How to Detail Your Car Like a Pro in Minutes

How to Detail Your Car Like a Pro in Minutes

Author: Scott Ellis – Jax Wax

Throughout the course of our business, we have the opportunity to attend many car shows to demonstrate and market our products. The shows that we go to might be a casual cruise-in, a local or a national meet. Regardless of the type of show – there is always one thing that stands out — a nicely detailed car!

Your ride might be a “driver”, a concourse-quality “trailer-queen” or even a racecar. No matter what you drive, there is no doubt that a detailed car that “pops” grabs your attention. And who doesn’t like to drive a nicely detailed car? And if you are a gear-head like me, yes I have a great job!

Some of these shows are meant to be just “fun”, while others are highly competitive. For example at the Mid America Truck show they have a show and shine. All of these “Big Rigs” are working trucks. The judges actually use white gloves! These guys even wax the inside of the frame rails — and detail the tires inside the tread. I couldn’t fathom such detail until I attended the event last year with our Canadian distributor Stephane Gauthier who is well known in the Big Rig Show and Shine circuit. They start detailing their rigs the week before the show.

Assuming that you don’t have a week to dedicate to detailing and staging a car at a show and the judges aren’t using white gloves, I will attempt to share with you tips and techniques for prepping your ride on site at the show. Now, your car might never see water and be towed to the event in an enclosed trailer, or it might be a cruiser and you drive it — the process is about the same – and can look equally nice — it’s all in the details!

Let’s assume that we are starting with a fairly clean surface – there is no sense in putting wax and dressings on dirty, soiled or otherwise contaminated surfaces.

Start with the exterior. Think of detailing your vehicle like painting a room — always start from the top down. The reason for that is if there is any overspray from wax or dressings, you can catch them as you work your way down the surfaces of the vehicle.


If you have a convertible or vinyl top, it’s time to dress it! Let’s talk a little about dressings here. For the most part, there are basically two kinds of dressings for vinyl, rubber and plastic — they all are either water based or solvent based. You will want to use solvent based dressings for the exterior of your ride — solvent based dressings won’t wash right off and fall apart like water-based dressings will, and in my opinion give a richer, deeper luster. As well, a solvent based dressing, like our Super Blue will do a better job for conditioning and UV protection.

I always suggest dedicating an applicator to your solvent-based dressing. The reason for this is that you want to do this as efficiently as possible and minimize any clean up of overspray. Start with spraying small amount of dressing on the applicator and wipe the entire top from front to back. Now — this is where some people stop and they get streaky-looking results. To eliminate this — repeat the process going from side to side, front to back. This crisscross technique ensures even coverage and eliminates any chance of getting those dreaded streaks when it dries.

If you don’t have a convertible or vinyl top, start with a quick detailer / spray wax and a clean microfiber towel on the roof surface.

Before you begin, let’s talk a little bit about your quick detailer /spray wax and microfiber towel. To get optimum results, you will want to use a quick detailer / spray wax that will not streak. Some will, given the humidity and temperature when they are applied — the bottom line is you want to enhance the appearance of your ride — not add smears or streaks. Also look for a quick detailer / spray wax that contains a small amount of carnauba — as an added benefit you will also be extending the protection of any existing wax you have on your ride. We also recommend using a clean microfiber towel dedicated to this purpose.

When using your quick detailer / spray wax — a little goes a long way. Just spritz the product lightly. Other than adding more protection and “pop” to your surface, it will also serve as a lubricant helping to safely float off dust and grime. Our natural tendency is if this much is good, more is better, right? Just like me with laundry detergent — wrong! All you end up doing is wasting product and making a mess.