Detailing tips for the next car show for people in a hurry


We’re all in a hurry. We don’t have as much time as we’d like to wash and detail our cars the way that we’d like. But if you have an event coming up or preparing last-minute for SEMA, you could use some tips to get the car looking great.

Thankfully our friends at Meguiar’s have done just that. Also, be sure to check out some of our winter car care tips from Meguiar’s on a previous episode of the podcast!

  • Polish the Paint:Wash or use a spray detailer to remove any dust or dirt before beginning. Consider using a quality Dual Action Polisher like Meguiar’s® MT300 Dual Action Polisher, as this will not only give you the ability to safely remove below surface defects and enhance the depth of shine, but it will also make things go a lot quicker. Select a good one-step product like Meguiar’s® D166 Ultra Polishing Wax to quickly remove swirls, scratches, oxidation, enhance depth of shine, and offer protection. This versatile one-step can be used by Hand, DA Polisher, or Rotary, and with both foam and microfiber pads depending on how much cleaning ability you need. For those really hard to reach places, don’t forget that Meguiar’s once again offers 3” DA Microfiber Cutting and Finishing Discs for your DA polisher.
  • Interior Prep:
    • – Carpet & Upholstery: Of course, you want the interior to look just as good as the exterior. First, remove any loose items or trash that may be present and take out the floor mats. Brush and vacuum all carpet and upholstery, being careful to get into all the little nooks and crannies. Clean the floor mats separately and reinstall them. To really set the interior off nicely, consider brushing the fibers of the carpet in opposite directions as this pattern will show your attention to detail and that the carpet is both thoroughly and properly cleaned.
    • – Other Interior Surfaces: Be sure to clean and protect all interior surfaces with a versatile product like Meguiar’s® professional D149 Quik Interior Detailer, or Meguiar’s® Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner. Both products gently clean interior surfaces leaving a “just detailed” look, and can be used on plastics, vinyl, rubber, leather, and even audio/video equipment like NAV screens.
  • Wheels & Tires:
    • – Wheels: If you have the tools and experience to remove your wheels for a pre-show deep cleaning, this is always the preferred method. If you don’t have the tools, time, or courage to put your show car up on jacks, start by verifying the finish on your wheels and selecting the appropriate wheel cleaner and always follow the directions carefully. Remove all dust and dirt, not only on the lip and face of each wheel, but also thoroughly cleaning between spokes and behind the face so there’s no dirt or brake dust lurking anywhere. If your wheels are an uncoated metal like aluminum, chrome, or stainless steel, select a good metal polish like Meguiar’s® Hot Rims® Metal Polish to remove any light blemishes and give them a brilliant reflective shine.
    • – Tires: If your tires are dirty, clean them thoroughly with a firm bristle brush and a good properly diluted all-purpose cleaner. Finalize with a good, quality tire dressing and be sure to apply it very thin and evenly so it doesn’t end up slinging onto the paint. Meguiar’s® M40 Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner is a great choice to give the tires a rich, rejuvenated appearance. You can also use M40 in the wheel wells to make them look like new and ready to show.
  • Clean & Dress Under the Hood:Determine how much cleaning you need. If moderate to heavy cleaning is needed, select a professional degreaser like Meguiar’s® D108 Super Degreaser that has the strength to break down grease without leaving residue behind. If you just need a simple wipe down, you can use the same Meguiar’s® D149 Quik Interior Detailer or Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner that was used on the interior surfaces. Then, for a rich, natural sheen on hoses, plastics, and rubber components, use the same M40 Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner that was used on the tires. It will rejuvenate, restore color, and make the engine compartment look clean and crisp.
  • Don’t Forget the Glass:Select a quality automotive glass cleaner like Meguiar’s® D120 Glass Cleaner Concentrate since it is safe for all windows including tinted windows. To get the best streak free results, be sure to use a high quality microfiber towel like Meguiar’s® Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels. They will lift more of the cleaner than cotton terry and they will be softer on the glass if you have tint. Be sure to clean the inside and outside of the glass thoroughly and use a microfiber towel dedicated just for the glass so you don’t end up with product residue from another surface on the glass. For your final wipe, consider wiping up and down on the outside, and then side to side on the inside, as this will allow you to determine where any streaks may be leftover so you can easily remove them.
  • Pack a Detailing Bag To Go:Pack a small detailing bag to go with a handful of your favorite detailing products like Meguiar’s® Ultimate Quik Detailer to lift dust and fingerprints, a glass cleaner, and a few microfiber towels so you can wipe the car down as needed while at the show. This will give you everything you need to maintain and keep your car looking clean with a nice depth of shine at all times.
Chad Kirchner
the authorChad Kirchner
In addition to Chad Kirchner's work here, he's a freelance automotive journalist for outlets around the world.