Here I gave this freshly imported 2002 Honda Integra Type R in Championship White a comprehensive clean.
The first step of course was to give the car a good pre-foam from top to bottom to help soften and lift off any loose dirt and contaminants, making sure to include the wheel arches as well as the wheels themselves which many people seem to overlook when foaming a car.
Once the car had been blanketed in a thick layer of foam it was left to dwell for a few minutes before being worked into various areas that accumulate ingrained dirt with a soft bristled detailing brush.
In hindsight, some degreaser or general purpose cleaner could have been used here to aid the relatively weak foam in lifting out months worth of ingrained grime.
Although foaming alone is fine for regularly maintained or familiar cars, for those you’re cleaning for the first time or those that may not have been detailed for a while, a designated cleaner degreaser would help to give the foam a little extra ‘bite’.
Once the foam had been worked into the various areas it was thoroughly rinsed off at pressure to ensure as much dirt and contamination was removed prior to contact washing as possible. Now, this is probably one of the most important steps of the car cleaning process and so it’s worth spending some time and being particularly thorough.
Prior to the washing of the body and while the paintwork was still wet, the wheels were cleaned one at a time using a strong yet non-acidic wheel cleaner through a foaming spray head.
The rears of the wheels were purposefully overlooked here as they were due to be removed to allow the Brembo’s to be re-lacquered and so were going to be cleaned properly off the car at a later date.
The faces of the wheels however were agitated with a soft bristled detailing brush to lift out stubborn brake dust, as were the Brembo callipers themselves.
Before a designated wheel wash mitt and regular shampoo solution was used to further clean the white wheels prior to rinsing.
Now it’s important to use a mitt instead of a sponge on painted wheels for the same reason you would avoid using a sponge on the paintwork. The mitt also allows you to take hold of the spokes and clean dirt from behind them which a sponge may miss.
Once all painted faces of the wheels had been cleaned the wash mitt was used to give the tyre and wheel arches a good scrub prior to rinsing. Shampoo solution alone was used here although a diluted degreaser or all purpose cleaner could be used for dirtier cars.
A thorough rinse of the wheels, tyres and arches was then performed to remove as much dirt as possible as well as all cleaning product residues, which is important if you’re using a strong cleaner.
Also, be sure to give a quick blast to the outer wheel arch areas at the end to remove any product overspray prior to washing the body.
Because the car was going to be polished I opted not to wash using the two bucket technique to save some much needed time, instead going with a single bucket with a grit guard and lambswool wash mitt.
In a methodical manner I washed the Type R from top to bottom a section at a time, turning the mitt frequently and reloading it with shampoo as well as gently rubbing it against the grit guard at the bottom of the bucket.
The aim here wasn’t necessarily to give a gentle detail wash but more of a thorough scrub to remove as much of the imported dirt as possible prior to polishing and protecting.
Finishing with the lower skirts and bumpers to prevent contaminants from the generally dirtier lower third of the vehicle being drawn over the rest of the paintwork.
Directly after washing and before the suds had time to dry I thoroughly rinsed off the car to remove all traces of shampoo and any remaining loose dirt.
The next stage was to clay the car to remove any bonded surface contaminants that washing alone may not have removed prior to polishing.
This is done while the car is still wet and an added lubricant in the form of a detailing or maintnence spray is applied to help the clay glide over the surface without scratching or marring the paintwork.
Only very light pressure is applied – just enough to prevent the clay from slipping out from under your fingers and it is drawn over the surface in sweeping linear motions until the paintwork underneath feels perfectly smooth with no areas of drag or friction.
A single panel at a time is worked with the clay and it is turned or folded in between if ingrained dirt and contaminants have been picked up to prevent them from being drawn over the next panel.
On cooler days the clay bar can be left to sit in a bucket of warm water while the washing takes place to make it more malleable and easier to work with.
After all areas had been clayed, with the lowers of course being the last, the car was given one last rinse off to remove any residue prior to drying.
A plush microfibre towel was used and primed with the same detailing spray, as surprisingly a damp towel absorbs water far more effectively than a bone dry one.
Again the aim wasn’t to give a pampering, patting towel dry but to quickly remove as much of the surface water prior to polishing as possible.
Larger drying towels are great for sucking up water but can be inadvertently drawn across the ground when working on lower areas so I find it’s best to either fold them in half or employ a two handed drying method to keep them safely away from the ground.
In between drying and polishing, I dressed the tyres with a durable non-silicone product and designated microfibre applicator pad. Now, some prefer to leave the dressing to the end as the tyres may attract polishing dust but as I was going to be using a relatively slick, dust free product I chose to dress them prior to polishing…
…Making sure to catch any overspray with a damp microfibre towel from the freshly cleaned wheel faces.
Onto the polishing which was infact a pre-wax cleanse more than a heavy abrasive polish with the brilliant Dodo Juice Lime Prime – a light abrasive, dust free deep paintwork cleanser which can be applied by hand or machine and that doesn’t stain rubbers or plastics hence my lack of masking.
Using a Flex direct drive random orbital machine alongside a Lake Country polishing pad I spread the product over the surface of the paintwork on a low speed before cranking it up to work it in thoroughly.
Focusing on a slightly larger area than I would of if I was performing a multi-stage polish, I worked the cleaner in applying just enough pressure to keep the machine under control, overlapping each pass by about 50% as I went.
This process is actually more to do with the deep cleansing of the paintwork than it is aggressive polishing despite how it may look. The aim is to work the cleanser in enough to ensure any ingrained dirt and light oxidation are removed prior to a protective product later being applied.
I worked all metal parts of the car with the machine before easily removing the user friendly Lime Prime residue with a plush microfibre buffing towel but chose to work the product into bumpers and plastic parts by hand to save having to switch to a smaller spot pad on the machine and because they simply didn’t require machine application.
Using the stiff side of a foam applicator pad I worked the pre-wax cleanser into the remaining parts using both circular and linear motions ensuring all areas had been sufficiently covered before giving them a final buff off prior to waxing.
I used P21S Carnauba Paste Wax, an affordable yet premium quality wax that comes with it’s own small applicator pad for ease of use.
The key to successful wax application is thin, even coverage. I spread the wax over the surface in mostly linear motions following the contours of the vehicle, applying only fingertip pressure.
Depending on the wax in question as well as the conditions and your own personal preference, you can either apply it a panel at a time and then buff off or apply it to the entire vehicle before buffing. Here I chose the latter as the weather was cool and so the wax needed a little longer to fully cure.
As one of the final steps in the detailing process buffing must be done with care to ensure no wax smears are left behind which could compromise the overall finish, so again work methodically from top to bottom and spend some time ensuring all residue is removed which can sometimes be tricky on a white car!
Once the buffing was completed I had a few small areas of plastics to dress just to finish the job. I applied Black Wow with a small sponge applicator pad and buffed it over with a dry microfibre towel until desired finish was achieved.
Before giving the windows a quick spritz with an ammonia free glass cleaner, fluidly working it in with a lint free glass cleaning cloth.
As a final step you could give the car a light mist and buff over with a detail spray to remove any wax, dressing or glass cleaning smears but with the light fading and being confident I had buffed until I could buff no more I called it a day there in order to get some finishing shots which I hope will help to show the the Type R’s Championship White paintwork in all its glory!