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Old 09-18-2008, 04:44 PM   #1
Schumacher
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK, dawg
Vehicle:
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Black

Thumbs up Detailing 'How to'

Well, after my recent mega detailing sessions on both of my GCs (which you've all seen, I think?), I received 50-60 PMs asking for advice, products etc. I answered all those PMs and thought I'd make a list for EVERYONE in case I had more PMs coming my way!



Wash

Washing is the process of removing loosely bonded surface contaminants; such as dirt, dust, flies and road salt, from the exterior surfaces of your car.

Foaming and two bucket method:



Products/tools needed

1 .Lambswool wash mitts and wheels brushes. Something similar to the wheel brush I use is here.
2. Four buckets. One for the suds (shampoo) and one with plain water to rinse the mitt. The same again for when you clean the wheels.
3. Car shampoo! I use Meguiars Shampoo Plus as it doesn't strip any products from the paint. You can also use Poorboys Super Slick & Suds Concentrated Car Wash or Blackfire Gloss Shampoo & Conditioner. Available here. Just search through the pages for the products you want.
4. Foam lance. This isn't really necessary but helps to reduce swirls. It attaches to the end of your pressure washer gun. You fill it up with car shampoo and water to create the foam. If doing a full detail, I usually use a degreaser instead. Not been able to find this in the US but this is what it looks like.
5. Pressure washer. I use a Kärcher, but the brand doesn't matter!
6. Glue and tar remover. I use Autosmart Tardis, but any glue and tar remover will suffice. A few here.
7. Poorboys Waffle Weave Towels or The Meguiars Gold Class Water Magnet or The Sonus Der Wunder Drying Towels. Available here.

Washing process

1. Pressure wash the car to begin with to rinse off any loose dirt.
2. Then foam the car to get more dirt off the car before touching the paint with a wash mitt.
3. While the foam does its stuff, clean the wheels using normal car shampoo or P21S Total Auto Wash (available here) . If you have tar/glue on the wheels, then you can also use the glue and tar remover but don't leave it on the wheels for long. A minute or two is enough, IMO. If you use the glue and tar remover then rinse the wheels. I usually take off the wheels but depends on how dirty they are.
4. Rinse off the remaining foam on the car.
5. Wash car using wash mitt and two bucket method. The idea is to dip the mitt into the shampoo bucket, wipe a panel, then rinse in the clear bucket. Continue doing this with the whole car. When using the mitt, try to follow the lines of the car and use only back and forth or side to side motions. Circular motions will only make swirl marks more pronounced! Work from the top down. Also clean inside the fenders.
6. Rinse off using a steady stream of water. This helps to reduce drying time.
7. At this stage, you can use a clay bar on the car. The water will act as a lubricant but you can also spray on quick detailing spray. Meguiars Quik Clay is a good starter. Available here.
7.1 You can wash the car again, but this is up to you.
7.2 Dry using a towel of your choice. Pat dry instead of wiping. Again, this helps to reduce swirls/scratches.
8. Dry wheels.
9. Have a quick beer!

Try to AVOID washing your car in the sun. The sun will dry out the car much quicker and cause water spots. In the shade is usually best.

Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels, mitts etc should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally.



Clean

Clay bar helps get rid of bonded contaminants. ''Safe for use on all painted and glass surfaces, a clay bar is highly effective at exfoliating firmly bonded surface contaminants such as tar spots, brake dust, industrial fallout and baked-on bug remains, making it ideal for regular use and lighter decontamination duties.'' I use Meguairs Quik clay, available here.



- Clay bar can also be used on the glass, lights etc.
- Can also use it on your wheels.

Products/tools needed

1. Clay bar and lubricant. Available here.
2. Buffing towels, available here.

Cleaning process

1. First you need to warm up the clay. Simply do this by shaping it in your hands. Also mist on the quick detailer to keep it moist.
2. Work from the top of your car down, panel by panel. Working on an area of no more than 2 ft x 2 ft at a time, spray the work area with the lubricant. Rub the clay backwards and forwards across the surface of the panel, following the lines of the car.
3. As you're doing the above, simply wipe with buffing towels.
4. Remember to keep the clay warm by 'kneading' it all the time. Just spray on water/quick detailer and then shape it in your hands.
5. I would recommend washing the car again but this is up to you.

Engine bay cleaning

Cleaning the engine bay is not something most people worry about. This may be because it seems like a lot of hard work when only a few people will see it, but a clean engine bay can add to the value of the car.



1. Cover the 'vulnerable' parts with clingfilm or foil:
-Alternator
-Battery terminals
-Intercooler (cover with cardboard)
-Intake & MAF housing
-Alarm Housing
2. Spray on a degreaser. I use Meguiars Super Degreaser. Available here. Or you can use the P21S Total Auto Wash, which I recommended earlier in the 'wash' stage. Work in the degreaser with a stuff brush and leave for around 15 minutes.
3. Hose off the degreaser or just wipe off with a damp towel.
4. Finish by adding protection. I use 303 Aerospace Protectant, availabe here and/or Meguiars All Season Dressing, available here. Applied with Microfibre Applicators, available here.




Polish

Polishing is smoothing a metal surface, usually by rubbing with abrasives. Sub-surface defects such as swirl marks and scratches are removed by polishing, which is a broad term for a mechanical finishing operation for the purpose of producing a gloss or luster on a surface.


.
Products/tools needed

1. An aggressive polish which contains a cutting compound to cut the top coat on the paint. The polish will help to remove sub-surface defects (swirls, scratches, water spots, buffer trails - which are lines of swirl marks inflicted by poor machine polishing technique).
I would recommend Menzerna Intensive Polish for hand polishing and machine polishing. Available here. Others I use are Menzerna RD3.02, Menzerna Power Gloss Compound S34A, and Poorboys SSR range. Menzerna Power Gloss available here and Poorboys SSR 1,2 & 3 available here.

With the Poorboys SSR range, they have the following cut and gloss ratings;

Poorboys SSR1 - Cut: 2/10 Gloss: 8/10
Poorboys SSR2 - Cut: 3/10 Gloss: 8/10
Poorboys SSR2.5 - Cut: 5/10 Gloss: 7/10
Poorboys SSR3 - Cut: 8/10 Gloss: 6/10

2. A machine polisher or applicator pads. Machine polishers I would recommend are Meguiars G220 (G110 for USA) - fantastic for beginners, Porter Cable 7424, and Makita 9227C. The latter is more for pro detailers. Just type in whatever you're after in the search bar here. Pads to use with a machine polisher would be Lake Country CCS pads, available here. Also buy smaller pads for smaller sections of the car - door pillars, bumpers etc. For hand polishing, use German Applicator Pads, available here. The yellow side is the one you need to use when it comes to polishing.
3. Paint thickness gauge (PTG), but this is more for pro detailers.
4. Masking tape to cover up the rubber trims, lights, etc.
5. Buffing towels. You will need these to buff off the polish. I use Poorboys Super Thick & Plush Towels but an alternative to these are Blue Perl Buffing Towels, which are available here.

Polishing process

1. Mask up the rubber trims, door handles, front and rear headlights. Basically anything that you want to avoid during the paint polishing.
2. With your chosen pad (yellow side of German Applicator pad if polishing by hand and yellow/orange CCS Pad for machine), you need to prime it first. This means adding a lubricant to the pad, so that dry buffing is avoided. Just use some water or a quick detailing spray, as I mentioned earlier.Next thing is to apply the product (start with a light abrasive polish) of your choice to the pad in an X shape, as this allows the product to spread out evenly across the pad when you begin polishing.
3. This applies to machine buffing... With the pad primed and loaded, the next thing you should do before switching on is spread the product across the work area by pressing it repeatedly against the panel - this helps to ensure that all parts of the work area are evenly polished. With the pad held against the paint, you can now switch the machine on. When you start polishing, you should spend the first couple of minutes on a low speed setting (2-3 on the dial of a G110) applying only light pressure, in order to allow the product to spread out evenly across the pad and the work area.
After a couple of minutes, you can turn the speed up (4-5) and then move systematically across the panel, applying moderate pressure. Slow, overlapping passes are ideal - there is no need to move the machine backwards and forwards or side to side. Knowing when to remove the product depends as they're all different. A good indication is a change in the appearance of the product: many appear to become more transparent when they have been properly worked. This is the time to buff off with towels of your choice, as I mentioned earlier under the 'products/tools needed.'
4. Continue using the same method on each panel of the car. Remember to work on small sections at a time.
5. Do NOT let the polish dry out. I've seen some people polish the WHOLE car and then try to buff off every panel at the end. This won't work! You probably won't have corrected the paint (cos you haven't seen what you've done!) and buffing off will be extremely difficult!
6.Once you're happy with the paint correction, you can do the same with the glass and lights on the car. Obviously remove the masking tape to these sections which you applied earlier.
7. An abrasive polish usually causes 'hazing,' meaning the paint is not yet perfect for protection. You need a polish which will bring out the gloss/reflectivity in the paint, otherwise known as 'glaze' polishes. Glazes are designed to improve the brilliance and clarity of painted surfaces, and mask or visually reduce the extent of any remaining imperfections. Take it as a thin, glossy coating applied to the surface of food. It's the same for a car.
I usually apply this by hand using the grey/black side of the German Applicator. Can also be applied by machine using the black CCS Pad. I like to use Blackfire Gloss Enhancing Polish for this stage which is available here.
8. Buff of using the towels mentioned earlier but use a new one for the glaze polish!

Compounding can only be done a certain number of times before the integrity of the clear coat is compromised. Compounding should be the last resort.

Try to AVOID polishing in the sun. As before, it will dry out your product(s) much quicker. Also, try to work in a closed space like a carport or garage to minimise dust getting on the car.

Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels and applicator pads should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally. All polishing pads should be scraped off using a blunt plastic edge and then rinsed out thoroughly before being left to soak overnight in a bucket of warm soapy water. A good squirt of washing up liquid is ideal for this purpose, as it cuts through most product residues with ease and does not damage the foam. Let the pads dry out naturally the next day.
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Last edited by Schumacher; 12-21-2008 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:45 PM   #2
Schumacher
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Protect

Once the paint has been cleaned and polished, painted surfaces require protection against the elements in order to preserve the long-term quality of the finish. There are three forms of protection: natural carnauba waxes, synthetic sealants, and products that combine the two. Protection, commonly referred to as last step product (LSP) can dramatically affect the appearance of your car, as LSPs typically offer varying degrees of gloss, reflectivity, slickness and durability.



How do I know if my paint has been protected?

All types of protection create an invisible layer on paint that repels water and contaminants. Protection causes water droplets to bead on the surface.

Unprotected and protected:




The difference is quite noticeable!


Examples of finishes...



On the left, we can see that the paint appears to be richer and wetter looking (i.e. glossier) than in the image on the right. However, in the image on the right, the paint appears to be shinier, and we can see much further into the reflections than in the image on the left. The differences between these images reflect the choice of LSP. A wax was used in the image on the left, while a sealant was used in the image on the right.


Products/tools needed

1. LSP (last step product). Choose a wax, sealant or the latest LSPs (which combine the two) to protect the finish on your paint.There are hundreds of LSPs to choose from so this really is YOUR choice depending on what finish you want. I apply the LSP by hand.
2. German Applicator Pad to apply the LSP. Use the grey/black side for wax/sealants. Don't mix the LSP with the glaze polish (previous step), so use a new pad.
3. Buffing towels. You will need these to buff off the LSP. I use Poorboys Deluxe Mega Towels but an alternative to these are Blue Perl Buffing Towels, which are available here.


Protecting process

1. Apply your LSP to the grey/black side of the German Applicator Pad in an X shape.
2. Work in the LSP one panel at a time. You could even do the whole car in one go, but read the instructions which come on the product of your choice.
3. The LSP can also be applied to the glass and lights. It acts like Rain-X for your glass.
4. Use a new buffing towel(s) to buff of the LSP.

Try to AVOID protecting in the sun. As before, it will dry out your product(s) much quicker.* Also, try to work in a closed space like a carport or garage to minimise dust getting on the car.

*Some waxes/sealants are okay if applied in the sun. (Read the instructions on the product).

Pack away all of the tools you have used, making sure everything is clean and ready for the next use. All towels and applicator pads should be washed in a washing machine at a low temperature using a non-bio liquid detergent (avoid soap powders and detergents containing bleach or fabric softeners), before allowing everything to dry out naturally.




Maintain

'Quick detailing' is a term used to describe how you can maintain the appearance of your car between washes. They are best used after every wash to remove water spots, enhance gloss and add another valuable layer of wax or sealant protection. Great for winter months when you don't have much time to care for your car.

Products/tools needed

1. Detailing spray (which I recommended in the 'clean' stage). Meguiars are a good brand.
2. Buffing towels which I mentioned earlier in the 'polish' and 'protect' stages.
3. Your car!

Maintaining process

1. Spray on quick detailer one panel at a time.
2. Wipe off using a buffing towel.
3. While doing the above, make references to Karate Kid. ''Wax on, wax off.''



Wheels/Tyres

Wheels are probably the most important when it comes to caring for your car. They get a continuous pounding from road grime and brake dust. Brake dust is corrosive and etches itself to the wheels - It's why I rinse them a lot more often in the winter months.

Tyres are usually left out altogether! People will spend hours caring for their car but forget all about their tyres, which can spoil the 'presentation.'



Products/tools needed and process

Wheels

I sometimes leave my wheels until the end, meaning I don't clean them during the washing process. Simply rinse them down, wash with a wash mitt using two buckets, then dry them. To finish them off...

1. For the wheels you can use the same glaze polish I recommended in the 'polish' stage. This will give them more gloss before you seal the finish.
2. Apply the glaze polish with applicator pads. Meguiars Foam Applicator Pads are great for small things like wheels and tyres. They're available here.
2. Buff off using the towels I've recommended.
3. Protect the wheels with Poorboys Wheel Sealant, available here. A couple of layers is usually enough; top up every 4-6 months for more added protection.
4. ^Remember to buff of the above after each layer.

(Also, take off the wheels every 6 months to clean inside the fenders).

Tyres

1. Rub down the tyres with a damp cloth.
2. Dress the tyres. I use Blackfire Long Lasting Tyre Gel and sometimes a spray on product called 'Tyre Slik.' The Blackfire product is available here.
3. Applicator pads to apply the tyre shine product of your choice. Some tyre products come with their own applicator pads but the Meguiars Foam Applicator Pads (which I mentioned earlier), are great for this. Just put the tyre shine onto the pad and wipe on. I do the same with the spray tyre shine, instead of spraying directly on the tyre wall. This helps to avoid the tyre shine being flicked onto the bodywork.



Interior

Interiors should never be forgotten. Remember, this is detailing! A lot of dirt and grime is dragged into your car from the streets etc. Those food crumbs are also a real pain in the ass!



Products/tools needed

1. A product to 'care' for the plastics. The 303 Aerospace Protectant I mentioned earlier is ideal for plastics. The 303 gives a satin finish. If you want a more matte finish then Poorboys Natural Look Dressing is ideal, which is available here. The latter can also be used on rubber and leather.
2. Applicator pads. Again, the Meguiars Foam Applicator Pads are great for applying the above interior products. Or you can use the Microfibre Applicators, available here.
3. You may wish to buff off the products, again, the buffing towels are what you need.
4. You can get REAL anal and use brushes to get rid of dust in hard to reach places. Meguiars do a whole range of brushes, just go here and search for 'Meguiars brush.'

I could give you a huge list of interior cleaners to buy, but it's probably best to go here and choose for yourself. The brands I recommend are 303, Meguiars, Poorboys, Raceglaze and Chemical Guys.

Last edited by Schumacher; 12-21-2008 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:45 PM   #3
Schumacher
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Glass and Exterior trims

Very important to add finishing touches to the exterior. Again, the more protection, the better.

Glass

Remember I used the polish and LSP on the glass earlier on? Well, you can either leave the glass alone or use other products.

1.I sometimes use Meguiars NXT Generation Glass Cleaner if I want to finish the glass quickly. Available here.
2. Wipe off the Meguiars Glass Cleaner with those great buffing towels.

Exterior trims

1.The best product I have found to finish the rubber and plastics, as I mentioned earlier, is Meguiars All Season Dressing. I use it on the window trims, rubbers, fender mud guards and anything else which can be 'dressed.' It's available here.
2. Apply the Meguiars ASD using the Meguiars Foam Applicator Pads.



Exhaust/Bling Bling

If you're rollin' on dubs, then this is for you! Nah, I'm kidding.



Products/tools needed

1. You will need metal polishes which are aggressive and ones which add gloss.
2. Applicator pads. The German Applicator Pads are great for this as they have firm (yellow) and soft (grey/black) sides to them, as I explained earlier.
3. Buffing towels.
4. Mothers PowerBall or drill buffing kit. Something like this.

Metal polishes which I recommend:

Meguiars NXT Generation All Metal Polysh, available here. Cut: 2/10 Gloss: 9/10
Mothers Power Metal Polish, available here. Cut: 4/10 Gloss: 8/10
Wenol Metal Polish, available here. Cut: 8/10 Gloss: 4/10


You probably know the process by now so I don't need to type it.





I've taken time to type all this and help you guys source the best products and tools needed. I know it looks quite long and boring, but if you read ONE section at a time, all the above will help out A LOT.

Please take the time to read it and give me your feedback once you've tried the products and methods.

Thanks for reading.

Last edited by Schumacher; 12-21-2008 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:47 PM   #4
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FIRST!!!omg!!!THANKS A LOT FOR THIS!
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:17 PM   #5
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Nice write up !!!
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:30 PM   #6
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well done!!!!!!
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:15 PM   #7
vi3tboy
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Wow. Amazing write up man. This is freaking helpful. Any ideas of how to do this during the winter time?
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:22 PM   #8
NickWRX
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Schumacher = Subaru God
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:45 PM   #9
Schumacher
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickWRX View Post
Schumacher = Subaru God
Best quote EVOR.


The question about detailing in winter... I kinda covered it but, would be best if you had a garage or carport. If you don't have neither, then try picking dry days (obviously), and make sure it's not too windy.
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:06 PM   #10
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Excellent write up. Wish I had this the first time I was detailing, masking tape = huge help, takes a bit of time at first, but worth it in the end when you find wax on your trim about a week later.

Question though, when you mentioned polishing glass, i've never done that before, do you just use normal polish like say a Menzerna micro polish or is their specific polishes?

STICKY THIS???
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:17 PM   #11
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great write up, thanks a lot
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:44 AM   #12
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good write up for a general detailing guide!
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:59 AM   #13
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Man, you just made my day !!!!
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:33 AM   #14
Schumacher
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pakelika View Post
Excellent write up. Wish I had this the first time I was detailing, masking tape = huge help, takes a bit of time at first, but worth it in the end when you find wax on your trim about a week later.

Question though, when you mentioned polishing glass, i've never done that before, do you just use normal polish like say a Menzerna micro polish or is their specific polishes?

STICKY THIS???
Yes, use the same cutting polish on the glass.


Quote:
Originally Posted by OliverD View Post
great write up, thanks a lot
Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by STi22B View Post
good write up for a general detailing guide!
I think if I went into every minute thing, I'd be here for weeks writing this thing up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imprezwrx View Post
Man, you just made my day !!!!
No worries, man.
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:53 AM   #15
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great guide. saw the type r thread and was amazed!
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Old 09-19-2008, 08:18 AM   #16
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HOLY CRAP this is a nice thread!
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:36 AM   #17
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....nicely written.
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:54 PM   #18
Schumacher
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Thanks, guys.

The basics are all there. I didn't wanna get too technical otherwise I'd be talking bullcrap.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:50 PM   #19
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Thank you!!

-Chris
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:51 PM   #20
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STICKY!!!!

thanks for taking the time out for this write up.
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:14 PM   #21
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great job!
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:17 PM   #22
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great write-up. We should have a detailing sticky =)
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:39 PM   #23
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Really good write up, you do great work!
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:38 AM   #24
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This should be a sticky!
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:59 PM   #25
Schumacher
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK, dawg
Vehicle:
1999 WRX STi Type-R
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Thanks, all.

I'm still getting PMs asking for advice... Just read this thread.
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