Zen and The Art of Black Cars

I’ve owned 3 black vehicles in my life. Two were projects/beaters (my Buick and my Chevy) and one is my mid-life crisis daily driver with 306hp of hard charging Covid-19 quarantine therapy.

Black cars are beautiful. From my early days sitting on the living room floor watching Knight Rider and The A-Team, there’s always been something about a car that is black on black, they’re both subtle and screaming at the same time.

Black cars are a royal pain in the butt to keep clean. All my other cars were silver. A silver car can get surprisingly filthy before anyone can look at it and want to write ‘wash me’ with their finger. A black car is clean for approximately 8.3 seconds after cleaning.

Where previously I could go through the automated car wash without worry, that’s verboten with a black car. Every single imperfection is glaring. Scratches, swirls, and chips – oh my. I’ve generally been decent with washing my cars, with a black car? Oof.

My neighbor’s friend runs a detail shop, so he gave me some tips. I picked up the proper ingredients, and got to work. I used Griots Garage Brilliant Finish Synthetic Detailing Clay, Speed Shine Detailing Spray, Ceramic 3-in-1 Wax Spray, Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash, and Stoner’s Invisible Glass.

Now I’m no expert by any means, but this is how I took care of my ride today…

  1. Rinse the car off with the power washer (gentle nozzle). After successfully blowing the paint off of 3 of my last 5 cars, I do this more for a quick rinse and no longer attempt to use it to blow something off the paint.
  2. Fill a bucket with water and 1oz of the Honeydew Snow Foam, and also add 1oz to the power-washer’s soap tank with water. I coat the entire car with the foamy soap and let it set in for a bit before I scrub the car down with a microfiber wash mitt. I also rinse the mitt in a second bucket to make sure any debris are removed before I soak it with more soapy water.
  3. Rinse the car off again with the power washer, make sure to get all the soap off. Now the next part is key – drying it. Don’t use rags. Don’t use normal towels. Get some actual microfiber drying towels (I use the ProElite Microfiber Twisted Loop Drying Towel) – buy two of them. Get the car dry from top to bottom so extra water spots can be avoided.
  4. If there are water spots after drying, that’s where the Speed Shine Detailing Spray comes in. A quick squirt on the body panel, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, then flip the cloth to buff it.
  5. In my case, I had several water spots under the wax on my hood (more on the roof, but I’ll deal with that next time). For this I used the synthetic detailing clay and the speed shine detailing spray as lubricant. I sprayed a healthy amount on the hood then wiped it down with the clay bar in straight lines. After which, I used a microfiber towel to wipe off the excess spray and buff the finish.
  6. Lastly, the spray wax. I’ve been hearing tons about ceramic spray wax, the Griot’s Garage variety got rave reviews so that is what I used. I generally use 2 towels at once for this, wax on / wax off like the Karate Kid. However, I don’t swirl the cloths, I wipe them in straight lines. I usually go through 4-6 towels during this process.

After quickly going over the windows with Invisible Glass, I had a very shiny and clean car for 8.3 seconds. As you can see below, the work was worth it. Now I’m just waiting to see how the ceramic wax fares against the usual spring rain, and whether or not this buys me a little more time between washes.

As always, don’t take my word for it, do your own research, and by all means – enjoy cleaning your ride!

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