View Full Version : E46 Detailed, process/tips.

10-21-2012, 05:59 PM
As some of you may know, I detail for a living (which should be changing shortly), at a BMW dealership. High volume production detailing is far different than what some of you may have seen on detailing forums and such, and it's a sick, sad world. That being said, the processes, equipment, and chemicals I use on my own personal (and customers) cars is far different than that of the dealership production environment. I didn't stop to take before and during pictures, but nothing really that impressive was to be seen, so you will just have to deal with the afters. (Disclaimer: I am not a photographer, nor do I have a decent camera. I used an old point-and-shoot simply because they pictures end up marginally better than the ones from my cell phone.)

I felt it was time to give my personal car the attention it deserved. You may also notice, I'm not a product junkie... I tend to use what I know works, not just because of what brand it is.


-Hand washed with wool mitt, two bucket process, Meguiar's Deep Crystal Car Wash.
-Claybarred with Meguiar's Professional Detail Clay (Red - Aggressive)
TIP: Reapply suds from bucket to wet car for lubricant to claybar, this will save you time compared drying the entire car, then using a detail spray to lubricate surface and claybarring. Do NOT use aggressive clay unless you plan on machine polishing the car afterward. Claybars this abrasive will most likely leave might marring after use.
-Dried with Water Sprite chamois to remove the bulk of the water, then continued with microfiber drying towels.
-Dry sanded any medium to heavy scratches with 3M 1500 grit Hookit precut discs on a 3" D.A. pistol sander. I did this as necessary in spots, not entire panels.
TIP: Do not attempt this unless you have sufficient experience beforehand. I would recommend that novice hobby detailers disregard the preceding step, as well as the following step.
-Buffed sanded areas with 3M Rubbing Compound at 1800 RPM via 3M SuperBuff III wool pad, Dewalt DW849 rotary.
-Buffed entire car using process in previous step once sanded areas were addressed.
-Buffed entire car with 3M Perfect-It Foam Polishing Pad Glaze to remove (or reduce) any holograms and swirling from the compounding step.
-Re-washed to remove dust from sanding, compounding, and polishing steps.
-Polished entire vehicle with Meguiar's Microfiber D.A. Correction Compund 2.0 on Meguiar's DMC5 Microfiber pad on Porter-Cable 7336 to provide a finer finish and remove any remaining holograms or swirls.
-Glazed vehicle with Poorboy's White Diamond Glaze on Meguiar's DMF5 pad via Porter Cable.
-Waxed entire vehicle with Meguiar's #26 Hi-Tech Yellow Wax on Meguiar's DMF5 pad via Porter Cable.

-Soaked wheels, tires, and wheel wells with Ardex Green Stuff Plus water-based all-purpose cleaner undiluted.
-Scrub, rinse.
-Applied Chemical Guys G6 Hypercoat tire dressing to tires via Eagle One Tire Swipe.
-Waxed wheels with Meguiar's #26 Hi-tech Yellow Wax. I don't know if this step is helpful at all, as the wheels may get hot enough to render the wax ineffective.
-Applied Poorboy's Bold-n-Bright to wheel wells via spray bottle, wipe excess

-Coat entire engine bay with Ardex Green Stuff Plus undiluted, let sit for 5 minutes.
-Rinsed entire bay, moderate water pressure
-Dried with compressed air and blow gun
-Applied Poorboy's Bold-n-Bright to all engine bay surfaces, let it sit for 20 minutes, wipe away excess.

-Sprayed carpet and mats with Miller Auto Parts Velour and Upholstery cleaner
-Scrubbed with stiff plastic bristle brush.
-Dried with microfiber towel.
-Meguiar's Quick Interior Detailer and a microfiber on dash, console, gauges, etc. Detail brush was used in vents.
-Leather Therapy "Wash" on seats as per bottle directions
-Leather Therapy "Restorer and Conditioner" on seats as per bottle directions

-Claybarred along with the rest of the car during wash process.
-Cleaned with Stoner's Invisible Glass
-Rain-X applied to exterior surfaces

I may have forgotten a few things, I work at a fast pace and may have left a step/product or two out, but you get the general idea.

Some tips for you guys:
-Use a straight razor blade, aggressive claybar, or #000 steel wool to remove bugs, overspray, and fallout from glass surfaces.
-Heavy tree sap on paint? Use paint thinner on a microfiber towel to literally wipe it away. You will have to polish that area. ONLY APPLIES TO BASECOAT/CLEARCOAT PAINT. DO NOT TRY THIS ON SINGLE STAGE.
-Cosmoline/Panel wax runs on exterior? Brake Parts Cleaner on a rag will wipe this away.
-Polish and wax your plastic headlights and taillights. Often overlooked, this can greatly improve the look of the lenses.

Anyway, on to the pictures. Not very impressive as it is a real pain to capture reflections on silver paint on a mostly cloudy day. If the car was a darker color, I'm sure the work done would be more apparent. Car is a 2001 with 109k miles.


Remember to support your local Body Shop Supply and Detailing Product stores, my local one has better deals than I can find online and it's only 10 minutes from my house. Big thanks to Autoality: https://www.autoality.com/store/pc/home.asp

10-23-2012, 02:00 AM
nice im thinking about a setup to do this myself. been wanting to for a while, might be time to pull the trigger

10-27-2012, 11:54 AM
Nice car Zack, looks great for all your effort,

i Totally know what you mean about detailing not only being like what you see on the internet, i personally worked my way through pretty much every sector in detailing (valeting as its known in the UK) from standard dailies to high end cars, even done deep cleans on the interiors of London busses for a while in the early 2000s (thats a real dirty job) lorries, and even a plane or two in my time. Can't say iv enjoyed every single part of it, but i certainly learnt alot along the way.

11-04-2012, 12:49 PM
Thanks. Yes, it is two totally different worlds. If I had my own detailing business (or an ample amount of time designated per car instead of rushing, as I currently do at work...) the result would be much more rewarding. Here is a before and after picture of the same buffing/polishing process as I used on my car, but on a black 128i.