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5 Key Steps To a Perfect Paint-job

Your vehicle could be 50 days old, or 50 years old, and the paint could use some love depending on where you drive. Having a clean and well-maintained vehicle is important and allows it to hold value longer. At Clean Machine Auto Wash, we want you to have the freedom 24/7/365 to come and wash your car, but sometimes washing isn’t enough. Sometimes the paint requires something more, like elbow grease. Here are 5 steps to a perfect paint job, that anyone with some time and effort can achieve.

Step 1 – Spray-Only Wash

This step is for the initial cleaning stage. You don’t want to push around all that dirt and debris with a towel, scratching up the paint more and more. Simply spray with moderate pressure from a hose or pressure washer, and use an automative specific soap to coat the car. Don’t use household cleaners or soaps like dawn dish soap as it will leave streaking and impact the rest of the process. Spray off soap till clean water resides on the vehicle. Do not dry the vehicle, and proceed to step 2.

Step 2 – Clay Bar
Now that your vehicle is free of most dirt and debris that you can see, its now time to take it up a notch with a clay bar. Flatten out a piece of your automative-specific clay bar to about the size of your palm. Add a small amount of automatic car wash soap to a spray bottle and begin using the clay bar over each separate panel. Starting with the hood and working your way around the vehicle is the easiest practice. Spray each panel considerably. When using the clay bar, you don’t apply pressure at all, allow the clay bar to pick up surface residue. You will need to re-mold the clay as it picks up residue. Generally, after using a clay bar on a vehicle, that clay is too contaminated for future use. Once complete, move on to step 3.

Step 3 – Soft Touch Wash
Once your car has been through the clay bar treatment, its surface should feel nice and smooth. Now the normal wash process of a bucket and soap with a sponge. Get into every nook and cranny as best as you can. Auto detailing brushes are super helpful for modern vehicles with tight lines and around exterior lighting. Once the car has had its surface completely “soaked” in soap, spray off with moderate pressure from a hose until clear water resides of the vehicle. Utilize an absorbent towel to dry the vehicle entirely. It’s been all prep-work at this point, now for the fun part in step 4!

Step 4 – Buff/Polish
The biggest impact, but skipping steps 1-3 will leave you frustrated and with more scratches than you started with. Turn around now and do steps 1-3 if you haven’t. Now, using a buffing applicator pad or a powered buffer if you have it, add some buffing compound in 4-5 small drops. Spread the compound on the applicator pad, then apply moderate pressure in circular patterns across each panel, overlapping 2 times to spread the compound equally. Let the compound dry out in 5-10 minutes, then wipe away the residue with a microfiber towel. Repeat this process over the entire vehicle, panel by panel. Once complete, change from compound to polishing compound and repeat the process with each panel. Now that you have compounded and polished the entire vehicle, it’s time for that ultra-wet look. Proceed to the final step!

Step 5 – Wax or Ceramic Coat

So many different products and qualities of products, there is no judgment here. If you want to use some $5 Turtle Wax, go ahead. If you want to use a high-end ceramic coating, feel free as well. Wax is applied and removed the same as the previous step, but without utilizing pressure. It’s simply applied on the surface in a circular motion, dries out, then removed with a microfiber towel. Applying a final wax/ceramic coat will help your paint shine and protect you from UV rays. This process should not be repeated continually, only on an as-needed basis to bring back that new car shine!

After you complete this 5-Step Process, you’ll want to maintain it, and what better way than with an Unlimited Membership with Clean Machine Auto Wash!