So, after gettin' it wrong on GCKid's thread, turns out I'd bought the Mother's products, NOT Meguires. In my defense, its been about three weeks since I bought the stuff.
So, what'd I get? Well, I've been lazy. This is the first effort I've put in since I got the car, June 11th, 2009. I've washed it regularly at a touchless wash, but there's really only so much that can do. The upside of all this is that there's plenty of crap on the car, so the results should be pretty dramatic.
Well, they were.
What I didn't count on was the amount of time this would take. I spent about an hour doing the claybar treatment Friday afternoon. That was actually fairly easy, and I was immediately surprised at just how effective it was. A lot of bug/tar/road grime came off with the clay bar, and I could feel the surface smoothing out under the bar. Every two or three passes I'd lift the clay, fold it twich, squish it back together, and then go again. The accompanying lubricant also worked wonders at prepping the surface for the clay, and keeping the action easy.
I was tempted to leave it at that, to be honest. The results were actually good enough. But, I'd already bought the Mothers products, and I figured as I'd done the wash, and claybar, I might as well do it all.
So, I got up Saturday morning bright and early, and at 8:30am I had my weapons ready. The above pictured products and the other essential supply. Coffee.
To apply, I used foam/microfibre discs. They're cheap and effective, and I found the foam side was good for my fingers to grip, while the microfibre side gave me confidence that I wasn't scratching the paint while applying the products. It took me a little while to get the amount on the applicator right, especially early on, because the disc was soaking a lot up itself.
From what I can tell, the "step 1" is basically a rubbing compound. It's called "pre-wax cleaner" and technically, does much the same job that the clay bar achieves. Again, I was tempted to skip this one, as I'd already done the clay bar the day before, but, in for a penny, in for a pound. So, I got to work. It goes on fairly thick, and dires to a white film/powder. I scrubbed it off with a cheap microfibre cloth, and I was again surprised at just how much ... filth... this step took off, especially considering I had done the claybar the day before. I actually had to grab a new cloth half-way through the removal process, because the original one wasn't getting clogged with the used product, but was actually turning grey/black. Very impressed at the sheer volume of accumulated contaminants, oxidants, waxes and garbage. It also seemed very effective at covering up the small scrapes, scratches and imperfections in the paint (swirl marks, etc). It took me about an hour and a half to do the whole car, applied and removed. Again, even at this point, I could happily have quit, and been six steps ahead of where I was as far as the cleanliness of the car is concerned.
The second step was to refill my coffee.
Next, "step 2" is called "Sealer & Glaze" Not only is this advertised to add depth and shine to the paint, but also to continue what the rubbing compound started, and fill and hide minor scuffs and swirls, and paint imperfections. The application process for this, (and for all their 'stepped' liquid products) is the same: Apply with a foam or microfibre applicator, allow to dry to a haze, then remove with a microfibre cloth. This is a much smoother product than the pre-wax cleaner, however, and goes on faster and thinner, which also means it drys more quickly. I was also getting better at it, which helps. This step took about an hour. Again, the results were obvious immediately: the paint was much, much smoother to the touch, and the gloss/shine was evident right away.
You guessed it. While I admired the handiwork that was step two.. Another coffee.
Finally, the step everyone knows, wax. "step 3" is "Pure Carnauba Wax". A much thinner, simpler product, you're just trying to rub this one into the paint you've cleaned: it goes on very, very quickly, and you need to apply much, much less of it to the applicator pad: it also doesn't clog the pad up as you go, so I didn't end up needing to swap to a new one half-way through the process.
I tried using an electric 6" buffer for the removal step, and quite honestly, it's easier and faster with a simple microfibre cloth. Colour me completely surprised. And it was REALLY easy. While the whole process is time consuming, it's not difficult work. And, thanks to that same car, with the windows down, and "Hair Nation" on XM radio, the time went pretty quickly.
The shine after the combination of the "Sealer & Glaze" and then the wax is, simply, spectacular.
I now wish I'd done this when I first got the car. I went with the Mothers for the most crass of reasons: it's about $4 a bottle cheaper than the Meguires products, and six bucks for the box cheaper for the claybar. Products alone, I saved about twenty bucks. Which is my half a tank for cruising around showing off my shiney car.
The only issue i have now is that the real paint issues (the two egg impacts from a few weeks ago, and a couple of stone chips on the hood and front fascia) are actually more evident now... as long as you know to look for them.
But, at this point, all I have to do is sit back, relax, and admire my car.
After I fill up my coffee again.
The pictures don't really do it justice, I gotta say. They're just quick snaps though.