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After years of resigning myself to having two really dirty vehicles (except when I run them through a drive thru car wash, usually disappointed with the results), I finally bit the bullet and bought some detailing supplies. The first package arrived yesterday, and I'm looking forward to my first wash. I came to the forums trying to figure out what order to do everything in, and what if any supplies I might still be missing.


Here's what I'll be detailing:

1. Tesla Model 3, obsidian black metallic exterior; leather black interior

2. Dodge Grand Caravan, white exterior, leather black interior


Here's what I have so far in terms of supplies:

  1. 2 x collapsible 5 gallon buckets
  2. Adam's arsenal kit
  3. Scratch & Swirl remover
  4. gray microfiber applicator pad


Things I think I'm missing: wheel and tire brush kit and cleaner; orbital polisher (not really "missing", but I imagine this will be my next order)


Watching the videos, I see I need to clean the wheels and tires first. I was going to order the wheel & tire cleaner complete kit, as I don't think I can/should be using anything from the arsenal kit to tackle the wheels and tires


Once I've got the wheels done, I'm at a bit of a less as to in what order I do things, and how often. The mega foam wash (with foam gun) seems obvious, but what's next? Between the scratch and swirl remover (which I assume goes next after the wash?), the buttery wax, spray way, and detail spray, what order do folks do the exterior? And do I use a different applicator pad for the s&s remover and the buttery wax? 


Should I be using completely different pads or towels between the two vehicles if I'm washing them at the same time?


I've scanned through videos and forum threads, but if this is all explained somewhere I'd be grateful if someone could point me to a dummy's guide for newbies.




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Bonjour @rounderjd and welcome to the Forum.


You got yourself a really good starter kit and you'll be able grow the product list from there.   The first thing is to determine how dirty your vehicles and the next step is the amount of imperfections that you need deal with.   


If the vehicle is pretty clean, you don't live on a dirt road or park at a construction site, then you should be able to start with going over the first vehicle with the Megafoam to get it clean. After washing each panel, you'll want to rinse the wash mitt, dunk it in the soap and do the next panel.  If at all possible, you want to be in the shade while doing the wash.  


Once you've washed all the panels, give the vehicle a good rinse and walk around it to see if you missed anything.  The next thing to do is the baggy test.  This is as simple as getting a sandwich bag, putting your hand in it and gently move it across a panel, if it feels like sandpaper, you need to clay the vehicle.  Once you've clayed the vehicle, then you look for any bad areas for light scratches or swirl marks and those can be taken care of with the Scratch and Swirl Remover.   


You'll want to clean off any residue from the Scratch and Swirl Remover, if you use it, and then you'll be ready to put down a thin coat of Buttery Wax.  Let it dwell for a bit and then using a single soft towel, buff it to a shine.   You can keep the vehicle look good for multiple weeks by using Detail Spray.  You can also use the Spray Wax, which can also be used on the side and back windows to keep the dirty off them.


As for the wheels and tires, get one of your garage rags and just wipe them off after you've soaped the vehicle.  Don't try to clean them and don't use that rag on another part of the car since it may have contaminants that can harm or parts.  Once you have the Tire and Wheel kit, you'll be able to clean them with dedicated products. 

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1 hour ago, RayS said:

Bonjour @rounderjd and welcome to the Forum.

Thanks so much! That is super helpful!


The white minivan is (and will typically be) relatively clean because we rarely use it. It also shouldn’t have too many scratches as far as I know (minus some black scuffs on the trunk door from when I accidentally opened it with a partially open garage door!) The black Tesla, however, is covered in sunscreen hand prints from my kids and has picked up some scratches (possibly from being keyed, some from a drive thru car wash.)


Great to know that I don’t have to wait for a wheel and tire kit to give them a wash! I saw a video where Adam said he never tries to wash the body until the wheels and tires had been cleaned, so I was worried I might someone mess up the car by doing them at the same time.


It turns out the buttery wax was missed from the shipment, so I’m going to try giving them both their first wash without it. Sounds like I’d use the Detail Spray for now, and then start the whole process again when the buttery wax arrives.


Here’s hoping for some shade!

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First, welcome. Second, start slow, and some advice, start on the white vehicle first. "Play" with that one first. Get used to what your doing before you touch the black Tesla. Black is not very forgiving and a mistake with the machine and you'll be chasing swirls for a while. Do a very small test area on the van first, get used to using Adams stuff as well. If you have never used a polisher be careful. Most don't just pick one and go to town on paint. It takes some getting used to but when you get good at it, there is not much more satisfying than a newly buffed vehicle ! And when you get really good, you'll get these type of results. Enjoy your new Adams stuff and welcome again !














Edited by 07stanggt
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Thanks for the advice! Sadly, I impatiently tried both vehicles last night. (At least the white one first!)


Some initial observations:


1. The foam blaster was underwhelming. I don’t know if it’s a water pressure issue, but with the tap on full blast the output was anemic. I figured out part way through that the suds came out with more force when I released the grip a bit, which helped. Also, depending on what seemed to be my elevation and angle, the suds would spurt out much differently. I may need to find some videos to help troubleshoot.


2. I might not have mixed the shampoo right, but my wash bucket would have tons of foam on top without much obvious soap in the water below. I got the mix a bit better on the second vehicle, but I wasn’t  seeing much suds action with the mitt toward the end of the first vehicle wash.


3. I got really confused by the towels. I have the two utility cloths and plush towels that came with the Arsenal kit, but I was constantly confused about what to use at what step of each process. This was exacerbated by doing two vehicles the same night, and I worry I might have messed things up by having to reuse each as much as I did.


4. I get I was constantly re-applying swirl remover to my applicator pad. How much coverage is each pair of pea sized drops supposed to provide?


5. some scratches came out really easily. Some with a bit more force. Most not at all, but I was happy to see some movement.


6. the worst part was that by doing the white van first, it was pretty dark by the time it came to polish the black Tesla. I should have moved it into my garage after washing so I’d have better light, and I feel pretty silly having tried to do what I did with an iPhone flashlight.


7. I’ve got white sunscreen lotion stained into the rear leather seats. I know it’s possible to remove these because a professional detailed got them out last season. But the interior detailing spray didn’t do the trick. Is there a product with which I might have greater luck?


8. I need more towels. So many more towels.


Despite being freaked out that I was wrecking two vehicles most of the time, they both look a lot cleaner than they did before. But I’ve got a lot of learning to do on how to properly apply, wipe and remove each product.

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@07stanggt showed some really good examples of how you can correct a vehicle, but the techniques are not learned overnight, just take your time.  One other point, don't try to chase perfection, it does exist except maybe on those few mega-dollar show cars.    


The kit you received should have came with Spray Wax, it does a good job and will put some shine on a vehicle, but more important than shine is protection.   This picture is from a couple of years ago and was the Wife's Malibu with over 100,000 miles on it.  Also, contact Adam's Customer Support, they are the best there is and they will make it right.


As for towels, there is no such thing as having too many.  Adam's Borderless Gray are my go to towels and my first purchase was just a couple of them and then I bought a 24 pack.  With the towels you also need to get the Microfiber revitalizer and be sure to follow the instructions: https://adamspolishes.com/products/adam-s-microfiber-revitalizer-brightener  With proper care the towels will last a long time and ensure you don't add additional marks when washing and drying.


Malibu Spray Wax.jpeg

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You're asking all the right questions and we're definitely excited to have you here! The only thing I would say is to start breaking them down into the other applicable forum areas to make sure they get the most exposure. The welcome messages aren't usually the best place to continue extended discussions...

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