Updated: Jul 11
One of the most common questions I get asked after completing a detail for a client is, “What products do I need to do to maintain this finish in between details? Most clients are looking to make a small investment in quality products and tools that will allow them to maintain the look their vehicle has when it leaves our shop. Different people are comfortable with different levels of detailing, so today I will talk mainly about the products, tools, and tips for washing and applying a spray sealant to your vehicle.
Most of the vehicles that leave our shop receive a paint correction detail of some sort and a lot of them even have Cquartz Finest applied for maximum gloss and protection. While having an amazing product like Cquartz Finest on your vehicle will lower the effort needed to maintain a vehicle, the tools, products, and procedures are the same for maintaining a vehicle with a traditional sealant or a paint coating like Cquartz Finest.
Before we dive in, I want to let everyone know that all of our products come from Corey who runs Car Pro USA. Car Pro is the company that produces amazing products like Cquartz Finest, Iron-X, Reload, and many others. TLC Auto Detail clients are privy to a special discount through Corey’s website. Go to www.carpro-us.com and use the code “TLC” at checkout to receive a 15% discount on your entire order. All of the direct links to purchase these products will be provided at the bottom of this article.
First we will start with the products and tools you will need to wash your vehicle. First you will need two 5 gallon buckets (available through CarPro USA or at your local hardware store), two grit guards, a wash media (sponge, pad, mitt etc.), soap, and a method to dry your vehicle. Five gallon buckets are available for sale in the Car Pro US store, but you can also pick them up locally at a hardware store to save on the bulky shipping.
To fill your buckets you will also want to pick up two Grit Guards. One will go at the bottom of each bucket allowing you to release the dirt from your vehicle into the bucket with just a quick scrub. The dirt will be released into the water and held below the grit guard so it will not be reintroduced onto your vehicle’s finish. This is very important, and a very simple way to keep from instilling swirls into your vehicle’s paint.
Next you will need soap to add lubricity and cleaning power to your water. It is very important to use a quality automotive soap and not cleaner designed to clean pots and pans. An automotive specific cleaner will have additives to lubricate the solution allowing your wash media to glide over the paint, again helping to prevent swirls. Automotive specific products will also have the proper ratio of cleaning additives to do a great job cleaning the paint, but not striping your layer of protection. (The striping of protection only applies to traditional waxes and sealants, as Cquartz Finest is chemical resistant.) The product we use in our shop, and always recommend to our clients, is Car Pro Reset. It offers tons of lubricity as well as has great cleaning ability to safely remove the dirt and dust from your vehicle. It also rinses away totally clean without leaving anything behind that might interfere with the drying process or future protection that might be added to the finish. The best part is it is super concentrated. You will use very little product per wash saving you money and space by not having to keep large bottles of product on hand.
Now that we have our bucket, grit guards, and soap picked out we need something to actually facilitate getting the soap solution from the bucket to the vehicle, as well as get the dirt from the vehicle back into the rinse bucket. There are hundreds of different products you can use as wash media. There are natural sea sponges, synthetic sponges, boars hair brushes, microfiber mitts, and countless other options. At TLC Auto Detail we only use the Incredipad from Microfiber Madness. It is an ultra high quality wash pad that is covered in super soft microfibers that hold tons of soap solution and pull dirt away from the surface and deep into the pad to prevent swirls from grinding the dirt into the paint. It’s extremely durable and can be machine cleaned on a regular basis. Microfiber Madness also makes an Incredimitt that has all the same benefits, but has a pocket built in for your hand. It can be used in the pad’s place if you prefer a mitt type wash media.
After your vehicle is washed and all of the soap is rinsed off you will need to dry the remaining
water off of the surface. IF you have had Cquartz Finest applied to your paint, there will be
very little water that hasn’t already sheet off of the paint. In our shop we use an electric blower, the Metro Master Blaster to be exact, to dry the vehicles we wash. This is a no touch drying method that makes sure the water is removed from the surface and all the nooks and crannies without the chance of marring the surface. It costs about $250 so it may be more than most are willing to spend to maintain just their own vehicle(s), and that is no problem at all. Microfiber Madness also offers a super high quality drying towel called the Dry Me Crazy. It is an ultra soft, extremely plush high quality microfiber towel that absorbs tons of water without marring even the softest paint. It much larger than most microfiber towels so one will be plenty to dry most vehicles. If you have a large sedan or SUV it would be a good idea to pick up 2 of them just in case. These can also be machine washed when they need to be cleaned, just make sure to use a detergent that is scent and dye free (All Free and Clear is what we use).
After your vehicle is washed and dried you have the decision of adding protection to the finish. For this we use a product called Car Pro Reload. It is made specifically by Car Pro to work in conjunction with Cquartz Finest, but you can also use it as a stand alone sealant. Reload is a spray sealant that is very easy to apply. A light spray on a panel will get spread out with one towel, and then buffed off with another dry towel. It takes about 20 minutes to seal most vehicles and the protection will last about 6 months depending on your climate and how the vehicle is stored. If your vehicle is already coated with Cquartz Finest you don’t NEED to add additional protection, but applying a product like Reload will boost the durability of the coating by about 6 months per application. If your vehicle isn’t coated it’s a good idea to wax, or in this case seal, the paint 2-3 times a year depending on your weather conditions and how the vehicle is stored. Reload is to be used very sparingly, so one bottle will last most people several years. One spray per panel, or maybe two sprays for a large panel like the hood, is all that is needed. When you apply Reload you will want to use a high quality microfiber towel to make sure you aren’t undoing all the hard work that went into your paint’s finish. There are tons of towels available, but we use the Crazy Pile also by Microfiber Madness. It’s a super high quality, ultra soft, plush towel that will allow you to spread and buff off Reload with ease. Keeping 3 to 4 on hand will be enough to seal most vehicles a couple times a year. Be sure to store them in the plastic bag they come with to prevent dust or dirt from settling on them between uses.
That about does it for the best products for maintaining an auto detail in between visits. If you have any questions about any of the products please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Corey at CarPro-US.com. We are both more than happy to make sure that everyone has the proper tools, products, and knowledge to keep their vehicle looking perfect! Check out the links below to purchase the products discussed in this article!