Want Something Better than the Meguiar's 3-step

Discussion in 'Mustang Sound & Shine All' started by puma1552, Apr 21, 2011.


  1. puma1552

    puma1552 Member

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    I've always washed my car with Meguiar's Gold Class, then a few times each summer I'll wax it using Meguiar's 3-step process. I never use a clay bar, because the car is a summer toy for only the nicest of days and I don't drive it down the grimy highway hardly, if at all--just a summer cruiser, and it stays waxed rather well so I have never really needed a clay bar. So let's look at this from the vantage point of having clean paint to start with without any marring in the clearcoat (in other words, buffing/polishing is not necessary, let's focus on everything north of those steps).

    The Meguiar's I use is the Step 1--Cleaner Wax, to strip all of the old wax off and get me down to the clear coat, then I use Step 2--Oil Replenisher, and then Step 3--Carnauba (2 coats). So a wax job requires four coats by hand currently.

    It works pretty well, and has kept my car in astounding condition for the last 12 years, so I can't say the products haven't done their job, given the easy life of the car.

    However, I realize these products are mediocre at best, and I want to step it up a notch. I do have one complaint, and that's that even the with the easy, garaged life of my car, that wax simply doesn't last beyond 4-5 washes. I'll get nice beading a few times, and that's it. I do follow the instructions, waxing in the shade when the paint is cool, and letting the wax haze before buffing it off, etc., so my method isn't a problem. The stuff simply doesn't last. This gets frustrating sometimes, especially with how much work it takes to go over the entire car, jambs and all, four times.

    So I want something better. I'd like to stick with Meguiar's, and was thinking of trying out Meg's #26 since I've heard lots of great things about it. But what I'm most interested in learning about is sealants (hand applied). I have read the guides here, and apparently they seal the paint for 4+ months, but beyond their longevity how exactly do they differ from waxes, afaik wax effectively seals the paint, does it not? I also saw that they can be used as a supplement to wax, or as a replacement. I'd like to use it as a supplement, but I'm not sure where to fit it in. I guess ideally I like the idea of the 3-step kind of system, strip the old wax, hit it with oil replenisher, then seal her up, but where in there would I put the sealant? After the oil replenisher but before carnauba? Can I put the sealant on every 2 months or so when the car gets waxed?

    Give me some good suggestions for a little better care regimen, and teach me how to work sealants into the picture. I'm not interested in buffing the car, it doesn't need it. Just want a god regular waxing/sealing regimen.
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  2. N8Dogg98

    N8Dogg98 Mustang Master

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    A sealant is a great idea and would certainly add some durable paint protection. One of my favorite products is Black Fire Wet Diamond. It's easy to apply, isn't terribly expensive (must be ordered online for around $30), and is a very durable sealant. In fact it will provide protection to a garage kept car that is maintained with regular washes for about one year. On a daily driven car that is driven through dirty winters expect about 6 months worth of protection. An added bonus of using a sealant is you can apply a good carnauba wax on top of it to add additional depth, warmth, and shine to the paint (I like to use AutoGlym HD... wal-mart used to sell it for $35, but you can also order it online).

    That said, there are some things you must do first before applying a sealant. You may not think your car needs a clay bar treatment but you'd be surprised. That car is 13 years old and despite being in excellent condition, I doubt the paint was properly cared for during all 13 of those years. Even a garage queen that's washed regularly and driven on sunny days accumulates contaminates that embed into the paint. Also, with regard to paint correction (polish or compounding) do you know if the dealer you bought the car from used a compound on a rotary or D/A to fully correct the paint? Even if they did, they likely used a filler to hide the buffer trails (very common of dealers to do this). Look at the car in the sun or under direct halogen lights, can you see visible swirls or scratches?

    Here's a detail a pro did on my dads STS-V.

    http://www.meguiarsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=41589

    Notice the haziness of the paint, swirls, and scratches in the before pics, and in the after pictures there are no swirls, scratches or haziness.

    After my dad had his car detailed I spent some time reading through forums on Autopia and Meguiars Online. I bought a rotary and a D/A polisher, a bunch of pads, and a series of compounds and polishes and practiced on my DD at the time and have since polished up my Mustang:

    http://www.autopia.org/forum/click-brag/124180-1996-grand-prix-gtp.html

    The point here is though your paint may be shiny, it may still require a good polishing in order to properly prepare it for application of a sealant. It is imperative that you get the paint in good condition and remove all polishes, waxes, sealants, and oils before applying the sealant.

    Washing with dawn is an effective means of doing this. You may have to do the dawn wash more than once until you wet the car with a hose and the water just sheets off slowly and doesn't bead. That means you've removed everything down to the bare paint/CC.

    At this point, apply the sealant, let it cure, and buff off. Now you can apply your wax of choice and she'll look money.

    Cliff notes: To properly protect a car

    1. dawn wash to remove oils, waxes, etc...
    2. clay bar to remove embedded contaminants
    3. wash again to remove clay bar residue
    4. properly compound and polish to remove imperfections, swirls, RIDS, etc...
    5. dawn wash until water no longer beads on the paint
    6. apply sealant of choice, let cure, and buff off
    7. apply wax of choice
    8. stand back and admire

    I hope this helps, any more questions let me know.
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  3. puma1552

    puma1552 Member

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    Thanks, that Caddy looked like it was beyond repair and turned out gorgeous...if you don't mind my asking since he's local, how much did that guy charge?

    As for my car, the only details I got on the detail job my car got was "detail wash, vac, shampoo, buff, wax, and windows" so I have no idea how far they went or how.

    The most direct light pictures I have atm are the following, under the shop lights. The car is very dirty in these pics, but still looks pretty good. The detail job was done on December 20th, and these pics were taken about a month later so this was after sitting out in the snow for a while.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I looked hard at the shop light reflections, and see no swirls at all, except maybe a little bit of scratches at the bottom of the rear bumper on the diffuser part. Like you said, the dealer likely used a filler and the detail job was probably meh at best. Hopefully I'm starting with a car that doesn't need a lot, which I think I am...it looks to be in great shape but I'm sure it needs some work, or at least it will when I get back to it in September.

    Is there a safer way to strip the wax other than a dawn wash? The thing about my Meguiar's stripper wax is that even though it supposedly strips everything to the clear, water beads off it afterwards like a fresh carnauba job so I'm not sure what's going on there.

    Ok, so let's say I get down to the clear, correct the paint, and then choose a sealant and use it. What kind of wax should I be going with at that point? Like I said I'd like to get away from my Meguiar's 3-step, but at the same time I still want to hit it with something to replenish the oils in the paints, but I would need to do that before a sealant, no? If I just do sealant and carnauba, I feel like I'm trading one step for another, and not sure if I'm better off that way. But if a sealant helps the water bead for six months of daily driving, I'd feel a lot better than the 4-5 lousy washes I get now on my garage queen. I am partial to Meg's and would prefer to stay with Meg's products. I'm thinking some kind of sealant and two coats of Meg's #26 at least.

    Thoughts? I'm definitely sold on sealants I think, but I'm not sure which direction to go with wax from there. Also want to make sure my waxes are compatible with the sealant.
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  4. N8Dogg98

    N8Dogg98 Mustang Master

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    It looks to me like there are some swirls in the first picture and some holograms in the second. The guy who corrected my dads Cadillac is located down in Shakopee and IIRC he charged something like $400-$500. I think he spent about 15-20 hours correcting that car though and Cadillacs have incredibly hard paint. He also achieved 95+% correction and for a DD I'd recommend shooting for maybe 80-85%. I bet you could achieve that in a day and if you paid Rasky he'd charge around $200 for a detail like that.

    I'd love to help you out, but with a 2 year old and an infant I just don't have the time outside of work to do paint correction. Shoot me a PM once you're back stateside and I'd be happy to either refer you to Rasky or you would be welcome to stop by and use my pads and compounds.

    Speaking of the paint oils, you really don't need to replenish any oils on a 2 stage paint job (base coat - clear coat). The products like the step 2 polish in the megs 3 step and megs show car glaze are very similar. They are basically a glaze with high oil content to fill in imperfections and give the car a deep wet shine. The problem with these products is though they look great when you apply them, they don't last more than a few days because the oil evaporates off of the paint. That's where the sealants come in. A sealant will generally give a high gloss appearance once applied, while a glaze or wax will give depth to the paint. I myself prefer to use a sealant because the durability is incredibly high. There really are no oils that need to be replenished before applying a sealant. If the paint is corrected properly even before you apply a wax, glaze, or sealant it should be very shiny anyways.

    Hope this helps. I have used Meguiars NXT 2.0, Megs Show Car Glaze #16 topped with Megs Hi-Tech wax #26, Pinnacle XMT 180, Pinnacle XMT 360, AutoGlym HD, and Black Fire Wet Diamond. I own all of them except the BFWD. If you'd like to try any of my products out, feel free to let me know. So far I like the AGHD wax the best. It gives an incredible deep wet shine to the black paint on my Mustang. I use the NXT 2.0 on my wife's charger and on my daily with good results as well.
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  5. seths99cobra

    seths99cobra Member

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    i have never used the sealers nor do i use the 3 step processes. but being that your car is black and all original paint like mine i use turtle wax color magic for black paint. my car is 12 yrs old i use that wax once a week and my car is my dd and sits in the weather. this wax really pulls the color out makes the car look like it is wet fresh paint. i usually put a few coats on everytime i wax it. i would try that and then put the sealer over top of it to get a little longevity out of it. i love this stuff people ask me all the time how new my car is cause the paint looks so clean and when i tell them its 12 theyre like get out of here. i recommend you give this a try with several years in the paint shop business when we detail cars carnuba wax is just a protector and doesnt in my opinion help the color. good luck
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  6. MustangLX-5.0

    MustangLX-5.0 Founding Member

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    Very good information in this thread here. That's true about waxes that they don't last much more than a few days to a week. Here in Florida, a week and a half is the most I ever got out of a wax, and that was after putting on 2 or 3 coats. The sun and rain tears everything up. The sun is the worst though. 10 years and i'm tired of having to keep waxing it. And mine is white. I used to have 2 stage paint, but after an auto accident in 2004, I have single stage paint. First few years after 04 the paint looked really good. But come late 07 - 08 and on.. the paint will discolor and fade. The only way to restore the color is to use rubbing compound. I have the whitest of the whites. Dirt can be hard to see but I can see chalky discolorations easy. I need a good sealer. I have never used one but now I think I should after reading this. I used to detail, but they never used any sort of sealers,

    Black paints are the hardest to correct, Because EVERY defect ... EVERY scratch,, and EVERY spec of dirt shows up on it. I am just thankful I did not get the black '94 back in 2000 instead of this white 96 here. I know they look nice, they are just so hard to take care of.

    Can anyone recommend a GOOD sealer to use and where I can get it ? I would appreciate it. I do my own detailing work and this would be a great help.
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  7. MustangLX-5.0

    MustangLX-5.0 Founding Member

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    Oh, I totally forgot to add.... my mother has a 2001 F-150 Harley Davidson edition. Jet black. She had the hood repainted again back a couple years. The car wash she takes it took obviously has some horrible brushes...as you know newer paint is softer and scratches easy. The hood of her truck looks as bad as that Cadillac ( and she works at a Caddy dealer as a valet. go figure). Only thing is, the hood has BAD BAD water spotting on it. The hood retains the most heat so it's the hood and part of the fenders with this problem. My buffer has been broken, so I hand buffed a spot using 3M rubbing compound. Medium grade. It took a bit of work just for a 10% section. It looks much better, but I left nasty swirls from the microfiber cloth. Where are you aquiring all of your products? Paint supply store? Online? Because I have never heard of half of them... and i've been a Meguires user for a decade. Thanks

    And where do you pick up one of those paint depth gauges? That is interesting and i'd like to have something like that so i'd know how much paint was left...
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