Archive for May, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Funk…

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Funkadelic (35), Röyksopp (10) & Tower of Power (9) http://bit.ly/cdMoLK

Moderately Type A (External) Car Wash

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Keeping my car looking good is important enough for me to spend a good amount of time every week doing it, weather (often not) permitting. When I bought my first new car (a 2001 VW GTI GLX with a VR6), I would be out there every 3-4 days, even in the dead of winter, washing that thing. But lately I’m a lot lazier, and I care more about performance and handling than I do about looks. That all said, I do like my car to look its best, when I can get a couple hours to do some detailing.

Thanks to the anal retentive maniacs (and I say that with the utmost admiration) at autopia.org, I learned about and tried a couple new techniques combined with a couple new products to wash my car today. I’m really happy with the results. My car hasn’t looked this good since it was fairly new. But owing to blemishes from daily driving, including a lot of embedded bug juice and tar that is pretty persistent, I haven’t completely restored it to factory showroom clean either. And since it is fairly well known that Subaru’s paint (at least on the WRX/STi line) is fairly cheap (let’s face it, no one buys an STi for great paint!), and because some of my previous car washing techniques were pretty barbarous (though still better than some other stories I’ve heard, and better than those who never clean their cars), it is unlikely it will ever look as good as it did the first day I drove it home. I do have some confidence that with the new processes I am using, with some further improvements and fine-tuning, I will have it looking as nice as it possibly can — provided I can keep the body straight with good driving. 😉

The new techniques I tried were as follows:

  1. Cleaning the wheels first. Yeah, no duh, right? I mean, you use insanely caustic stuff to clean off all that brake dust from those big Brembos — the brake dust also being caustic. Why would you ever subject a freshly cleaned car to these substances by waiting until the end to clean your tires/wheels? I don’t know why, but I was doing them last.
  2. Pre-treating bug juice and tar with a new product before beginning the car wash. Actually, I’m doing this before cleaning the wheels, since after applying this stuff, all you need to do is rinse the car thoroughly — which is what you need to do to the wheels before cleaning them anyway. This bug and tar product touts itself as being much greener than the nasty stuff I use for the wheels, so bonus for that. It works fairly well, but I have some very persistent bug splatters on the front of my car (spirited driving anyone?), so I believe it will take some time to get all this stuff off. But judging by the effectiveness of this product, I feel confident I will eventually only be cleaning the most recent bug corpses and tree tar (and other sticky stuff) instead of everything from the last 1.5 years of daily driving.
  3. Using a two bucket technique for the actual car wash: one for rinsing, one for recharging your wash cloth/product with car soap. This is another “no duh!” one that I feel I should totally have known all along, but for some reason, being the barbarian that I am, I was only ever using a single bucket to wash my car — not really thinking much about how almost black the water in that bucket started to get about halfway through the car wash — and how I was just rubbing all that black shit back onto my car’s finish every time I washed the goddamned thing! (Probably because I was just tired of washing the car and wanted it to be over instead of realizing how stupid/careless doing it that way is.) And as part of this two bucket technique,
  4. Using grit guards on the bottom of both my rinse bucket and my soap recharge bucket. What a cool idea! These are like little screens that fit perfectly at the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and stand about 2″ from the bottom of the bucket. As you first rinse your mitt/sponge/whatever, you rub it on the grit guard in your rinse bucket. Then as you recharge your mitt in the soap bucket, you again rub it against the surface of the grit guard to make doubly sure the crap you just wiped off your car’s finish is not being rubbed back into your car’s finish.
  5. Using a new “Ultimitt” from properautocare.com instead of those old t-shirts that would wind up getting as course as sandpaper, since I was carelessly not doing a whole lot to make sure they were completely clean before every wash. The surface of the Ultimitt is also supposed to be optimal for not letting all the dirt from your finish act as an abrasive against the finish. I liked this new mitt a lot. It seems to cover a ton of ground, and to do it really well. It’s also quite evident when your car is clean, because of the squeaking this mitt does against your (now) clean finish. The drawbacks, however, are that fully recharged with soap, the thing is heavy, hence why it can cover a lot of ground quickly. That’s not a big drawback, but man my arms are more tired right now, than they were when I flew into town last week. (har, har) The other thing I wasn’t crazy about is also related to its size: It’s just not that maneuverable. I can’t use it to get into some of those weird nooks and crannies well enough, so I’m going to have to find something smaller to use for those spots. (Again, not a biggie.)
  6. After I did my final rinse with the spray of the nozzle of the hose, I removed the nozzle and let a solid flow of water cover the entire surface of my car. Instead of being all beaded out, my car’s finish had this really smooth, consistent coating of water. There’s another reason for doing this, I forget. The car did just look better after doing thing, but of course you have to immediately “towel” the car off to complete the process.
  7. Using a new Big Blue III Super Drying Towel. I was using (and really liked) The Absorber for the last ten years or so. But again, you have to consider the surface of the product you are using when drying your car. And believe me, a good, proper dry-off is like 80% of a good car wash. Actually I just made that statistic up, but really — a good dry-off is hugely important, lest all your hard work be completely negated. So regarding the surface of your drying product — it is alleged that this new product I am using’s more porous surface mitigates how much you might be rubbing fine residual amounts of dirt (or new stuff that blew onto your car in between your wash and your dry). I will take it on faith for now that it does this. The one thing I want to say is that this new microfiber drying towel is a dream to work with! It’s really big, it doesn’t need to be squeezed out like The Absorber I used to use did (making me have to really squeeze the water out of it when I was completely beat from washing my car and I just wanted it all to be over!), and it just seemed to soak up huge amounts of water in a really nice, easy way. It also just has a really nice feel to it and I really felt like I could focus on covering every little nook and cranny with it…since it’s nice and thin (compared to The Absorber).

Products I’ve been using all along:

New products I recently learned about:

  • einszett Anti-Insekt + Pre-Cleaner
  • Grit Guards
  • Yellow Tire & Wheel Ultimitt
  • Big Blue III Super Drying Towel

A quick mention of properautocare.com: I ordered late at night Monday and got all the stuff by Friday of the same week. They communicated extremely well through every step of the process, providing tracking numbers and confirmation of delivery, etc. Shipping was free since I spent over a certain amount on this stuff. I imagine I could have found a lot of this stuff cheaper elsewhere (I believe only one new item I mentioned is something they exclusively offer), but since they handled everything so quickly and professionally, I will definitely be using them more often.

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: CAKE…

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: CAKE (41), Peter Bjorn and John (40) & Blue Öyster Cult (23) http://bit.ly/cdMoLK

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Towe…

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Tower of Power (10), Cut Copy (8) & Massive Attack (3) http://bit.ly/cdMoLK

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Blue…

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Blue Öyster Cult (19), Gorillaz (6) & Freddie King (6) http://bit.ly/cdMoLK

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Char…

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Charlie Parker (48), Lenny Breau (33) & Brian Eno (24) http://bit.ly/cdMoLK