Category: Car Detailing

The World of Vehicle Detailing


The World of Vehicle Detailing


The world of vehicle detailing has evolved dramatically in recent years.


I can still remember when I first took an interest in detailing from a young age. The first was an early model flame red Mitsubishi Magna, it was my Mothers friend that was visiting for the week. The paint was chalky and had basically no shine at all. She had bought the car from new and had never bothered to protect it at all. It was left outside in the elements and looked horrible. It was acrylic paint with no clear coat, you could literally run your finger along the paint and the residue would come off.

I got to work! I broke out my Fathers Wash n Wash detergent; spray degreased the wheels, engine bay and door jambs and dried the car off. I armed myself with some good old Terry Towelling Cheese Cloth and got to work with some heavy cutting paste. Many hours later after the initial cut and the shine had returned I realised how much satisfaction it was to do this! I remember having to wash the car again as the amount of Red dust and Polishing Compound was everywhere! I found a soft wash sponge in the shed and decided to use that for the final stage with a thing called polishing liquid. (The picture on the bottle had a nice shiny red car!)

It turned out amazing! I could actually see myself in the paint (Although patchy and uneven as I did it all by hand). My neighbour gave me some wax and I gave my work the icing on the cake! Wow, what a difference I had made.

The satisfaction of turning what most would just think is unfixable to learning the absolute basics of Paint Correction has led me to where my detailing knowledge is today.

From the introduction of Clear Coat Two Stage paints to understanding how paint is manufactured and Applied to Learning about Paint decontamination, Machine Polishing, Proper Techniques and numerous protection options. I knew this was my thing! The satisfaction of my clients face as they see their pride and joy in a new form is priceless!

I have travelled the world to source the best products available. I want to create an environment where everyone can learn correct detailing techniques and experience what I do every single day!

Whilst a lot of people think Paint Correction is too hard or they don’t want to ‘Screw it up’im telling you now that is is! But only if you don’t educate yourself and use the correct gear!

Refract is here to help!

Scott Byrne
Refract Vehicle Detailing


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Car Clear Coat



Car Clear Coat


Like so many other areas of car ownership or car care, car clear coat is yet another topic full of bad information!


As a car owner you most likely have heard the term clear coat when talking about car paint, but may be uncertain as to what it is or why you should even concern yourself with it.
The fact is that most people understand what it is at a very basic definition, but due to so much product misconception and bad information repeated by good intentioned people, much confusion and misinformation continues to circulate. Follow along as we try and break down this critical part of the Vehicle Detailing process and what proper care really requires when it comes to your clear coats.


Since clear coat on your car paint is just that, clear, I cannot show you an actual picture of just exactly what clear coat is. The picture here does show you something called clear coat failure. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to start at the beginning and lay the foundation as to what clear coat is and why you need to understand its role in all of this!



Clear coat is the top layer of modern day, factory paint jobs. Clear coat is just that; clear. Simply put, clear coat is paint without any colour. Also referred to as 2-stage paint or 2 Pack; colour coat is first stage, clear coat is second stage.


Yes. 2-stage paint is another way of describing the clear coat and base coat system. The colour or base coat is the fist stage. The top coat or clear coat is the second stage.


Clear coat serves multiple purposes:

  • Adds protective layer to colour coat.
  • Creates additional depth and shine to colour coats.
  • UV protector of base coat.



Clear coat as we have learned from above is added to protect the lower base or colour coat. Vehicle clear coat protects in the following ways:

  • UV rays
  • Various forms of harmful chemicals, acid rain, dirt, bird droppings, bee pollen, etc. Basically creates a protective barrier between the colour coat and the Environment! – To a certain degree!



Every car has clear coat; at least virtually every car made since the 80’s. I realise I just said the 80’s which leaves a very big window of 30 years, but the fact is that clear coat was introduced little by little based on the car manufacturer. First metallic paint jobs were cleared first, then solid colours. Some solid colour paints were still left un-
cleared into the 90’s and beyond. Today it would be hard to find a car that doesn’t have a clear coat as part of the factory paint job.
Virtually the only time you would need to question as to whether your car has clear coat or not is in these (2) case:
Your car has been repainted (or some section of your car). Which still won’t make much of a difference as you will still be doing the same required steps of care you would if clear coat was present everywhere on your car?
You have a white Car or 4wd that is older than 7-8 years. In very few exceptions, I come across white Toyota 4Wds that have not been painted as 2-stage paint from the factory. I think the Manufacturers know that they will need to have numerous repairs and it’s easier on Single Stage non 2 Pack Paint! This is rare and the exception to the rule. As I said at the beginning, car manufacturers introduced 2-stage paint jobs slowly. Metallic’s first, then certain solid colours, with certain solid colours being the last to be cleared. White was one of the very last colours to be cleared and each car manufacturer started making it standard at different times when compared to other manufacturers. (It was possible to still have single stage paint on white Toyota’s and Mercedes Benz’ into the late 90″s) If you are fortunate to have one of these single stage paint jobs, consider yourself unlucky, as they are definitely harder to work with than a clear coated car.


Yep! The following would represent cases where a car would not have clear coat:
Some commercial trucks/cars may be ordered with single stage paint only.
Paint Shops still paint cars with single stage paint with no clear coat top coat. This is simply a way for a person to spend less on re-paint. It is also a way for the Paint Shop to come in with a lower quote to an ignorant person. Clear-coat or 2-stage paint is definitely the better choice but costs more. If you have ever had a car repainted or had body work done, the estimate will indicate this.


Yes. Use a clean rag with some polishing compound and rub with firm pressure in an inconspicuous area. If there is no clear coat, the rag will have colour from the car paint on it. As we have learned, virtually all cars have clear coat so your rag will most likely only show signs of the polish as the clear coat has no colour to it.


As a general rule, clear coated cars require the same care as any Vehicle without clear coat. Traditional methods of washing, waxing, and polishing would apply. Clear coat paint requires the same care and requirements of non-clear coated car paint.


Since virtually every Vehicle comes with clear coat, “Clear coat safe” products are a way for the car care industry to exploit the ignorance of consumers by labelling “clear coat safe” on the package labelling. If you are Johnny Consumer and stand there in the car care aisle at the retailer looking at two containers of car wax or car polish, one product says it is clear coat safe, the other doesn’t. By default due to your ignorance, most people will choose the product labelled “clear coat safe” just as a precaution.
The manufacturer just put a level of doubt in your head with the power of suggestion; they suggest you need a product that is clear coat safe. The fact is that all products will be clear coat safe based on ingredients alone due to the basic fact that virtually
every car will have a clear coat. This is not to say that any product could not be used in an unsafe manner; that is entirely different… which leads to the next question.


Once again, much ignorance and bad information exists out there. Our friends down at Super cheep Vehicle Places and the Like generally have no clue unless you find an enthusiast in the bunch. The fact is that any true expert will tell you that working on car paint is a case by case judgement call regarding product choice and technique. When it comes to washing and waxing your car, it really doesn’t matter past common sense practices of car washing and waxing. When it comes to using car buffers, car polishes, or paint correction processes, then it matters, but this is in the hands of the person behind the polisher. Just like every other area of life, not all things are created equal. So you have all different formulations with regards to clear coats; some may in fact be what would be considered harder or softer clear coats. Any experienced detailer will have to make a determination as to the best way to achieve the desired results and this detailer will have to choose the appropriate polishes, polish pads, speed settings, pressure, etc., etc.
If you visit any of the car forums you will hear the endless debate regarding soft or hard clear coats and the opinions of these many “experts”. The reality is that most car forums are filled with people giving advice with very little real-world experience.


Depends. (I hate that answer also) But it seriously depends and is a case by case answer. It happens to be a term that many people like to casually throw around because it has the “cool factor”. Meaning, it sounds cool to refer to something mundane like clear coat in way that sounds more exciting and unique; hence, clear coat failure. So to answer the question, clear coat failure can be a number of things and can take on different appearances. Overall, clear coat failure is nothing more than an ambiguous label for a variety of problems:
Clear coat becoming so dry and weathered due to lack of proper care and maintenance.
Clear coat literally flaking and peeling due to faulty preparation as part of the painting process done at the factory.
Clear coat flaking or peeling due to unstable, poorly engineered primers, paints, clear coats, etc. If anyone of these layers is engineered with poor ingredients, it can cause a loss of integrity to the entire layered system of modern day paint finishes.


As we have learned, clear coat for most discussions is nothing more than paint without colour. With that said, how to take care of clear coat falls into the basic discussion of how to take care of car paint, and for most of you looking to do the basics, this will require very little:
Wash car regularly; every 1-4 weeks. Dirt and sun are the most harmful things as a general rule; you have less control over sun exposure, but much more control over how long you allow dirt to remain on your car. (Washing is also a visual thing so if
you are particular how your car looks, then washing more frequently will become important)
Use detailing clay regularly to remove pollutants that will attach and embed into the clear coat. (Since air quality is different and unique to any given area, this may be as little as once a year or as often as once a month.)
Use car wax or a paint sealant for protection and visual enhancement regularly. (Many factors will ultimately determine durability and longevity of any given car wax or sealant. As a rule, car waxes and car sealants will only last around 3 months depending on product, weather conditions, condition of paint, etc.)


Like I have said many places of this website, you could get bogged down very quick with the many opinions being circulated around the Internet, car clubs, car forums, or most anywhere in life. I am of the opinion that we are now in an era of information overload. The bigger problem is the amount of unreliable information any of us are required to sift through in order to come to an informed conclusion.
Car clear coat is simply one of innumerable topics of cosmetic car care that is filled with hype, ambiguous terminology, or contradicting terminology that confuses and often does more harm than good. So with that said, use the checklist below to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed to the point of inaction:
Virtually every car has clear coat; you would have a hard time finding one that doesn’t.
Clear coat has the same basic requirements of traditional car paint: washing, waxing, polishing occasionally, use of the Clay Bar (detailing clay or Clay products).
Don’t get hung up on discussions about soft or hard car clear coats. This will not matter to 98% of you looking to perform basic car paint requirement.
The clay bar is safe for clear coats; remember virtually all cars have clear coats.
Don’t get hung up on people telling you that the clay bar can be used too often and/or will damage your clear coat; just not true.
After claying, remember to choose a quality Wax, Sealant or Ceramic to create a protective layer and for visual enhancement of the car clear coat.


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Car Detailing



Car Detailing




You’ll need

  • Three 20ltr buckets, two white and one black! (Wheels, Wash, Rinse)
  • Two Scratch Guards (One for the Wash and one for the Rinse Bucket)
  • Lambswool Wash mit or Glove
  • Refract Domestic Foam Gun (Standard Hose Adaptor)
  • Refract Snow Foam (30ml)
  • Two Refract Microfibre Towels of your choice,
  • One Silicon Water Squeegie
  • One Large Plush Microfibre Drying Towel or Waffle Drying Towel
  • One Refract Window Towel
  • One set of Refract Detailing Brushes
  • One set of Refract Lambswool Wheel Woolies
  • Refract Iron Degreaser
  • Refract Tyre Enhancer
  • Refract Tyre Applicator


Step One.

Setup and plug in your Water Hoses, Pressure Washer, Compressor and air lines Neatly and logically.
Take your Three Clean Buckets and Fill with Water (30 degrees is perfect temp) to the top. Its tempting to wash with hot water but a lot of the times we find that the water spotting just happens quicker.
Place Your Blue Grit Guard In one of the White Buckets and The Red One in the other. Place Lids or cover both buckets to avoid any dust from getting in them.
Place 30-40Mls of Degreaser and Wheel Cleaner into the Black Bucket and give it a good mix.

Step Two.

Take your Wheel Woolies and place them in the bucket along with a dedicated Detailing brush. Take your Refract Iron Remover and spray liberally in and around the wheel and Brake Caliper areas. You will see before your very eyes that the liquid will turn a purple colour and that hard baked on Grease and Brake Dust will be lifting safely off the surface!
Take your appropriate sized Wheel Woolie and Start to agitate the inside the wheel to work the product around. Use the smaller Woolies to Get in around all the wheel spokes and various nook and crannies of the brake caliper and rotor hub.
Use your detailing brush to get between the spokes and give everything a good clean! (Always start from the Bottom and work your way up and around the wheel constantly rinsing your tools) Work quickly but carefully, painted gloss wheels are easy to scratch if you’re too rough on them. Rinse the wheel after the Iron remover has done its thing and re-apply if the wheel is excessively dirty! This is the major cause for your gloss wheels looking scratched. Always work clean! Don’t be dragging excessively dirty water across any surface if you can help it!. One good tip is to follow with a small stream of water on your tool whilst rinsing the wheel at the same time.
Scrub the tyre with a stiff brush and use your dedicated wheel brush to clean in amongst the tread and also agitate the wheel arches if you can get into them.
Rinse clean with Domestic Water pressure or its best to use your high pressure cleaner to blast away the remaining dirt and grime!
Your brake rotors (Unless you’re sporting Carbon ceramic) will almost instantly start to form surface rust! To combat this you must dry the rotor straight away with a towel or its best to use compressed air!
You wont completely stop it happening! Don’t stress! As soon as you go for a drive the disc will be cleared when you depress the brake pedal.
You will be getting the rotors wet again for the next washing step so either cover the wheels in a plastic garbage bag or just leave them for the after detail show off cruise to clear the rust! (You know what I mean!).
Clean up and rinse your Wheel detailing tools and stow them away for next time!

Step Three

Take you Foam Gun (Whatever type you’re using and fill it up with water then add 30-40mls of Refract Snow Foam Liquid and Screw the bottle to the Sprayer housing.
Connect the Foam gun to your hose or Pressure washer and Cover the entire vehicle whilst adjusting the amount of Liquid to Water ratio and Spray Pattern Width!
Let the Foam do its job and soak in for up to 10 Minutes Max! DO NO LET THE FOAM DRY ON THE PAINT, it’ll create water Streaks!
Rinse the Foam off the car starting at the roof and working the Foam/Dirt/Debris down and away, work slowly and make sure all the foam has been rinsed before proceeding down any further!

Step Four

Take the lids off your White Buckets and Add 30-40mls of Ph Neutral Wash Shampoo. Give it a blast with your hose to mix the product thoroughly!
Place your Wash Mit/Glove into the first bucket with the Blue Grit Guard and procedd to wash the ‘Top’ of your car!. Start by working half of the car at a time!
Place your hand in the Wash mitt and let the shampoo drain out of the mitt and onto the first haf of the roof!. Proceed to wash the Roof Panel with minimal pressure short strokes maybe once or twice only! (Not Circle Swirling!).
Plunge your now contaminates wash mitt into the other ‘Rinse’ Bucket and quickly twist your wrist to allow any debris in the mitt to fall out and drop to the bottom of the bucket to get trapped under the Grit Guard!. Plunge the clean Mitt back in to the ‘Wash’ Bucket and proceed to do the rest of the ‘Top Half’ of the car. This means all the panels above the half way crease or trim that most cars have!. This is the ‘Cleaner’ sections of the car generally!. The lower sections of the doors, rear bumper, front lower bumper and lower quarter panels will be much dirtier. Once you completed the entire ‘Top Half’ of the car. Tip both your Wash and rinse Buckets out and quickly refill!. At this stage you may want to pressure wash the suds and debris away to avoid the shampoo drying out too quickly!
Immediately after this Step everyone wants to take a break, grab a drink, pat the dog etc. DON’T!, You must get that car dry!
Take you weapon of choice (Silicon Squeegie, Microfibre Waffle Towel, Big Blue Drying Towel, Air Compressor Blow Gun or a combination of all) and dry the car thoroughly!
We recommend you start with the Windows and Glass. Use your squeegee followed by Waffle Towel.
Move onto the Plastics, Be careful here as the the Waffle towel may become blackened from the previous products on the rubbers! Compressor Blow Gun is your friend here! Blow the water off then lightly run a Microfibre Towel or Waffle Towel over the remaining.
Next is the Paint
If you’re lucky enough to have Refracts VMAFA Ceramic coating already on your car then all you need here is your Blow Gun and Big Blue Drying Towel. The water will basically fall off the cars paint and trims.
If the paint doesn’t have a ceramic coating or hasn’t been waxed recently you will just have to us a combination of the Squeegie, Waffle Towel and Drying Towel and work quickly to Dry it all off!
Whilst this may some counter productive, you can mist Refracts Quick detailer spray in front of the Microfibre Towel to assist in Drying whilst applying a nice shiny protectant. (This will only be beneficial if you’re not proceeding to the polishing stage!). If you are proceeding to polishing you can mist some demineralised water as you dry so the Big Microfibre Towel doesn’t ‘Grab’ or ‘Drag’
The technique
Step Three.


You’ll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner (Wet or Dry or Combination) with attachments to reach tight areas. Pet Hair Attachments are a great tool too!)
  • A Pumice Stone. (Hard soap bar sized Stone to brush and collect pet hair). You can get these from your local Supermarket or Hardware store in the Cleaning Sections.
  • Refract Microfibre Towels for Applying Products, Dusting Components and for taping around the end of the Vacuum to aid in lifting dust and avoiding scratching the delicate interior surfaces!
  • Refract General Purpose Cleaning Liquid
  • Refract Interior Plastic, Vinyl and Dashboard Protectant
  • Refract Window Cleaner and Towel
  • Refract Detailing Brushes. (Use these to ‘Chase’ the Dust with the Vacuum Cleaner). Great for lifting Dirt and Dust from Sensitive surfaces!
  • Expert Detail (Pressure Washer and Air Compressor Required)



You’ll Need:

  • Basic Wash Products plus
  • Refract Detailing Clay Bar (Fine, Medium or Coarse dependant on level of contamination. (More on this later!) and or
  • Clay Product of Choice, (Clay Cloth, Clay Hand Pad, Clay Dual Action Pad,)
  • Refract Clay Bar Product Lubrication
  • Refract Snow Foam Gun – High Pressure
  • VMAFA High Pressure Tornado Cleaning Gun – High Pressure



Basic Detailing Products plus:
VMAFA Tornado Cleaning Gun (Air Compressor Required with large tank capacity). Simply Add 1:20 into the Cleaning Pot, fill with Demineralised or Filtered Water (To avoid any un-necessary water spotting) and clean the dirt, dust and debris away with ease! Follow up with Refract Interior Protectant and Quick Detailer on a soft Application pad or Towel and you’re done!
Air Blow Gun Attachment (Local Hardware Stores).
Use this to completely blow out the dust and debris from carpets, window recesses, dash board vents and intricate spots prior to you vacuuming.(Or couple it together) Start from Passenger side and Open the doors on the drivers side, Blow the dust and debris right out the door! Try and get an atachment that is compact with a Rubber or Plastic tip to avoid scratching or chipping sensitive surfaces!
Carpet Cleaning Machine. (Steam or Wet)
These cleaning machines are cheap enough to buy and can do a fantastic job of Cleaning and restoring your Carpets and Seats.
Spray Refracts Carpet and Seat cleaner into the surface and let soak in, agitate the stain with your Interior Cleaning Brush and then use your Steam or Wet Cleaning Machine to extract the stain. Follow up with an Odour Remover and Fabric Freshener.
Basic Polish and Wax – Dual Action Polisher
Recommend you have expert Level Wash Products and conduct this procedure after a thorough wash undercover, in the shade or somewhere sheltered with no chance of the sun or the elements from ruining your work!.
Always have plenty of room to move around the vehicle so you can open the doors, move buckets around, position your pressure washer and set up base camp for your detailing trolley or table.
You will be running power cables to your Polishing Machine, Hose Line for the Pneumatic Guns, Water Hose lines from the wash and not to mention the Water Line from the pressure washer in the mix just to make
it interesting!. Consider using Waterproof Junction Boxes and Plug protectors from your local hardware store to increase safety aspects of water, electricity and high pressure air lines.
Select your desired location for the detailing to take place. Clear away all loose debris, junk and anything that you don’t want to get wet or get snagged on the many cables and hose that your about to use.
Pressure wash the floors area so it’s clear of excessive debris and Dirtt!. Sand is your enemy! One tiny grit of sand in you polishing pad, microfiber towel or blown on the paints surface from surrounding dirty areas will have devastating affects. WORK AND STAY CLEAN!, Hose away the dust and spider webs from around the area so that you minimise the chance of dust and debris falling on you paint prior to Polishing which will find its way into the DA Pads! (Refract recommend at least two to three polishing pads per car for maintenance detailing). We will talk more about this in cleaning tips and tricks!
Get yourself a decent fan to keep a constant flow of air blowing across the car! Any dust that falls will be quickly blown away!
A good tip is to wet down the surrounding walls if you can! If you have Gyprock walls then use a general purpose duster to remove as much dust as possible and even run the vacuum around the corners. (More on Interior and Vaccuming Later on)
If you have an extraction fan then definitely use it!
Temperature is important as polish can ‘Dry Out’ very Quick in temps above 30 Degrees. Have a Portable Fan Running or Begin early in the morning before the heat sets in. (The sun is your worst enemy!) The car will water spot almost instantly if left in the sun with water on it!

  • Refract 15mm Dual Action Polisher
  • Refract Microfibre Cutting Pad
  • Refract Microfibre Finishing Pad
  • Refract Cutting Compound
  • Refract Finishing Wax Liquid
  • Or Refract Palm applied Vehicle Specific Wax
  • Air compressor with blow gun

Snow foam bottle attachment for pressure washer (ill send you one when i get my stock in, please advise brand of sprayer, gerni, karcher etc) dont buy online, youll get ripped off!. (This foams the car and soaks it prior to washing) Snow foam liquid, online, $20
Fluffy lambswool wash mit $55
Detailing paint brushes (bunnings have really soft ones but they’re like $13 bucks each) will prob send u some too!
To get yourself started tho, just get the basics and ill hook you up soon with some good gear later!

Step One.

Car in shade, cool, after sunset, before sunrise.
Fill the black bucket with diluted degreaser and a bit of shampoo and wash the wheels with a brush and cloth, rinse off

Step Two.

Pressure wash the whole car removing all the dirt and dust, start from the top down

Step Three.

Fill a white bucket with COLD water and add some suds, place cooling racks in the bottom, fill the second bucket with cold plain water

Step Four.

Using microfibre cloth, soak it in the suds and twist the water and suds over the car to soak
Proceed to wash the paint lightly in parallel to body panels movements, no round and round. Start from the roof down.
Rinse the cloth every body panel in the plain water bucket and work around the car, replacing water in buckets maybe three times for a car you size.

Step Five.

Rinse with pressure washer and dry with either compressor and/or waffle/microfibre towel. (NO CHAMOIS! Have a sacrificial burning ceremony of those things!)

Step Six.

Mist detailer spray on the paint and follow directions on bottle with a low pile microfibre cloth, not one that u washed with! (A new/clean dry one !)

Step Seven.

Dress your tyres with gel

Step Eight.

Use protectant spray on all black trims, plastics, headlights, roof racks, everything beside the paint (very important to do this every time u wash)
Use this on interior plastics/dash as well!
Spray in cloth tho not surface
Don’t ever use armourall etc on ur plastics, it’ll dry out eventually.
The internal windscreen only gets dirty because the heat from shit products gasses off and sticks to the glass!

Step Nine.

Go for a drive in your shiny ride!
This is a very basic wash! They’re are many other things u can do to make the paint look a lot better but wait until my website is up and it’ll all be in my blogs.


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