BMW Detailing DIYs
It is important to completely dry the car before proceeding with the polishing and waxing. This means opening the trunk, hood and doors and getting into all of the crevices with a cloth to dry everything.
Time Check: 2 hrs, 55 min
Before I start polishing, I tape over the door handles and wiper nozzles with green painter’s tape. Without covering these up, with one swipe of the polisher I’ll be spending time later on removing a white hazy coating from these spots.
I purchased the Porter Cable random orbit buffer model 7424. It came with the white foam buffing pad and a 5″ counterweight.
The first thing that I purchased was a 6″ velcro backing plate (Porter Cable part#18001) and a 6″ counterweight. I wanted this so that I could buy the foam velcro buffing pads that would be easy to install and remove.
I then purchased some Meguiar’s 6.5″ velcro buffing pads (Softbuff Foam Polishing Pads part# W-8006 and Softbuff Foam Finishing Pad part# W-9006). The finishing pad will be used for only for waxing.
The model 7424 buffer came with a 5″ counterweight. The 6″ counterweight is needed to offset the extra weight of the larger 6″ velcro backing plate and pads. Without this extra weight, the buffer vibrates quite a bit and would be very uncomfortable when using it for several hours at a time. When I installed the 6″ weight, the 6″ backing pad and a buffing pad, I still noticed that there was a bit of vibration. After experimenting, I figured that there needed to be extra weight added so I fashioned some metal brackets to fit under the counterweight. This small extra weight made a huge difference and virtually eliminated any vibration with the 6″ backing plat and pads.
This chair is what I use when washing the wheels on my Z3. This has to be by far, the most useful tool to own when waxing a car (by hand or machine). With this chair, I can wax from end to end of the car in one uninterrupted pass. It also makes a huge difference on my back when waxing the lower sections.
If you are working on your car on a flat surface, this kind of chair is a must buy.
Before using the Porter Cable buffer for the first time, I gathered as much information as possible on how it was used. One good source was on the Meguiar’s web site where they had a video on its use. See Power Polishing Safe & Easy here
Important tip: Before using the Porter Cable buffer with a velcro backing plate like the one I purchased, you’ll need to attach the foam buffer pad correctly. The most important thing is to get the foam pad centred onto the backing plate. This is pretty much a manual process and you’ll have to eyeball the position of the backing plate before pressing the two halves of the velcro sides together.
You’ll know how centred it is by just manually spinning the foam pad and see how much it “wobbles”. If it’s off centre, just remove it and adjust again. The more centred you get it, the less vibration you’ll feel when buffing.
Since I have washed this polishing pad since the last use, it has to be “primed” again. This basically involves putting more than the usual amount of the Meguiar’s #3 Machine Glaze polish on the pad and pressing in onto the car once or twice to press it in. This picture shows how much polish I used to prime.
For all polishing, I set the Porter Cable speed to about 4.5
After the pad is primed, much less polish is needed. This amount of polish will cover about 1/3 of my hood.
Keeping the cord away from you while you’re polishing is very important as well as always remembering to start and stop the Porter Cable polisher while it is in contact with the car. With the #3 polish, I continue to polish each section until most of the polish has buffed away (about 60-90 seconds). After this I buff the section clean with a cotton cloth. This buffing takes very little effort.
The polishing is now completed.
Time Check: 4 hrs, 10 min
I am now moving onto the waxing stage using Meguiar’s #26 Hi-Tech Yellow Wax. I have replaced the polishing foam pad with the finishing pad. Again, this pad needs to be primed before starting as it was washed last time when I used P21S wax on Barb’s Topaz.
For all waxing, I set the Porter Cable speed to about 4.5
The round blue wax applicator is a prerequisite when using any polisher like the Porter Cable. It is simply impossible to wax the entire car (like a Z3) with a polisher as there too many places where the polisher cannot get to (example: around the side mirrors). If you’re intention is to wax the entire car, you’ll have to get into these places with a hand applicator.
I found that I was using about 2-3 times as much of the #26 wax as I was of #3 polish for the same area as the paint just seemed to “drink” the #26 up. After about 60 seconds of buffing one section with the Porter Cable, the wax seemed to be close to disappearing. At this stage, it took just a few seconds of light hand buffing with the cotton cloth to see my handiwork appear before my eyes. Not only did this outstanding shine start to come alive, but I started seeing this “wet look” in the paint that I had never seen before. Without a doubt, this wax is an excellent product and was able to produce results better than any wax that I had used before (see conclusions on page 5).
After finishing the rest of the car in this manner, the waxing is almost complete. I finish up by applying a second coat of wax by hand to the areas of the car behind the front and rear tires. On most cars, these areas usually see a lot of dirt from water splashing off the tires during the rain.
After finishing, I store the pads in a plastic Ziploc bags. I do not remove the polish/wax from the pads. Doing so requires that I will have to prime the pad again next time which basically wastes product. The only reason why I washed the pads in the past was because I planned on using a different polish or wax the next time. You never want to mix products onto a pad without washing it first.
Washing a foam pad is done easily by washing it in a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid and then rinsing it well with water. Dry on a towel.
Time Check: 5 hrs, 35 min
Now that the waxing was complete, it was time to put things back together again. The green masking tape came off easily and the front and rear license plates were put back. During the polishing/waxing stages, the wires for the side marker lights had fallen into the fender. By using a small flashlight and a bent coat hanger, the wire is easy to fish out.
TIP: Don’t put the license plate holders on with a power screwdriver or drill (screw in by hand only). Because the screws are going into plastic, they strip very easily. Doing it by hand takes about 90 seconds longer but will prevent stripping the mounting holes.
Before I remount the side marker lights, I take the rubber edging out and clean it in the Mother’s Back to Black solution. This stuff not only makes it a nice black colour again but revitalizes the rubber. The stuff also has the most pleasing cherry smell!
The following are some pics of the final results. Unfortunately, my digital camera really doesn’t do justice to the impressive shine that my car now has.
This is a picture of the car taken one week after I waxed. During this one week, I have driven through about 2 hours of rain on the highway but have not washed it yet. To say the least, I am extremely impressed with the wax’s ability to shed water and dirt so far.
During the process of cleaning up my car for this project, I utilized many of the products in my cleaning kit. Here a rundown of just about everything that I own that gets hauled out every week.
I picked up this white plastic caddy soon after I started purchasing detailing supplies to help carry them and keep them organized.
A – Original California Water Blade. Used to remove water from the car after washing.
B – Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze #17 Plastic Cleaner. Used to remove scratches in the plastic rear window and bring it back to life.
C – Lexol Leather Cleaner. Used only occasionally (twice a year) as I don’t want to over clean the leather.
D – Assorted toothbrushes. Used to remove grime and dried wax from out of the way places. Have at least one with a rubber tip.
E – Simple Green. 50% diluted with water used to clean my wheels. Some wheels with a more complex pattern may require a different product than this.
F – Lexol Leather Conditioner. I use this about once a month on my leather seats.
G – Dawn dishwashing liquid. Used to wash my car only when I want to strip the wax. Too strong to be used regularly.
H – Spray bottle for cleaning windows. Filled with home made window cleaning solution of: 8 parts water, 1 part white vinegar, few drops of dish washing liquid (shaken, not stirred, lightly before each use)
I – Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover. Used to remove stubborn tar stains. Very rarely needed as the car is washed weekly and most stains come out with regular car wash.
J – Mother’s Back to Black. Used to dress black plastic and rubber trim on the car.
K – Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze #10 Clear Plastic Polish. Used to remove scratches in the plastic rear window and bring it back to life (used in conjunction with #17 cleaner – see B above)
L – BMW Cabrio cleaner. Used to wash the canvas top on my car.
M – MotorCraft Road Tar Remover. Same as I (above). Also used very rarely.
N – BMW Gummi-Phledge. Excellent BMW product to revitalize rubber weather seals on cars. An absolute must for cabrio owners. BMW part# 82-14-9-407-015
O – Lexol Vinylex. Product I use to protect the vinyl parts of the car (like the dash) as the product it has good UV protection. I prefer it better than product like Armour All as Vinylex leaves very little shine.
P – AutoSol Metal polish. Used to polish chrome exhaust tips.
Q – Lint brush. Used for quick touch-ups on the cabrio top.
R – Q-Tips. Used to get into those small places to remove dust and wax residue.
A – Synthetic chamois. This is the main tool I use to dry my car. I have tried natural chamois’ and feel that this inexpensive synthetic type is much better.
B – Meguiar’s micro fibre detailing cloth. Great for cleaning the windows with my home made solution (see H above)
C – Chenille cotton wash mitt. Used to wash the lower parts of my car.
D – Simoniz premium wool wash mitt. Used to wash the upper parts of my car.
E – Scotch Guard Fabric & Upholstery protector. Used to protect the floor mats against water and other stains.
F – Meguiar’s Deep Crystal car wash. The car wash I use.
G – Cotton diapers These are “cotton diapers” that I use to buff the wax and polish from my car.
H – BMW Arctic Silver touch up paint. Touch up paint for my car bought from BMW dealer.
I – Langka. Used to remove the “blob” when applying the touch up paint.
J – 303 Hi Tech Fabric Guard. I used this product to renew the waterproof capabilities of the canvas top.
A – Original California Dash Duster. Used to dust the interior of the car.
B – Generic car duster. This is a larger version of the Dash Duster but a generic version of it. This duster does a great job of removing road dust by gently wiping the car without putting any pressure. Perfect if I just waxed the car and it has picked up some dust.
A few days ago, I received this new micro fibre drying towel that I ordered from Griot’s Garage. This towel measures 25″ x 35″ and is intended to be able to dry a car completely without having to be wrung out.
This was the second time that I’ve used the Porter Cable random orbit buffer and I’m now fairly comfortable with my decision to buy it. Although there are definite time savings over polishing/waxing my car by hand, I believe that the main two benefits are the hugely reduced effort and the absolutely fabulous look that my car has now. After spending about 6 hours on this procedure, my arms did not feel tired at all. In the previous times of hand waxing my car, my arms were shot for several days.
I can’t say enough about Meguiar’s #26 Hi Tech Yellow wax. When I first bought it, I was looking for two other waxes to replace the P21S wax that I had used successfully for about a year. About the only qualifying factor for my buying this wax was that it was stated as being suitable for use with a dual action buffer like the Porter Cable. I figured that worst case scenario, it would buy me some time to find a better wax. As it turned out, that’s definitely no longer required as I have found a wax that has met all of my requirements. Not only does this wax go on well using the Porter Cable but it provides an outstanding shine. My long term observation will be the longevity of the wax.
I felt that claying the paint really made a big difference to the overall look and feel but I don’t see myself doing this more than about once a year. Before I started I had some small scratches in the paint (only visible at certain angles) and I believe that the polishing phase removed about 95% of these scratches. The paint just looks fabulous now.
I did a lot of researching over the past few years to help me determine which products I wanted to try using. The one conclusion that I’ve come to is that given enough time researching on the Internet, I feel that it is possible to find someone, somewhere that will say that any product works well. There are just so many car care products out there and so many opinions, if you do a search on any product, you’re bound to find someone who’s using it and raving about it. Keep this in mind when reading this information. Just because I have a web site and have detailed my experiences, doesn’t make me more knowledgeable than you.
My best advice that I can give is to keep an open mind and always be willing to experiment. Listen to many opinions but only adopt what makes sense to you and what you’re comfortable with. All of the products that I have listed on these pages work very well for me given the way that I use them on my car. You may find similarly good results using completely different products and different methods. I look forward to hearing your views and learning from them.
About The Author
Baden Smith (July 2002)