(c) 1998 Thomas B. Nast
Added to the E46 FAQ with permission
Time for another review of the Meguiar's product line; it seems to change faster than a baby goes through diapers. For those of you who save back issues, the last full article on this was in the June, 1994 Zundfolge, with an update in the August 1996 issue and Denny Organ's take in the July 1997 issue. This article is a summary and update; for comprehensive instructions, please refer to the 6/94 issue. By the way, Meguiar's is now manufacturing Mercedes' car care products, a real vote of confidence! As usual, this article was prepared with the assistance of Exeter Garage, from whom all of the mentioned products are available. However, I have personally used all the procedures below, unless otherwise noted.
The slickest new product is not new at all: Overspray clay (#C200). The clay is good for more than removing overspray. Wash the target panel (with #00 or #62), then spray it with Final Inspection (#34), which will act as a lubricant. After forming the overspray clay into a pancake, rub the panel with the clay. As with any rubbing, this should be back and forth in the direction of the car's travel. The clay should float over the spray, except that it will pick up a phenomenal amount of particulate from a panel that you thought was clean. Running your hand over the panel, it should feel frictionless. The panel is left so clean that it almost seems finished at this point! Great stuff (but expensive at $18); be sure to rework your clay often so the dirt doesn't stay on the rubbing surface. By now, you should be inspired to attack the other panels on your steed.
Next, we have a division in opinion. Exeter Garage follows claying with an application of Fine Cut Cleaner (#2), using a rotary buffer and a tan finish pad. I use Swirl-Free Polish (#8232), also with a buffer and a tan finish pad. I believe the Swirl-Free Polish is less aggressive, and my cars don't need the harsher treatment. Exeter has promised to try my approach and report back.
Application technique was described at length in the 6/94 Zundfolge. Summarizing: squeeze beads of the cleaner onto the panel to be worked, about 8" apart. Hold the rotary buffer with two hands, keep the pad flat, and move it at a moderate pace along the panel in the direction of the car's travel. Strokes should be overlapping. Do not linger in one place, as the paint can overheat from the friction. Avoid rubber moldings and sharp edges; these areas should be done by hand. (The whole car can be done by hand, of course, but when will you find time to drive it?) Start at the top of the car and work down, and remove or cover anything you don't want spattered (for instance, windshield wipers are very difficult to de-spatter). Wipe the stuff off before it dries; you will need to open doors, hood, etc. to clean around cracks and edges (spatter gets in these places, too).
Another new procedure is recommended by Exeter for dark-colored cars. (I have not tried this, as my cars are white.) Following the cleaning steps and using the same technique, apply Speed Glaze (#8001). Exeter finds that this enhances and intensifies the color while cleaning, removing swirls and protecting. One couldn't ask for more, and if they find it worth the trouble I'd certainly give it a go. Speed Glaze is available only in gallons, for $26.50, so group purchases would be sensible. (A brief aside about Meguiar's product numbering. The first two digits are the product number. The second two digits are the size in ounces, except if they are 01, in which case they indicate one gallon. Thus, #8232 is a quart of product No. 82. But Meguiar's seems to have abandoned marketing new products by number, so if you ask for "No. 82" you might get a blank look instead. I include both name and number for clarity and ease in ordering.) Next, polish with Show Car Glaze (#7). This is still great stuff. It can be applied by hand or a DA (dual action machine) using a yellow pad (I prefer the latter, as it works the oils into the paint). As always, do one panel at a time, and use it somewhat sparingly to avoid creating unnecessary work for yourself. Wipe it off before it gets gummy (the warmer the weather, the sooner you will want to wipe).
Finally, finish with Medallion Premium Paint Protection (#9816) or Hi-Tech Yellow Wax (#26). Both are so quick and easy to apply as to almost be fun; again, you will use a DA with a yellow pad and do one panel at a time. Two thin coats are better than one thick one. Wipe the panel before the wax dries to a powder, but after it has cured beyond its original, liquid state. After all this work, the finish may look streaky. This is caused by Meguiar's oils which the paint has not absorbed. It is best ignored for a day, during which enough oil may be absorbed by the paint that a quick pass with a clean terry cloth is all that is needed. Otherwise, wash the car down with No. 00 or No. 62, which generally further improves the car's appearance! Water spotting on glass can be removed with any of the paint cleaners and a buffer, or 0000 steel wool. Watch out for the rubber seals! Meguiar's also makes a metal polish, which removes tarnish, oxidation and brake dust from coated or uncoated aluminum wheels. It also works well on stainless steel, gold, brass, copper and pewter, so you can get your spouse to keep it in the kitchen.
Some other changes to the Meguiar's line are worth reviewing, for those who reference previous write-ups. The #3 Machine Glaze is essentially superseded. If you still have any of it on the shelf, you can use it for cleaning glass. Meguiar's no longer recommends Nos. 1, 2 and 4 for application by hand (nevertheless I find #2 immensely useful for spot cleaning by hand), but only with a buffing wheel. For hand application, Meguiar's recommends using Medallion Premium Paint Cleaner (#9716), using foam application pads. It departs from Meguiar's tradition in being a chemical cleaner, free of abrasives. I have not tried it. The pad mounting systems have finally been rationalized, unfortunately at considerable expense to the user. All pads now are available with velcro backing, and backing plates are finally available for both buffers and DAs (plus, they now center the pads). Here's the rundown: DA small backing plate (#W64DA) $17 Buffer small backing plate (#W64) $17 Tan (Finishing) pad 6.5" (#W9006) Yellow (Polishing) pad 6.5" (#W8006) Burgundy (Cutting) pad 6.5" (#W7006) The pads run about $11 each. A large backing plate (#65) and pads for the buffers remain available. The pad materials are the same as for the DA, plus a wool pad, but in 8" diameter. The tools of the trade have not changed. Soft, white, 100% cotton terry cloth towels are used for wiping. As a rotary buffer, either a Makita 9207SPC or a Black & Decker No. 6138 should serve well (about $200-300). And Porter-Cable model 7335 is an excellent electric DA (about $125). Finally, Meguiar's has a new one-step product, called "Wash & Wax." This product leaves a dull and unsatisfactory finish, and is probably best reserved for VW vans.
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