Monday, July 11, 2016

My Car Wash Shampoos

In this post, I am going to discuss about the car shampoos that I normally use. As always, they might not be the best out there but they are some of my favorites. If you found a good car shampoo that you like and it is good, you are welcome to share them in the comments below.

Washing a car is the first step in car care and detailing. That is why choosing a good car shampoo is important since it is the first step. Get it wrong and one might have a tough road ahead in detailing. Most modern car shampoos try to balance cleaning power and protection. Cleaning power is the ability to remove heavy dirt such as road grime, oil film, birds droppings, tree sap, dead bugs, and so on. Protection is in the sense of not harming the car surfaces and not removing existing wax and sealant during cleaning. These two seems to contradict each other. If cleaning power is too strong, it would strip away existing wax and sealant but if cleaning power is too mild, then the shampoo does nothing. It is always a tough balance that car shampoo manufacturers try to achieve these days. There are some car shampoo that supposedly have wax or sealant in them but I am not so sure if the wax in the shampoo is as good as say, a spray wax.

Before I go on with my favorite car shampoos, let us get things a little clearer here. When washing a car, most car shampoo would try not to strip existing wax or sealant from car surfaces. However, car shampoos that do strip away wax and sealant is NOT always bad. If we are just doing a regular maintenance wash, then a shampoo that does not strip away wax and sealant should be used. However, if we are doing a full prep wash to reapply wax or sealant, a shampoo that strips away old layers of wax and sealant is a good choice here. A clean surface makes polishing easier with lesser residue.

Regular maintenance wash --> shampoo that does not strip away wax/sealant
Full prep wash for re-waxing/ re-sealing --> shampoo than can strip away wax/sealant/oil

In general, using dish washing liquid to wash your car is a NO NO but if you are doing a full prep wash, dish washing liquid might be a good choice. So, pick the right shampoo for the right job.

In this post, I would share the shampoos that I used mostly for regular maintenance wash. Without further a due, here are the contenders :-p

From right to left: Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner, Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash, Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax, CarPro Iron-X Snow Soap.

Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner 

Descriptions from the manufacturer:

It is'n’t the most glamorous task, but every external clean begins with a really good, thorough car wash.

Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner is a pH neutral formulation. It is packed with active ingredients which clean your vehicle, without stripping away any polish or wax you have previously applied.

Just add two capfuls to a 10L bucket of water. The shampoo can be used with warm or cold water and combines cleaning power with suds, allowing the sponge to glide over surfaces.

Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner contains a water repellent film. As you rinse off the shampoo the film stays behind causing the water to sheet off the surface, helping you to dry the car quicker.

Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner

I like this shampoo a lot. It comes in a thick lime green liquid with a pleasant candy scent. It is the shampoo with the highest dilution ratio among the lot - 20ml to 10 liter or 0.2ml per 100ml (I normalized the dilution ratio for easier comparison).

True to the claim of the manufacturer, after washing with this shampoo, I always notice that water runs off faster on car surfaces (faster water sheetings) compared to my other shampoos. One draw back of this shampoo is its lack of suds (soapy bubbles). When washing with a wash mitt, it feels like washing with plain water to some extent but do not get me wrong here, its cleaning ability is good.

As for pH level testing, I would say yes to it being pH neutral. Since I would hose down my car with normal tap water and dilute car wash shampoo with normal tap water, it would be fair for me check the pH level of the water supply first.

It seems that the water supply to my place is a little acidic, pH5. This would act as a control for me in determining if a car shampoo is pH neutral or not.

The pH level of the diluted Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner (as per recommended dilution ratio) is the same as the control. So, yes. It is pH neutral.

- High dilution ratio
- Good water sheeting

- Low suds

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

Descriptions from manufacturer:

Meguiar's® Gold Class™ Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner is a rich and luxurious product designed to both wash and condition paint in one easy step. The premium formula gently foams away tough dirt, road grime and contaminants without compromising wax protection.

  • Gently foams away dirt and grime, while conditioning your paint.
  • Premium formula gently foams away dirt and grime.
  • Conditioners reveal color and clarity.

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

This is another shampoo that I like to use often. It is definitely a "rich and luxurious" product as it has plenty of suds with thick foam. In fact, this shampoo has the most suds among the lot. This helps the wash mitt glide smoothly on the car surfaces. Also, because of the thick foam, the diluted car wash tends to soak up more or hold up longer in wash mitt. This help in "releasing" more shampoo by squeezing the wash mitt during washing. It comes in a thick gold-orange liquid and has a nice scent. The dilution ratio is 1oz per gallon (0.77ml per 100ml). I think this is just a very nice shampoo that does not strip wax and does not leave anything behind as I do not notice any change in water behavior on car surfaces after washing. I do not think of this as a negative point as I always use a spray wax after washing.

This shampoo is also pH neutral after dilution. (Note that the water supply to my place is slightly acidic as mentioned above).

- Rich and thick suds

- Pricey

Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax

Ultimate Wash & Wax is the perfect way to clean and shine your car's finish in-between regular waxing by boosting your wax protection, glossiness and shine! Meguiar's® Ultimate Wash & Wax is compatible with all Meguiar's® washes and waxes.

• Leaves a deep, glossy, just-waxed shine.
• Carnauba and synthetic polymer technology in our most premium wash.
• Incredible sudsing action safely lifts dirt and grime.

Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax

This shampoo comes in a thick bright yellow liquid. The dilution ratio is the same as Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash at 1oz per gallon (0.77ml per 100ml). It smells like a combination of mango and jack-fruit. To be quite honest, I do not fancy the smell as it seems like a stench from rotten fruits rather then fresh fruits. It reminds me of a stench from a garbage pile with a lot of mango skins. The suds are okay but a bit less than Gold Class. As for the claim of having carnauba and polymer sealant in it, that I am not too sure about that. As my wife's and my DD always have an underlying wax, it is difficult for me to tell if there is really wax in this shampoo or not. I do not notice a specific change in water sheeting and also water beading.

Testing Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax for Wax

Personally, whether or not this shampoo does have wax is not important as I always follow up with spray wax after every wash. However, for the sake of this post, I decided to test this shampoo out on the claim of wax.

I do not have a spare hood for testing like most professionals do and I do not fancy taping my DD for testing. I was looking for days to find a perfect test surface and I finally found it in the least expected place. A tiled face in my kitchen. Yes, yes, this might not be perfect as it is not a painted surface but the glossy surface on the tile feels like a clear coat surface on a car so it should be a close match. However, there is one problem. The face is vertical. This would make it hard to test water sheeting and water beading. Anyway, I had devised a test method. It might not be perfect but at least should let me "have a feel" on the results.

Before that, something not related to the test but related to "having a feel". During my university days I was taught by a very good professor in thermal fluids. Every time when he is too engrossed in explaining the wonderful thermo fluids concepts to us, he would grab one of us; his students; in the arm and told us, "I want you to have a feel!". One of the best professors I have ever known.

Okay, let's get back to business. For a start, I washed the panel with dish washing liquid to strip away any dirt and oil that would affect the testing.

With the panel is squeaky clean, I taped it up into 3 sections.

Testing Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax

The panel on the left will act as a control. For the middle panel, I sprayed it with Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Wax and buffed. I only sprayed a little to prevent over-spray on to the other panels. For the panel on the right, I washed it again with Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax, rinsed, and dried it.

As for the test, I used a streamlined spray of water to see how fast it runs off and also to look at the water beads. Results in video below.

I am not sure if this could be seen from the video. The water seems to run off faster on the middle panel because of the wax. The panel on the right (with Ultimate Wash & Wax) also ran off faster, maybe a little slower than the middle panel but definitely faster than the left control panel.

I tried to look at the beading.

No beading

The water droplets on the control panel looked inconsistent and not rounded.

Water Beading

The water droplets on the center panel looked more rounded. Some water beading here.

Ultimate Wash & Wax no beading

The water droplets on the right panel (with Ultimate Wash & Wax) did not look round. No apparent water beading here.

So do Ultimate Wash & Wax leave some kind of wax after washing? Yes, maybe. Even though the water did not bead, the water still ran off faster.

Done with the wax part. You be the judge.

This shampoo is also pH neutral. (Note that the water supply to my place is slightly acidic as mentioned above).

- Contain some very little wax

- Priciest of the lot
- Less suds
- I do not like the smell

CarPro Iron-X Snow Wash

Description from manufacturer:
  • Iron-Removing Multi-Use Cleaner
  • Pleasant Minty Scent
  • Safe on all CQuartz coatings

CarPro Iron-X Snow Wash

I do not recommend this shampoo for regular maintenance wash as it would strip away wax and sealant because of its degreasing properties. This shampoo comes in a pink liquid. There is a scent of mint but the chemical smell will over-power it. This has the lowest dilution ratio of 1:8 or normalized to 12.5ml per 100ml. So if I use 10 liter of water, then I will need 1.25 liter of shampoo! Nuts!

According to CarPro USA, if a foam lance is used, it will take 400ml per car. Good business for them. I do not follow the dilution ratio as I do not have that much of shampoo to spent. I bought this many years back for RM50 per 500ml. It is extremely hard to find now. What I normally do is to add a few squirt into a wash bucket followed by a squirt on the wash mitt for each wipe. The manufacturer claimed that this would remove trapped iron on car surfaces much like Iron-X but it is only weaker. Personally, I have never seen this shampoo turn purplish like Iron-X but it is a good degreaser. That is why I would use this shampoo to strip off old wax and sealant. However it is more economical for me to use a dish washing liquid now.

This shampoo is pH neutral too. (Note that the water supply to my place is slightly acidic as mentioned above). So it is slightly better than dish washing liquid that is basic (alkali).

- Can strip away old wax and sealant in a pH neutral formula

- Crazy dilution ratio
- Chemical smell
- Hard to find here

There you have it. My favorite car wash shampoos.

Okay, I have one more shampoo to add here. This is technically a rinseless shampoo but it still could be rinsed, right?

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine (ONR)

This is the famous ONR from Optimum Polymer Technology. Let see the manufacturer's description.

"No Rinse™ Wash & Shine is the most technologically advanced car wash system that only requires 1-2 gallons of water to wash the entire car. No Rinse™ Wash & Shine does not require rinsing since there are no soapy surfactants to wash off into the storm drains.

This unique product contains substantive polymers which bond to the paint and protect it during the wash. Therefore, No Rinse™ Wash & Shine offers greater protection and lubricity than conventional car washes leaving a sleek & glossy finish behind afterwards. The waste water in the bucket can be used to water the lawn or disposed of into a sink, where it will be treated!

Additional benefits are faster washes, ability to wash anywhere at anytime including washing inside the garage during the cold months, no messy water runoffs, and greater looking car finishes. These are some of the reasons No Rinse™ Wash & Shine is being used by many professional detailers across the country (see testimonials)."

Optimum No Rinse Wash

I also have the version with wax called Optimum No Rinse Wash and Wax (ONRW). If used in a rinseless manner, I could really feel the wax on the car surfaces after washing. My hands would get a waxy feeling after washing with this ONRW.

ONR comes in a thin blue liquid and ONRW comes in a thin green liquid, maybe slightly thicker than ONR. Both have pleasant scents. They have zero suds since they are meant to be rinseless. Both of them have good cleaning ability. The dilution ratio is 30ml to 8 liter of water or 0.375ml per 100ml which quite economical.

For pH level, I did not check the ONRW as it is just ONR with added wax.

ONR (and ONRW) is pH neutral. (Note that the water supply to my place is slightly acidic as mentioned above).

- Multi-use as rinsless car wash and also quick detailer.
- Good dilution ratio

- Zero suds

That is it for this post. Have fun washing your car.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Quick Review: Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel & Rim Cleaner (Honorable Mention: CarPro Iron-X)

As a follow up on my previous post on wheel cleaners (that are either too acidic or too basic) I have been in search for a pH neutral wheel cleaner. After reading a few reviews and some recommendations, I decided to get my hands on Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel & Rim Cleaner.

This gel cleaner comes in a translucent red thick liquid with a strong cherry scent. Think cough syrup. I got this from Lazada and it costs me around RM150. Yup, it is not cheap but given the fact that it is to be diluted 1:3, a 16oz bottle will give me 64oz of ready to use wheel cleaner. If I were to compare with the most expensive wheel cleaner that I have on hand (Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner RM72/500ml or RM4.24/oz), Diablo is RM2.34/oz. Still acceptable.

So let's move on to the manufacturer's descriptions for Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel & Rim Cleaner.

  • Safe for all wheels
  • Easily and safely lifts brake dust, dirt and contamination
  • No need for rubbing and scrubbing that can scratch and damage surfaces
  • Efficiently looses and lifts contaminants
  • 100% pH balanced and neutral

Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel & Rim Cleaner

The main reason for me getting this wheel cleaner is that it is stated to be pH neutral.

I went ahead and diluted this wheel cleaner with 3 part water and 1 part gel. The results are as shown below.

pH neutral Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel and Rim Cleaner

It was in the range of pH5-6. So it is not pH neutral after all. pH neutral should give a result of pH7.

"WAIT! Hold it right there", I thought to myself. Maybe it has something to do with the water. So, to be fair, I checked the pH level of the water.

As it turns out, the water supply to my place is slightly acidic (soft water). Unlike waterless wash where I used RO or distilled water, I used tap water for this wheel cleaner. My logic is simple. Wheels are exposed to hasher environments with heavier road grime and hot brake dusts. So there is no point for me to go OCD about them. However, if you have access to cost-effective distilled or RO water, you could use them.

Okay, with the acidic water source and the same pH level with or without Diablo Gel, I give the benefit of doubt to Chemical Guys. Diablo Gel is pH neutral. Yay! Do watch this post as I might dilute this cleaner with RO water and check the pH again in future.

Besides pH neutral, Diablo Gel is a good wheel cleaner with quite a lot of suds. Cleaning ability is comparable to my other wheel cleaners. It tends to stick on wheels surfaces and not runoff like other wheel cleaners. I think that helps in encapsulating the dirt. It lives up to the manufacturer's claim of lifting up the dirt.

I think I will be looking for gallon form of this Diablo Gel in the near future..

Honorable Mention: CarPro Iron-X

Technically, CarPro Iron-X is not a wheel cleaner but because of its ability to release trapped iron particles on surfaces, there are some detailers that use it for wheel cleaning. This product comes in ready to use form, so no dilution is needed. When sprayed on to car surfaces (yes this can be used on painted surfaces) or wheels, it will turn pinkish-purplish when it comes into contact with iron particles. It then release the particles from the surfaces and sort of dissolves the particle. This, to me is a strong decontaminant. I will sometimes use this on lower side of the car during a full wash.

On the bottle, it is claimed to be pH neutral but its it really? Let us see what the manufacturer claimed for CarPro Iron-X.

  • Removes Iron Particles and prevents the spread of iron-related damage & helps to protect your vehicle from paint system failure.
  • New Formula combines Cherry perfume to aid in masking Iron Dissolving Chemicals
  • Safe to use, Acid Free, and pH neutral (pH 6-7).
  • Safe to use on Clear Coat Paint
  • Safe to use on Aluminum, Chrome, Alloy, or Clear coated wheels.
  • Safe for use on all solid car surfaces and will not deteriorate clear coats. (Avoid using on Fabric Convertible tops)

CarPro Iron-X

CarPro Iron-X is acidic!

Okay, from my own test, this seems to be in pH5. Unlike Diablo Gel, this product is ready to use and no dilution is needed. So, no soft water effect here. This product is confirmed to be slightly acidic here.

A long time ago, I did use this as a wheel cleaners. However, I noticed that it would "oxidized" untreated brake calipers and even wheel nuts (after the coating had worn off due to wear and tear). Those untreated surfaces would turn greyish-blackish and unable to wash off. Most Japanese cars (and all local cars) here in Malaysia have untreated brake calipers. With that, I stopped using CarPro Iron-X as a wheel cleaner.

CarPro Iron-X corrodes untreated metal

The manufacturer claimed that this comes with a cherry perfume but trust me, the strong chemical smell will overpower the cherry perfume. This smells like a combination of rotten egg and hair perming chemical!

There you have it, pH neutral wheel cleaners.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tire (Tyre) Shine

You might have just washed your car, and even waxed it but it would not be complete without adding some tire shine. Those dull and brown rubbers; if not taken cared off; will impair the look of your just waxed car.

In this post, I am going to share two methods that I used to keep the tires looking good. As always, these are not the best method but what I commonly do to keep the tires looking good. Of course this is to be done after washing the wheels. You can find write ups on wheel cleaners here and how to clean the wheels (and car) here.

Quick Method

Well, most of the tire shines you find in our local departmental stores fall under this. These tire shines are usually spray and walk away type where you do not need to get your hands dirty. They come in either normal spray bottles or aerosol cans. I have a few of these.

I typically use these when I am in a hurry. Since these tire shine can be applied onto wet tires, I do not have to wait for the tires to dry. Furthermore, they dry (or cure) faster.

Most aerosol tire shines contain come cleaners that can be used to remove mild dirt from the tires. So they could be used as a "top-up" clean and shine in between washing. They go on foamy and dry to a shinny look.

Here are the pros and cons of these products.

- Easy to use.
- Can be applied wet.
- Contain some cleaning agents (aerosol type).

- Do not last long.
- Can stain rim and drive way.
- Used up quite fast, especially aerosol types.

Detailed Method

This method involves the "getting your hands dirty" part. So always use a glove. Two of my favorite detailed method tire shine products are Optimum Opti-Bond Tire Gel and Meguiar's Endurance Tire Gel.

Meguiar's Enurance is a translucent purplish gel that smells like grape. It has a thick consistency. As for Opti-Bond, it is a thick milky white liquid. Grape juice and milk shake, anyone?

In terms of durability, these two last longer and yes, as Meguiar's claimed, "Last weeks.....not days". So let us see the pros and cons of these two in general.

- Last longer.
- Better control in rim staining.
- Only small amounts are needed.

- Difficult to handle and can be messy.

In between Meguiar's and Opti-Bond, let us see how they compare to each other.

Very sticky and can be messy. Difficult to wash off from hands.Less messy.
Tends to sling.No sling.
Last a tad longer.Still last longer than quick method products.
Petroleum distillate based.Water based.
Cannot be diluted.Can be diluted to be used as spray on tire shine.

Because of the stickiness (and gooeyness) of these two, it would be advisable to wear a glove when applying them. Meguiar's Endurance is extremely hard to wash off.

With your glove on, squeeze the tire gel onto an applicator pad and fold the applicator pad in half so that the gel spreads evenly. Open back the pad and wipe it all around the tire, avoiding the rim.

Leave to dry before driving. It is best to leave it to dry for at least an hour before driving to prevent slinging, If only a darker finish with less shine is desired, use an old microfiber towel (dedicated for wheels) to wipe off the excess gel.

You could rinse the applicator pad with water after using it. But for me, I would normally wrap it up in a plastic or sandwich bag and keep it until next use. Just to be clear here. I used different applicator pads for different products.

Petroleum Distillates

In the comparison table between Meguiar's Endurance Tire Gel ad Opti-Bond Tire Gel, there is a row on petroleum distillates. If you do a quick search on the Internet on the effects of petroleum distillates on rubber, you would find many arguments that petroleum distillates will harden and crack rubber in prolonged exposure. However, most of the products in the market dedicated for rubbers and plastics care have petroleum distillates in them. So, if they are bad for rubbers and plastics, why are manufacturers still using petroleum distillates? Wouldn't water be cheaper? Not exactly. Also, there is this argument that petroleum distillates based dressings last longer and water based dressings will get washed away when it rains. True? Maybe.

First, let us try to understand some chemistry in tire shine. The main ingredient of tire shine is silicone. This is what makes the tire shine. Silicone itself is in solid form (at room temperature). In order to make it into a liquid form we need to add in solvent. This is where petroleum distillates come in. Once applied onto rubbers or plastics, the solvent will evaporate off leaving the silicone behind. Silicone itself does not dissolve in water, like oil does not dissolve in water. In order for silicone to be water based, an emulsifier is needed. Much like adding soap into water to "dissolve" or to be exact, emulsify oil. In order to be free of petroleum distillates, manufacturers will add in other chemical to emulsify silicone in water and most of the manufacturers will claimed that the emulsifier that they used is natural and biodegradable. This emulsifier could be more expensive that petroleum distillates. So that could be why water based rubber and plastic care products are a bit pricier.

Let us go slightly more detail on petroleum distillates. Not all petroleum distillates are equal. The term "petroleum distillates" generally refers to products derived from petroleum. Do you have a lip balm with you now? If yes, check the ingredient. You should not be surprised if there is something related to petroleum in it. They are used in some cosmetic products too. So not all petroleum distillates and harmful. Yes, some might be carcinogenic but not all.

I have checked the material safety datasheet of some Meguiar's plastic and rubber care products and they are not categorized as toxic and hazardous to health. See here and here. Same goes for Autoglym (here). Furthermore, there is assurance from Meguiar's representative that their products will not harm plastics and rubbers. See here and here.

However, if you are absolutely against petroleum distillates, not all hope is lost. Optimum Polymer Technology has a several water-based products. One if them is the Opti-Bond Tire Gel featured in this post. Opti-Bond can be use on plastics and interior surfaces too. It can also be diluted into spray on shine. It edges against Meguiar's for being an all-in-one rubbers and plastics care.

There you have it. I am no chemist but from my experience of using Meguiar's and Autoglym products with petroleum distillates I do not see any deterioration in plastics and rubbers. However, just to be safe, only use products from reputable manufacturers.

P/S: I will be updating this post when I have newer updates in petroleum distillates and water based plastics and rubbers dressing. I got to read more on this.