car wash

Ferrari 488GTB Maintenance Detail

The drool-worthy 488GTB is an exotic two-seater that's worthy of being celebrated with a poster on your bedroom wall

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We get the joys of visiting this stunning supercar twice a month, making sure it stays looking fantastic throughout the entire year.

Maintenance is key to keeping any vehicle looking its best, whether its a half-a-million dollar supercar or just your daily commuter. Keeping on top of the vehicles paintwork is the best step to keeping it looking like it just rolled off the showroom floor, for your entire ownership.

Throughout the previous entries we have discussed how to correctly wash your car, whether to use iron removers or wheel cleaners, along with the benefits of a pre-wash product. Such as snow-foams and traffic film removers.

Since this particular Ferrari is covered front to back in Paint Protection Film as the owner spends plenty of time at the track, showing what a Ferrari can really do! The maintenance is both easier and slightly more difficult. Rather than having to ‘check up’ on smaller things such as swirls and any wash marring, we do need to pay particular attention to the edges of the film, making sure that there is no apparent dirt build up or peeling. As well as once every third or fourth wash, decontaminate the film with either a water-spot remover or iron remover (whichever is needed at the time) as well as topping the finish with something like Nova Jet, to keep the film as slick as possible.

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Maintaining Paint Protection Films

Wether your vehicle is covered completely or just partial. These are our top tips for keeping your film looking the way it should for longer.

  1. Assess the film, just as you would your paintwork. Whether it be inspecting for any swirls, bird droppings, dirt caught behind the film or anything else that catches your eye.

  2. Start your normal wash process, wheels first.

  3. Snow foam time! To pre-soak the surface, loosening as much contamination as possible, to prepare for the contact wash.

  4. Contact washing - covered in our Professional Way to Wash your Vehicle

  5. Dry - with either your favourite drying towel, or warm-air blower (our personal favourite) for getting rid of water in those tight spots!

  6. Seal - We like to use either CarPro Elixer or Nova Jet, this is safe on all films, paintwork, plastics, glass, wheels and anywhere else on the exterior. Keeping the paintwork and or films, hydrophobic to make next time even easier!

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Why use Snow Foam?

When we snow foam a car, what we’re referring to is a blanket of foamed car wash detergent that completely covers the exterior of a vehicle. This is usually in a relatively thick consistency of suds that appears as if the car is covered in a blanket of snow. 

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How is snow foam generated and created?

The combination of car wash detergent, compressed air and water are the three main factors that when mixed together at optimal ratios, is what creates a thick and lustrous consistency of snow foam. Although there are a few different methods of applying snow foam to a vehicle such as using pump action compressed air bottles and hose attached detergent foaming dispensers, the most widely used and effective method of all is achieved with the use of a foam lance bottle attached to a pressure washer. 

 

Why apply a snow foam to your car?

The whole premise around using snow foam is to achieve a safer and more effective car wash result. After a certain time period, dirt, environment fallout and road grime settles, hardens and bonds to the surface of a vehicle. In many cases, trying to remove those more bonded contaminates by simply hand washing your car can prove to be difficult or even worse, lead to swirls and scratches. A snow foam has the benefit of softening and encapsulating dirt and road grime, providing a far safer and easier hand washing result. You can think of it like soaking your dirty plates and pans in soapy water that softens the stuck food particles and makes them so much easier and safer to clean without having to resort to more aggressive scrubbing and damaging the surface. 

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How do you get the best performance from snow foam?

You should think of a snow foam as a pre-wash treatment or preparation for the hand wash stage. 

It’s best applied to a dry vehicle as it will bond and cling more effectively and it’s best applied to a cool surface and out of direct sunlight as it will prevent the detergent from prematurely drying up.

In most cases, the longer you can allow the foam to dwell on the vehicle the better the results. However, you don’t want to let the foam dry on the paint as it will be difficult to rinse off. Depending on the weather, usually about 5 minutes or so is a good average dwelling time.

Perhaps the most important step of using a pre-soak foam is the rinsing stage. This is when you are able to remove the largest amount of the previously softened grime with a pressure rinse in a completely safe touch-less method. So once the vehicle has been snow foamed and pressure rinsed down, you can then proceed to your normal two bucket hand wash stage and you should find that it will be a much easier, safer and more effective wash. 

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What else is important to know?

Some car wash products that have been formulated to work well in snow foam applications just simply work better than others, avoiding product streaking and increasing suds and dwell times. 

In most cases, one-part car wash detergent to ten parts water is good ratio to mix into your foam lance but always check with the product manufacturer. A stronger mix of detergent can increase the thickness and dwell time of the foam, but it can also cause difficulties in rinsing the detergent off. Snow foaming with softer or less mineral content tap water and using a pressure washer with a higher PSI rating and more litres of water per minute expelled will usually create richer and thicker snow foam. 

In general, applying the snow foam starting from the bottom of the vehicle and working up is a more effective technique that will allow for a longer and more even consistent bond of the foam to the vehicle. 

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In the end, when used correctly with the proper understanding and technique, using snow foam for both general vehicle maintenance washes and more intensive decontamination washes is an extremely effective procedure that can largely minimise wash induced scratches and allow for an overall improved, thorough and safer cleaning result.

The professional way to wash your vehicle!

The basic premise of the two bucket wash method consists of your standard 10/15 litre bucket filled with water and your favourite car wash detergent, but then adds a second bucket filled with just plain water which acts as a ‘dirt trap’ for the contamination and debris that are removed during the wash process

A grit guard is placed in the bottom of each bucket to form a Grit Guard Wash System, and a micro-fiber wash mitt is generally used in place of a traditional foam sponge. This can also be replicated with a merino wool wash mitt, short pile wool or microfibre. The main thing to keep in mind is the more ‘pile’ or density that it has the less chance it has in inflicting any damages. Think of it as a towel you would use at home, you wouldn’t dry yourself with a thin tea-towel whereas the thick bath towel is a much more appealing idea.

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How Does It Work?

Much like you would wash your car with a single bucket and sponge, you begin by dunking the wash mitt into the first bucket filled with your car wash detergent solution, and then proceed to washing the first panel of the car. In general it’s best to start with the roof and then work your way around and down the vehicle washing one panel at a time.

The real difference with the two bucket method, is that after you wash a panel of the car, you then rinse your wash mitt in the second bucket filled with plain water, running the mitt along the surface of the grit guard to release the dirt you’ve accumulated on the wash mitt. Then after squeezing out the remaining water from the mitt, once again dunk it back into your first bucket filled with your car wash detergent solution, and proceed to washing the next panel of the car.

So in essence, the real difference between the two bucket method and the older single bucket method is that after you wash each panel of the car, you then rinse and squeeze your mitt out, before proceeding to the next panel. 

car wash hack - double up on your wash mitts, use one for the top section including tops of doors etc and a secondary mitt for the dirtiest panels! Like the rear bumper, side skirts, wheel well edges

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Why Use the Two Bucket Wash Method?

Every car enthusiast knows the heartache of pulling your vehicle into the sun and seeing the paint covered in swirls and scratches. The two bucket car wash method is all about providing a safer car washing experience, that largely reduces the swirl marks caused by improper or out dated car wash methods.

It’s important to understand that the vast majority of swirls or spider web pattern scratches are inflicted on car paint due to dirt being pushed around on the surface of the paint during the washing stage of a vehicle.

So when you reduce or eliminate that dirt from your car wash process by using this two bucket method, you avoid those swirls marks and keep your paint looking and behaving it’s best.

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What Else is Important To Know?

As well as releasing the dirt from your wash mitt, grit guards also trap that dirt beneath them and keep it at the bottom of the bucket, not allowing it to recirculate back onto your wash mitt. 

Unlike most traditional foam sponges that push dirt along the surface of the car paint, microfibre wash mitts collect dirt within their fibres away from the surface of the paint, so it’s not making direct contact with the paint and inducing swirl marks. 

When your car paint is hot, it also becomes softer allowing swirls and scratches to be inflicted far more easily. So always try and wash your vehicle in a cool shaded area, or first thing in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is at its lowest points. 

If your car is washed regularly, the vast majority of dirt will be looser settling dust. So always be sure to give the vehicle a good thorough rinse down with your hose or pressure washer to remove as much dirt as possible before you begin the hand wash stage. 

Dirt, pressure and circular motions equal swirls. So never press down with force on the paint with your wash mitt, just allow the mitt to glide along the paint with no added pressure, using straight back and forth motions.

What are the different types of Paint Protection?

Paint protection has been around almost as long as cars have existed. There are several types of Paint Protection including Waxes, Sealants and new innovative Glass & Spray Coatings.

The first form of paint protection products were natural occurring waxes mixed with oils and solvents to create what we know today as a traditional car wax. These products are generally more associated with high levels of gloss, working with the paint to produce a warm, radiant wet look on the surface. They don’t tend to last too long, but give a complete aesthetic transformation. Waxes are very easy to apply, and are a great starting point in the realm of paint protection.

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The next evolution of paint protection came in the form of paint sealants. These are more synthetic man made products that can vary quite a bit in their ingredients, but are largely based on what we know as polymer technology. To explain it simply, polymers comprise of more advanced multi-linked molecules than provide sealants with longer durability, whilst still providing high levels of gloss and slickness. Most sealants can be applied by machine or hand, and are an easy way to achieve a good level of protection.

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The latest and newest form of paint protection are glass coatings, which can be also referred to as ceramic or Nano coatings. Once again, coatings can also vary in their ingredients, but for the most part, they tend to be silica based solutions that create a protective glass coating on the surface of the vehicle.

These Glass Coatings are negative in charge, meaning they don’t attract dust like regular Waxes and Sealants, and have a much higher repellency to water and contaminants. Their composition creates a much longer durability, resulting on average 2+ years. Their molecular structure also provides extremely strong chemical and physical resistance – mitigating swirls and scratches on the surface, whilst repelling even the harshest of contaminants.

Glass Coatings give a rich wet look on the surface, giving the paint more depth, and providing an incredible high gloss finish on any colour.

The emergence of glass coatings have also brought fourth Spray Coatings, which puts all of this new technology in an easy to Spray & Wipe product which can last up to 6 months. They can be applied to almost every surface of the car’s exterior and on top of any wax, sealant or coating.

Spray Coatings are by far the easiest method of Paint Protection, and are becoming more and more popular due to their simplicity of use, and impressive results.

Why should paint protection be applied?

Paint protection was designed to address the need for extending the life and appearance of automotive paint, which does require a little upkeep form time to time. The greatest benefit of having a paint protection product applied to your car is that it acts as a sacrificial layer to take the punishment of things such as U.V. damage, traffic film contaminates, and environmental fallout. So without this layer of protection, all those environmental contaminations would be directly damaging and wearing into your paint or clear coat rather than attacking that protective layer.

The other great benefit about having a quality paint protection product applied to your paint, is that it makes the upkeep of the vehicle far easier and a much more pleasurable experience. Water beads right off, and contaminants don’t stick to the paintwork as easily. This results in your car being cleaner for longer, and when you do Wash & Dry the car, it is so much easter.

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Beyond that, the benefits of waxes, sealants and coating are that they also add to and increase the visual appearance of paint, in the way of amplifying gloss, saturation and depth.

There are an array of different forms of protection, with different benefits. In summary, Waxes are generally reserved for more of a show car, creating a high level of gloss. Sealants are a more durable version of waxes, giving great aesthetic enhancements but focusing more on durability, and Coatings & Spray Coatings are new forms of paint protective technology that encase your vehicle in a layer of glass, giving great levels of chemical/physical resistance and a huge aesthetic enhancement.