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Detailing Hero

CPR - Chrome, Polish, and Refresh

Spruce up that truck or SUV!

It's true that April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring dreams of sunny days spent cruising down the highway. Weekends at the truck show, with good tunes and better friends. Or maybe it's just looking good when you're running around town. Either way, you want a good-looking truck. A truck that's clean, a truck that shines. A truck that turns heads.

All it takes is some know-how, and in a few simple steps you'll take your truck or SUV from a worn-out hauler to a parking lot dreamcicle. For specifics, we went to Stylin's in-house detailing expert Jim Sacco.

Center Out, Top Down
The art of detailing the interior could be summed up in four words: Center out, Top down. There needs to be a rhyme and reason, says Sacco, to taking care of the inside. You start at the top and work your way down, and from the center console outward. If you vacuum the carpet, for example, then touch up the vinyl, you’ll just dirty up the carpet and have to vacuum again.

“You start with the headliner,” Sacco said. “Make sure that it is clean because when you roll down the windows all that dirt and dust blows from the bed into the interior; its even worse if you have a sliding rear window.” Just hit the headliner with a vacuum attachment. And go easy, headliner fabric can be tender.

Next up are the windows. Our resident expert told us the best way to clean the glass is to use microfiber towels or – believe it or not – newspaper to avoid wet streaks and spots. But most importantly, stay away from ammonia. "If you have window tint, you don’t use anything with ammonia,” Sacco said. “Some glass cleaners contain ammonia, which can turn your tint purple.”

Attention to Detail
We’re not done yet. Getting a freshly detailed look to your interior requires a keen attention to detail. Let’s start on the dash and door panels.

A good wipe down with a cleaner like Meguire's Vinyl/Plastic Detailer, or SmartWax SmartDressing plastic trim detailer and soft brush will suffice, Sacco said. “Use a soft brush that will not scratch,” he said. “Especially if your truck has a center console around the shifter. With the gear selector down on the floor, a lot of dirt and dust collects in the crevasses.”

To add a little shine to where you park your behind, Sacco recommends giving the seats a good wipedown with a damp cloth. This'll get some of the dirt off. “Or a vacuum if your interior is cloth,” he said. “You don’t want to use a vacuum on leather because you could scratch it.”

Mmmmm, Beef!
And speaking of leather, Sacco found that using a dedicated leather cleaner and conditioner like SmartWax Leather Cleaner or Meguire's Leather Spray could give your truck interior an award-winning glow as well as maintain the fabric. “Use the leather cleaner first. Then once it dries, hit it with a leather conditioner,” he said. “The cleaner opens up the pores in the leather and puts back its natural supple feel. And the conditioner also puts the natural nutrients and oils back into the leather.”

What you notice with a conditioner, Sacco said, is that the leather will darken, changing back to its original color and returning to the original texture. And remember, peep the details. “You got to make sure that you hit all the corners of the seats,” he said. “I usually use a soft towel or wash cloth to wipe it on – I just use my hand and wrap it in a towel. It lets met get down into all the creases and wrinkles.”

Finish up the interior with a thorough vacuum of the floor and mats. Afterward, take the floor mats out and give them and the carpet a good cleaning. Sacco recommends using SmartWax SmartCarpet.

Achieving the look of a winning show truck takes a meticulous eye, Sacco said, and focusing from the “Center out, top down” method will makes things go much smoother.

Time for the outside

Once you get the inside, it’s time to get busy on your exterior.

“Make sure the truck is parked in a cool, dry spot; you don’t want the surface hot,” Sacco said. “If you do it in the sun, it will eventually leave dry spots on your truck.”

Next, of course, is to get your truck wet. Using Meguiar's® Gold Class™ Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner, for example, can provide enough suds to clean your vehicle. You could also use SmartCarwash™ Premium Wash & Wax Shampoo for an easy to use, simple wash and rinse.

Lest we forget your shoes: The wheels are also part of the washing process. Shoq Wheel & Tire Cleaner by Voodoo Ride® can take care of the brake dust, road tar, dirt and other crud on your wheels and tires. “It protects the vehicle and the wheel from the corrosion,” Sacco said about the importance.

Check out Jim demonstrating VooDoo Ride Shoq Tire and Wheel Cleaner:

After a thorough wash and rinse, use the Water Blade from the California Car Duster® Kit to dry your truck with ease. The kit comes equipped with the Water Blade, a silicon polymer squeegee as well as microfiber towels.

“They absorb the water really well,” Sacco said. “And get the water right out of the way.” Sacco said when you detail it’s best to place your shine on the tires before the whole vehicle. “The reason it that in some of the older cars and heavy duty trucks, you’ll see the little rust spots. They will start from the front wheel back. That is actually the brake dust bonding to the paint and eating it from the outside in.”

Once the truck is nice and dry and wheels and tires are handled, it’s time to apply the body shine. Meguiar's® Gold Class™ Liquid Wax would be a good choice. When using wax, make sure you cover the intended area even and thoroughly to better avoid swirl marks.

Your truck is sparkling and glowing, but it’s time to close out the process with a final touch-up. Having a product like High Shine Quick Detailer by DA Motorsports or the Pro Finish Protectant places that exclamation point on your vehicle.

Adding a detailer will help to remove light fingerprints and achieve a high-gloss finish while protectant also acts as a seal against dirt, grime or other particles that could stain your truck’s finish.

“You want to wax it to seal the gloss shine in there,” Sacco said. “That is going to bring the wet darkness back your truck and keep your truck looking nice.”

More info on sprucing up your truck:

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