- Car Washing
Q.Why is it important to wash my car in the shade?
A.The body of the car needs to be cool for washing so that the product used does not evaporate before you get a chance to rinse it off. As the product evaporates it leaves a residue behind that creates streaking on the paint.
Q.Why is it important to start washing with AutoChem “BLAST OFF” from the bottom up?
A.If you start applying the product from the top down it becomes hard to see where the product has been applied as you work your way down the car – thereby creating the opportunity to miss spots and get an uneven clean. Additionally the way the product runs down the sides of the vehicle in a concentrated form tends to cause streaking, as these runs end up cleaner than the surrounding areas.
- Blast Off
Q. Why is AUTO-CHEM “BLAST OFF” able to dissolve car grime and dirt yet it does not harm the paintwork, chrome and rubber insulation? I always thought anything like this would corrode and dull the paintwork, as it had to be so concentrated to be effective.
A.Corrosion is not the same thing as powerful cleaning. Nor is “concentrated” synonymous with “powerful”. AutoChem “BLAST OFF” is used diluted to 3 to 5% in water. It will not harm your paint or bright work when diluted as instructed, as the formula is anti-corrosive. This is achieved through the inclusion of a buffered pH and selected powerful anti-corrosive additives specific to steel, acrylics, and urethanes (components of modern paints). Products are sometimes touted as “pH neutral for less corrosion” this is a fallacy, since metals are corroded by acid (that is low pH) and neutral (pH7) substances (e.g. water). Seawater is almost neutral (slightly alkaline – pH 7.1 to 8) yet is very corrosive to cars, unlike most mildly alkaline substances! Skin is attacked by high pH (alkaline) substances, which is why there are warnings on the Blast-Off label about skin contact. At the in-use dilution ratio, AutoChem “BLAST OFF” exerts a strong protective effect on car bodywork, leaving an anti-rust film in crevices and chipped areas.
Q. Domestic pressure washers have a significant range of pressure. What is a desirable level of pressure for the pump I should use to wash off the AutoChem “BLAST OFF”. Will too high a pressure harm the paintwork?
A.Water blasters measure their pressure in bar or psi. Too little pressure will not remove stubborn dirt and too high a pressure may damage the paintwork. Auto Chem recommend a water blaster of 110 bar (1600 psi.) as a minimum and up to 130 bar (1900 psi) as a maximum. The majority of home use water blasters fall within this range. Using a water blaster with less than 110 bar is possible if a rotating dirt blaster nozzle is available. However do not use these types of nozzles on the higher pressure machines (110 bar and above) as they may damage your paint – particularly if it is unsound to start with. Too high a pressure may harm the paintwork, particularly if the nozzle is held close to the vehicle, and/or the paintwork is unsound to begin with. This will not usually be a problem with domestic water blasters, but becomes an issue with the larger high pressure commercial units. Holding a higher pressure machine further from the paint is an option, but risky, since it is easy to approach the nozzle too close and accidentally remove body stripes, mouldings and even unnoticed paint blisters.
Is AutoChem “BLAST OFF” safe to use on boat hulls, stainless steel fittings and the like found on recreational vessels?
Totally safe on all these things and vinyl bimini tops etc.
Q.I have just had my car re-sprayed to repair a ding in it. It is a metallic coating with clear coats to bring out the gloss. The paint shop manager said, when I told them about your AutoChem “BLAST OFF”, that I should avoid chemical washing agents for some weeks until the paint finish was properly cured.
A.The latest urethane two packs are oven cured and fully hard and resistant when they cool down, providing the mix ratios, cure temperature and cycle are correct. Nevertheless, as an extra safety margin, I would not wash the car with anything except water for two weeks, just in case the finish is not up to scratch (or maybe it was not baked in an oven, or was a single pack, solvent borne acrylic – these need a few weeks to dry out fully and retain full hardness). Even water needs care on a soft finish, because the dirt and brush bristles can “swirl” it before it fully hardens.
Q.I don’t have a pressure water blaster. Can I use a garden hose to wash the Blast-Off from the vehicle?
A.AutoChem have formulated a product specifically for use without a water blaster – AutoChem WASH ‘N WAX SHAMPOO. However Blast Off will work with a sponge and the garden hose, although the benefits of ease of use and economy will not be available. Water usage will also be much greater with a rinse-hose, and the force of the jet is insufficient to remove stubborn film, so a car wash brush is necessary.
- Clay Bars
Q.Why is the whole piece of clay bar no good if you drop it on the ground? Could I not slice off the portion of clay bay which came into contact with the ground and use the remainder?
A.It is quite possible to continue using the clay bar after it has been dropped on the ground, but you must weigh up the risks. If it has been dropped on grass it may be quite possible to cut the affected piece off. However, if you have dropped it on gravel driveway be very careful – one small remaining stone could ruin your paint job. If in doubt – discard!
Q.How should I store the clay bar between applications, and how many times can I use it on my car?
A.The clay bar should be stored wrapped in polythene to keep it clean. Do not use stretch-wrap (lunch-wrap) – it sticks to the bar tenaciously! See the next answer for the life of the bar.
Q.When will I know that the clay bar is no longer suitable to use on the car?
A. A clay bar will typically last 6-8 uses on the average size car. It will begin to look very dirty and your own common sense will tell you that you are risking putting more dirt back on your paintwork than you are removing.
- Detailing Spray
Q.Must I use the detailing spray all the time? Is there an alternative solution I can use if the detailing spray is all used up?
A.Soapy water or car wash solution will work as a lubricant, but you will not get a shiny finish. AutoChem QUICK-SHINE leaves a shiny protective, bonded-on film behind after the Erazer is used. Without this, you will need to use conventional wax polish on the car.
Q.How do I best remove surplus detailing spray after applying the clay bar?
A. Use a damp AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel in straight strokes. Fold the towel and go over again to smooth the finish and it will dry and cure to a high gloss. Any uneven or missed areas may need a final buff with a dry micro-fibre towel.
Q.What if the detailing spray dries off? Will it wash off with water?
A.Spray more AutoChem QUICK-SHINE over the top. Smooth with a damp AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel, turn the towel to a clean piece and give a final buff in straight strokes.
QThe paint on my car is heavily weathered and dull. Will AutoChem “BLAST OFF”, or AutoChem QUICK-SHINE improve paint that is badly affected by UV and years of poor paint maintenance and non-washing?
A.Yes, AutoChem “BLAST OFF” will make your car look better, and when used in conjunction with our Clay Bar and AutoChem Quick-Shine. Detailing Spray the finish will be greatly improved. AutoChem Quick Shine will leave a glossy layer on matt paint, remarkably improving the appearance, but the effect must be reapplied each week or so, depending on weather (hot sun, rain etc) and severity of the matting. However, nothing short of a re-spray will restore your paint to a new car shine. This may, on occasion, mean only a clear-coat re-spray, depending on what the colour coat consists of and its condition. We have clear-coated single-pack acrylic base coats (like Dulon) on older cars which never had clear top coats, with good results using both single and 2K clear coat. The base coat must be in all-over good condition after a thorough cut or fine wet-sand, however, to make this worthwhile. In some circumstances where the oxidation is particularly deep, cutting can be of great benefit, but it is best done by a professional using a machine, as the potential to do serious harm to an already damaged paint job is high. Cutting by hand is also an option, as there is less chance of damage than with a machine, but it can be a lot of work particularly on larger cars and those with badly oxidized paint.
Q.Numbers of other leading brands are offering, as a waterless wash alternative, detailing sprays or liquids. These are applied with a polishing cloth and then wiped off with a microfibre towel. Is this a sound method for avoiding washing a vehicle without water? Does the AutoChem QUICK-SHINE offer the same solution for a waterless wash? Will such methods effectively remove dirt, dust and grime without harming my vehicles paintwork?
A.A very good question. Our view is that fingermarks, smears, lint and dust that is definitely not coarse enough to scratch the paint can be removed with AutoChem QUICK-SHINE and our deep pile AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel. But how do you know whether or not the dust on your car could scratch it? What is the dust and where did it come from? No-one can ever answer all this with certainty, unless your car has been under a cover in a garage or showroom, perhaps, and all that lies on it is airborne lint, fingermarks etc. Road dust and atmospheric fallout can never be characterised properly – it could be anything! It is not worth risking your car’s paint to find out! A single particle greater than about 50 microns (1/20th. of a mm. or “2 thou” in inches) can make horrible scratches on a glossy paint job, and one cannot be sure one of these has not splashed up out of a road puddle, or been thrown up by the wheels when you drove over some dirt, grass or gravel. We use the term “spritz” to mean removal of grease, fingermarks, lint, plant-sap etc, with the application of a nice gloss at the same time. You can spritz your car with AutoChem QUICK-SHINE and our AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel. But “spritz” never involves gritty dust in our definition. AutoChem QUICK-SHINE and our AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel will do anything all the other so called “waterless wash” products will, but we say do not risk it. Certainly do not apply with a polishing cloth. This is asking for trouble. It should only ever be sprayed on and then very carefully wiped off with a deep pile AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel before buffing with a dry part of the cloth.
Be safe – for any level of road dirt or dust, wash the car with AutoChem “BLAST OFF”, a water blaster and copious water. Or, failing that, a bucket and fine haired (read “non-scratchy”) car wash brush and AutoChem WASH n’ WAX, followed by a good water rinse and AutChem Ultra Microfibre Towel drying.
- AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel
Q.The cloth supposedly catches the remaining vestiges of dirt and grime. Being held in the cloth fibres (grime, grit, dirt and so on) will this harm the paint work as I continue to wipe off the excess water following the car wash?
A.You mention “grit”. Only the finest film of dirt will remain on the car. There will be no grit after washing. The deep forest of fibres in the cloth will sequester this film out of harms way. You can clean a lightly dusty car with just the towel and AutoChem QUICK-SHINE spray. But if in doubt about whether there is any grit on the car, hose or sluice it down first (maybe with a very wet AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel. Then use the detailer spray to finish.
What if I drop the micro cloth on the ground while cleaning the car? Or maybe accidentally flick it on the ground, as I dry the sills?
A.Do not continue!!! Stop and rinse and wring the cloth out thoroughly before doing any more work. Even tiny pieces of grit in the cloth will ruin your paint.
How is the best way to clean the micro cloth after use?
A.Spray it with AutoChem “BLAST OFF” as you spray the car. Then wring-rinse-wring the cloth in clean water. Do it over a sink so you can see when the rinse water is clean. Or use hand soap in a similar way – again in a white sink so you can see when all dirt is washed out. If you have used your Towel to apply polish, and in particular car wax, you will need to give it a thorough HOT wash in your washing machine using a plain laundry detergent (i.e. definitely no fabric softener or “all-in-one” detergent and softener). Otherwise wax remains in the cloth and it will not absorb water and dry the vehicle effectively. To test for absorbency, drip some water on the Towel. It should soak in immediately. If it takes even 2 seconds, the Towel needs a thorough scouring in a hot wash as above.
Q.I have read several times that a spoonful (or ‘cupful’ etc etc) of white vinegar in the wash or rinse water will restore the absorbency to an AutoChem Ultra Microfibre Towel that has lost it. Is this true? How does this work?
A.Put simply, this is not true and it won’t work. Vinegar of any type is an acid. Waxes, and oils that block the channels in the cloth are usually acids, too (“fatty acids”, they are called) or sometimes hydrocarbon oils or silicones. Acetic acid (the main component of vinegars) has no effect on these. It is at the wrong end of the pH range. Soaps, alkalis and detergents are what you want, and you get these in AutoChem “BLAST OFF” laundry detergents and hand-soap. Be warned. Vinegar is a dilute acid when applied. But if left on textiles or skin, it becomes concentrated as the water in it evaporates. Eventually it becomes mostly what is called “glacial acetic acid” and this is strong enough to eat holes in skin, fabric and paint.
Q.Should I store the cloth in a plastic bag when not in use or can it be hung out and left to dry?
A.Hang it out and let it dry. It will dry 3 times quicker than a similar cotton towel. Then it should be stored carefully in your glove-box (handy for wiping the windscreen) or your boot.
- General Questions
Can I use AutoChem QUICK-SHINE and an erazer CLAY-BAR to clean overspray or road film off my windscreen?
A.No, AutoChem QUICK-SHINE will coat your glass with a tenacious glossy film making it fuzzy in the rain. Use an erazer CLAY-BAR with diluted AutoChem SCREEN CLEAN for glass cleaning.
Q.I have a canvas/vinyl hood. Will these be affected by any of your detailing products?
A.Vinyl hoods are cheaper and not often found these days. They are inherently waterproof and AutoChem “BLAST OFF” will clean them effectively and not affect them otherwise. Higher quality woven cloth hoods (like gaberdine cloth etc) are sometimes waterproofed with chemical dressings, though the better ones are inherently waterproofed by the tightness of the weave and the nature of the fibres used. Because one cannot know whether or not a waterproofing dressing was applied at the factory, it is best not to saturate these cloths with any kind of surfactant or detergent. For two reasons – Firstly it could remove the dressing. – Secondly, surfactants and detergents have more penetrating power than water and could remain within the weave if not rinsed perfectly. They can then provide a path for water to penetrate. In practice, it is simple to avoid spraying the whole hood with AutoChem “BLAST OFF”. What small amounts do get on the fabric are easily rinsed off by the pressure washer, and it is easy to distinguish places where detergent remains, because these will continue to foam as the blast jet is applied. In other words, water-blast the hood when you blast the car body, do not move the jet too close (to avoid damaging a fragile cloth) – 600 mm. is close enough. Continue blasting until no more foam is seen in the rinse water.
Q.I have a Fraser Nash replica. The bonnet has about 50 grills for air intake/cooling purposes. Will any of your detailing products cause me grief if they penetrate the grills and get into the engine bay/block?
A.No problems will be caused. Rinse the radiator or other components in the same way you wash the car. Modern engines withstand water blasting, but older ones do not like water on the distributor (because it can get inside) and in the carburettor. If you are worried, put plastic bags over both and be careful where you direct the water. Use AutoChem SPRAY LUBE or some other de-watering fluid if you are unlucky and manage to drown the distributor – remove the cap, shake it out, spray it inside and out with Spray-Lube, shake it out again, replace and the car will start – as long as there are no other problems!