Does your car sparkle in the sunlight, or does it look like a run-down, second-hand model?
Shining your car properly should be an essential part of your detailing routine.
Here are easy steps to make your car shiny:
This guide will walk you through these steps on how to shine your car thoroughly.
I’ll go into the basics, give you tips on how to go the extra mile, and explain how to apply finishing touches that will make your car seem as if it just came out of the showroom.
Clean the Car Properly by Hand
Before you can start shining the car, you’ll have to make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned.
Wash your car thoroughly and wipe it dry. Use a cloth or special car wipes to clean dust, stains, and dirt.
Don’t rub too hard when using a cloth, as it may cause scratches.
Instead, use a soft cloth to wipe the surface dry.
If you don’t have the time to wash your car and shine it, go for a quick car wash and shine the car at home.
However, commercial car washes use abrasive cleaning materials that may damage your car’s paint over time.
Always use car-specific detergent to avoid scratches and discoloration.
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Most cars look clean after a simple wash, but they’re not. There’s always grime, crud, and grease that don’t come off with washing.
Follow these tips to clean stubborn dirt off your car:
Most people will perfect their car wash routine with regular practice. If you feel that a certain homemade car wash product works, then use it.
However, avoid experimenting on your car unless you’re 100% sure that the cleaning products are safe.
In most cases, it’s best to go with car detergent for consistent results.
Clean the Rims Properly
There’s no point in having a shining car with dirty rims.
I’ve seen countless car owners wondering why their cars aren’t getting the right shine, only to find out they’ve entirely ignored the rims.
Always use reliable wheel cleaning compounds to avoid rim and tire damage. Automotive soap is usually best, but shampoo works just as well.
Wheels can be pretty dirty, which makes them difficult to clean.
Follow these steps for clean wheels and sparkling rims:
Always wash your wheels first to avoid damaging your car with dirt.
Also, avoid using oil-based shining materials or wax polish on the tires and rims as it may affect the grip.
Washing the rims with soap or shampoo is enough to get a basic shine.
Clean the Glass
Cleaning your car’s glass is essential for completing a basic shine. However, this is one area that bothers most people.
You’ll need the right cleaning compounds and a non-scratch window cleaning cloth to clean your car’s glass properly.
Always follow the proper steps to get the shine out of your windshield and car windows.
Everyone has their own way of cleaning car glass, but these simple steps should be enough:
You may be tempted to try out home cleaning materials on your car windows, but they will damage the shine in the long run.
Many of these materials contain abrasive residue that scratches car glass.
After this step, your car will look decent enough.
However, it may still have blemishes and won’t have the desired shine.
In the next steps, I’ll give you tips on how to go the extra mile to achieve a showroom shine.
Go the Extra Mile
Clay the Car To Remove Bonded Contaminants
While your car may look clean after a wash, there are many contaminants and pollutants that are difficult to notice and don’t come off with a simple wash.
When driving, these contaminants become embedded into the paint and are difficult to remove.
Fortunately, you can use a clay bar to remove these bonded contaminants.
A clay bar kit will come with a piece of clay designed to remove road tar, dust, and other bonded contaminants from car paint.
Claying your car can take time, but the results are worth it.
Claying is one of the best and easiest ways to make grainy car paint feel smooth again. There are many reasons why car paint might feel grainy, but there are also many ways to fix it.
However, you’ll have to do it properly to avoid scratches and get a consistent finish.
I recommend following these steps to clay your car properly:
The claying process can be quite tricky, especially if you’re a beginner.
If you find it too hard to move the clay on the car’s surface, apply more lubricant to make it smoother.
You’ll be surprised at the depth and quality of the shine that you can achieve with claying.
Apply a Finishing Product Like Car Wax or a Quick Detailer
This is the part where your car gets its shine. Car wax is perfect for bringing out the shine in the car paint.
It also forms a protective layer over the car paint preventing dirt from catching on easily.
Some people prefer to use detailing spray for a better shine, but the choice is yours.
Car wax comes in two types:
Both are equally effective and are easy to apply. To apply the car wax, put the wax on the rubbing pad and gently rub it on the surface in a circular motion.
Apply it systematically for an even application and wait for it to dry.
When the wax is dry, it will have a matte or almost blurry finish. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the wax away using straight motions.
Once the wax is gone, use a clean cloth to buff the paint and achieve the final shine.
Use a mechanical buffer to save time and get a consistent shine.
Follow the same process when using a liquid detailer with the exception of buffing.
A liquid detailer doesn’t need a special buffing pad, and a microfiber cloth will work fine.
However, avoid using liquid detailers in the sun as they may dry before you can wipe them through.
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Apply Tire Shine
To achieve a complete shine on your car, you’ll need to apply tire shine, which can bring out the color in the tires, giving them a brand new look.
It can come in sprays and liquid form, and each has a different application.
To apply spray tire shine, you’ll only need to spray the tires and wipe the spray off after a minute or two.
It is easy to apply, but it doesn’t have the same effect as liquid tire shine.
I recommend spraying several coats to get a deep, black shine on your tires.
When using liquid tire shine, use a cloth to apply it in circular motions.
Start from the underside of the tire and move towards the front.
You can adjust the shine and tire color by applying more than one coat but let each coat dry before applying the next one.
Clean the Exhaust Pipes
No detailing job can be complete without properly cleaning the exhaust pipes.
Many people overlook this area, but a dirty exhaust pipe is an ugly spot on your polished car.
Fortunately, cleaning the exhaust pipe isn’t that difficult.
Apply degreaser on a wheel brush and use it to clean the inside of the exhaust pipe, which will remove stubborn grease and grime.
Use automotive soap or shampoo to clean the outside of the exhaust pipe and give it a good rinse.
If there’s a lot of dirt, you may need steel wool to scrub it down.
Apply a metal polish to cover any scratches and restore the original look.
Finally, use a wheel sealant to protect the exhaust pipe from dirt in the exhaust fumes and other pollutants.
Your car will look sparkling clean once you’re done with the exhaust pipe. But don’t stop just yet. Here are two steps to give the finishing touches to your car.
Polish Your Car To Remove Scratches and Swirl Marks
Car polish can remove the swirl marks and scratches your car gets with buffing. It also removes bonded contaminants and gives your car an even shine.
Always use a specialized car polish for perfect detailing since homemade items don’t remove the scratches completely.
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If you aren’t getting the perfect finish with polishing, try out these tips:
Repair Any Paint Damages
After completing the above steps, your car will be in almost pristine condition.
The only thing left is to repair scratches and paint damage.
Fortunately, you don’t need to repaint the whole car to cover any paint damage.
A good DIY paint repair kit will cover any scratches or paint damage on your vehicle.
To repair scratches, use a car paint pencil to cover the scratches. For deep car scratches, apply liquid paint or scratch filler.
Paint fillers are also helpful to repair gouges and scrapes, but it takes care and patience to apply them properly.
Always wax or polish your car after repairing paint damages to get an even shine. However, you don’t have to redo the polishing process if you’re using a pencil paint filler since it blends in with the car body paint.
If you’ve made it to the last step, congratulations! Your car will look as though it just came from the showroom.
What Gives a Car Its Shine?
A car’s shine depends on the paint color, the quality of the paint, how clean the car is, and the type of coating products used to shine the car.
Let’s look at each one in detail:
Common Household Items Don’t Make Your Car Shine
Many “experts” recommend household cleaning products that supposedly work better than products from the top car cleaning brands.
However, most of these products will cause scratches and may damage the paint in the long run.
Household items like soap, baking soda, and toothpaste are all abrasive and will scratch the car’s paint.
Vinegar is also recommended for improving the shine, but it will only cause the paint to get dull over time.
There’s a reason why it takes years of research to make special car polish.
So, if you want to preserve your car’s shine for longer, avoid experimenting with household products.