The following are some of the car products that I regularly use, not only during the restoration process, but also on my daily drivers. I have been a car nut before most of my restoration projects were even classics so I have probably tried almost every brand of wax, polish and additives on the market. Now that I am doing restoration work I try to purchase professional grade products whenever I can, however many of the car care items sold today are of high quality and will work very well if you do not have a body shop supply store in your area.
If I had to sum up a products performance, for example a wax or polish, I would have to say 90% of the products ability to perform at its advertised level depends on the surface you are working with.
If the paint on your vehicle is 10 years old and has been sitting outside or neglected and is in basically poor condition then there is only a limited amount of improvement any brand of wax can provide regardless of how much you paid for the new miracle product. I am not saying paint on an older car can not be brought back to a very good condition, but a 10 year old $500 paint job is what it is.
The same applies to mechanical additives. There is nothing you can pour out of a bottle that is going to repair a worn out engine or transmission. Some may increase compression and reduce smoking and oil consumption or make the transmission shift a little smoother, but these are just temporary band-aids to a problem that is going to require professional repair in the near future.
My list of products that I would recommend to a friend.
WAXES, POLISHES and COMPOUNDS for PAINT
Before I begin my list let me say that to get the best performance and results your paint needs to be cleaned of pollutants, such as acid rain, faded or dead paint from the sun and aging or any other impurities. With that said, let me begin with products that will clean and help to prepare your paint to get the best finish possible.
1. Meguiar's Ultimate Compound, comes in a 15 oz. container and sells for about $9.00. This is the starting point for older paint that requires the removal of faded or dead paint and/or surface scratches. It is a liquid compound that I would rate as a medium cut (even though it states that it cuts as fast as a harsh abrasive). It can be applied by hand, but I typically use a foam pad on a power buffer and run it at low to medium speed. I like this product because it is forgiving. If you have never used a buffing compound and a power buffer my advice is to go slow and use only light pressure with an overlapping pattern. Keep the pad moving at all times and only do quarter sections of the car at a time. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
2. Meguiar's Ultimate Polish Pre-Waxing Glaze, comes in a 16 oz. container and sells for about $8.00. Polishes and Glazing compounds are basically very mild abrasive compounds that will remove any remaining buffing compound as well as small surface scratches while bring the paint surface to an even smoother finish. Think of it as jeweler's polish. If your paint is in overall good condition you can skip the buffing Compound process as described in #1. I do not use a machine to apply the Polish and Glazing products. I use a terry cloth pad and work small sections of an approximately 2 feet x 2 feet square by hand. Do not allow any glaze to dry. It is not a quick process, but well worth the effort as the paint should begin to produce a high quality shine. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
3M Hand Glaze in my opinion is the best glaze product on the market and the one I typically use. It is what I would consider a professional grade product. If the paint quality is good it can produce a show condition finish. The down side is this product is expensive and not every auto parts store carries it. It is also a 16 oz. container but the price is in the $20 range. I often use a light coat of this on my GTO before a show and totally skip the wax, the gloss that it produces is that good. Remember small sections by hand and do not let dry. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Note: Polishes and Glazes do not contain wax. Not a problem if the car is kept covered or garaged.
3. Waxes are the final step that will help protect against the elements. Most quality waxes are graded by the amount and purity of the Carnauba Wax they contain. Waxes can range in price from a few dollars to over $100, which in my mind is absurd and mostly ego driven. As most of us are not rich I try to recommend products in my blog that I actually use and have found that they perform very well and at the same time are reasonably priced. As you may have noticed I use a number of Meguiar's products. I have found them of high quality and priced fairly. Meguiar makes a number of different types of waxes, for example some are specifically formulated for black or dark paint. My choice is one that I have found that works on every color and provides excellent protection; it is Meguiar's Gold Plus Carnauba Wax. About $12 for a 16 oz. container. Easy to apply and easy to remove. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Note: If you feel that your paint does not need to be buffed or you do not want to use a glazing compound on it do one test before applying a wax. Wash and dry the car. When the surface is completely dry run your fingernails over the paint. If you get a gritty feeling that is an indication that there are still impurities on the surface of the paint. Easy to fix. Purchase a Clay Bar. A Clay Bar is as it sounds a product that looks and feel like Play-Doh that you rub onto the paint and it lifts off the impurities. There is not much difference between brands and they can be reused many times. They typically cost about $15. I don't understand how it works, but it is an amazing product.
4. Detail Spray Wax. Once you have your paint looking great it is relatively easy to keep it that way. If the car becomes dusty or even slightly dirty and you do not have the time or energy to do a full wash and wax the next best product is Detail Spray Wax. They spray on and wipe off easily leaving your car with that just waxed look. The two best products that I have found are Garage One Pro Speed Wax. This is a professional grade product not sold in most parts stores. A 17 oz. spray bottle cost about $12 and will do a complete car about 10 or 12 times. In addition to cleaning / waxing your paint it can be used on chrome and glass. This product is made in Tampa, FL and can be purchased by going to their outlet store or online by clicking here. The company also sells a full line of professional car care products. The second brand of detail spray I use is made by Surf City Garage and the name is Barrier Reef Spray Wax. This is also an excellent product and professional grade that actually appears to have a higher content of carnauba wax than any of the other detail spray waxes I have used. It comes in a 20oz. spray bottle and the price is about $13 or $14 at WalMart.
When working with metal polishes they fall into two categories. Type A) Some polishes are formulated for specific metals and not recommended for all metals and Type B) which state they can be used on almost anything. I work with the Type 'A" for two reasons. The first being polishes that are formulated for certain types of metals simply produce better result with less effort. The second reason is some polishes should not be used on certain metals as they can actually damage the finish.
1. Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish, comes in two sizes, the small tub is 5 oz. and cost $5 to $6. This is probably the best aluminum polish I have used. It will bring aluminum to a mirror like finish. It is an aggressive cut polish so it works quickly. This is one of the Type "A" polishes that does an excellent job on aluminum, but is not recommended for use on gold plating, coated metals or chrome. I tested it on chrome and because of its aggressive compound it actually left very fine scratches in the chrome's surface. It is the only Mothers brand product I use. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
2. Surf City Garage, Killer Chrome, comes in a 8oz. container and cost is $12. This is a high quality product that is close to professional level. I first ran across it at the Cadillac dealership and they said it was the only polish they used. It is the best chrome polish that I have used and can also be used on aluminum, stainless steel, brass and copper. Surf City Garage is a quality company and their products carry a 100% guarantee. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
TIRE DRESSING AND WHITE LETTER CLEANER
To finish off the exterior appearance, bring the tires back to a " like new appearance"
1. The best product I have found to clean White Letter or White Wall tires is a product called Bleche-White made by the Black Magic Co. Cost is about $5 for a 24oz. container. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
2. To bring the tires back to the original dark black color I use one of three brands of tire dressing. The first is Meguiar's Hot Shine Spray/Deep Black Wet Look. Comes in a 24 oz. container and sells for $7. The second is Surf City Garage Beyond Black Tire Pro Dressing Spray. 24oz. for about $8. Both of the above are sprays and to avoid the product going onto the wheel and white lettering I apply it on a terry cloth pad and rub it in. The third product is a newer product made by Armor All called Extended Tire Shine Gel / Wet Black Shine . It is sold in an 18oz container and comes with a foam applicator attached. Its claim to fame is that is will last for weeks and even withstand rain. I do not drive my classic cars in the rain if possible, but the product appears to hold up well.
Almost all of the above products are sold at WalMart at far less than most parts stores.
I will add some additional product for preserving rubber and vinyl as well as some engine additives that can actually protect some of the internal parts a little later when I have more time. Hope the above is helpful.
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