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When Washing Isn’t Enough

So you just got done washing your car. You’ve used the Grit Guards with your two- or three-bucket washing technique, you’ve used microfiber towels and dried it off swirl free! But for some reason, when you feel the car, something’s wrong. Why isn’t it smooth? What are all these tiny bumps you’re feeling? You just washed the car! Well, the short answer is: contamination.

The full answer is a bit more involved, but, generally speaking, I consider contamination to be anything that is left on your car’s paint after a good washing. Things like tar, road paint, tree sap, iron deposits, bugs, grease, old wax, even cement! The list goes on.

So what do you do? Now, before you park in the garage and never leave again, rest assured that most of these issues have a fairly quick and simple method to get you back to smooth.

Step 1 – The Bag Test: Take a plastic sandwich bag or grocery bag and gently feel your car’s paint through the bag. Does it feel smooth? How about behind the wheels? If it feels like sandpaper, it’s time for a little extra attention.

Step 2 – The Clay Bar Treatment: Using a clay bar or Nanoskin wash mitt in conjunction with some soapy water or a dedicated clay luber, you can remove most of the sticky contaminants from your car’s surfaces. If using a reusable mitt, be sure to be as gentle as you can, as you could inadvertently mar your paint, costing you more time in polishing the paint back out. You should be able to hear the grittiness smooth out after a little rubbing.

Now wipe it off and check with the bag again. Is it smooth? If not, repeat. If yes, great! Now we can move on to:

Step 3 – Removing Iron, Tar and Sap: These three culprits are by far the most common found on your ride. Tar is fairly easily identified as black spots or a strip usually found behind the wheels of the car as tar is flung up from your tires. It’s easily melted away by a dedicated chemical remover like Stoner’s Tarminator. Just spray on, wait a few minutes, and wipe. Repeat as necessary; the tar will start running down the paint almost immediately. For heavy deposits, the use of a plastic razor blade can be a big help!

Now, what about iron? Iron deposits are typically seen on lighter-colored vehicles as tiny brown specks on top of your paint. They appear as things like metallic brake pads, rail dust, etc., produce iron filings that land and rust on top of your clearcoat. Use an iron remover like Iron-X from CarPro or Fallout Cleaner from Sonax. These products use a chemical that reacts with rust, turning it purple and melting it away. Similar to tar removal, spray the offending area, let it sit and work for a few minutes before lightly agitating with a bug scrubber, and then wash it clean again.

Using the same process, sap, adhesives, and the like can be removed chemically with a good solvent like 3M Specialty Adhesive Remover or Wurth Clean Prep. Just be cautious and test an area first as some solvents are quite powerful and can stain and etch some paints or the coatings on your garage floor! You don’t want to fix one problem just to create another.

A small assortment of the right chemicals can fix most problems you’ll encounter when detailing your ride. Just remember to rewash the problem areas after you’re done to remove any residue and then top your paint with your favorite coating, like Fictech’s Car Gliss, to prolong the effects of your hard work!

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