Old article from 1994
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    Old article from 1994

    by Thomas B. Nast
    Copyright 1994 by Thomas B. Nast
    [References to photos deleted]

    Five years have passed since I last wrote the definitive
    tome on using Meguiar's products to keep your car looking, well,
    as nice as mine. In that half-decade, some products and techni-
    ques have changed. Add to that certain production problems with
    the last publishing on this subject, membership turnover, and the
    recycling of old Zundfolges as kindling and parakeet cage liners;
    the time for a rewrite is upon us.
    Credit for this rewrite must be shared with Dennis Noland
    of Exeter Garage of Seattle, one of the few detail shops which
    follows the processes outlined below; and with Terry Richards,
    the area representative of Meguiar's, who was kind enough to
    bring me up to date on new product details. I have personally ob-
    served or tried every operation described in this article, and
    routinely use the appropriate procedures on my own rolling stock.
    So, departing from my usual practice, I will take the blame for
    any errors the editors have not installed for me.
    How to keeping new paint looking new always baffled me.
    Wash it, and I got scratches. Wax it, I got more scratches. It
    seems like the cleaner I tried to keep it, the more scratched it
    got. I'm not talking about gouges, just light scratching. Take
    the car to a detail shop (at least to judge from cars I've seen),
    and you can add swirls to the list of horrors. And I know I have
    a lot of company.

    One solution (to which I used to plead guilty) is only to
    wash and wax once a year. Assuming the car is garaged, this does
    minimize paint damage, at the expense of appearance and oxida-
    tion. It is not really a solution at all, any more than a hat is
    a solution to baldness. Fortunately, there is a real remedy to
    the dilemma, and it is Meguiar's.
    There are more companies making car care products than
    there are rust pockets in a Karmann-bodied coupe, and I cannot
    say that Meguiar's is the best. I have not tried them all (I have
    tried dozens, however). I have found only one line that seems to
    consistently work, with emphasis on consistent. In addition,
    Meguiar's has done more to see that its products are used proper-
    ly (read, "successfully"), than any other manufacturer I know of
    (at least through its reps -- its printed literature is a bit
    confusing). I am not a Meguiar's salesman, and I feel that if you
    already have a system which works for you, stick with it. For ex-
    ample, I can suggest no Meguiar's compound which will do a better
    job on chrome than Simichrome. But if you have had decades of
    frustration, as I have, with $6.00 waxes wasting $3,000.00 paint
    jobs, read on.

    Mr. Achilles takes a stand. Meguiar's has expanded its pro-
    duct numbers since the original publication of this monograph,
    continuing its entropic tradition. Unfortunately, there remains
    no choice but to learn which numbered product does what. Since
    you are not running a detail shop and are (presumably) concerned
    with only one or two cars, probably an half-dozen products will

    do it for you. Don't let the numbers intimidate you, you only
    need to learn a few.
    Another bit of lameness is Meguiar's' naming of products --
    "Professional" this, "Hi-Tech" that. To its credit, the "No. 11
    Professional Hi-Tech Finesse Quick-Step" no longer appears in the
    catalog, but what is the difference between "No. 00 Hi-Tech Wash"
    and "No. 62 Carwash Shampoo & Conditioner"? Especially if your
    car is not endowed with a full bonnet of hair? Such monikers will
    not be honored by further repetition in these pages.

    Theory. The theory behind Meguiar's products is simple. A
    system is needed to care for the car's finish, not just one or
    two `universal' products. First, take out scratching and don't
    put any in. Second, put oils back into the paint instead of tak-
    ing them out. Third, avoid wax buildups or anything which will
    dull the natural gloss of the paint.
    This theory is expressed in Meguiar's products in a number
    of ways. Solvents and detergents are avoided. Abrasives which
    will not break down are not used. Nearly every Meguiar's liquid
    has feeder oils, which replenish the natural oils in paint. Al-
    most no carnauba wax is included, as solvents are needed to make
    it flow and it leads to wax buildup. Silicones are avoided in
    nearly every material except the waxes, where they are used as
    carrying agents. And the foam pads for machine use are about the
    best product to come down the pike for polishing without inducing

    Typical case. The following is a typical treatment by a BMW
    owner new to the Meguiar's regime. It is based on about a dozen
    real-world applications by the author. This will help establish a
    baseline of products you can expect to use. We can then consider
    the exceptions to the rules, and the techniques involved.
    First, wash with 00 or 62. Next, remove things that can be
    removed (e.g. windshield wipers) and mask vents, grills, or any-
    thing else that will be hard to clean spatter off of. Clean with
    No. 2. Polish with No. 7. Wax with No. 26 (one coat) or Medallion
    (two or three coats).
    Whew, that's a lot of work! Fortunately, if you keep up
    with the car you won't need to do all the steps next time.
    Maintenance with No. 7 or No. 9 and wax is usually sufficient; if
    the car is kept polished and waxed, the cleaning is an annual
    event at most.
    Now, on to more theory, technique and special cases.

    Hand vs. machine application. We have been taught that the
    only way to clean and wax a car is by hand. This teaching, how-
    ever, must be relegated to the same dustbin where the teachings
    of the Flat Earth Society now repose. Proper use of the right
    power tools and products will not only yield better results than
    hand application, but is less likely to damage the paint in the
    process. I was surprised by this too, but I cannot dispute that
    which I have witnessed. Unless you are preparing for a body-
    builders' convention, use machines. Virtually all Meguiar's pro-
    ducts can now be applied by hand or machine.

    Hand application is necessary in certain areas that ma-
    chines can't (or in the exercise of prudence should not be called
    upon) to reach. Examples would be around wiper blades, radio
    aerials and sharp body contours. And some people may not want to
    invest in machines. So because of this (and for those who won't
    use machines out of penury or atavism), hand application will be
    discussed, though it is not generally recommended.

    Buffer swirls. Buffer swirls are the result of (1) the
    fibers which comprise wool pads, (2) compounds which don't break
    down, and (3) dirt being ground into the paint. Swirls are quite
    common when wool pads are used (and many detail shops still use
    wool pads). (A few years ago I attended a Porsche club event at
    the dealer in Tacoma, and saw three brand-new cars have their
    paint systematically destroyed while being "prepped" with wool
    Swirls are also induced by rubbing with compounds made of
    silicate, sand or aluminum oxide. These materials are not used in
    Meguiar's products, which use materials (e.g. diatomaceous clay)
    which break down as they are used instead of scratching up the
    paint. Improper cleaning of the car before waxing, or failing to
    clean the dirt out of the foam pads, will also result in swirl-
    ing. Wax conceals buffer swirls, but does not remove them. Swirls
    will reappear as the wax wears or is washed off. Go to a car wash
    and take a look at the cars as they emerge -- otherwise im-
    peccable cars come out with grotesque swirling in the paint, now
    visible as a result of the wax being stripped off. (Not to men-

    tion that most car washes introduce scratching.) Swirls can be
    usually be removed, but it is best not to install them in the
    first place.

    The impossible. There are two things which no car care pro-
    duct can do. Totally oxidized paint, checked paint (thousands of
    tiny cracks), and peeling or flaking paint, cannot be restored.
    Paint this far gone (regardless of its age) should be stripped
    and new paint applied. No compound or wax can save that which has
    been destroyed. In addition, deep scratches (i.e. near or into
    the primer) cannot be completely removed, as obviously all the
    paint will be removed with them. They can be minimized, but not
    eliminated. So don't expect miracles, even if you find waxing
    cars a religious experience.
    Do not be completely discouraged, however. Partially
    oxidized paint can be restored, and light-to-moderate scratching
    can be removed. If you aren't sure whether or not you are at-
    tempting a miracle, give it a shot -- no harm can come from

    Type of paint. The products and techniques you use will
    vary somewhat depending on the type of paint your car has. So you
    must determine the type of paint you are dealing with. Meguiar's
    divides paints into two categories, conventional and "high tech",
    which I will call "plastic paints" because I can't stand the
    hype. Conventional paints are enamels (acrylics and otherwise)

    and lacquers (ditto). Plastic paints include the ever-expanding
    family of urethanes.
    This matters because the urethanes are very hard, and when
    they scratch (or swirl) you have to be more aggressive to get the
    flaws out. Conventional paints are softer, scratching and repair-
    ing more easily. Conventional paints will tolerate more heat than
    will plastic paints, so buffers can be run at faster speeds
    (within reason); if plastic paints are overheated, they will
    Determining which paint you are dealing with can be quite
    challenging. Manufacturers have been inconsistent in what type of
    paint they use, and aren't very good about telling you. To make
    matters worse, a different type of paint may have been used on a
    repaired area than on the rest of the car. So if in doubt, ask a
    reputable body shop what type of paint you have. And if your car
    is repaired or repainted, make a note of the type of paint used.
    Generally speaking, solid-color BMW's used to come with
    conventional paints, but now come with a single-stage urethane.
    Metallic painted BMW's always have a clear coat. The clear coat
    was of uncertain parentage (some would say it was a son of a
    bachelor) until about the late seventies, when urethane clear
    coats appeared. As many of us know, paint failure on metallic
    BMW's was a certainty until this change was made. Any clear-
    coated BMW may be treated as having plastic paint. Solid-colored
    BMW's of other than recent vintage will require some detective

    To check if you car has a conventional or plastic paint,
    rub a small area with a terry cloth towel and some cleaner (No.
    2). If color comes off the car onto the towel, you have conven-
    tional paint. If no color appears, you have plastic paint (proba-
    bly a clear coat).

    Condition of paint. The condition of the paint will
    determine how aggressive you need to be in restoring it. New cars
    should need very little work (unless butchered when being
    "prepped"), but a five-year-old car which has been parked outside
    will probably need two or three additional steps. The differences
    will be dealt with in the text.

    Equipment. In an effort to avoid inducing sticker shock,
    let me warn you that a one-time investment of $300 - $400 may be
    required to properly care for you car's paint. This could be
    lowered considerably by a club group purchase, or if your club
    purchases a buffer and DA and rents/loans them out.
    What you need is:
    - A variable speed rotary buffer for cleaning. I am
    satisfied with my Makita 9207SPC, which sells for about
    $200 discounted. Also recommended is the Black & Decker
    No. 6138 (ca. $280) (DeWalt DW849) Whatever you use, it should work at
    well under 2000 rpm (like 1000-1400 rpm). Some people use
    a variable speed drill with a $5 adaptor, but this quick-
    ly gets tiring; not recommended.
    - A dual action (DA), orbital or "hutch" (Hutchins) buffer
    for polishing and waxing. Polishing and waxing can be
    done with the rotary buffer, but a DA is a better choice
    for a number of reasons. It is smaller and lighter than a
    buffer, thus a lot easier on your back. Because of its
    low speeds, it splatters less material. And the low
    speeds and eccentric motions make it much less capable of
    harming a car than a rotary buffer. However, a DA is not
    good for cleaning. A recommended orbital is the Porter-
    Cable 7335; it sells for about $125. Air-driven Hutchins
    sanders also work well for buffing. The theory behind
    DAs, orbitals and hutches is to simulate hand applica-
    tion, but at a higher speed and with less effort.
    - Meguiar's foam application pads. About $50.00. Do not use
    wool pads. Get two yellow polishing pads (W-1000 in 8"
    and W-5500 in 5-1/2") and one or two 8" finishing pads
    (W-9000). The finishing pad has velcro backing, so you
    will need a backing plate (No. W-65) if you don't have
    one. (A new backing plate with an alignment pin for the
    pads is imminent). The 5-1/2" finishing pads presently
    only come with a backing plate permanently affixed; 8"
    finishing pads come with permanent backing plate or with
    velcro (W-1000L). If you are using a DA, get a couple of
    6" yellow polishing pads for it (W-6000); these are
    presently the only foam pads available for DAs. If you
    are attaching serious scratches, get a burgundy cutting
    pad (W-7000).
    - A supply of terry cloth towels (all cotton). Thick looped
    toweling is best; the theory is that dirt goes down into
    the loops, where it cannot damage the paint. Save your
    marriage, and get some nice, soft towels for your car at
    a department store sale.
    - Folded and stitched terry cloth pads, about 3" square.
    Not absolutely necessary, but very nice for hand work.
    - A small, stiff nylon brush. Like a toothbrush with a
    gland condition. Figure a dollar.
    - A small wire brush (Snap-On sells a nice one with stain-
    less steel bristles for under three dollars).
    - Some dense, closed-cell foam application pads for apply-
    ing polish (about 3" square). Cadge these. I use foam
    from the thermal barrier you put under your sleeping bag
    when camping.
    - Meguiar's materials appropriate to the job. Plan on
    - Apron or coveralls, free of any scratch-inducing metal on
    the front. Some enterprising sort should market terry
    cloth aprons!
    To help you accept this, consider that the total cost is less
    than two trips to a detail shop, and the results should be sub-
    stantially better in most cases. If you share, borrow or rent a
    buffer from your club, you're probably dollars ahead the first
    time around.
    The yellow polishing pads for rotary buffers come in large
    (8") and small (5-1/2") sizes. The 8" pad covers a lot of area
    in less time, but the 5.5" pad is good for getting into smaller
    spaces. My counsel is to start with a set of the 8" pads, and
    pick up smaller ones when you feel the need.
    As to where to get this stuff locally, I bought my Makita
    at Tool Town on 15th Ave. West. The Meguiar's products are
    carried by Exeter Garage and Autosport Seattle. Look for depart-
    ment store or linen store sales for the towels. The orbital can
    be bought at Home Depot.

    Technique. Technique is, of course, more important than
    size (850i owners take note). The following practices should be
    observed, as a general rule.
    First, never wash, polish or wax the car in the sun. Do it
    in the shade, indoors or not at all.
    If you are applying materials by hand, squirt the material
    onto the terry cloth pad, instead of onto the car as you usually
    would do with machine application.
    With buffing wheels, use different pads for cleaners,
    polishes and waxes, and frequently clean or change the pad, as
    any dirt trapped in it will scratch the paint. Frequently refresh
    the pad with material, using modest quantities. When rubbing, do
    not use a circular motion. Always use straight strokes. This will
    avoid swirls and minimize the number of angles at which light is
    refracted by any scratches you induce. It is recommended that
    your strokes be back and forth, in the direction which the car
    Whether by machine or by hand, use light pressure. If light
    pressure does not do the job, try a more aggressive product (ex-
    cept on urethanes) and/or a higher machine speed, depending on
    the experience of the operator and the type of paint. Keep rotary
    buffers well under 2000 rpm; if working on urethane 1200 to 1400
    rpm is better). Under no circumstances should you be "grinding"
    on the finish.
    Sometimes the rotary buffing wheel will start to oscillate,
    jittering like an orbital sander. This is usually the result of
    the pressure not being on the center of the pad (plus the pads
    are not the best-balanced objects to pass through my shop). The
    oscillating motion can do your paint no good, and may well harm
    it. If you feel an oscillation building, ease up the pressure and
    try to center the pressure on the middle of the pad. Otherwise,
    lift the buffer off the surface and reapply it after the oscilla-
    tion subsides.
    With an air-driven hutch or DA, don't turn the tool on be-
    fore the wheel is on the car. Without contact, the wheel spins up
    to a very high speed, slinging material and tearing up the pad.
    The slight friction contact with the car provides should slow the
    tool down to a fairly slow speed (adjust the air pressure if it

    Resist the temptation to hold the buffer with one hand
    while stretching to reach those hard-to-get spots, like the cen-
    ter of the roof. This is an invitation to disaster.
    When applying liquids with buffing wheels, a number of
    practices should be observed. The foam pad must be kept clear of
    dirt and dead foam. Before reusing the pad and periodically
    thereafter, scrape it (while rotating) with the plastic brush un-
    til stuff stops coming off. If there is any suspicion of dirt
    caught in the foam, you may also apply terry cloth to the rotat-
    ing pad to clean it. The foam wheel may be trimmed using a wire
    brush. The wheel should be kept in flat trim, and periodic trim-
    ming can greatly extend the life of this fairly expensive pro-
    duct. Application of liquids may be in a column on the painted
    area being worked on, or to the foam pad directly. Which is ap-
    propriate depends on which product you are using (see text below
    and read the labels), but generally you will be happier applying
    the liquid to the car, as the wheel slings off quite a bit in all
    directions as it spins up. If the liquid has been applied direct-
    ly to the car, approach the liquid with the pad at a slight
    angle, so the liquid is thrown back onto the pad and not onto
    everything else. With the Makita, which rotates clockwise (when
    observed from above), the edge farthest from you will be the con-
    tact edge if you are right-handed. Once the liquid has been dis-
    tributed, keep the pad flat on the panel (with the weight on the
    pad's center) to avoid swirl marks. Do not apply cleaner to the
    car and then leave it sitting.

    Guide the machine in long, straight, overlapping strokes,
    letting the machine do the work. Every novice moves the machine
    in a circular pattern on the panel being worked -- don't do it.
    On the other hand, keep the machine moving; if you rest it in one
    place, the paint may overheat from friction and be damaged. I
    have found that the trunk and hood are more easily approached
    from their ends than from the sides, and that the roof is most
    easily buffed without the use of a ladder. Avoid using the ma-
    chine on high points (the body creases), because it will wear
    through the paint. Do these by hand. And avoid objects which may
    catch the pad (e.g. the air vents on the hood, antenna, etc.),
    because the pad is too expensive to rip up and you may have the
    machine power itself onto the hood (or whatever), ruining your
    whole day. In the same vein, some system is necessary to avoid
    scratching the finish with a power cord or air hose. Encasing the
    cord in socks is one suggestion.
    Also, avoid the plastic beading set in the rubber around
    windshields (2002, 320i). I found that the buffer can permanently
    disfigure these.
    All Meguiar's materials have an indefinite shelf life (if
    not allowed to freeze), but they should be well shaken before use
    to evenly distribute the solids, which may settle out.
    If applying a liquid directly to the car, squirt it in a
    15" - 24" long bead. After it is worked in, lay down another bead
    on the feather edge of the area you just worked. Columns will be
    about 12" apart except the wax, which works better with more but
    thinner columns, so expect columns 8" on center for wax. The
    other exception is the No. 1 cleaner, which is best applied
    directly to the pad. When applying materials onto the pad instead
    onto the car, put it on the center of the pad to minimize splat-
    Although you can continue buffing until the liquid is most-
    ly dry, this is not a good idea on dark or clear-coated finishes.
    In general, you should stop buffing after the material begins to
    break down but before it becomes dry (you can tell when it is dry
    because it will leave a glossy finish without further wiping);
    stop when a thin film of material remains. At this point you can
    (and should) remove the film with terry cloths, rather than with
    more buffing.
    Discrete foam pads should be used with cleaners, polishers
    and waxes. This is because their chemical and abrasive composi-
    tions differ, and mixing them up undoes what you are trying to
    do. So plan on having three pads, and identify the use of each
    with an indelible marker. Use your best pads for polishing and
    waxing; when they become tatty, demote them to permanent cleaning
    Be somewhat stingy with liquids. Most people use way more
    than is necessary, at least while they are learning.
    Use the softest terry cloths you can. They often get softer
    with repeated washings, by the way. Remember, cloth is an
    abrasive! Any dirt caught in the cloth will undo your work, so
    clean the cloth frequently with a brush or another cloth, and
    don't be bashful about chucking it into the laundry and grabbing
    another, clean cloth. When washing, do not use liquid fabric

    softeners. Fabric stores carry terry cloth by the yard, but it
    will generate lots of lint before it is washed. Also, when you
    cut it the unbound edges will chuck off yet more fabric. So I
    prefer towels to terry-by-the-yard.
    Finally, it is much easier on you and the car to maintain
    the paint (with regular washing and waxing) than it is to restore
    it and wax it, say, annually. (This is true of every aspect of
    any mechanical object, just in case you hadn't contemplated the
    subj. It is also true that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Such
    is the yin and yang of automobiles.) The idea of an annual wax
    (as with Meguiar's No. 20, a polymer) will not work out if the
    car is used outdoors. If you just drive it around your garage,
    though, it's probably ok.

    Splatter. It is inevitable that, using machines, slop will
    get all over the car. Especially until you learn just how much
    liquid to use and how to apply it. The car will look like a muddy
    dog shook itself off nearby. For this reason, you should plan on
    doing each step to the entire car (or as much of it as is ap-
    propriate) before moving on to the next step, so you only have to
    wipe up once after each step. You could cover areas not being
    worked with soft (e.g. terry) cloths, but it's probably easier
    just to wipe up slung liquids with terry cloths.
    Other suggestions: Wear an apron or coveralls, for some of
    the splatter will be tossed onto you, particularly your chest and
    gut. And start at the top of the car and work down, because
    splatter obeys the law of gravity.

    Another characteristic of splatter is that it gets into
    cracks, such as between the hood and fenders, the door jambs, and
    so forth. You will find a thin line of splatter behind the edge
    you just worked. I suggest that after each step, you open the ap-
    propriate panel and remove the splatter before it dries out. Use
    a terry cloth. It may take a couple of wipes, as a thin residue
    will be left after the first pass. Dry or hard-to-remove splatter
    can be addressed with No. 34 spray and terry towels.

    Wash the car. Never wash in direct sunlight. When washing
    the car, do use plenty of water and never, ever use a detergent
    (like dish soap). Prepare a five-gallon bucket of suds, so when
    you wring out your wash mitt the dirt can settle out. Wet the car
    thoroughly before soaping. Do one panel at a time (so the soap
    doesn't dry before it is rinsed), starting at the top. As I apply
    the soapy water to an area, I flush it with the hose at the same
    Synthetic wash mitts work well -- this is the only place
    for synthetics (other than the buffing pads). Terry cloth can
    also be used. Frequent turning and rinsing of the mitt or terry
    is necessary, because dirt trapped in it will scratch the finish.
    Car washing is where scratching problems start; after all, that's
    when the most grit is present to cause scratching. Don't let it
    happen to you.
    Meguiar's recommends its No. 00 wash, which I have used for
    years. A more recent product is No. 62, which is available in the
    large quantities No. 00 used to come in and which is a good deal
    less expensive (though about the same as No. 00 was before No. 62
    came along). Though I am resistant to change, I can find no fault
    with No. 62 and for reasons of economy will adopt it. The
    Meguiar's products really enhance the shine of Meguiar's-finished
    cars, without silicones and without stripping off the waxes and
    However, most any quality car shampoo will do fine. A qual-
    ity product will have no detergents and no silicones.
    Meguiar's also makes a waterless spray-on wash, No. 34,
    which you wipe off with a terry cloth. This product, now called
    "Final Inspection", replaces, is much less expensive and is
    entirely reformulated from, the former No. 34 "Trigger Wash." The
    notion of wiping off a dirty emulsion scares the hell out of me,
    because how can you avoid abrading the surface as you wipe? The
    theory is that No. 34 puts a lubricant (not silicone) between the
    paint and the dirt, floating the dirt off. It seems to work, but
    I remain uncomfortable with it in heavy grime situations.
    Dry the washed car with The Absorber or clean terry cloths,
    again turning them frequently to avoid scoring the finish with
    dirt particles. Leather chamois is not recommended for drying (or
    anything else, for that matter, except patching elbows).

    Removing scratches. The technique for removing scratches
    depends on the severity of the scratch.
    Very light scratching and light oxidation can be addressed
    with No. 9 ("Swirl Remover").

    Light scratching is addressed with the standard cleaning
    routine, using No. 2.
    Moderate scratching can be more challenging, and may re-
    quire a few trips to the arsenal. Try less aggressive products
    first, then more aggressive ones if needed. This is true both for
    the cleaners and the pads. So depending on how bad the scratching
    (or oxidation) is, first try No. 2, No. 1, then No. 4 (in that
    order); and start with an unaggressive pad (a finishing pad),
    moving to a moderately aggressive pad (the yellow polishing pad,
    Nos. W-1000 and W-5500 depending on size), then a cutting pad if
    that doesn't work (W-7000). Use your judgment and experience as
    you acquire it, though. Paints are different, and you may find it
    best to go right to a polishing or cutting pad. You may want to
    try a more aggressive pad with a less aggressive cleaner before
    going to a more aggressive cleaner. Note that the aggressive
    cleaners and pads will induce some light scratching while reduc-
    ing the moderate scratch; you will need to progressively rework
    the area with decreasingly aggressive products to polish it
    Deep scratching is handled with Unigrit sandpaper (de-
    scribed below); 2000 grit is a good starting point. Follow this
    by No. 1, No. 2 and then either No. 3 or No. 7 in that order.
    Severe scratching is present if you can run your fingernail
    over the scratch and it gets caught. This generally cannot be
    sanded. Likewise, if the flaw has penetrated near or to the
    primer or metal, sanding is not the answer. You have no choice
    but to use touch-up paint, let it dry thoroughly, then block sand
    and polish. Scratching underneath the paint, of course, requires
    stripping the paint and refinishing the metal.

    Sanding and blocking. Sometimes a scratch will need to be
    sanded out, or touch-up paint will need to be blocked down so it
    blends with the rest of the paint. (And sometimes whole cars need
    to be wet-sanded, but that is beyond the scope of this article).
    Sanding is done with Meguiar's Unigrit (formerly Nikken) sand-
    paper. This has a very even distribution of grit which is closely
    controlled in size. It comes in grades from 80 to 2000 grit --
    you will mostly be concerned with the 2000. It should be soaked
    overnight before use, and used with dilute No. 00 as a lubricant.
    The E-7200 backing pad is an excellent backing. Two sheets of
    sandpaper and a new backing pad run about three dollars. In sand-
    ing, you will simply feather the scratch out.
    Sanding blocks are used to work out defects above the paint
    surface. Meguiar's blocks (which are fairly small) come from 400
    to 3000 grade, and last almost forever. They should also be kept
    soaking before use.
    After any sanding, expect to clean with No. 2 or stronger,
    followed by polishing.

    Clean the car - theory.
    "Cleaning" the car is not the same as "washing" the car. A
    "clean" car is free of oxidized paint, road tars and salts, acids
    found in the rain, and so forth. The car is chemically clean, and
    the pores of the paint are free of contaminants. Thus, a wax-

    based material is not used for cleaning. Meguiar's cleaners are
    No. 1 (medium) and No. 2 (fine) and No. 4 (heavy).
    A nearly new finish will need no cleaning at all -- the
    step can be skipped, and you can go straight to polishing. No. 2
    has feeding oils, cleaning chemicals and a buffered earth
    abrasive. I have found it to be gentle and effective. No. 1 is
    used for finishes with moderate oxidation or swirling. If you use
    No. 1, plan on following up with No. 2 before moving on to
    polishing. No. 4 is used only to removed heavy oxidation or rela-
    tively deep scratching; in practice, you will rarely employ it.
    Experience will teach you that the proper amount of cleaner is
    more sparing than you think -- it does not need to be slopped all
    The key is to start with the least aggressive treatment,
    and only if that proves insufficient do you move on to a more ag-
    gressive product. If in doubt, use the less aggressive. And re-
    member, it sometimes takes more than one pass to get the job
    done. Again, you are better off with two passes of No. 2 than one
    pass of No. 1, but I would draw the line there. You will quickly
    develop a sense of just what the two different cleaners do. If in
    doubt, experiment on test patches, as experimenting on whole
    panels is very time consuming, not to mention risky.

    Clean the car - by machine.
    For conventional paints, try a finishing pad first, using
    No. 2, especially if this is maintenance cleaning; if this
    doesn't get the car clean (you will know after working on one

    panel) move to a polishing pad. Bear in mind that not all panels
    are the same; frequently, the roof, hood and trunk will need more
    aggressive treatment than the sides, due to more exposure to the
    For plastic paints, follow the same procedure, bearing this
    in mind: plastic paints are harder than conventional paints. Much
    harder. That means that you treat them less aggressively. Why?
    The harder the paint, the milder you treat it, as harsh treatment
    will induce scratching you can't easily polish out (induced
    scratching is relatively easy to polish out of the softer conven-
    tional paints). Thus, you will want to avoid No. 1 (use only No.
    2 cleaner or No.9 cleaner/polish) and you will run your rotary
    buffer at its lower speeds. Also, you will probably use a finish-
    ing pad instead of a cleaning pad.

    Clean the car - by hand. In the Meguiar's world, use No. 2
    for most cleaning by hand, applying the liquid directly to the
    pad. Expect a moderately needy finish to require thirty to forty
    strokes to be clean.

    Polish the paint - theory. By polishing the paint, we mean
    nourishing it and hiding hairline scratches. Meguiar's polishes
    also restore the oils which washing, age, sun, rain and air
    (smog) have leached out of the paint. (This is not to be confused
    with the "seal jobs" done by car dealerships, which involves put-
    ting a polymer over the paint, rather than oils into it, together
    with an adjustment to the customer's bank balance.) The immediate

    difference this step makes, especially for dark-colored cars, is
    so impressive that you would use polish even if it didn't
    renourish the paint. Meguiar's claims the benefits of its polish
    accrete with each application; and indeed, if maintained, very
    little polish is needed to replenish the paint.
    The Meguiar's family of polishes includes Nos. 3, 7, and 9
    (No. 5 has been removed from the line-up since last publication).
    Unlike cleaners, pure polishes are not abrasive. Meguiar's No. 7
    is pure polish. No. 3 is a little more aggressive; it can pull a
    little haze off the paint, or a very light oxidation. No. 9 is a
    polish with a cleaner, and thus has some light abrasives in it;
    it is the most aggressive of the polishes. No. 9 is good for
    removing light swirling, or if you really don't need a cleaning
    step. Use it with a rotary buffer and a finishing pad, if avail-

    Polishing by machine - in general. Polishing is not an
    abrasive process (except with No. 9, see above), and in fact the
    polish acts as a lubricant between the pad and the paint. For ma-
    chine application, the polish may be squirted directly onto the
    panels, doing one panel at a time. The polish may be buffed until
    the material breaks down, stop buffing before the polish dries
    into a powder. If one application and buffing is insufficient,
    try another. Be sure to observe precautions (under "Polishing by
    hand", below) about not letting the polish dry. Especially with
    No. 7, the polish will get gummy, making it unnecessarily dif-
    ficult to remove the excess. By the way, I have had a problem
    with blockages in the dispenser nozzles of No. 3; a bent paper-
    clip or coat hanger clears it nicely.

    Polishing with buffers. If using a buffer (a rotary ma-
    chine) for polishing, use a finishing pad (W-9000). For polishing
    conventional paints, use No. 3; No. 9 is recommended for plastic
    paints. In addition to including mild cleaners, No. 9 is designed
    for the tighter molecular structure which plastic paints present.
    It is also the easiest of the polishes to use, if you need fur-
    ther incentive.

    Polishing with DA. For polishing with a DA, orbital or
    hutch, yellow polishing pads are all that is available (and will
    work fine). Whether polishing conventional or plastic paints, use
    No. 7. Use No. 7 sparingly, and clean the foam pad often, to pre-
    vent the pad from gumming up.

    Polishing by hand. For hand application on conventional
    paint, use No. 7. This polish can be applied with a rigid foam
    pad, a soft sponge or a terry cloth. Apply the polish directly to
    the car, and spread it out evenly with the pad. The pad will
    literally glide over the polish. The idea is to coat the panel
    (start by doing one panel at a time, until you gain experience
    with curing times) with as thin a coat as will completely cover
    it. The polish can be further worked into the paint using a terry
    cloth. The more which is infused into the paint, the better; how-
    ever, it should be used sparingly to avoid gumming and excessive
    wiping. The paint can only absorb so much; beyond that, the
    polish is wasted and just creates extra work.
    The polish will not fully dry (nor would you want it to);
    hence, it can and should be wiped off with terry toweling. This
    can be done one panel at a time. If the weather is not too warm,
    removing the excess polish can be done after the whole car has
    been coated; however, warm weather will cause the polish to dry,
    and you will regret not having wiped it off earlier, so keep an
    eye on it.
    Using the terry cloth towel, wipe gently using straight
    strokes. A residue will be left, which can be wiped up with a
    fresh terry cloth. Continue until all the polish is removed.
    For hand application on plastic paints, use No. 7 or No.
    9. If No. 9 is used by hand, apply it as you would a cleaner and
    not as you would apply the No. 7 polish.

    Wax the paint - in general. Whether by hand or by machine,
    and whether the paint is conventional or plastic, use either No.
    26 liquid wax or Medallion. It is hard to describe the dif-
    ferences; the No. 26 is one of the few Meguiar's materials with
    silicone, and it has some (not a lot) of carnauba (you don't need
    or want much carnauba, by the way). Meguiar's does not disclose
    the contents of Medallion (it probably has some silicone in it
    too), but Meguiar's claims that it ionically bonds to the car's
    finish, resulting is freedom from dust-attracting static. This is
    a difficult claim to verify, but it does seem to yield superior
    results, last longer and be even less effort to apply than No.
    26. Considering how little is needed to coat the car and its
    greater durability, Medallion's additional cost is more than off-
    set. Plus, it smells a lot better than No. 26. My unconditional
    endorsement goes to Medallion.

    Apply the wax - by machine. I have found machine applica-
    tion consistently yields results superior to hand application
    here, especially with Medallion. Use thin coats, two if No. 26,
    two or three if Medallion), instead of one thick one. Both of
    these materials are so slippery that very little is needed.
    If waxing with a rotary buffer, use a finishing pad; if
    waxing with a DA, you must use the yellow polishing pad (the only
    pad available for DAs), which will carry more of the wax in its
    larger cells than will a finishing pad.
    For machine application, apply the wax directly to the car
    and buff in 8" columns. Buff using light pressure and overlapping
    strokes, leaving a film to dry; do not buff until the material
    begins to break down! Use the slowest buffer speed possible; this
    is the great advantage of the DA.

    Apply the wax - by hand. If waxing by hand, use the same
    procedure as with No. 7 polish. By hand, rub the wax thoroughly
    into the paint so that it fully penetrates. Wipe with clean terry
    cloths, which will take several passes a few minutes apart.
    Meguiar's does make paste waxes (No. 16 and No. 26), and
    someday I hope to meet the fellow who buys them (five gets you
    eight he owns a Porsche). Paste waxes may not be used with a
    rotary buffer, but can be used with an orbital. If applied by
    hand, they are maybe six times more work to apply than No. 26
    liquid or Medallion, with an inferior result. If you wax cars for
    exercise, though, hand application of paste wax might be for you.

    Finishing waxing. How long you let the wax dry (cure) is
    critical. It should dry to a hazy white. If you drag your finger
    across it, it should ball up and not smear. This will take five
    or more minutes (remember, you are not in direct sunlight). If
    wiped off as a liquid it does no good, and it is difficult to
    remove and you risk damaging the finish if it is left to dry to a
    powder. Of course, the warmer the day the faster the dry time.
    Keep an eye on it, and experience will quickly teach the optimum.
    After the excess is wiped off with terry clothes, there may
    be oils from the No. 7 or No. 9 left on top of the wax, which
    looks like streaking. This is best ignored for a day, after which
    the oil may have been absorbed by the paint and a quick pass with
    a clean terry cloth will solve the problem. Otherwise, wash the
    car down with No. 00 or No. 62. Many have found that after the
    full Meguiar's treatment, a No. 00 or No. 62 wash further im-
    proves the car's appearance!

    Maintenance. They best way to maintain the finish on your
    car is to keep it garaged when not in use. It is almost im-
    possible to keep a car looking nice if it's parked outside, espe-
    cially if you have a life.

    To maintain the Meguiar's finish, wash with 00 or 62,
    polish with No. 7 or No. 9, then wax with No. 26 or Medallion. If
    this is done as needed, the car will seldom need the cleaning
    step. Since cleaning is the most time consuming, laborious and
    wearing on the paint, routine maintenance is a sensible (if self-
    disciplined) alternative to an annual or semi-annual detailing.

    Clean the glass. The glass may be cleaned, again preferably
    by machine, using No. 1 or No. 4 (which may also be used by hand)
    (and don't try to do the inside of the glass by machine). I am
    amazed how already-"clean" glass can be made to just sparkle with
    this treatment; it also removes water spots. And you should do it
    before polishing and waxing, as there will be cleaner splattered
    all over the glass from when you cleaned the paint, and cleaner
    will be splattered over the paint when you clean the glass.
    Glass can be finished with Rain X if you wish (outside
    only). For those who haven't tried it (and it has been around for
    quite a while), Rain X seals the pores in the glass, which causes
    rain to bead and fly off, and also gives your windshield wipers a
    smoother ride. The down side is complaints about hazing, espe-
    cially in difficult lighting conditions (dusk and dawn). I have
    used the stuff intermittently for about a dozen years, and I
    think it's a good product if used correctly (the residue must be
    wiped completely off, and you can't tell if it's completely off
    in certain lighting conditions). Give it a try; it's around $5
    per bottle, which will last years.

    Clean the rubber. While the wax is curing is a good time to
    get started on the rubber and vinyl. Cleaning is done with No. 39
    and a nylon-bristled brush. On the exterior, hose off the
    cleaner. For protection and appearance, No. 42 works well with
    rubber bumpers, tires, plastic and semi-gloss painted areas. It
    soaks in, and may take multiple coats. It does not leave a shiny
    coat like Armorall, and seems to have less of a tendency to wash
    off in the rain (the streaks Armorall leaves as it washes off are
    one of many reasons to avoid the stuff).

    Clean the plastic. Interior plastic parts may be cleaned
    with No. 40, which can be wiped on or (if the filth requires it)
    brushed with a brush of stiff plastic bristles. (For real grunge,
    No. 39 is a more aggressive cleaner.) It is an Armorall sub-
    stitute, except that it leaves matte finishes matte. (I dislike
    Armorall's making everything shiny. I also dislike the way it
    evaporates and deposits itself on the windshield as a haze, some-
    thing No. 40 also does not seem to do.)
    High-impact plastics, such as turn signal lenses, can have
    scratches removed by machine with No. 1 and No. 3 cleaners; No.
    10 can be used for cleaning thereafter. I have restored lenses I
    was ready to scrap with these materials. No. 10 is the industry
    standard for cleaning plastic airplane windshields, by the way
    (they are restored with a product called Micro Mesh).
    Protection/maintenance of clear high-impact plastic pieces
    can be accomplished with No. 18, which is a cleaner/polish. It
    can also be used on window tints and compact disks.

    Clean the wheels. Everybody has a favorite wheel cleaner,
    from Mothers to Eagle One. Meguiar's sells No. 36, which is used
    with a household paint brush and elbow grease. The No. 36 is non-
    acidic and is not corrosive -- it will not damage wheels.
    Meguiar's makes a big deal out of No. 36 being the only cleaner
    blessed by BBS. But because No. 36 is not aggressive, you have to
    put in a lot of your own effort. So try them all, and use what
    you like best, but don't wait until after you have damaged your
    wheels with another product to try the Meguiar's.

    Summary of applications. By machine: Conventional paints:
    Wash with 00 or No. 62. Clean with a buffer, using No. 2 unless
    severely oxidized or deeply scratched, in which case use No. 1.
    Polish with No. 3 if using a buffer, or with No. 7 if using a DA
    or hutch. Wax with No. 26 or Medallion, preferably using a DA or
    hutch. Plastic paints: same as above, only polish using a DA or
    hutch with No. 7 or with No. 9 with a rotary buffer and a finish-
    ing pad.
    By hand: Conventional and plastic paints: Wash with 00 or
    No. 62. Clean with No. 4 or 2, polish with No. 7 wax with No. 26
    paste or liquid, or Medallion.

    Summary of products. A summary of relevant Meguiar's pro-
    ducts and their uses:
    00 - wash. One capful per gallon of water.
    1 - very aggressive cleaner for use by machine only.
    Can also be used as a glass cleaner.

    2 - mild cleaner for use by hand or machine. Less ag-
    gressive than No. 1 or 4.
    3 - machine polish, for conventional paints.
    4 - most aggressive cleaner, for use by hand or ma-
    chine. Fairly abrasive, and without chemicals.
    Use only if milder cleaners don't do the job.
    6 - cleaner/wax for the one-step crowd and for remov-
    ing road tars. Not for you.
    7 - glaze. Apply by hand. Full of feeder oils and
    other good stuff, and hides hairline scratches.
    9 - swirl remover for polishing out swirling or very
    light scratching by hand or machine.
    10 - high-impact plastic cleaner.
    16 - paste wax. Apply by hand or DA/orbital.
    18 - high-impact plastic cleaner/polish for clear
    20 - polymer sealant. For the annual detailer type. Not
    recommended for fine German cars.
    26 - modern paste and liquid wax. Can be applied by
    hand or machine.
    36 - wheel cleaner. Use with paint brush and elbow
    grease. BBS approved.
    34 - squirt bottle wash. Good for clean-up, prepping
    panels about to be worked and concours. Enhances
    39 - rubber and vinyl cleaner.
    40 - vinyl and plastic cleaner/conditioner. Goodbye
    42 - rubber cleaner/treatment.
    62 - car wash concentrate destined to replace 00.
    Medallion for All Paint - the most wonderful wax.
    Medallion for All Leather - Meguiar's leather treat-
    ment. I prefer Mercedes-Benz Lederpflegemittel
    (p/n 0009860571), Connolly Hide food or saddle

    S-2005 - Meguiar's Unigrit sandpaper (2000 grit). Most
    commonly used grades are 1000, 1200, 1500 and
    K-2000 - Meguiar's sanding block (2000 grit). Available
    in grades from 400 to 3000.
    W-65 - backing plate for W-9000
    W-1000 - 8" yellow polishing pad.
    W-5500 - 5.5" yellow polishing pad.
    W-7000 - cutting pads.
    W-9000 - 8" tan finishing pad.

  2. #2
    Registered Member spence82's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    man,thats a lot of words!

  3. #3
    Registered Member Murr1525's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    Interestign read... where was it written for?
    2017 Subaru WRX Premium - WR Blue

  4. #4
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Stuart, Florida
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    Here's the very short nutshell version of the story behind Mr. Thomas B. Nast.

    This article came about from my involvement with Mr. Thomas B. Nast. Back in 1990, (I think), I did a how-to demonstration for a BMW club at Phil Smart's BMW in Seattle, Washington.

    In this demo I said that using the Meguiar's products and the correct technique, you could create a flawless finish by hand or machine, Mr. Nast took me up on this claim and asked me to show him on one of his classic BMW's at his house, which I did.

    After that demonstration, he then picked my brain for information on Meguiar's and detailing for at least a year or longer, in fact he and a partner wanted to start an online website selling detailing supplies and having me do kind of what I do now.

    This was long before the Internet was known about by the masses or maybe widespread would be a better term.

    I used to have the original Zundfolg BMW magazines with the interviews I did with Mr. Nast who was a writer for the magazine, don't know if I have them anymore.

    Anyway, that's the short story behind Mr. Nast and this article and basically any article he wrote on Meguiar's and detailing.

    Time flies when you're having fun!

    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    "Find something you like and use it often"

  5. #5
    Registered Member
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    Thanks Mike for the history...

    I really don't know how or where I got that text file. I have been into cars and Meguiar's products since my first car at 17, back in 1988/89:

  6. #6
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    Quote Originally Posted by alkemyst View Post
    Thanks Mike for the history...

    I really don't know how or where I got that text file.
    It's been posted all over the Internet for years. Mr. Nast used to give credit to where he learned all his information, but a few years down the road he became his own guru.

    Nice Stang....
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    "Find something you like and use it often"

  7. #7
    aka: 23jam J. A. Michaels's Avatar
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    That was a interesting read. Thanks for the background info Mike.
    quality creates its own demand

  8. #8
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Old article from 1994

    Quote Originally Posted by J. A. Michaels View Post
    That was a interesting read. Thanks for the background info Mike.
    There's actually a long story behind the story but it's all in the past...

    You can tell by the products listed it's kind of dated now a days. Mr. Nast has his own unique writing style...
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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