Autoglym Car Detailing
The Alfa Romeo MiTo you saw reviewed last week was prepped for its photo shoot using an assortment of detailing products from Autoglym. Whilst the process or ‘art’ of detailing a car can be quite a minefield for those new to the process, I’ve found it quite simple when you’ve got the right mix of products. If you’ve not washed your car for several months, chances are there will be a build-up of dirt and traffic film on the body of your car. Some of the contaminants will be visible to the naked eye and some of it won’t be.
Since the MiTo was a new car, I delayed my review until I had covered five hundred miles. This review will focus on the bodywork shampoo for the initial prepping of the car before getting sealed in a layer of wax and then cleaning the wheels.
The Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner is my starting point. This pH-neutral shampoo is designed to actively remove traffic film from the bodywork and does not contain any wax. It’s highly concentrated so you only need two small capfuls per 10-litre mix in cold or warm water. Although the instructions don’t specifically mention it, having slightly warm water does help produce more foam, not to mention reducing the pain of constantly dipping your hand in cold water.
Best practice for doing the initial wash is to rinse the car with cold water to remove excess dirt. If you don’t have a pressure washer to do this, you can alternatively soak the sponge and squeeze the water out from the roof of the car. This step is recommended especially if the build-up of dirty is highly visible. What this step aims to avoid is rubbing the fine dirt particles into the bodywork as you go over it with the sponge.
With the excess dirt removed, the Autoglym Shampoo Conditioner further removes traffic film and remaining dirt particles. A good wipe down with the Autoglym Hi-Tech Finishing Cloth helps to dry any remaining residue from the car, leaving a non-streaky finish to the bodywork and the alloys free from the road grime.
If you’ve not used a wheel sealant or wheel cleaner product before, you will find that brake dust has probably baked into the alloys. Brake dust can be identified by the black dots that you see around the wheel and can’t be removed by shampoo. If you find that you’ve got this problem, then you can use the Autoglym Clean Wheels spray which dissolves contaminants and stubborn stains or oils that have been picked up from the road. Autoglym’s Clean Wheels is a non-acidic solution so it’s less harmful to your alloys – especially if you’re applying it to damaged or scuffed alloys. Using a non-acidic wheel cleaner also ensures that the plastic trim parts (usually the middle part of the wheel that often shows the manufacturer logo) don’t fade away over time.
Once the wheel cleaner has done its job, to prevent further build-up of brake dust, Autoglym do a wheel sealant to add a layer of protection to the alloy which makes it harder for brake dust to stick – resulting in easier cleaning next time. The Autoglym Wheel Seal spray also works as a polish and leaves a nice sheen to the wheel. On testing this on the review car, the alloys didn’t need anything more than a shampoo wash to remove two weeks of dirt.
The final step in the detailing process is to seal the bodywork with Autoglym’s High Definition Wax. Wax provides a layer of sealant that sits on top of the lacquer on your paintwork. Its purpose is to provide a layer of protection from environmental contaminants. Wax can also provide UV protection to prevent the paint from fading over time. Autoglym’s HD wax helps to add that layer of protection to the car and seals the paintwork from road grime, brake dust and oil from sticking to the bodywork. Inside the HD wax box you get two applicator pads and a Hi-Tech Finishing Cloth.
HD wax contains a mixture of ingredients, one of which is the special carnauba wax. Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of a plant found in Brazil and is often found in high-quality waxes because of its ability to repel water. The special water-repellant properties of this wax makes water run off as soon as it touches the surface of the car. Water droplets that remain will form up as beads, giving you an indication that the wax is doing its job. Having this wax layer on the bodywork prevents harm from coming to the bodywork, especially during the winter seasons where salt, rain and snow is unavoidable.
The two red sponge applicators that come in the box are used to apply the wax to the bodywork. They’re about the size of your palm, so it can take a good 20 minutes to apply depending on the size of your car. Wax doesn’t need to be added in huge quantities, with the general rule of thumb being less is more. But the applicator pads do make it quite difficult to follow this rule considering its size and the way it seems to dispense the wax from the sponge quite quickly. Apply too much wax and you end up wasting it as well as creating a dust residue when you buff it off. The tub recommends that you leave the wax on for 10-15 minutes before buffing off with the red microfibre cloth. Once complete, you should end up with a nicely restored car that is both sealed and protected from the elements. After applying to the test car, I had it sit in the rain one afternoon and noticed that rainwater just glides off the bonnet with the side of the car remaining dry.
As you can see from the final shots, you can achieve an excellent finish if you have the right ingredients and the willingness to spend the time. The set of Autoglym products I used for this review comes in at less than £70 for the initial investment which makes for a good starter kit to restore or retain that showroom shine to your car. It’s a small price to pay when you consider that you will be able to re-use the products many times over, effectively reducing the cost to just a few pounds per wash – cheaper than what a professional valet costs and better results than using an automatic car wash.