2011 Detailing the Turbo-X

Another year with my Turbo-X, hard to believe that it has been 3 years now. Harsh winters and a very wet spring coupled with a recently hectic travel schedule have left my car a mess. Its time for the bi-annual cleaning!

I get asked what I use to clean up my baby – so here we go! I’m going to go thru my standard twice a year process. I’ve used a lot of kits and potions on previous cars, but for my Saab I rely on Pinnacle products for the most part. I’m going to wash, clay bar, wax, and then apply a specialty detail spray to my car.

To start off I’ll go with Pinnacle’s Bodywork Shampoo and a microfiber mit. You’ll notice the bright sun in the picture, but no worries it is pretty early in the morning on a cool day. Nonetheless I have to move quick to keep the water spots from forming.

The results are pretty good for a general wash, but a closer look reveals some trouble. Although the car is clean there are a ton of stuck on things all over it – tar, bug guts, goop from who knows what, water marks, stains from windshield cleaner, etc.

These are things that require a clay bar to remove. What’s a clay bar? I get asked this a lot. A clay bar is exactly what it sounds like – a piece of special putty that when combined with a lubricant can remove all the junk I just listed and leave your car’s paint pristine and perfect as if it had just left the paint room in the factory. I’ve used several different clay bar kits, but this time I will be using Pinnacle’s new kit. Meguiar’s kit is a good one if you want a less expensive one. Pinnacle’s clay bar is a bit finer and when combined with their own custom lubricant I find that it dose a better job.

Prior to starting the clay bar I tape off any rubber parts that I don’t want to get wax on. I use 3M painter’s tape – its cheap and will not leave glue behind. A no brainer. I put the tape down before the clay because on my Saab I have a lot of grooves and little funky edges where clay can get stuck so I’ve found that it is better to tape now.

Working a clay bar is pretty easy, but also a bit scary – intuition would say hey I’m going to scratch things up, but you won’t. I’m pretty liberal with the lubricant. Pinnacle makes a special lubricant, other brands just say to use their quick detailer. Not sure if it matters. The main thing is to apply slight pressure and feel thru the clay – at first as you move it you will feel it catching on deposits, bugs, tar. Keep moving and keep spraying and you will feel the clay start to slide freely. It should glide over the surface. Then move on to a different spot. I stick to small spots and then wipe up all the spray….wipe with what? For clay bar and waxing I stick to Cobra microfiber products. Splurge – get the best they have. There’s no single easier way to screw up your car than by using crappy towels.

A clay bar will remove pretty much everything leaving behind no scratches – here’s a shot of my clay bar after running it over the lower door panel on the passenger side – remember this is right after a decent wash:

How amazing is that? On the left is a new piece and the right is the one I was obviously using. You’ll need to fold over the clay often to keep a clean side on the car. As with all applications it is best to start on the top of the car and keep going down the sides. Generally I do not reuse a clay bar – I just chuck it.Now we’re in pretty decent shape, but of course the clay bar removes all wax. Here’s a shot of the same spot on the hood where the bug guts were – they are gone!

So onto the next step – the wax. I’ve tried a bunch of different waxes: Turtle, Meguiars, Meguiar’s NXT, and more I suppose. I got turned onto Pinnacle’s Souveran by my original Saab dealer and I have to say that it is a great product. It goes on very easy and is very easy to buff out. It is a bit expensive, but not as much as some others. It is a 100% pure carnauba wax so you should expect to have to apply it at least 2 times per year and probably more depending on how you care for your car.

Waxing is pretty easy – wax on/wax off. I tend to not use a circular motion and instead follow the lines of the car. I feel that this reduces swirls and also gives a better shine. I use two buff towels – one as a first buff that takes off most of the wax and then a second towel that brings on that high shine. I use only Cobra towels for this. Sometimes I will do a final quick pass with a lambswool bonnet on my buffer, but today I decided not to.

Here’s the results – not too bad. If you zoom in you can really see the shine and also see the damage of 3 years of PA winter’s…all those chips in the paint 🙁

There’s some pics – but I’m sure that my skills with a camera leave something to be desired. The car’s finish is a deep liquid black – stunning depth to the color. In the bright sun you can see a slight metallic in the finish of this custom paint with purples and blues reflecting the light. After waxing I did go over the car with Pinnacle’s Crystal Mist. Probably overkill…but I’m happy with the overall result. Thanks to Luthien (my wife) for getting me a great Pinnacle bag for my b-day.

And thanks to Saab for a great car. Love it – Griffin Up!

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