We have all learned from our mistakes when it gets to car detailing. I’m also convinced that you’ve seen how using the wrong cloth can create so many swirl marks that it looks like some crazed figure skater was let loose on your paint job! However, some of us may feel like we have learned all there is to learn. Nevertheless, here are the 5 most common mistakes to avoid when detailing your car.

1.    Waxing before clay-barring

Firstly, I have to stress this one point (because, oh yes, somehow people get it wrong!) Clay barring your car does not replace the washing stage. If you try to clay a car that hasn’t been washed your car is going to look like you drove it through an entire school of figure skating champions.

That being said, a clay bar is used after you wash the car to remove the little particles of dirt and grime that get stuck in the pores of the paint. This is why it is important to “clay” your car before waxing it. You see, wax acts as a sealant for the paint and therefore fills those open pores in the paint, protecting your paint from dirt. So, if you wax your car before “claying” it you are just going to end up sealing dirt into your paint job.

2.    Using the same sponge for everything

Oh yes, those hateful figure skaters love the people who make this mistake (and believe me these folks are everywhere). If you use the same sponge to clean your wheels and exhaust as you do for washing the rest of the car you are going to fill your sponge’s pores with dirt and grease that will create massive swirl marks all over your car.

By sponge, I just mean whatever you use to wash your car, whether it is a microfiber towel, a microfiber washing-mitt, a Chamois (absorber towel), or a sponge (which is a bad idea anyway).

3.    Washing your car in the sun

You knew I was going to add this one didn’t you? Nonetheless, this is one of the most common mistakes people make in their car detailing endeavors. Why is it so bad though? Well let me put it to you this way… have you ever crawled through mud and then stood in the sun? What happens? It gets dry and crusty right and it gets stuck on your hair and it really is a battle to get it off.

This is exactly what happens when you detail a car in the sun. When you rinse the car down in the sun, the water mixes with the dirt on the car and dries out before you can wash it and it sticks to the paint like dry mud to your body. If you try to wash it like this, you are just going to be rubbing dirt around on your paint and call those figure skaters to work again. Besides, we all know that if you add just a bit of water to that dry dirt (or a shower when you are full of mud) it flows right off and no scratches occur.

4.    Using only one bucket

This one ties into the point about using only one sponge for everything. If you use only one bucket you will be dipping your dirty sponge into water that already has dirt in it from your previous rinses. This means that you will just pick up dirt in your sponge rather than rinsing it off and end up scratching your paintwork instead of washing it.

5.    Pressure washing the engine bay

The last mistake to avoid is pressure washing your engine bay. Look we have all been there… detailing an engine bay is a laborious task… it takes forever.

This can drive the impatient car detailer to look for a quicker way to do it. Right about then they decide it is a good idea to pump a jet of pressurised water straight into their electrics, sparkplug cavities, carburettors and distributors (for the older cars), potentially causing catastrophic engine failures.

Ask yourself, is it really worth it to save an extra 20-30 mins and then end up with a car that can at any moment have an electrical short and give up on you? Ahhh… that would be an emphatic no for me! If you really don’t have the time to clean your engine properly, rather let a professional detailer clean it for you, because in my opinion there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a filthy engine clean again.

 Never forget, “Anything that’s worth doing, is worth doing properly!” - Anonymous