Josh Wardell's MINI
Car Care

The most significant thing you can do to enhance any car's appearance is to keep it clean. Years ago, I had the time to give my MINI a bath almost every weekend throughout the summer. I've protected my cars with high-quality polymer waxes that can withstand the harsh New England weather, protect the paint, and look great. I've performed numerous tests and product comparisons over the years to fond the best, and amassed quite a collection of tools and liquids for a wide variety of purposes. Below is a list of many of the detailing products I prefer to use.

Car Car Kit

  • The original durable polymer wax, Zaino Z2 Pro Show Car Polish, was my top wax for many years, but many others now give them a run for their money.
  • Ultima Paint Guard Plus is much like zaino but applies in just a few minutes, with no buffing off. A great time-saver for busy lives!
  • I especially like Prima's line of waxes. Hydro for a quick refresh, Banana Gloss for easy application, Hydro Seal for long-lasting shine and durability, or the ultimate Epic for a deep wet look.
  • Extremely high-pile soft microfiber cloths for buffing off wax. The best I've used is the Paradise Monster Fluffy but it's no longer made. The Carrand Microfiber MAX Soft Touch Detailing Towel is a good alternative.
  • Vinylex cleaner and protectant is perfect for the leatherette seats and many other items such as the rubber floor mats.
  • Ultima Interior Shampoo and Guard Plus does a great job cleaning and protecting all interior plastic surfaces.
  • 303 Fabric Cleaner is simply the best fabric stain remover there is, also great for laundry stains.
  • Prima Clarity is my favorite product that is not only strong enough to clean car windows, it's gentle enough that I clean my glasses every day with it, and even my expensive SLR camera lenses!
  • Norwex Window Cloth is by far the best cloth I've found to clean glass (windows, glasses, and everything else). It is just right for pulling oils right off with almost no cleaner. It used to be sold by Prima, but now is hard to come by. I have a strong suspicion that Griot's Window Cloth is very similar.
  • Zaino Z12 Glass Polish used once in a while to grind away everything that can't be cleaned from windows.
  • PPG Aquapel Glass Treatment repels rain from the windshield and lasts for months.
  • Forever Black won my extensive trim tests. It's the only product that really restores aging trim and lasts a year!
  • Black Wow was custom formulated by a fellow MINI owner, gives a nice wet look yet lasts a few months.
  • 303 Aerospace Protectant UV-protects all vinyl, rubber gaskets, etc. Magical uses include trim cleaner, and brake dust repellent for rims.
  • Plexus Plastic Polish cleans, polishes, and protects all smooth plastics. Makes the plastic over the spedometer seem invisible.
  • The Porter Cable 7424 is the classic random orbit polisher that is safe for anyone to use on their paint, combined with various strength pads and polishes.
  • Simple Green to remove tar, bugs, etc and first season wash (removes wax).
  • Meguiars ScratchX polishes out the occasional but horrifying scratch in the clearcoat.
  • Nevr-Dull Wadding Polish only for bare metal and real chrome parts. Removes rust from driving lights! Also polishes gas door and exhaust tips.
  • Clay Magic Clay Bar Kit a decent inexspensive clay bar for removing contaminates from paint.
  • Car Duster for days after washing, a quick dust makes it look just washed again.
  • PaintScratch touch-up paint pens.
For great discussion on MINI-specific detailing, visit NAM's Detailing 101 forum.

For some great detailing tips, see Autopia's Detailing How-Tos.

updated11/15/12 ©Josh Wardell
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