- How to correct paintwork for ceramic coating using polishing compounds
- How to protect interior plastics from UV radiation
- How to protect glass, fabrics and wheels
- How to apply ceramic coatings
Wondering why you need to detail a brand-new car? There's more to it than you might think. Let's take a closer look with our video and step-by-step guide…
Yes, you'll be forgiven for thinking that this rather awesome-looking hyper-hatch looks reasonably clean to begin with, and that's probably because it's basically brand-new, it even turned up on a trailer. But don't get distracted by the distinct lack of road miles on this charming 2023 Civic Type R because, as with many new cars, there's much more than immediately meets the eye.
You see, when you inspect a little closer there's all sorts of problems that a car straight from the factory can throw up. And, let's face it, if you're buying new from a main dealer, and dropping a big bundle of cash on your dream street weapon, you want it to be absolutely perfect… and ideally, to stay that way for as long as possible.
So that's the whole point of this particular detail, we'll be cutting through a small amount of grit and grime to get to the key detailing stages where we'll perfect the paintwork and lavish this brand new FL5 Civic with 12 months of extreme ceramic protection. Suffice to say that one lucky buyer will soon be getting a better CTR than anyone else for the summer.
Follow along with the video below, and then we'll dive straight into the finer details…
So you've seen the processes in our Civic Type-R video but it's obvious that the detail took a little longer in real life. So, let's get to grips with the full process with an exclusive in-depth guide covering every detailing product used, how we used them, and why they were chosen for this particular detail…
Brand-new cars come with various protection films designed to cover key areas during transport and storage so, it almost goes without saying that, this has to be removed before we can start our detail.
It's worth noting here that these films usually cover portions of the car, but importantly, not all of it. You'll find that there are areas of paint that have been fully exposed to the elements, which will become relevant later on in the detail.
Unlike PPF films, which are designed to offer semi-permanent protection, these various films use extremely low tack adhesives (sometimes just static attachment) and can be removed simply by carefully pulling them away from the paintwork. They don't leave behind a whole load of harsh residues that require solvents to remove, either. This is because manufacturers don't want their dealers to have specialist training to unwrap and clean every car that turns up on the forecourt. If there are any light residues left behind, these can be easily removed through our normal wash stages.
As with every detail we start with the wheels. Suffice to say that the wheels on this spanking new Civic aren't particularly dirty, with only a few miles on the clock there's not an overabundance of brake dust, road salt or other harsh contaminants present.
As always, the concentration of contamination (and the type of contamination itself) dictates the products we use for cleaning. So, we already know that we don't need any heavy-duty decontamination products to removed ingrained metal here, because there isn't anything more than surface grime.
What also needs to be considered of course, is the sensitivity of the finish. Although standard wheels can often be tougher than aftermarket wheels, we'll still take into account this satin black finish. Very often dark gloss and satin wheels can be prone to heavy swirl marks and other defects through clumsy cleaning techniques. They're not necessarily easier to damage as such, but it's certainly more noticeable if you do. For this reason, we've chosen a combination of a Wonder Wool Wheel Brush, a soft bristle Detailing Brush and an Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt, all wash media that's designed to lightly agitate cleaning agents and lift grime safely away from sensitive surfaces without scratching.
What's also important here is to use a cleaning agent that's kind to the finish wheel finish. Imperial Wheel Cleaner is perfect because it contains special surfactants designed to break down any grime, physically pulling contamination from the surface and surrounding it in the solution. This allows the contamination to be rinsed away without actually touching the surface. Imperial can power through the worst contamination and brake dust, the acid-free formula is gentle enough for use on all painted and powdercoated wheels.
To be most effective, all wheel cleaners should be agitated, but doing this as safely as possible is just as important. When agitating our Imperial, we also use Revolution Wheel Soap for added cleaning power and as a lubricant to help any large, potentially harmful, particles slip safely across the surfaces and off the wheels. Revolution can also be used as a gentle stand-alone cleaner for the most sensitive finishes such as bare metal, chrome and polished wheels. As we said the wheels aren't overly dirty here, but following the safest possible procedure is still the key to success. We're aiming to get these wheels fully protected later so we don't want to make more work by inflicting damage that needs to be removed.
The first part of the process is to prepare our Revolution solution by adding a few capfuls to a bucket of clean water and frothing up the suds using our pressure washer.
Working on one wheel at a time the first step is to give the wheel and tyre a thorough rinse down. All we're doing here is removing any loose grime, grit and other heavy particles that can be removed by water pressure alone, before we break out our cleaning agents. This leaves our cleaners to work where they're most needed. There's no point in wasting your products when they're not needed, right?
Now we can use our cleaning agents to cut through any grime that's left behind. First step we spray our Imperial Wheel Cleaner liberally all over the wheel, making sure we get plenty inside the barrels and any awkward recesses. Having a spray-on cleaner here is makes it easy to direct your cleaning agent exactly where you want it.
As we said, all wheel cleaners need to be agitated for maximum effectiveness, but this isn't about mechanical cleaning - or physically scrubbing away the grime with your wash media - it's simply a way of making sure that your cleaning solutions get to every area, and that they're utilised in a way that's as effective as possible. Agitating also helps to move away any spent product (cleaning agent that's already encapsulating the maximum amount of contamination) and refresh the area with fresh solution to work on any remaining grime. If you just spray on a wheel cleaner and then rinse, chances are that it won't reach every area and only the top layer of heavy grime will be removed. It's not a major issue here on this light grime of course, but that's the science behind it.
First we agitate our Imperial into the barrel using our Revolution solution and a Wonder Wool Wheel Brush, ensuring that we make contact with every part. The Wonder Wool gently massages the solutions into the surface and, because the cleaning media is deep pile microfibre, it's able to lift and lock away harmful particles away from surfaces, just like a soft wash mitt on paintwork. A good pro tip when cleaning barrels is to work from the top around the wheel in a clockwise motion, helping to ensure you don't miss any. We're using a Large Wonder Wool here for the best reach.
Once the barrels have been cleaned, we move on to the faces and behind the spokes using our Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt. Here we can easily access the most awkward recesses that may otherwise remain untouched. The last step is to use a Detailing Brush to make sure we've agitated our solutions into potential dirt traps such as the centre cap and bolt holes. A brush gives the best access in this instance but again, it's important to use one that won't inflict swirls.
Before we rinse away any contamination trapped in our cleaning solutions, we can clean any oil residues and road grime from the tyres. Here we utilise Tread Tyre Cleaner, a product specifically designed to power through the harshest, oily contamination, while remaining kind to the rubber underneath. This solution works in a similar way to your Imperial Wheel Cleaner (using surfactants and degreasers to break away and encapsulate grime) but unlike many harsh all-purpose cleaners it won't damage or dry out the surface.
With tyres you can mechanically clean with no fear of inflicting damage, using a stiff brush like our Rubber Scrubber Tyre Brush. This process physically draws out dirt from under the surface, too. We simply apply or Tread directly to the sidewalls and scrub.
This process cleans the rubber thoroughly and also offers a surface that will be easy for your tyre dressings to bond with. So, any dressing you may chose in the final stages will will not only look better but will last longer.
Once we've scrubbed in our Tread, we'll rinse down the wheel and tyre thoroughly. Before moving onto the next wheel.
The pre-wash where we remove the heaviest particles from the relatively exterior to cut down on the risk of scratching or inflicting swirl marks by dragging heavy grime across the surfaces with our wash mitt. For a super-safe, swirl-free wash this is the most important part of the wash stage.
The first step of any pre-wash is to give the car a thorough rinse down. Once again this ensures that our cleaning agents get to work where they're actually needed. We rinse down the whole car from top to bottom, being sure to flush out any panel gaps, door jambs and boot shuts. Next, we can apply our pre-cleaner to break down and lift any bonded surface grime without the need for agitation and, in this case at least, remove any light residues left over from the protection film.
Here we're using Citrus Power Bug & Grime Remover, a powerful spray-on cleaner that's supplied ready-to-use. Citrus power is also wax, sealant and coating safe, making it ideal for use during routine maintenance. Like Imperial Wheel Cleaner, Citrus Power is a surfactant-based cleaner that uses these special molecules (along with water molecules) to physically pull grime form surfaces before encapsulating them in the solution. These potentially harmful particles can then be safely rinsed away. We spray on the Citrus Power over every surface, playing particular attention to any potential dirt traps such as grilles, spoilers, vents and shuts. And, after leaving our cleaner for a few minutes, without letting it dry, we can rinse the car down from top to bottom.
It's important not to miss out the pre-cleaning stage and skip straight to using snow foam. This is because your snow foam is designed to linger on surfaces for as long as possible, breaking down the bonded grime. Basically speaking, the longer you leave it on there, the more it will deep-clean the surface. By skipping the pre-cleaner all you're doing is using up your foam on heavy particles that you pre-cleaner is capable of removing itself. During the snow foam stage we also tend to use a little agitation to work the foam into dirt traps like window rubbers, roof rails and around badges. If you skip using a pre-cleaner you're increasing the risk of inflicting swirls because large gritty particulates may still be present.
Here we're using Avalanche Snow Foam, a citrus-based cleaner that stays on the surface using surfactants to break away the bonded contaminants, allowing them to be safely rinsed away. As well as working on the larger panels, this product is also designed to work its way into all the gaps and shuts, effectively cleaning out those, too. The best way to apply Avalanche is using a professional Snow Foam Lance. This essential bit of kit is designed to syphon the solution, mix it up and then force it through a metal gauze. This process activates the cleaning agents and whips the solution up into a thick lingering foam. To fill our lance, we pour around an inch of concentrate into the Foam Lance Bottle, and them top it up with water.
Now we can apply our foam over the whole vehicle from the top to the bottom. Just like Citrus Power, Avalanche is suitable for use on every surface, so we don't have to target the cleaning as such, just get it on there.
The main reason we apply from the top down is that usually heaver contamination is found on the lower areas of any car, and we don't want to risk spreading this upwards to any cleaner areas.
The most effective deep cleaning comes from letting the Avalanche linger on the surface for as long as possible, but without letting it dry. A good tip here is to keep an eye on the windows, as the glass tends to dry out first. When this starts to happen, you can rinse down the whole car from the top to bottom, being sure to flush out any panel gaps, grilles and shuts.
In the meantime - while we're letting our Avalanche linger - we can gently agitate into all the dirt traps with a soft Detailing Brush. Again, we're only looking to help the cleaner penetrate every area, and to refresh the solution, not to mechanically scrub away the grime.
Now it's safe to move onto the contact wash. This process is designed to remove any remaining small particle grime but, with that said, it's still important to follow a few key safety measures to make sure you're cleaning the sensitive surfaces as safely as possible. Even on a car that now looks reasonably clean.
First and foremost, we always use two buckets - one bucket for our shampoo solution and one containing plain water for rinsing out our mitt between passes (and neither should be a bucket that's previously been used for cleaning your wheels). This is the most effective method for preventing cross contamination of your wash water, and making sure that you don't transfer any dirt that's already been removed back onto the more sensitive surfaces. We also use professional Detailing Buckets here because these not only utilise a special grit guard to make sure you're not picking up any gritty particles from the bottom of your buckets, but their large 20-litre capacity also helps to prevent recirculation of grime in the water back onto your wash mitt.
Considering the actual wash media you use is also vital. Professional wash mitts are designed not to scrub the surface, but instead to glide along picking up and locking away the grime particles. Instead of simply moving gritty particulates around, what we're looking to do here is apply our shampoo, make sure it makes contact with every inch of the car, and pick up as much of the grime as we can along the way.
Our professional wash mitts are constructed from microfibre or lambswool, materials that are capable of locking in the dirt, keeping it deep in their pile and, most importantly, away from your paintwork. In this case we're using a microfibre Plush Wash Mitt, which is ideal for the job.
Finally, our choice of cleaning agent is also critical. We've chosen Lather Car Shampoo as our cleaning agent for a number of good reasons here. First, Lather is classed as a pure cleaner which means that, even though it's kind to any previously-applied protection layers, it doesn't contain any waxes, coatings or shining agents. Because of this the shampoo suds simply clean the surface without leaving anything else behind that may interfere with the rest of the detail. There are other products, such as Wash "n' Gloss Car Shampoo, or Caramics Enhancing Shampoo, that contain extra ingredients designed to install protection, add gloss, or prolong the life of the protection that's already there. While these are particularly ideal for routine maintenance, we don't need these characteristics this time around. Lather is also classed as a lubricant, which means that it lubricates any potentially harmful, sharp particles that may scratch; an added safety measure that allows them to slip and slide over surfaces, and off the car, without causing damage to the surface underneath.
To prepare our wash solution we add a couple of capfuls of Lather to our wash bucket and froth it up with our pressure washer.
The last safety measure in the contact wash stage is the actual route that you take around the car when cleaning. The safest way of washing any vehicle is to take on the cleaner portions first to prevent spreading contamination from the dirtiest areas to the cleanest. We also wash in straight lines, avoiding circular motions that may further promote swirling.
We start on the roof, then move onto the windows and upper-sides, and then the bonnet, front bumper, lower sides and rear end. In this way we're washing the car from top to bottom but also moving through each level of soiling in a targeted matter. Once we've applied and agitated our shampoo to every area, we can rinse away any grime that's trapped in the solution.
Adecon wash is a process we carry out to remove any engrained contamination that washing alone won't be able to pull out of the surfaces. The key contaminants we target in this 3-stage process are sharp metal particles (chiefly derived from brake dust), tar and sticky residues, and environmental contamination such as the mineral or protein deposits that are often found in rainwater, bird droppings and bug splatter. Some of these are immediately obvious on the vehicle, others aren't, and for each type we also use a specialist detailing product for the safest possible removal.
Now, you may be asking why we need to decontaminate the paintwork on a brand-new car, and it's a fair question but there's two very simple answers.
The first reason is because we'll be polishing and adding ceramic protection later, so we carry out the process as a matter of course, even if the car seems to be pretty spotless. For a start we don't want any sharp, gritty particles being pulled out on our machine polishing pad later, because those whizzing around can cause swirling and other unnecessary damage. When we add our protection, we also don't want to lock in any contamination, we want the paintwork to be completely free of any foreign particles.
The second reason is that it's highly unlikely that any brand-new car will be free of bonded contamination. As we said, the protection film applied at the factory only tends to cover key areas, and new cars are exposed to more environmental contamination than you might think. Not only do these tend to be stored for weeks outside in (often dirty) industrial areas, but they're often loaded onto ships, trains and road transporters to get to the car dealers in the first place. Suffice to say that they can pick up a whole lot of micro contamination along the way, and it's often left for extended periods allowing it to bond to paintwork.
Anyway, the first decontamination stage is chemically dissolving any ferrous metal contamination, and for this we use Iron Out Contaminant Remover. As you'll already know most of the metal contamination you'll find on any car comes from brake dust. On the roads the abundance of hot metal shrapnel flying around in the air can cause these tiny iron particles to embed themselves in your paintwork. It's not just your brakes causing the contamination, either; it's everyone else's, too. So, even if a car is sat on a transporter it will still end up being exposed. Further to that, another common cause of metal contamination is train tracks, these spew out plenty of the same kind of particles over a huge area around them. As you can imagine, new cars that are stored in rail yards, or transported by rail, can end up being heavily exposed to this kind of metal contamination. Just the same as any vehicle that's parked in a train station carpark all day while the owner commutes to work. The only way of removing these particles from your paintwork safely, is by dissolving them and allowing them to be rinsed away.
Iron Out is a super-concentrated fallout remover designed to do this job, and it's safe for use on all paintwork and glass. As this product reacts with the metal contamination the solution turns blood red, temporarily highlighting the particles while it dissolves them to form a safe, rinsible solute.
All that's needed is to spray Iron Out liberally across all our glass and painted surfaces and let it react (as you can see in the pictures). After our wash stages the paintwork is already free of heavy grit and grime here, so we can also lightly agitate the solution with a microfibre Work Cloth, simply to make sure it makes contact with every area and is refreshed when needed. Then we follow up with a thorough rinse from the top down to remove the metal trapped in the Iron Out solution. Simple, eh?
The second decontamination phase is designed to remove sticky residues and bonded tar. For this type of contamination, a powerful solvent is needed to safely melt the bonds and detach the foreign particles form the surface. The solvent will also surround these particles in the solution, allowing them to be wiped away using a microfibre cloth.
Here we use ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover to target these contaminants directly, rather than using our solvent over the whole vehicle. Most of this type of contamination will be found on the lower sides and bumpers.
ObliTARate can be applied by spraying directly onto the affected area or using a Microfibre Applicator. Here we're spraying on the solution and immediately wiping away any contamination with a microfibre Work Cloth, no dwell time is needed with this strong solvent.
After removing the contamination it's important to re-wash any treated areas using your Lather shampoo solution, this neutralises the solvent to stop it interfering with the last decontamination stage.
The last part of the 3-stage decontamination process is where we use a Clay Bar and Glide Clay Lube to physically pull any bonded mineral and protein deposits out of the paintwork. These types of deposits are removed quickly and effectively using detailing clay.
It's a simple process - make sure the surface is sufficiently lubricated to prevent marring or the clay sticking and run your clay back and forth with very light pressure, making sure you cover every inch of the paintwork. As long as you remember to fold your clay to a fresh piece when it gets dirty, and to make sure it's well lubricated, that's really all there is to it.
The structure of our natural clay will lift and safely remove any contamination present and you'll feel the surface becoming smoother and smoother as you run over it. The less resistance you feel, the less microscopic contamination is bonded to it, and the final result should be a super-smooth, glass-like surface that's perfectly prepared for polishing.
After giving the car one final rinse to remove any clay lube that may be left behind, we move onto the drying stage. It's important to never to skip this process on any detail, even during routine maintenance, because the tap water we've used to clean will never be completely pure. Technically speaking tap water is a solution of all sorts of mineral impurities. If left on the car to dry naturally the water molecules will evaporate off to leave the minerals deposited on the surface. This is what causes water spots which, in many cases, will require polishing to remove. And we're not in the business of creating more work for ourselves, are we?
The easiest way to remove these deposits is while they're still dissolved in the tap water and the only way to do this is to absorb them using a microfibre Drying Towel. Here we're using an ultra-soft and ultra-absorbent Aqua Deluxe Drying Towel to soak up the bulk of the water. And, for some of the tighter areas like wheels, door jambs and to mopping up any stray drips, we use an Ultra Plush Microfibre towel. As you can see here, we're carrying out the drying process indoors, but it doesn't matter where you do the job, as long as it gets done.
Before polishing any car - new or otherwise - we always perform a thorough visual inspection to look out for any damaged areas that shouldn't be polished and gauge the extent of the defects that need to be - or even can be - removed. In our case here it's highly unlikely that there's been any repairs, but we'll check anyway, you never know, right? What we're mostly looking for here are swirl marks and small scratches because, contra to popular belief, paintwork on new cars is seldom perfect. In fact, new cars get washed a lot, both with automated washes at the factory and at the dealers before transport. It's also quite rare for mainstream car dealers to have top-level pro detailers on hand to wash their cars properly or correct any defects in the paintwork. After all, time is money, and they have to turn over a lot of cars. In other words, it always pays to get the paintwork perfect before adding protection layers, especially the hardiest ceramic coatings.
When working indoors we switch off the main lights and inspect each panel using a Swirl Spotter Detailing Light. This product offers an intense light source that imitates direct sunshine to highlight any defects present. Very often you'll see defects that may be invisible to the eye in normal conditions but will be immediately obvious outside in the sun, or under streetlights.
The inspection process is basically a way of mapping out the car in our heads making a note of what's needed for each area. We're also looking for other parts, aside from the paintwork, that we can improve. Here we found some significant swirling on the exterior gloss plastics, such as the rear spoiler and B-Pillar trims, but that's not an issue because we'll be able to correct those, too.
On this Civic, as expected, there was plenty of swirling on the painted areas that weren't protected from the factory, but it's not the sort of extremely heavy swirling or large defects you'll find on paint that needs full restoration, so we'd conclude it comes just from a few washes and possibly dust and debris while the car was in storage. As always, the worst of these blemishes will dictate the products we use when polishing, and while we'll always test multiple products to find the best results any, it's immediately obvious that we won't need a coarse cutting compound to cut through the defects here, so we'll start our testing with a fine compound first, and then step up to a medium compound if that doesn't remove the defects.
After our paint inspection we also use a paint depth gauge to give us an indication of how much paint there is on the vehicle. It's obvious here that, unlike on an older vehicle that may have been polished regularly for years, the paint (or more specifically the clearcoat) on the Civic will be sufficiently thick to take away a few microns without any issues, it's brand-new after all. That said, we'll still check by taking multiple readings on each panel to see if there's any thin areas and edges to avoid. As expected, there was no problems there, either.
Before we can start the machine polishing the last step here is identify any vulnerable edges and trim that we want to avoid contact with while we're polishing. To protect areas such as plastic trim, window rubbers and whether strips, and to protect our polish pads from catching and being damaged, we use Detailers Masking Tape to cover these up where they're close to the painted parts we're going to polish.
Finally, we can get on with testing our compounds. As always, we're looking for the finest possible compound and pad "combo' to cut through the defects, while preserving the top layer as much as possible. We only want to take away enough clearcoat to level down through any blemishes, without going any further than we have to.
Now obviously experience does come into it, too. We were pretty certain that our Professional Series No.23 Medium Polishing Compound would be the best choice to cut through the defects here, but we'll still test using a finer compound than we think we'll need first, in this case our Professional Series No.15 Fine Finishing Compound. The reason for this is that paint hardness varies from car to car, so in the event that we find we have soft paint - or possibly that the new paint on this Civic hasn't fully gassed out and hardened yet - a fine refining compound may have enough bite do the job. This is why we always test, and you can learn more about how compounds work in our full article - The Basic Guide To Machine Polishing.
As suspected, the medium compound, along with a No.23 Medium Polishing Pad was the combo needed to cut out the defects on both the plastics and the paintwork, so now we know the ideal products for use over the whole car. In some circumstances, again catering for variations in different types of paint, we may have perform a two-stage correction to get the finish we're after. First using the medium compound and then the fine. Here on this particular paintwork though, the No.23 Medium Polishing Compound finished down to flawless, giving a perfect level of gloss. It's exactly the finish we were after here, so we can perform a single stage correction using this compound without the need for further refinement.
The reason for this is that our Pro Series Compounds use advanced diminishing abrasives for a wider range of cut and better finishing down than can be achieved with traditional products. In many cases you'll find far more refinement and gloss in the finish than you'd expect.
One other thing to note is that later we'd be applying a ceramic coating to this Civic, so it was important to use these compounds because they contain no waxes of fillers. Ceramic coatings chemically bond to paintwork (rather than physically bond like a wax or a sealant) and this means that products that leave behind a protection layer can't be used, because it block this process. But we'll get to that.
So, the main combo we chose over the whole car was Pro Series No.23 Medium Polishing Compound and No.23 Medium Polishing Pad for our 5-inch DPX Dual Action Polisher. For smaller areas, including the gloss plastics, we switched to a compact (3-inch) MPX Dual Action Machine Polisher, along with a Medium Revitalise No:2 Spot Pad, using the same compound.
As with most polishing processes the route you take around the car is mostly down to personal preference… and when you'd like to sit down for a lower part of the vehicle. What's most important here is to make sure you polish every area, and to keep checking the results with your Swirl Spotter.
The last thing to note is that polishing gloss plastics is slightly different to polishing painted metal because plastics tend to hold onto heat for longer. In other words, plastics don't dissipate the heat created by your pad quite as quickly, so we always recommend making quicker passes at slower speeds. It's not the case here, but sometimes you may also need to use a finer compound and a softer pad to get the refinement you're after.
There are plenty of details on our detailing blog where we've had to deep-clean an extreme dirty, mouldy interior - this really isn't one of them. In fact, with just a little dust and light grime (probably from when the car was in storage) a quick once over was all that was needed here. So, if you're looking for something that poses a bit more of a challenge on the interior cleaning front, why not check out one of our other articles, or our full-on Ultimate Guide To Interior Cleaning?
Anyway, back to the big Honda and after removing any stickers and protective films, and giving the cabin a vacuum to remove any lose dirt and debris, all that was needed here was a couple of interior cleaning products to get this one in tip-top shape.
First up Total Interior Cleaner, this product is powerful for sure, it uses special surfactants to break down and encapsulate grime, allowing it to be safely wiped away with a microfibre cloth. As powerful as it is though, Total is gentle enough to be suitable for regular use on all surfaces and materials including plastics, carpets, leather and cloth upholstery. So, it's also a super versatile kitbag essential for every detail.
Here we use Total in different ways depending on the area we're working on. For soft fabrics and carpets, we'll spritz our Total directly onto the surface and then use an Upholstery Brush to agitate. Once again, the agitation here isn't to scrub the surface, it simply helps the Total to make contact with every area, refreshes the solution when needed on stains and stuck on grime, and helps draw out any ingrained dirt before you safely wipe it away. On hard plastics, leather and rubber, we'll apply our Total directly and use a soft Detailing Brush for the same kind of light agitation.
The second cleaning product we used here is Spritz Interior Quick Detailer. In this case we use Spritz to clean all the dashboard plastics, consoles and screens. Again, this one is a powerful surfactant-based cleaner that leaves behind a non-sticky, subtle factory finish. But, perhaps most importantly for us, it's also packed with special UV inhibitors. This means that Spritz helps to prevent fading and cracking on dashboards and other plastics that are exposed to constant sunlight. It also contains anti-static agents to help repel dust and grime build up in the future.
Spritz can either be sprayed on to surfaces directly, or to prevent overspray, applied with just a wipe after spritzing onto a clean microfibre cloth. Easy.
After already adding a little UV protection to the interior plastics we can move on to adding hardy ceramic protection the rest of the vehicle. Before we go to work on the exterior paintwork, glass and wheels though, it makes sense to finish off the inside, introducing ceramic protection to the interior fabrics with our Caramics Interior Protection Kit.
The reason we'll be using our Caramics Ceramic Coatings over this entire brand-new car is that they offer the hardest, most durable protection available. A ceramic coating is actually a liquid polymer which chemically bonds to surfaces on a molecular level, they introduce a layer of silicon dioxide (Si02), this substance is also known as silica, and the main ingredient in glass and quartz. This extremely hard, shiny layer is also impermeable to water and grime the (reason why water simply beads off paintwork and other surfaces treated with a coating) and, because it chemically bonds to surfaces, a ceramic coatings are capable of lasting for ages. In the case of our Caramics Kits the protection is durable for a whole year.
Anyway, for more on the science of ceramic coatings, you can check out our guide - What Difference Does A Ceramic Coating Actually Make? For our purposes here though, we'll just say that what makes our Caramics Protection Kits different to traditional coatings is that we've made them easy to apply at home. Application is all about getting the Si02 onto the surface and coating the whole of the surfaces effectively, with our four flagship Caramics Kits this is achieved in a number of ways depending on the surface we're treating.
So, back to those interior fabrics, and here the Caramics Fabric Coating is applied as a spray. It's a simple case of misting the coating over each area and leaving to dry. That's it, protection installed.
Our Caramics Interior Protection Kit also includes a coating designed specifically for leather surfaces, which is applied using the applicator provided. Just as quick and easy.
Moving onto the exterior, we can now install 12-months of gloss and extreme hydrophobic ceramic protection to the paintwork and plastics, locking in all our work with the machine polisher earlier. Again, with our Caramics Paintwork Protection Kit the process is extremely simple, and the very first step is to ensure that all surfaces are spotless using the supplied Prep Spray. This strong solvent is spritzed onto each area where it cuts through any residues, fingerprints, polishing oils or dust that has accumulated in the short time since the correction was carried out. These can then be wiped away with a clean microfibre cloth. Using the Prep Spray is a crucial that shouldn't ever be skipped, because it's important not to lock in any foreign particles or contamination that may interfere with the final finish.
Immediately after using the Prep Spray over the whole car, we can apply our ceramic coating panel by panel. This kit has been developed using special Ceramic Resin Wipes to transfer the polymer to the paintwork and gloss plastics, making the daunting process of applying a ceramic coating easier than ever before. All you need to do is run the wipes over the surfaces, making sure you've coated every part. This product can also be used on vinyl wraps, clear-coated carbon fibre parts and even plastic headlights.
The Caramics paintwork coating cures relatively quickly, so after just a few minutes, all that's left is to buff off the any residue with a clean microfibre cloth, checking with a light source as you go. And that's it, the easy way to get your paintwork fully protected.
Installing our ultra-hydrophobic glass coating is just as easy with the Caramics Glass Protection Kit. Again, this easy-to-use bundle contains all the products you need to get the job done, and it's another that uses specially impregnated wipes to transfer the coating to your exterior windows and mirrors.
The first part of the process is making sure the glass is clean and free of oxidation and any other contamination. The supplied Glass Polish is ideal for this as it contains not just advanced abrasives, but deep-cleaning solvents, too. We apply our glass polish with a Microfibre Applicator over each section of glass using small circular motions, before buffing away the residue with a clean microfibre cloth.
Transferring the coating here is exactly the same as on paintwork - you simply run the Glass Wipes over the surface, making sure you've covered it all. When it comes to buffing away the residue with a clean microfibre, we've made this even easier by including a special residue remover spray. Spritz this on, fold your cloth and buff until the glass is clear and streak free.
The final part of the exterior protection stage is coating the wheels. Another straightforward task, once again the special ceramic polymer coating comes in spray-on form. First, we use the Prep Spray supplied in our Caramics Wheel Protection Kit to make sure every part of the wheel is spotless and, just like with your paintwork, this is a simple case of a spray and a wipe, while making sure we get into every little recess.
Once we've deep cleaned the surfaces, we can mist on our Wheel Coating spray. Because wheel designs tend to be complicated, we've even included some special micro applicators to help you ensure that the coating is spread around evenly and into every little nook and recess. After buffing away the residue the wheels are left with a hard-layer Si02 shield that will protect from salt, road grime and brake dust, stopping water and contamination from sticking and making the wheels much easier to clean the next time around.
It goes without saying that every detail is different, and what's left to finish off will always depend on the car. You may have a substantial amount of metal brightwork or exhaust tailpipes that could do with a freshen up using Mercury Metal Polish. Or it could be an older car where a little Revive Trim Dressing is needed to bring any faded matte plastics back to life.
In our case here though, it's a brand-new car so there's just a couple of steps left to complete. As with every detail these are cleaning the glass and dressing the tyres. Now as we've already cleaned and ceramic coated the exterior glass, that just leaves us the interior glass. After all, we don't want any streaks or product overspray detracting from the rest of the job, do we? And with immaculate glass on the outside any imperfections will be immediately noticeable, too. In fact, perfecting glass and mirrors is one of those simple professional touches that has a huge impact on the overall finish.
To clean our interior glass here we're using Crystal Glass Cleaner, a powerful blend of fast-flashing solvents that make short work of any residues, fingerprints and dust with just a spray and a wipe. We're also using a Superior Waffle for our wiping and buffing here. This premium cloth is specially designed for effective glass cleaning because it incorporates a special weave that's ideal for the safest contaminant removal. Not only does the weave give this premium microfibre cloth a huge effective surface area, making it extremely absorbent, but the special air pockets in the material help to pick up grit, grime, residues and debris, and keep them away from the surface. This helps prevent any surface damage, along with the more common streaking and smearing.
Finishing up with our tyres we chose Satin Tyre Crème to not only add a subtle satin sheen, but UV protection to prevent fading and browning in the future, a little nourishment for the sidewalls and a physical barrier from the elements. With this super-safe water-based dressing you can also build up a few more layers if you prefer more of a wet-look, show car gloss. With this advanced layerable formula the choice really is yours.
What's more, application of this tyre dressing is super quick and easy, here we're using a contoured Tyre and Trim Applicator to make sure we cover the whole sidewall from top to bottom, a process that takes literally seconds but makes a huge difference to the overall impact of the detail.
So, that's the in-depth, step-by-step explanation of our 2023 Civic Type R detail which is now fully corrected, fully protected and ready to be picked up by one lucky Honda customer. But, don't forget that creating paintwork perfection, or ceramic coating your daily driver for the hardiest protection available, isn't just for brand-new cars. So, why not adapt this guide for your next big detail? In the meantime though, here's the results of ours…
See more of our big details and even more in-depth guides in the Guides Section Of Our Blog.