Please Guide Me on Paint Maintenance

Mud

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I bought this 2011 E350 in really nice shape, paint is great but maybe not up to BITOG standards smile When I run my hand on the surface I can feel it has a very slight grit feel to it, not the buttery just-waxed feel. The car was waxed before I bought it but I don't know what brand. So I start a bit of internet looking and find that MB uses a ceramic-based clearcoat system that seems to be a bit tougher to polish out. My initial plan was to use a clay bar followed by wax but happy to defer to the experts here. What would you recommend for this daily driver, generally parked under cover at home and work? thanks.
 
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You'll get a lot of different opinions, but I use clay as a last resort as it's basically very fine dirt used as a very fine abrasive. Some cars need that, but only after I wax it with Meguiars Ultimate and see the results. The safest thing to do...although it might be an extra/wasted step..is to wash it and wax it and see the results. A detailing tip is to always wax in back and forth/front to back motions to avoid swirls....forget about the so called random orbital buffers, they add swirls.
 
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Your best protection is keeping it out of the sun and elements so in your case a clay followed by wax is beyond what most people would do for maintenance. More likely your car has never been clayed so be generous with the clay lube and divide your clay bar up into 4 to help speed the process. I'm pretty sure your clay will get dirty quick. For sedans I end up using close to half a gallon of clay lube. I use Optimum No-Rinse for clay lube so it's not that expensive. You can also use any rinseless car wash without the wax to use as lube. The minus wax part is harder to find and it's not the end of the world if you end up using one with wax. If it were my car, I'd: clay Mother's Ultimate Step 2 (polish/glaze) with the Meguiars (Power Dual Action) drill attachment any wax of your choice any spray wax as your dry during any wash All the above are available over the counter. You can polish without the drill if you want to work out your arms. Best of luck.
 
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If the paint is in good shape with not a lot of swirl marks, a clay bar is an excellent first step. It should remove the grit you're feeling in a way that's less hard on the paint than a cleaner/wax. Griot's Garage has a great clay bar/lubricant combination if you're interested. As a second step I'd suggest Collinite 845 Insulator Wax, which is easy to apply, glossy and long lasting, but everyone will have their favorite. Good luck with it!
 
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I think that the clay bar would be perfect for what you're feeling. My understanding of a clay bar is that it isn't like an abrasive at all (assuming you lube up the paint appropriately). The clay _should_ ride on top of the clear coat and kind of scrape off the surface of the paint. If that goes well, you shouldn't need to use any kind of aggressive polish on the clear coat all. A good wax after that and I think you'll have the buttery feel you're looking for! Congrats on that nice looking new ride!
 
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Congratulations on your nice find! More than likely, that "grit" you feel will be easily removed using clay. I lube using car wash + water. Very slippery.
 

Mud

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I think appropriate steps may be the Griots clay bar/Optimum lube followed by Collinite from your comments. I also find good feedback on these products. I agree that I was not looking for an agressive polish, I also think that the car was maintained (washed) but not ever clay barred before. I appreciate the input!
 
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Originally Posted By: Noey
You'll get a lot of different opinions, but I use clay as a last resort as it's basically very fine dirt used as a very fine abrasive. Some cars need that, but only after I wax it with Meguiars Ultimate and see the results. The safest thing to do...although it might be an extra/wasted step..is to wash it and wax it and see the results. A detailing tip is to always wax in back and forth/front to back motions to avoid swirls....forget about the so called random orbital buffers, they add swirls.
Please ignore this note, which is wrong on a number of points. The vast majority of the other posts, which suggest using clay with considerable lubrication are what you want. This responder thinks that clay comes after wax. If so, then wax again. Also, this person thinks that clay is dirt and is abrasive. I suppose that is true, sort of, but the same materials, or other "abrasives" are also present in most waxes, including the wax cited. If the car is clean and is rough to the touch, get some clay, then polish, then wax, then glaze. If you do not have the time, on such a desirable car as yours, it is well worth paying somebody $250-$300 or a little more to do this. Here's my detailing tip - get a dual action polisher and new heads, and practice on an old beater to get your skills in shape. I am not sure what a "so-called random orbital" refers to.
 

Mud

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I would be ok with paying someone but I actually have a proper polisher/pads that I've used for final finishing after color sanding. I've done a lot of base/clear paintwork before but this type of clearcoat seemed to be a bit different animal and I wanted to be sure of next steps. I've actually got a good local source that does great detailing work on much more expensive cars and cares about his final product. I think that I can pull this off ok but needed to get an idea of products and applications for this type of clear finish. I used a bit of McGuires Ultimate car wash yesterday to clean things up and the results were pretty crummy, not sure if it was the product or our local water supply (hard water). The issue was not spotting but lots of haze/streaks when dry. Looked like c**p on the dark gray color. I was running out of time so I cleaned it all up with some Wet Paint Glaze detailer. Looks good now, but I really need to get back to a baseline "clean" and wax process. thanks! oops forgot to add that the car has the MB-Tex seats, Aerospace 303 protectant is ok?
 
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Originally Posted By: TomYoung
Originally Posted By: Noey
You'll get a lot of different opinions, but I use clay as a last resort as it's basically very fine dirt used as a very fine abrasive. Some cars need that, but only after I wax it with Meguiars Ultimate and see the results. The safest thing to do...although it might be an extra/wasted step..is to wash it and wax it and see the results. A detailing tip is to always wax in back and forth/front to back motions to avoid swirls....forget about the so called random orbital buffers, they add swirls.
Please ignore this note, which is wrong on a number of points. The vast majority of the other posts, which suggest using clay with considerable lubrication are what you want. This responder thinks that clay comes after wax. If so, then wax again. Also, this person thinks that clay is dirt and is abrasive. I suppose that is true, sort of, but the same materials, or other "abrasives" are also present in most waxes, including the wax cited. If the car is clean and is rough to the touch, get some clay, then polish, then wax, then glaze. If you do not have the time, on such a desirable car as yours, it is well worth paying somebody $250-$300 or a little more to do this. Here's my detailing tip - get a dual action polisher and new heads, and practice on an old beater to get your skills in shape. I am not sure what a "so-called random orbital" refers to.
A bit of high mindedness doesn't distract from the inaccuracy of your editorial comments. On a car with an unknown history, it's best to start off easy...not only on yourself but the paint, too. And although there are paint jobs that typically require more aggressive treatment, anyone with actual experience with restoring paintwork properly will agree that you start with a good wax job, hand applied, and see what the result is. There are a lot of products out there that do all sorts of things, but that doesn't mean they are appropriate for all situations. This includes "Clay" and "Polishes"..all abrasives..as well as buffers, which really do easily add swirls. You want quick 'n dirty, go for it. You want great results, you're patient and you use elbow grease first, and just a good wax. Do this on your Benz and maybe take some before and after shots and then we can talk. Or, you can go with clay and buffers and we can talk about potentially restoring the damage you're about to cause. Have a nice day.
 
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If the paint is rough after you wash the car, it's probably going to need claying. This isn't rocket science and properly done, claying a car, especially one with PPG ceramic-clear, would result in little to no marring. Waxing/sealing over a rough gritty surface is for amateurs or those that have mediocre expectations.
 
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i vote claybar. Use plastic bag test, and it should reveal if claybar is appropriate. If you are paranoid try it on a small area first, say the horizontal section of one of the bumper
 
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Mud

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I applied some McG Ultimate to several areas and really saw no difference in gloss, it's all shiny, but the surface still felt like it had some contaminants. I went ahead and ordered up the Griot clay bar, the Optimum wash, and the Collinite. Yes, I will try this on a small lower area to see results. From using buffer/pads and Final Glaze after color sanding, I know that less is more sometimes smile Easy does it. I also got the 303 for the interior. I'll post up results, good or bad. Good I hope, though, thanks all.
 
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Quote:
A bit of high mindedness doesn't distract from the inaccuracy of your editorial comments. On a car with an unknown history, it's best to start off easy...not only on yourself but the paint, too. And although there are paint jobs that typically require more aggressive treatment, anyone with actual experience with restoring paintwork properly will agree that you start with a good wax job, hand applied, and see what the result is. There are a lot of products out there that do all sorts of things, but that doesn't mean they are appropriate for all situations. This includes "Clay" and "Polishes"..all abrasives..as well as buffers, which really do easily add swirls. You want quick 'n dirty, go for it. You want great results, you're patient and you use elbow grease first, and just a good wax. Do this on your Benz and maybe take some before and after shots and then we can talk. Or, you can go with clay and buffers and we can talk about potentially restoring the damage you're about to cause. Have a nice day.
It is painfully obvious you know absolutely nothing about detailing, nothing at all. A dual action random orbital buffer makes it all but impossible to damage paint. Even in unskilled hands such as your own you would have to try very very hard to cause damage. This type of buffer is used to REMOVE swirls after using a rotary. A proper hand wash then clay will show what the next steps needed will be under good light and close inspection. I did this type of work earning my living for many years and know just a bit about it. I agree to use the least aggressive methods but washing a car then putting wax on it to see if it needs to be clayed is simply absurd. Have a nice day.
 

Mud

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RT, you had started me on Wet Paint Glaze a couple years back. Good stuff.
 
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I think you'll find that a Nanoskin Autoscrub pad will outperform a clay bar in shearing contaminants and longevity. As for correction/polish you'll want to choose one that is formulated to work with a finish like yours.
 
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Originally Posted By: gofast182
I think you'll find that a Nanoskin Autoscrub pad will outperform a clay bar in shearing contaminants and longevity. As for correction/polish you'll want to choose one that is formulated to work with a finish like yours.
+1! I recently switched from clay to the nanoskin (fine). Clay was great but the autoscrub is easier to hold and so, faster. Either way, use plenty of "lube". BTW I did the whole program on my brand new F150. Even new vehicles get contaminants on them and there's no waiting period to wax them anymore.
 
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