Car Care & Detailing Guides

Using appropriate products and techniques gained from many years of experience, Ultimate Finish has published a series of car care guides with the car enthusiast in mind. With careful application and attention to detail, you too can correctly look after your car, make it look amazing and then keep it that way. Protecting your investment starts here …

Car Care & Detailing Guides Published by Ultimate Finish

1. Decontaminating Paint & Wheels

Contamination affects both brand new and used cars and takes many forms – tar, metal particles, tree sap. These everyday contaminants bond readily to car surfaces and have the potential to cause damage to paintwork and wheels, so their removal is vital to the health and appearance of any vehicle. Ideally contamination should be removed using non-contact methods in order to prevent any accidental scratching or marring of paintwork.

The decontamination stages are best completed in order, one immediately after the other. Do not allow water to dry naturally on the car (unless of course you are using a de-ionising filter) otherwise you will incur water marks which are difficult to remove. If all the steps cannot be completed one after the other, dry the car with a soft, clean drying towel.

1.1 Safe Removal of Metal Particles

1.1 Safe Removal of Metal Particles

Iron and other metal particles are mainly derived from brake dust and as such can be hot. This makes it easier for them to embed themselves into paintwork and as they cool, the particles harden onto the surface and if left will cause damage to the clear coat. To remove them effectively it is advisable to use a cleaner specific for the job, known as ‘iron contamination removers’, or ‘fallout removers’. These types of cleaner work to neutralise and shrink the metal particles, causing them to break the bond with the surface and thus allowing them to be safely rinsed away. Typically these cleaners will have a colour change function to allow you to visualise the cleaner working.

Equipment:

  • Iron Contamination  / Fallout Remover in a bottle with a trigger spray head
  • Hose pipe connected to mains water (optional pressure washer)

Method:

  • Step 1 – Spray the wheels and bodywork with the fallout remover
  • Step 2 – Allow to dwell and watch for the colour change reaction, i.e. from clear to red or red to purple (see image)
  • Step 3 – Rinse with fresh running water from a hose or through a pressure washer until all remnants of the coloured fallout remover have been removed

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1.1 Safe Removal of Metal Particles PDF

1.2 Tar, Bug & Adhesive Decontamination

1.2 Tar, Bug & Adhesive Decontamination

Tar, tree sap and bug residue all bond as if ‘Super-Glued’ to the surfaces of vehicles. There are cleaners specifically designed to tackle this type of contamination, typically called ‘bug and tar removers’ or ‘adhesive removers’. Some of these products will turn non-painted plastic trim and window rubbers milky white and cause pitting on metals used on grilles and badges, so it’s advisable to protect these first with detailing tape.

Equipment:

  • Tar & Bug Remover / Adhesive Remover in a bottle with trigger spray head
  • Detailing tape (optional but recommended)
  • Hosepipe connected to mains water
  • Domestic Pressure Washer (optional)

Method:

  • Step 1 – Spray the whole vehicle with cleaner, taking care to avoid non-painted plastic trim and window rubbers
  • Step 2 – Allow to work (dwell) for a few minutes
  • Step 3 – Rinse surface clean with fresh running water
  • Step 4 – If contamination is particularly evident it may be necessary to repeat Steps 1-3

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1.2 Tar, Bug & Adhesive Decontamination PDF

1.3 Degreasing Bodywork & Wheels

1.3 Degreasing Bodywork & Wheels

Roads are covered with oil-based contamination and this splatters on to vehicles, particularly during rainy conditions. Oils, diesel, petrol all combine with grit and dirt on the road to form an abrasive grimy paste which sticks to the surfaces of cars. Using a degreaser dissolves the bond between the contaminants, paintwork, glass and wheels allowing them to be safely rinsed away.

These products are typically called Degreasers or All Purpose Cleaners (APC) and can be water or solvent based. Some of these products will turn non-painted plastic trim and rubber seals milky white and cause pitting on exposed metal, so it’s advisable to protect these areas with detailing tape prior to application.

Equipment:

  • Degreaser in bottle with trigger spray head
  • Detailing tape (optional but recommended)
  • Hosepipe (or optional pressure washer) connected to mains water

Method:

    • Step 1 – Spray degreaser on to entire surface of vehicle
    • Step 2 – Rinse thoroughly with clean running water. Check the label on the degreaser as some are not suitable to be left to dwell whilst others are safe and work better with a little dwell time.
    • Step 3 – Inspect surfaces to ensure no filmy residue remains. If residue persists, repeat Steps 1 & 2 until surfaces appear clean

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1.3 Degreasing Bodywork & Wheels PDF

1.4 Transportation Wax (New Car Decontamination)

1.4 Transportation Wax (New Car Decontamination)

In an attempt to protect new cars from rusting and contamination build-up during transit from the factory to the dealership, a thick, protective wax is applied. When removed it leaves behind a tacky residue which is hard to remove. Left on the car this sticky residue attracts more contaminants which bond extremely well with the layer and the whole surface becomes extremely difficult to decontaminate. Using a strong adhesive remover will remove the remnants of sticky wax before build up occurs. Strong adhesive removers will typically leave milky white staining on non-painted plastic trim and cause pitting on metal details, so it is strongly advised to protect these areas with detailing tape prior to application.

Equipment:

  • Degreaser in bottle with trigger spray head
  • Detailing tape (highly recommended!)
  • Hosepipe connected to mains water

 Method:

  • Step 1 – Protect unpainted plastic trim, window rubbers and metal details with detailing tape. A strong adhesive remover is likely to cause discolouration and pitting on these substrates
  • Step 2 – Spray the adhesive remover all over the vehicle paying particular attention to edges of doors, grooves and other shallow recesses
  • Step 3 – Rinse well with plenty of clean running water
  • Step 4 – Begin decontamination process from 1.1 Safe Removal of Metal Particles

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