! “A clean car drives better!”
First off, make sure you are stripping the old protection off the car before sealing it every 4-5 months. That will ensure you have a strong bond between the paint and the sealant.
In regards to “overwaxing,” you could be doing too much. You can get negative returns by waxing too much as the looks will start to become muted. Instead of bright and crisp reflections, you could end up with dull, yet still glossy reflections by laying on too many coats of wax. l would skip the megs quick wax after every wash, and actually not use a QD after every wax application (right away that is). Instead, use some distilled water to clean up the car after a fresh coat of wax to remove any streaking, hazing, etc. Then, after the washings, use the quick detailer to boost the gloss to the freshly waxed car. Reason behind this is that you are overloading the paint with oils…part of the reason for any streaking that occurs.
That makes sense, will do. Thanks very much!