If this looks confusing, don't...
If this looks confusing, don't feel left out - nine times out of ten the hardest thing about detailing is knowing what products to use.
When it comes to having a nice sport truck, there are many factors that play into it, but if your paint is scratched and your wheels dull, all it will do is take away from all your customizing. We all know to some degree how to care for our truck's paint - wash it when it's dirty, and so on - but wouldn't we all like to know more? If you agree, then this story is for you. We will break down when to use what product to produce a great shine and some cool detailing tips to make life easier.
We suggest starting with the engine compartment. Mixing a soap and water solution and applying it to the fenders and cowl will keep any engine cleaners from hurting the paint. Cover all the electronics you can and don't go crazy with the water. If you have a lot of polished aluminum on your engine, stay away from harsh degreasers. Make sure to read the label before using any product on your truck. Use a nylon brush for the stubborn spots. Then rinse and dry with a towel or compressed air.
Now it's time to wash. Park the truck in the shade and use vehicle-specific soaps, not dish soap. Dish soap works so well that it will remove any wax that is on the vehicle. For the best no-scratch wash, you should invest in a sheepskin-type wash mitt. Because of its fluffy high-nap texture, it allows the dirt to go deeper into the mitt and farther away from your paint.
If you have a wash bucket with a grate in the bottom such as the one from Black Magic, you are good to go, but if not, use two buckets - one bucket for your soap mixture and the other filled with water to rinse off your mitt before dunking it back into the soapy water. Wash the truck from top to bottom (the roof is usually cleaner than the rockers) out of the direct sunlight. When it comes time to rinse the truck, spray it off like you would normally, but when all the soapsuds are gone, remove the nozzle. With just the water pressure from the hose, let the water flood the surface, and then it will run off in sheets. This will cut way down on the amount of water left on the vehicle and in turn reduce drying time. There are many things you can dry your truck off with, from a plain towel to a chamois, but we prefer the Absorber to a towel because it holds more water and won't leave lint on the surface. Just remember: The better the towel, the fewer the scratches. With the outside of the truck dry, open the doors and dry the doorjambs.
The wheels and tires are next on the list. If you're not sure what kind of material your rims are made of or the finish they have (clearcoat, anodized, and so on), be sure to use a "safe for all wheel types" cleaner. Working one corner at a time, spray the cleaner from the bottom to the top (to prevent runs). Use a brush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Then rinse and dry. Do not apply your tire dressing yet. Don't forget to clean the wheelwells. Spray the wheel cleaner inside the well, scrub with a brush, then rinse and dry. You can use a tire dressing in here if you so choose. If you have aluminum wheels with no clearcoat, break out the polish and get to rubbing. One cool tip we've learned is to put on some surgical gloves and use them to polish the wheel. It works great - try it. Apply the polish to the rim and rub until you have a black residue, then buff that off with a soft rag.
Now it's time to freshen up the interior. Start by cleaning out any trash or little wrappers stuffed in the cupholders. Next, give it a good vacuuming. After you've finished vacuuming, if you have any stains that need to be taken care of, use a carpet-specific cleaner. One of the biggest mistakes people make when cleaning their carpet is they use too much cleaner and saturate the carpet. The cleaner then soaks through into the jute padding and will eventually stink. Spray the cleaner directly onto the stain sparingly and scrub in a back-and-forth motion, not in circles. Then dry with a towel.