Maintenance – Winter detailing

You’ve probably seen our all-important winter detail guide, but how do you protect your car following that detail and throughout those upcoming winter months?

Well, that’s where we come in. We’ve come up with this detailed guide on how to maintain the condition of your car following a full winter detail or seal.

Firstly, we wouldn’t advise washing your car in temperatures below 3-degrees or if it’s frozen. But, if you just can’t help yourself, our Crystal glass cleaner will get you out of a pickle if water ends up freezing on the vehicle. It’s also a handy product to have around if your windscreen is frozen when you’re on your way to work.

To start your maintenance detail, do the interior first. It might seem obvious, but it’ll prevent the wet muddy grit you’ll have created washing the exterior from getting to the interior and contaminating carpets.

Always remember to work from top to bottom, much like you would the exterior of the car. Quickly wipe over all surfaces so any dust either gets collected in your microfibre or falls onto the carpet. The control panel can often be a challenge, with all the buttons etc, so a can of compressed air is probably the best idea, then continue with your detail. Then it’s onto the vacuuming! Dashes, door cards, carpets and even the parcel shelf! Oh, and don’t forget to move the seats front and back when doing so.

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Our interior cleaner Total can do everything from plastics and fabrics, to Alcantara. It’s a pre-diluted, all-purpose, interior cleaner which is safe to use on all interior car surfaces. Total’s gentle nature makes it well suited for sensitive cleaning operations, but is also capable of tackling a wide variety of tough organic, and inorganic based stains. Oil, grease, food, coffee, mildew, grass, mud, sun-tan lotion and silicone-based dressings can all be removed with ease. For light soiling, spray Total directly onto a general purpose microfibre towel and wipe onto surface. Switch to a dry microfibre towel to buff off any residue. If heavier soiling is present, spray Total directly onto the surface to be cleaned, allow dwelling momentarily, and agitate with a soft, short-bristle brush. You can then use a microfibre towel to soak up the remaining product and grime. It’s handy to re-fold towels regularly during the interior cleaning process. When cleaning carpets, be careful not to over-soak it, as this could lead to mould.

If you’re running leather seats, make sure you use our Hide leather conditioner – do not use Hide on Alcantara!

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Now that the interior is clean, finish the surfaces with our Spritz interior quick detailer. It’s capable of both lightly cleaning and protecting interior plastics and vinyl, all in one step. Its easy-to-use water-based formula is packed with UV-inhibitors to protect against fading. It also leaves behind a natural matte finish that is dry to the touch.

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Don’t forget to add one of our air fresheners – check out the shop here for our selection.

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Now that your interior is complete, the next obstacle to tackle is your exterior. Firstly, the products you use is very important – you want the best products that will make your detailing job easier, while being kind enough to not damage the paint. And, it’s not just the products. You could have the best products in the world, but if you’re using a scouring pad to clean your car those good products mean nothing.

The first thing to do in the washing process is rinsed off any loose particles; do this with a pressure washer for best results. Spend at least five minutes doing this, trust us, it will be worth it and it’ll help prevent wash-induced swirl marks. Don’t forget to rinse the wheels at the same time!

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Next, add a snowfoam lance to the end of your pressure washer, complete with the Auto Finesse Avalanche Snow Foam. The Avalanche Snow Foam loosens and removes road grime, prior to contact washing, doing most of the work for you and removing contaminants that may otherwise be swirled around with a wash mitt. Auto Finesse Avalanche Snow Foam will not strip or otherwise degrade existing sealant or wax protection, unlike some other snow foam products currently on the market. Inflicting swirl damage and scratches are of greater probability during the winter months, when coarser particles of grit and road salt tending to accumulate on the exterior surfaces of your car.

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Leave it to sit for approximately five minutes, allowing the product to attack any surface contaminates, then jet wash the product off thoroughly. Despite its high cleaning abilities, our Avalanche snow foam is safe to use on any wax protection or sealants you would have applied in your full winter detail.

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Next, you’ll need to treat the surface for bugs and any stubborn grime left behind after the foam cleanse. The Auto Finesse Citrus Power bug and grime remover is a gentle but effective formula removing contaminants with ease, without the need for scrubbing or deteriorating your car wax or sealant layers. Simply spray Citrus Power onto the affected area and allow to soak for several minutes. Remove the bug splatter and grime using fresh water using a garden hose or pressure washer.

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Now onto the wash, we recommend the use of a good soft-pile wash mitt in conjunction with our Lather shampoo and two buckets. Lather shampoo is a pH neutral car shampoo and is, again, safe for use on top of wax or sealant. Lather comes neat, but can be diluted down to suit your needs. The dirtier your car, the more shampoo should be used. Using warm water will produce thicker and more effective foam, with greater cleaning power. Tackling the car panel by panel, wash one panel of the car with bucket one then rinse the mitt in bucket two, following completion of one panel – releasing any trapped dirt before re-dipping into bucket one for the next panel. Be sure to start from the top (roof) and work your way down the car, washing all exterior surfaces, bar the wheels and inside the wheel arches.

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Make sure to keep an eye on both your buckets, if either are filthy then simply tip it away and replace. Also, when using the mitt make sure to follow the lines of the car, rather than wash in circular motions.

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Now’s the time to rinse. Remove any attachments from the hose and blast the car. This will encourage water to just sheet off, making the drying process easier. AF TIP. Mist over the whole car with our Glisten spray wax just before drying. This is effectively killing two birds with one stone – adding a layer of protection and making surfaces slicker for drying off with a microfibre. Doing this will provide lubrication, helping to prevent marring in the drying stages. Where possible, patting the paint dry will be better than wiping, due to contaminants in the air that may lay on the paintwork. Be sure to dry paintwork properly, using a large microfibre cloth. Leaving your car to dry off naturally can cause water marks and streaks.

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Now that the paintwork is clean – onto the wheels. If you have the time, we advise removing the wheels one by one and doing them properly, washing behind the wheel and in the arches with our Revolution wheel soap. After washing the wheel arch, spray the inside of the arch with our Verso degreaser, agitate with our hog hair brush and leave to work for about 15 minutes before washing off the degreaser with water. AF TIP: Using wood to keep the face of the alloy wheel off the ground is a good idea when cleaning the rear of the wheel. As above, you should have rinsed off the wheels when you did the paintwork, to rid the surface of any loose grit or dirt. The Auto Finesse Iron Out wheel cleaner works well as a deep cleaner for wheels, but is not recommended for regular use. Once every so often as a deep cleanse is enough, so it’s important to determine the level of soil your wheels possess. The Auto Finesse Imperial Acid-Free wheel cleaner is suitable for normal levels of soiling. It contains a powerful blend of cleaning agents and degreasers to separate the brake dust and road dirt from the wheels on contact. Its high-foaming formula makes light work of a heavy task, and will take your rims from shameful to sparkling in a matter of minutes. It’s also safe to use on all coated wheel finishes. It’s important to use two brushes that you’ve dedicated to wheel use. One which is for the barrels of the wheels, and one for use on the face. You will also need a separate bucket to rinse out your brushes. Lastly, you will need a microfibre drying towel to dry off the wheels. After washing each wheel, finish the process by washing the insides of the wheel arches, rinsing your wash mitt regularly. Finally, rinse everything off with a hose. Through the winter, it’s important to wash your wheels (if possible) every week. Dry the wheel faces with a microfibre towel.

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If you discover at this stage that there are still a lot of surface contaminants bonded to the rim, you can attempt to remove them using a clay bar and lubricant.

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When each wheel is clean, the next step in the process is to protect the rim using our Mint Rims wheel sealant, which is designed to cope with the higher temperatures that wheels experience, helping to resist etching caused by hot brake dust. You should take care at this stage to liberally cover every square inch of the rim, and apply two or three coats of protection, one after the other. Each coat should be allowed to dry to a haze and then buffed off using a clean microfibre towel, before applying the next coat.

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Once the tyres are dry, use our Satin Tyre Dressing which is a progressive dressing allowing you to decide on the level of shine you want. One-layer will give you a clean, natural satin-matte finish. Apply a few drops to a tyre applicator and rub onto the outer wall of the tyre. The more layers you add, the more high-gloss shine you’ll get. Satin’s water-based formula is also packed with UV-Inhibitors, which help to condition the sidewalls of your tyres, and prevent them from cracking over time.

Do not attempt to wash your wheels when still hot from driving.

Well, now that all the maintenance cleaning is done, what about protection? Well, we know you’ll have applied protection when you conducted your winter detail, but it’s important to keep it topped up. Clay barring or extensive contaminant removal shouldn’t be a requirement until the end of winter. Following your winter detail, the car should be well sealed, but it’s important to keep on top of this protection. We recommend using our Glisten spray wax. The Auto Finesse Glisten Spray Wax is an advanced spray wax that is a simple spray and wipe formula suitable for all paint finishes, including matte paint and wraps. Simply spray a light mist over approximately half a panel at a time, then spread with a fresh microfiber towel and buff off to a high-gloss shine.

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The last thing in the maintenance detail process is to go over your glass and exterior plastics. Using our highly-concentrated Crystal glass cleaner, start by applying a fine mist to a manageable section of glass (3-4 spritzes is usually sufficient to do an average window, or half a windscreen), and remove immediately using a short pile microfibre towel. Turn the towel to a clean side and return to the glass for a final buff. If contamination persists, repeat application, allowing the product to dwell and penetrate momentarily before wiping. Crystal is a finely balanced blend of mild distilled solvents, meaning fingerprints and greasy films are effortlessly removed to reveal a streak and smear-free finish.

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Auto Finesse Crystal can also be used in conjunction with glass sealants and is safe to use on all glass surfaces, including mirrors and sensitive window tints. Crystal can also be used to effectively clean the lightweight polycarbonate or acrylic windows used in high-performance or racing vehicles.

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Last things to remember are to wash all of the tools and towels you’ve used in the process, so that they’re ready when you come to use them again. Wash cloths at a low temperature using a non-biological liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing them to dry out naturally. Do not tumble dry. If there are any that are particularly caked in wax or sealant, then wash them in white vinegar first to counter the oil in them.

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