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  1. #1

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    Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    The purpose of this thread is to inform those of you beginning and novice detailers of common mistakes and guffaws made while detailing vehicles. My intentis to avoid "the school of hard knocks" and learn from my and others misfortunes in detailng. This is not a complete list by any means, but as the title states, these are some of the most common miscues made by newbies. These tips and suggestions also separate the "hacks" from those who truly care and know how to properly detail a vehicle.

    1) Cleaning plastic lens (Lexan) dash panel gauge covers and navigation or touch screens with Windex Glass Cleaner and cheap paper toweling.
    There are many scratched and hazed plastic lens covers in vehicles because of this. There are specialty plastic cleaners out on the market for plastics as well asmicrofiber towels. My favorite is Plexus Plastic Spray cleaner with a suede-type microfiber.
    2) Forgetting to roll the vehicle forward to do the bottom of the tires after applying tire gel to them.
    Not easy to remember if you are in a rush, but the effort speaks for itself.
    3) Forgetting to roll down ALL the windows to clean the tops of them next to the seals.
    Nothing looks worse or is as embarrassing than having dirty windows at the top when a customer or yourself rolls down the window sometime later after detailing a vehicle.
    AND, while you have the window down, clean and apply protectant to the inside of that seal/weather stripping next to the window.
    4) Forgetting to clean out all the excess wax around vehicle emblems, decals, panel seams, and vinyl trim or cladding.
    I think this is the most grievous of all detailing errors made today and is a tell-tale sign of a true novice. I use a soft old tooth brush and cotton swabs (Q-tips®) and round toothpicks to clean out these visible and not-so-visible areas. Yes, it is very tedious and time-consuming, but it truly sets off a properly detailed vehicle.
    5) If you are using a buffing machine of ANY kind, forgetting to tape off soft vinyl trim or brushed or polished aluminum and stainless steel trim before buffing.
    You can tell when this has not been done and replacing such scuffed trim is not cheap. Many experienced detailers using a buffer may forgo this, saying they can control their machine during the buffing process. Just play it safe and tape it off and do not worry about how the tape job looks. You`ll remove the tape anyway. Just remember to use painter`s tape (3M Blue) and not cheap masking tape, or God forbid, duct tape.
    6) Using acid wheel cleaner on machined aluminum aftermarket rims.
    More custom rims have been ruined and etched by doing this. If you do not know what they are, ask the owner. If they do not know, play it safe and use a non-acid wheelcleaner, like Eagle One`s A-to-Z All-Wheel Cleaner.
    7) Polishing a clear-coated rim with a chrome cleaner.
    Let`s be clear; almost ALL original equipment of manufacturer (OEM) wheels on vehicles today are clear-coated, even those that look like chrome or polished aluminum. You`ll scratch the clear-coat if you use a chrome metal cleaner of them. Play it safe and use a clear-coat safe one-step wax or sealant on these rims, or you can polish and wax/seal/coat them just like you would a paint.
    8) Using over-the-counter (OTC) SimpleGreen® to degrease and clean the engine and/or aluminum wheels.
    This one has been debated ad nausem about the harmful effects on aluminum parts so prevalent these days on modern vehicles. It will, indeed, etch and cause that white bloom to cast and machined aluminum if it is not rinsed completely. The best way to avoid this is simple do not use OTC Simple Green. In all fairness, Simple Green does make an aluminum-safe degreaser, but it is about 2-1/2 times the cost of OTC Simple Green. I use Optimum Polymer Technology`s Power Clean for degreasing engines and the outside of vehicles. Not cheap, but very effective.
    9) Making the wrong investment initially in detailing equipment and care-car chemicals.
    This statement is for week-end warriors and hobbyist who have limited financial means or a budget to getting started in detail. My suggestion is to buy good vehicle wash equipment and car-care chemicals with the first $300 or so. Sounds like a lot of money, but washing is the most common and frequent vehicle detailing process and many detailing "problems" happen in the washing process. There are car-washing kits available from the Autopia Store and don`t forget about the wheels and rims, along with the window-cleaning. Once you`ve assembled that collection, you can budget accordingly for the next phase of your detailing hobby.
    10) Not adhering to personal safety practices while detailing.
    This one is a separate topic in itself and will be the subject matter for a future thread.But as a teaser, here are some items I think are worth considering:
    a) Trip and falls from electrical cords and water hoses, cold weather ice and snow, or platform ladders.
    b) Mixing chemicals together or pouring amounts from bulk chemical containers without measuring.
    c) Not reading the chemical labels for proper use or required protective gear.
    d) Improper attire for hot or cold weather detailing. (Like washing a car without plastic gloves in 38°F weather is impossible, unless you like frozen hypothermic hands)
    d) Not realizing how physically-demanding detailing can be or being "self-medicated", legal or illegal.
    e) Not paying attention to weather forecasts or current conditions. (Like wiping off a car outside quickly to get it into the garage with a thunderstorm approaching)
    GB detailer
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  2. #2

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Accumulator:
    Thanks for the "correction and addition" on item #8. My deceased Mother, who was my high school junior English class teacher, would have a fit if she saw this and ask, "Don`t you proofread your writing?". I usually do, but even automated spell-checkers do not fix everything, as my typing/keyboarding/word processing skills are abysmal at best.
    GB detailer
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  3. #3

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    The expand on #9. Don`t get wrapped up in the hype of a product and buy gallons before you have even tried it once. Try a 8 or 16oz bottle of something first to make sure you like it and that you can make it do whatever it is supposed to do correctly. Other wise you will end up with 3/4 filled gallon jugs of stuff sitting on the shelf collecting dust.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Lonnie- Heh heh, with your Mom having been an (and your) English teacher, I guess folks like my wife and me aren`t anything new
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  5. #5

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    DBAILEY- Heh heh...yeah, don`t want to end up with a gallon of M205 on your shelf like Yours Truly
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  6. #6
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Please add a note to number 9. Dawn is not a good substitute for car wash soap!
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  7. #7

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by rlmccarty2000 View Post
    Please add a note to number 9. Dawn is not a good substitute for car wash soap!
    Nor does it "strip wax" effectively.
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  8. #8
    Mary B's Avatar
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Hello Lonnie, Thanks for this..
    Just a quick question on #5
    You say tape off vinyl, but if I have the vinyl sealed, the tape won`t stick. ???

  9. #9

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary B View Post
    ..Just a quick question on #5
    You say tape off vinyl, but if I have the vinyl sealed, the tape won`t stick. ???
    I haven`t taped stuff off since forever, but IIRC I never had problems with my masking tape sticking to the stuff I use on such surfaces (generally Ultima TTG+ these days). Are you *sure* it`s an actual problem?
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  10. #10

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary B View Post
    Hello Lonnie, Thanks for this..
    Just a quick question on #5
    You say tape off vinyl, but if I have the vinyl sealed, the tape won`t stick. ???
    Ah, yes, the detailing dilemma; do I clean and treat the vinyl trim FIRST, and as you pointed out, not have the tape stick to it, OR
    do you tape off the vinyl and THEN compound and polish and come back and clean and treat the vinyl SECOND.
    I am more inclined to do the latter, JUST to protect the vinyl trim from polishing and deal with the mess of clean-up on the paint when applying the vinyl protectant/sealant. The flipside is that wax/sealant does not "stain" or stick so easily to trim that has been treated FIRST. Someone will insert the comment, "Why not just be careful in the application process of either vinyl treatment or wax/sealant and avoid the messy after-clean-up." That may be very true for someone with a steady hand, but wherever the two exterior vehicle material surfaces meet, I want to make sure each is covered COMPLETELY with wax or vinyl treatment, so there is that overlap and mess that occurs for me and the ensuing clean-up. Pick you poison. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

    Oh, yes, I cannot forget that when you tape vinyl trim FIRST, there is the distinct possibility that the tape adhesive will stick to the vinyl if the trim is old and neglected or if the ambient work environment temperature is quite "warm". That can be a real pain to remove and can cause more damage to the trim when you use a solvent in an attempt to remove all the adhesive.
    GB detailer
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  11. #11
    Swanicyouth's Avatar
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Tape. I hate it. I won’t use it. I’ve tried a bunch of diff kinds & it either doesn’t stick or leaves residue behind on paint. I just don’t polish trim or sling polish.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    I thought number one was don`t take the polishing pad off the paint when it`s spinning lol
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  13. #13
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    The only time I use tape anymore is polishing/sanding headlights. No mater how careful you are tape here is a necessity. The more steps you use to restore headlights the more chances there are to ruin the paint or trim surrounding the headlights.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Yep
    Ever since I put WETS on my vinyl, tape won`t stick. (CarPro, red)
    Tape gets placed on the paint as close to the vinyl as possible.
    Some areas get it, some I just do without.

  15. #15

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    Re: Common Newbie Detailing Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveT435 View Post
    I thought number one was don`t take the polishing pad off the paint when it`s spinning lol
    I trust you`re being facetious

    I`m always astounded when somebody actually does that, simply cannot imagine how/why it could occur (let alone why the result would be unexpected) but every now and then there`s a post about it happening.

 

 
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