A day of free car detailing!

Back in August I responded to a post on the Cotswold 3 Counties TVR Facebook page where Richard of Autocar Detailing was offering a free Enhancement Detail (worth £220), in return for use of photos of the photos and help with some text for an article in Sprint magazine.

I responded to this, and was pleased to hear that my car had been selected. As Richard was doing this for free, I was happy to do it on a day and in a place that suited him, so on a cloudy Tuesday I left home at 06:00 to travel the 80 miles to Shrewsbury. Leaving at that time thankfully avoids the awful traffic around Worcester and the M5/M6 junction wasn’t too bad either. After stopping for an expensive tank of V-Power Nitro just off Jn4 of the M54 I arrived too early (07:40) and spent some time in the Screwfix car park waiting for Richard who was leaving home.

Waiting at Screwfix

Richard arrived shortly after and we set off the the unit he uses when working from Shrewsbury, which is part of the Hawkstone Cars premesis, run by a helpful chap called Neil.

Car cleaning was a multi-stage process:

The cleaning started with snow foam to lift the dirt off followed by a rinse with a low-pressure washer to remove the snow foam.

The wash followed, using a lambswool mitt and the ‘two bucket’ approach (one to wash, the other to rinse the mitt), and with ‘grit guards’ in the buckets to help avoid the mitt picking up any grit off the bottom of the bucket. A straight back and forth motion was used to reduce the risk of any swirly marks.

Drying was by a microfibre towel (reduced risk of scratching compared to a chamois leather if any contaminants remain).

Wheel cleaning followed with some special wheel brushes (I need these) and a non-acidic cleaner. The car was then ready to head inside (after I had taken it round the block to dry the brakes off).

It was strange watching someone clean my car for me. This is something I have been doing for decades now and it didn’t feel right. But Richard was happy to explain what he was doing and I learned a lot of useful things.

Snow foam
2-bucket washing


Wheel cleaning

With the car moved inside the workshop, a clay bar and some lubricating spray was used to lift any remaining contamination on the surface before polishing could start.

Richard thought the paintwork was in pretty good condition overall with some slight swirling marks that he thought he could polish out. Perhaps he should have chosen a more challenging car, but that would come under the ‘correction’ side of detailing and be a lot more work than the 1 day we had.

Clay bar application
Start of polishing, with headlight masked and a tape strip to show before / after on a panel

Having seen some of the polishing done, Richard said the rest of the polishing was a bit I could probably miss, so he gave me a lift into town (plenty to see / do / eat in Shrewsbury), including Creative Audio, my favourite home cinema / Hi-Fi shop, before picking me up 3 hours later.

By 14:30, Richard had polished all the panels, and had done 3 of the 4 wheels with a sealing wax to help them repel brake dust.

Wheel sealing

With that done, it was time for 2 coats of hand-applied hard Carnauba wax with some drying time between.

Wax on (then wax off)

Richard also worked round the doors, boot, bonnet and around the small front / rear lights with a quick wax solution.

Cleaning the parts others may not.

The glass was done next. Cleaning was followed by the application of something special to the windscreen which helps water bead off it (and seemed to work on the drive home).

With that done, the car was ready. There are still the few paint chips on the nose and a couple of deeper marks, but overall it is very pleasing. You have to look closely to see any imperfections and the panels have a deep shine to them.

This was 8.5 hours work by Richard without really taking a break. And that is for a fairly small car. A lot of effort goes into the Enhancement Detail, and it seems to be something that is worth doing when a car could benefit from that level of attention.

Richard after a day of hard work, and me after a day of watching and eating in town :o)

With this work done, there should be no need for me to wax the car for ~ 6 months (perhaps longer given its easy life in the garage).

And there should be no need to polish it for a long time. Hopefully with some of what I have learned about washing the car I can minimise the chance of it getting any new scratches / marks.

With the Enhancement Detail done, future cleaning could be done by myself, and perhaps making use of the Maintenance Detailing if required.

Sadly it was raining outside. This gave a chance for it to demonstrate some good beading with rain water and thankfully the rain stopped after 5 minutes and I had a dry drive the rest of the way home. Traffic round Worcester was awful though, I am glad I don’t have to do that every day.

Many thanks to Richard for his hard work during the day, and hopefully the future Sprint article will be useful to readers.

The list of products used is:

  • Krystal Kleen Blizard Snow Foam
  • Dodo Juice Basic of Bling wax safe wash
  • Washed two bucket meathod with Dodo Juice Trible Mitt using straight back and forth motion rinsing after half a panel
  • Patted dry with a Dodo Juice double touch drying towel
  • Clayed using Dodo Juice Supernatural clay bar and Autoglym clay lube
  • Machine polished 3M Extra fine compound and yellow pad
  • Cleansed with Dodo juice lime prime
  • Two layers of Dodo Juice supernatural wax
  • Wheels sealed with Poor Boys wheel sealant
  • Tyres dressed with Dodo Juice tyre and trim

In other news:

  • I now have a standard Tamora back box from Don1 of Pistonheads fame. This can be swapped on when I have concerns about noise, hopefully with some way to test the before / after levels properly
  • It is nearly time for our Performance Driving day with CAT Driver Training. This covers 5 skills (braking, high speed, under/oversteer, cornering and the Alipne circuit) and we are both doing it swapping in/out through the day. Hopefully all the work done on the car will pay off after the last attempt. CAT have been very good with letting us rearrange over this lengthy timescale.

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