Love they neighbour… by spending all day cleaning their neglected company car!
Now talking of neighbours, in order to keep any curtain twitching at bay when I’m out cleaning my own, I often take care of some of their cars and thought next door’s neglected, motorway-mile-munching company A4 might provide the perfect subject matter for a multi-stage spring clean and having clocked close to 800 miles last week alone it certainly needed one!
I generally valet my next door neighbour’s cars two, maybe three times a year but hadn’t tended to this one for a while so it was caked in a plethora of winter contaminants including traffic film, brake dust, industrial fallout, tar – basically you name it this grubby German had it!
Being relatively new though I could tell there was a nice car hiding under there somewhere, so despite the various disturbances filming at the side of the road on a weekend invites, I decided to at least try and turn this ugly duckling into a swan.
As always then wheels were first on the agenda and were initially treated to a contactless pre-clean with a traffic film remover and pressure rinse to quickly cut through a good deal of the surface brake dust with minimum fuss – who say’s pressure washers aren’t necessary?!
To properly clean them I decided to use a dedicated fallout remover as they were quite heavily contaminated with iron and you don’t often see me using active wheel cleaners on camera so Autosmart’s Red 7 was liberally applied with a 1.5 litre pump spray before being left to sit on the spokes to do its thing.
Once the wheels began to bleed then I set about working them over with a few different soft bristled shampoo-primed brushes. Now, I was only looking to clean and brighten up the faces of the wheels here, of course their backsides could have done with a good scrub too but honesty it’s a company car and I had plenty of other stages to be getting on with after this one so as long as I could get the fronts of them looking smart I, and my neighbour would be more than happy.
After throughly agitating all the German nooks and crannies then the active residue was thoroughly rinsed off with the pressure washer to leave the fronts of the silver wheels at least looking somewhat cared for.
Next up was a healthy application of traffic film remover to help cut through the thick layer of grime on the lower third of the car. To be honest the whole car could have done with being TFR’d but not wanting to risk it drying and staining the relatively new paintwork, I covered the rest of it (including the lower areas that had already been sprayed) with a thick layer of snow foam instead.
It was then all left to soak for a fair few minutes and looking back, to make things a tad more interesting I probably should have applied the traffic film remover through the foam lance to get the best of both worlds but still, this was a good enough start.
Once it had soaked in then it was time to give the car a damn good pre-rinse to remove all of the TFR and snow foam residue as well as any of the dirt it had dispersed. While in my last video I said that I consider this to be the most important part of the wash process in terms of swirl prevention, swirls weren’t anywhere near as much of a concern on this company car so the importance of the dirt removal here shifted to simply making life a bit easier when washing.
I knew a well driven white car like this would be covered in fallout so once rinsed off, I decided to apply the same Autosmart Red 7 used on the wheels, to the paintwork.
Now technically it’s more effective to do this following a contact wash as any dirt on the surface can reduce the efficacy of the product but with the sun now showing itself I chose to get this heavy chemical out of the way first. Also, doing things in this order meant the car would receive two separate pre-rinses which would mean more dirt removed from the car prior to contact cleaning and theoretically a more effective wash.
Sure enough the Red 7 proved the car was quite heavily contaminated and despite the smell of these active products, it’s always good to see a white car bleeding out as it really does illustrate how contaminated surfaces can be even if they don’t appear so.
Unfortunately there was no time for faffing about with two buckets today so I simply added a decent amount of shampoo to a single grit-guided item before topping up with water, adding a cheap synthetic wash mitt and frothing with the pressure washer to create some nice thick suds ready for scrubbing.
Before putting mitt to metal though I took the opportunity to quickly degrease and agitate a few of the more ingrained details of the car with some all purpose cleaner and a super soft Detail Factory brush to help dislodge anything stubborn that the contact wash would struggle to as it was better to get rid of it now than be left with it afterwards.
Unlike my last video which focused on cleaning a car in the most gentle manner possible, this one was quite the opposite. A light once over really would’t cut it on deeply ingrained and neglected paintwork like this so as aggressive as it may look, a damn good scrub was the order of the day.
Yes, in an ideal world you’d pamper every car you see in a super soft manner to prevent inflicting swirl marks but in the real world it doesn’t always pay to pamper and a good old single bucket scrub, for a lot of folk is just the ticket. That being said I’ll still always use a soft wash mitt, grit guard and give a thorough pre-rinse prior to touching the car so don’t completely write me off as a swirl causing sponge jockey just yet!
Once the Audi’s various panels had been given a heavy shampoo scrub then, they were thoroughly rinsed off again to remove the suds and prepare the paintwork for the next stage of its deep clean.
Now as much as I would have loved to have just got on with drying the car here and calling it quits, there were a number of unsightly tar spots still peppering the white paintwork that really needed to go, so while the car was still wet I set about applying a specific tar and adhesive remover which, being citrus-based is more friendly to the paintwork but still gets the job done. Pretty much everywhere apart from the roof and pillars were spritzed with the potent product, before it was left to soak on the surface to attack the tar spots.
As soon as they began to dissolve, the heavier spots were then fully removed with a finger-tipped-towel which always works a treat, while the other main areas of the car were given an intensive wipe down too.
Once I was happy most of the dirt and bonded contamination was gone then I set about giving the car its fifth and final rinse down which almost certainly got the neighbours curtain twitching!
Now ideally I’d advise blanketing the car in snow foam again following a chemical de-tar as these kinds of products tend to leave a water-repellent residue that a rinse alone struggles to fully remove but I was against the clock so a straight up rinse had to do.
Finally then, I set about drying the car from top to bottom with a fresh microfibre towel and again, like with the washing the aim here wasn’t necessarily to avoid inflicting any swirls or marring but to simply remove the standing rinse water along with any remaining lingering residues which, despite the multiple rinses there would inevitably still be some of.
It’s more difficult to see water streaks and smears on a white car – which can be a help or hinderance depending on which way you look at it but as I was aiming to give the paintwork a quick hand cleanse afterwards, the odd streak didn’t really matter so long as everywhere had at least seen a once over.
Once dry (and yes I did the door shuts too, just not on camera), I dressed up the uninspiring tyres with a flat brush and some Capro PERL which, despite being diluted down still gave a shiny finish even after being buffed over.
When dressing tyres with a brush, especially one that might not have been used for a while, then expect to have to add a fair bit of product to prime the bristles first but by the time you reach the second or third tyre you’ll only need a small amount top it up as it’ll be pretty much saturated by that point.
With the car chemically decontaminated, washed, dried and dressed then I wanted to work something over the paintwork to further deep clean, protect and generally brighten it up.
The large bonnet of this particular car called for a direct application of the all in one I’d chosen to use (which will remain anonymous at this point), which was spread evenly over the surface before being worked into it with a bit of elbow grease using an orange Chemical Guys Hex Logic applicator pad. You can’t really do any harm when cleansing by hand and so you shouldn’t be afraid to give it some welly when using one.
Once worked in it was ‘do you even buff bro’d’ with a fresh Carpro orange towel and despite having been applied in the sun, the residue came off with relative ease which was a bonus!
The same process was then of course repeated for all areas of the car, working a panel or section at a time and again the aim wasn’t to achieve awe-inspiring results but simply to breath a bit of life back into the flat paintwork.
Ideally you should top a product like this with a dedicated wax or sealant as any protection they provide won’t last long but it’s certainly better than nothing and always does a decent job of making neglected paintwork look and feel slick, which is why I’m such a big fan of them.
Once the last part of the car had been cleansed and buffed over then it was time to finish the Saturday job off with a quick exterior glass clean using a dedicated cleaner and a couple of lint-free cloths. I generally spray a controlled stream of cleaner directly onto the glass instead of onto a towel as I find it gives a better quality clean, then wipe it over the surface until it flashes off and buff with a another bone-dry one to pick up any hazy residue.
Interesting factoid, most all in one paintwork cleansers like the one used previously can also be used to quickly brighten up and temporarily protect glass and so long as all the residue is thoroughly buffed off, much like the paintwork, will leave it looking and feeling nice and slick.
So after about 5 or 6 hours of dedicated cleaning time plus a few extra for filming the process then, I called it a day to capture some after shots just as the sun decided to go in, so it was a Sod’s Law case of sunny for the chemical wash, cloudy for the final shots but what can you do? At least it didn’t rain!
Now sun or no sun the car still looked loads better for its Saturday spring clean and apart from mine of course, was now definitely the cleanest in the street! Sure, there were still a few spots of contamination here and there but with this representing more of a valet than a full-on detail going any further would have been pretty fruitless.
So i’ve now tackled both my sisters and neighbours neglected filth-mobiles and whatever comes next, hopefully it’ll be shot somewhere other than this god forsaken driveway!