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      03-01-2011, 02:15 PM   #95
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Drives: 335i Sparkling Graphite Grey
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: CA

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Originally Posted by picus View Post
Maybe a mod can change the title of this post to something like "Doing your own new car prep". The only way I could post it was to have the title under 4 characters. I know, weird. Anyway, here goes.

Hey guys, some of you have asked how I recommend prep'ing a new car, here it is.

Before I start when I say "prep a new car" I mean you do everything non-mechanical to the car. Your dealer will remove the shipping blocks, program the idrive and key fobs, etc, but you're asking them to leave the shipping tape on the inside and outside of the car, and not to wash or wax it. Why are you doing this? Well, you're in the detailing forum so odds are you know, but in case you don't *in general* dealership washes tend to be rather harsh and can cause swirls. At we like to call them "dealer installed swirl option".

Most of the stuff in this thread can be found in the detailing faq by DavidN at the top of this forum (, this is just a specific order I use.

So I know some of you may think this is nuts but remember, a lot of guys *enjoy* this stuff.

So ok, you've told your dealer not to do any washing/waxing or interior prep to the car. Your car should have the following on it (let's see if I can remember!)

- shipping tape on the hood, roof, and rear deck
- shipping tape on the front and rear fender
- Styrofoam guards on the doors
- plastic over the seats
- a plastic cover in the driver side foot well
- random tape/protective tape over the seat belt bulter (if you have it), and on some arm rests.
- tape on the kick plates, and cardboard on the door.
- A lot of stickers on windows.

Now some dealers will make you remove the outside shipping tape before you drive off. Why? Well, unfortunately in North America it is perfectly ok for shipping companies to repair damage incurred while shipping, and they don't need to disclose it, so they want to check for damage; that's good because you should too! Don't sweat the removal of the tape much, it comes right off. One quick tip though: The tape that extends up the front window to the roof, then continues on the roof - it's taped to the rubber liner around the front window. If you tear it off you'll pull a bit of this rubber off and it looks a little ghetto, so be careful with that peice.

OK, so you get in the car and drive home, time to prep it! Stuff you'll need:

An automotive car soap
One or two buckets (read up on washing in DavidN's FAQ!)
A couple sheepskin mitts
One or two good drying towels
A bar of automotive clay (this is imperative)
A bottle of quick detailer
A chemical cleaner polish (optional)
A light abrasive (optional)
A paint sealant or wax,
A trim dressing
A wheel cleaner and sealant (optional)
a tire dressing

For inside:
Aerospace 303 or equivilant (poorboys natural look, meguiars quick interior detailer, etc)
A leather conditioner
Scotchguard (optional)
A window cleaner (important, I will address this in a bit)

OK, so I do the inside first. Why? Because I don't like doing the inside when I am dirty after doing the outside. Just me. You can do either.

OK, so here it is in bullet points.

- Remove all the plastic over the seats. To do this is pretty easy, a quick tip is that the plastic is connected through the seats, so tear it from the back and just slide it through the seats, it's easy.

- Remove all the tape on the dash, doors, kick plates, etc.

- Windows, this part is a little tricky, not hard, but...well, annoying. Some of the stickers will peel right off, some of them on the front window won't. Peel them off as best you can and when they are off you'll have some glue residue. Now, take a small piece of your clay and some quick detailer, spray the quick detailer and rub the clay on the glue, flip the clay a lot. Watch it take the glue off like magic! (this will take a few minutes, just be patient) I actually clay the inside of ALL the windows. Why? They have glue bits and gunk all over them. If you shoot a 500W halogen at them you'll see what I mean, very spotty.

- Vacuum the carpets, then Scotchgard if you're using it. Scotchgard is very easy to use, just hold the can 12 inches above the mats and spray a thin even layer, it will dissolve into the mats.

- Treat the dash, doors, trim, plastic, rubber with 303 or the equivalent. There are "how to use" 303 blurbs all over the site. A few quick tips on 303 use. 303 likes to leave a "blotchy" finish, to avoid this use two microfiber cloths. Spray a small amount on the area you're treating them use one cloth ro rub it into the area. Use the next cloth to *fully* buff the 303 dry. If you leave any wet spots they will turn blotchy. If you miss any don't worry, use a lightly damp cloth over the effected panel and it will look uniform again.

- Condition your leather or leatherette (or use 303 on leatherette). I like Zaino Z9/Z10 because they smell delicious.

- Put in your matts and Scotchgard them.

- Clean the windows with either a quick detailer or your window cleaner. I like using a quick detailer or even a spray sealant; they both have silicone so both will dry streak free. Remember, the key to clean windows is to buff off your product well.

Viola! Now the outside.

- Remove all the tape, now if you did this at the dealer all you'll have is the styrofoam on the doors, so peel it off carefully.

- Wash the car *as normal*, do not scrub areas with glue or tape residue, you will scratch the car.

- Don't dry the car. I know, it sounds weird. Leave it damp. If you're outside keep it wet with the hose.

- Get your clay and cut off a small peice, then start the claying process. Again, the FAQ has a "how to clay" section. One note; you'll want to be very thorough when claying a new car for two reasons. One, there will be random bits of glue and tape residue all over it, the clay will remove those. Two, it will likely have a pretty decent amount of rail dust on it from transport, mine did.

- Re-wash if you think you need it. I almost never re-wash, if you use enough lubricant when claying you won't need to.

- This step is only if you need it - polish any imperfections in the paint based on their severity. In most cases a light polish (Final Polish II, ZPC, etc) will do. Wipe down the car with a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water (iso alcohol is regular 70% off the shelf rubbing alcohol). Put it in a spray bottle, spray a panel and remove. This is to remove any polish residue.

- If you're using a chemical cleaner do it now. I usually use Klasse AIO or Jetts Werkstatt Prime on a white lake country pad via PC at this point. I do this as a sealant base and to chemically clean the paint. I recommend this step, you can do it by hand too and it is very helpful. When I do a new car prep I always use either ZPC, AIO, or Prime before sealing.

- If you DID NOT use a chemical cleaner OR polish, wipe down the car with a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water (iso alcohol is regular 70% off the shelf rubbing alcohol). Put it in a spray bottle, spray a panel and remove. This is to remove any dealer applied wax.

- Seal or wax the car. Which sealant or wax you use is up to you, you can do this by hand or by machine. Generally I use one of two sealants this time of year. 1) Zaino Z5pro on dark colors or 2) Jeffs Werkstatt Acrylic Jett (or trigger version) on light colors. Why? They both last a long time, are easy to use, and look good. I use these on all surfaces including windows. While the sealant is hazing do the following:
- Clean the wheels with either your leftover wash water, or a non-acid wheel cleaner. Then seal them with poorboys wheel sealant/wheel wax, or a paint sealant.
- Dress your wheel wells with a product of your choice. I use diluted 303 (1:1 with water)
- Dress your tires based on your "shiny bling" desired amount.
- Dress your trim (around mirrors and wiper blades)
- Polish your exhaust, and seal it with your wheel sealant.

- Buff off sealant
- Enjoy!

If I missed anything let me know. This is how I "prep" a new car. You guys have seen some of these but here are some pics of my cars prep:

All tape off (stickers still in windows)

The clay after I finished claying (check out the rail dust)

And of course the end result:
WOW! That looks better than anything ANY dealer could do on a detail.