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It’s funny how some cars have that something special in the paint department that sets them a world apart from others. The secret is proper cleaning, reviving and waxing the finish, which translates into a system. We visited Meguiar’s to find out how to revive tired paint

Everyone knows how to clean their car right? Bucket of water, dot of Fairy Liquid and everyone’s a winner! Erm, no — these days, you don’t even need to use water. In fact the process of not just washing your car but restoring the paintwork has moved up a few notches. And that’s mainly due to companies like our host, Meguiar’s based in Daventry — they have a process that blew our minds.

What you need is a car with paintwork that you think is rubbish. And Meguiar’s Dale Masterman specifically asked for a candidate as dark as possible. Luckily, Retro Ford’s Dave Colledge had a suitable car — an Ambassador Blue Mk1 Cortina that had sat for quite some time gathering dust. Dave’s immediate question was, “Do you want me to wash it?” And a big fat no was the answer because they’ll do it for you and get it looking better than spanking.

“I doubt that,” replied Dave. “The bonnet’s terrible, I think someone’s painted straight over the surface rust of a new old-stock bonnet.” And we have to admit it didn’t good. But we were knocked sideways when Dale said he could get it back to more than acceptable, which we have to admit, he did. In fact, this is pretty common and with Meguiar’s paint-correcting system, you can actually save money because they can make paint you’d given up on look a lot more than presentable.

We loved the process and we wanted to know more — so we found out.


how to revive tired paint

To be honest, Dave’s Cortina doesn’t look that bad in the daylight. Yes, the paint is flat but not excessively so — or is it.

how to revive tired paint

It’s only when you get the car in Meguiar’s detailing bay that you notice the difference — more striplights than Blackpool are thoroughly unforgiving, which is exactly what you want since it highlights every single blemish in the paint….

how to revive tired paint

The bonnet looks dreadful…

how to revive tired paint

…While the roof looks like a ploughed field — all rather ghastly.

Waterless Wash and Wax

how to revive tired paint

This is the first product we use, which cleans the surface. This saves using any water at all and removes the possibility of water hiding in all the cracks and crevices of the car which always come back to ruin your, just-waxed finish with a dirty great streak down the bodywork…

how to revive tired paint

Dale mists a coat over the whole bonnet…

…Then wipes along the bonnet with a clean, new microfibre cloth. This is the bit where you think that the process must scratch the paint – it doesn’t because you’ve put loads on and wiped in one direction only, with one clean cloth.

Just turning it over from one downwards wipe shows how much dirt was on Dave’s bonnet. Keep turning the cloth so you show the car a clean section of material and only move in one direction — don’t swirl.

And here’s the secret — you use another clean cloth to wipe it off straight away. Dale stressed that you must wipe every process off straight away — apart from the Ultimate Wax, which we’ll discuss in a second.

Clay Bar and Quick Detailer 

This process strips out loads of dirt. First job is to mist over the whole surface with Meguiar’s Quick Detailer, which you can also use to quickly wipe over your car’s paint to restore the shine when you’re in a hurry. In this case, Quick Detailer is used as a lubricant for the Clay Bar

Clay is a bit like putty — you kneed it between your fingers until it’s warm and elastic then mould it into a flat shape. Next, using the tips of your fingers slide it over the car’s paintwork. Don’t apply pressure — you don’t want to see the suspension moving up and down. Keep the bar going lengthways down the paintwork.

All you need to do is take a couple of wipes of the bar and turn it upside down to see the results — it will take out road dirt, tar, contaminants, everything! Be warned, you are stripping off any protection the paint has – once you’ve clay barred your car, there won’t be any wax left. Obviously you need to keep the clay bar lubricated.

Keep the surface wet with detailer and wipe off with a new cloth. Don’t cross contaminate your cloths — always use a new one, and yes you will get through loads of them, so it’s a good idea to buy one of those multi-packs.

Ultimate Compound 

This is the next product on the restoration list, which removes scratches, swirls and restores the colour, simply by taking off the top surface. It is like very fine wet and dry — if you have an uneven surface and want to flat it and take off less, use 2000-grit wet and dry and a block, but this product will restore the top layer. 

This one is applied with an applicator in a swirling motion — and you do not want it to dry because it’s hell to get off if you do!

You’ll get a good idea of what you’re doing by turning the applicator over — as you can see that’s several years of Dave’s old paint being taken off, the oxidised dull stuff that makes way for the new underneath. Once again, you wipe the surface straight off with a clean microfibre cloth.

Dale had masked off one half, so we could get an idea of the difference — there’s a definite difference in shine from the right-hand side.

Ultimate Polish 

Once we’ve done the preparation we’ll get a much deeper finish in the ones we’re about to do. Ultimate Polish refines the finish and restores the gloss, although it offers no proper protection. What it does is feed the paint with oils and conditions it.

Dale applies the polish to the car with a Meguiar’s applicator. You don’t need that much.

First off, he wipes three lines of polish down the panel, then uses a swirling motion to cover it. It’s essential that you don’t leave it to dry — do small areas at a timem not the whole car.

With another clean microfibre cloth and you wipe the paintwork down in lines.

Ultimate Wax

At last, the good bit — putting on the protection and the final stage towards the shine. This is the only bit you leave to dry.

First a word about applicators and applying the polish because there’s a knack. In the lid of the tin, you’ll find a foam applicator, which is protected by bubble packaging (removed here).

The applicator is popped out…

…And put into the wax. Don’t push it hard in — gently place it into the wax and give it a quarter of a turn only. That will be enough polish to do a whole bonnet. It is dead easy to use way too much wax, which all you will be doing is taking straight off again.

Once again, Dale uses the couple of lines of polish technique, that he used in the previous step, followed by a swirling motion to cover the whole panel.

how to revive tired paint

As we said, this one you do leave to dry and you can test it by running your finger across the wax. If it’s waxy, then it needs more time to dry.

how to revive tired paint

Another test in about 5-10 minutes and you get a very clean line, meaning it’s cured and you can wipe it off with another clean cloth. This is a modified, modern wax which means its very easy to wipe off unlike traditional Carnauba wax, which can take plenty of elbow grease. This stage will give you around 14 weeks’ protection.

Ultimate Detailer 

how to revive tired paint

This is the final part of the polishing process allowing you to obtain a bright, streak-free finish by removing excess product and wipe marks. This bit maintains the Ultimate Wax protection…

how to revive tired paint

…Which is applied using a special cloth — this time a Meguiar’s-developed finishing towel

Mist the whole area with the detailer.

how to revive tired paint

Now, with the towel, there is a technique to use — you wipe down the panel…

how to revive tired paint

…Followed by across to dry it. This way, you will finish with a streak-free shine.

Words and Photos Jon Hill

For the full feature on how to revive tired paint, check out the August 2018 issue

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