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      10-24-2011, 09:39 AM   #5
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Drives: 2011 E92 M3
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: One of the coasts...

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2011 BMW M3  [5.00]
You can shoot me a PM too. I am a newbie to it, but have done a lot of research and have learned a lot testing on my cars. I remember with my old cars I used to just wash, wax, and call it a day. Now I realize what I was doing and why it was making things worse. Sure, the car would "kind of shine" but there were still spots and contaminants.

Basically, without proper techniques, all you're doing it trapping the contaminants under the wax. Don't worry, it can be fixed. Everyone here can agree on one thing though, the key to keeping a good car isn't all about using the most expensive polish or wax, it's about proper maintenance (i.e. washing)!

I'll give you a brief rundown, you can PM me for more details!

Washing - If you're not going to polish the car, you want a basic wash. Nothing harsh that will remove the wax. Basically a good maintenance wash is what you're looking for. You want at least two washing buckets, preferably with grit guards at the bottom. I went to Lowe's and got two 5 gal paint buckets, store brand, nice and cheap. I ordered grit guards from detailedimage. I also have two mitts, one is sheepskin and the other is a microfiber mitt. I use the microfiber mitt for the upper parts (from the top to about halfway down the sides) and the sheepskin for the rest of the bottom. Fill one bucket with shampoo/water (get a good ratio, not too much shampoo), and one with just water. Rinse the car down first. When you wash, don't go in circles, get the mitt nice and bubbly, then go side to side, don't apply too much pressure. When you've covered a panel (that's usually what I do), rinse in the clean water, then get more suds from the shampoo/water. At some point you'll want to dump the clean water because it'll be mostly suds, then refill that bucket. Keep doing this until the car is completely washed. Then rinse from the top down with a gentle rinse. No need for harsh spraying. Now you want to dry it. DO NOT LET IT AIR DRY. This will cause water spots 90% of the time. I like the big, soft, fluffy microfiber drying towels that many sites sell. They are big and absorb a LOT of water. You can fully dry the car with 2-3 of them. Once it is dry, you are ready for the next step.

I don't wanna hit you with a giant wall of text here (probably too late) so just PM me if you want more info. Your next step would more than likely be a clay bar. After that you'll need to wash again (I know, a lot of washing) because you need to get the leftover pieces of clay off of the car and whatever you pulled loose from the clay. Then you could be ready for some wax, or if you were correcting the paint, this is where you would do your polishing (usually in two steps for the most simple corrections i.e. swirls and very light scratches). After the polish, you would wash/dry AGAIN to remove the leftover polishes, then wax/seal.

A lot of steps involved. This is usually why a full detail on a car can take a couple of days to finish completely. A lot of resources here in this forum. Just shoot a PM with questions. Most people here are very friendly and helpful!
'11 BMW E92 ///M3 - ZCP and DCT
'15 Ford F-250 - Lariat, 6.7 Powerstroke Turbo-diesel