The Audi A3 has been a solid contender for one of the most desirable hatchbacks over recent years. Modern styling, great build quality and an array of engines that allow suitability to any potential buyer. Alongside engines, interior trim and various bodywork upgrades are available dependant on the requirements of the buyer, needless to say there are a fair few options available from leather seats, headlight types, wheel designs and so on..
This Audi A3 S-Line was looking tired and neglected. The owners requirements were to fully decontaminate the paint and to give it a layer of protection. Further conversation found that the owner mentioned that he had previously attempted to wax the A3 himself a few months previous although the paint was, in his own words, horrible to work on. Waxing on top of the contamination made the wax hard to work with and the owner actually only got half of the vehicle complete before deciding to throw in the towel (microfiber we hope!). It was discussed between us to set to work for a Protection Detail to strip back the paint, boost the gloss levels and give all surfaces a coat of fresh protection.
Here is how the Audi was delivered, as you can see pretty road soiled and covered in salt..
As you can see, the front licence plate was removed from the vehicle to reveal old sticky-pad adhesives hidden. Sadly the rear plate was not removable due to a rusty rounded retaining screw.
The wheels were misted with Auto Finesse Iron Out and left to dwell for a few minutes whilst the door, boot and bonnet shuts were cleaned. A mild dilution of All Purpose Cleaner (APC) was sprayed onto the shut surfaces and agitated with a boar hair detailing brush. Once the shuts were cleansed, it had allowed the Iron Out to dwell and indicate any build up of brake dust on the wheels. A deep purple colour would appear if any ferrous particles were present. This colour change is a chemical reaction where the Iron Out turns the particles into a soluble state that can be removed (or at least improved) with a rinse from a pressure washer..
Once the Iron Out had been rinsed thoroughly, any remaining break dust was then removed by misting Auto Finesse Imperial wheel cleaner onto the wheel face and barrel also. An assortment of brushes and wheel woollies were then used to agitate the cleaner to ensure all brake dust was lifted away from the wheel surface. Access to the barrels and rear of the spokes were allowed with use of the wheel woollies. The arches were misted with APC and a long-reach brush was used to remove build up from recent use. A thorough rinse of wheel and arch was then carried out.
A layer of foam pre-wash was layered over the entire car to lift any loose surface dirt. Any grit and surface soiling would be softened and carried away gently by the foam leaving a less harmful surface for the bucket wash. As the sun had made an unlikely appearance during the morning of the washdown, the foam mix was reduced through the lance adjuster knob. The benefit of having a larger water:foam ratio is that the foam doesn't dry out as quickly, although a reduction in cleaning ability is an underlying factor.
A boar hair detailing brush was used for intricate areas such as window seals, nose grill and badges. After 2-3minutes, the foam was rinsed away alongside any road dirt that had been lifted by the foam itself. Using a two bucket method with Auto Finesse Lather shampoo in the first and fresh water in the second, the car was carefully washed down. A synthetic deep-pile washmitt and the Lather provided a gentle cleansing ability to remove any remaining dirt left behind from the pre-wash stage. As mentioned earlier, the sun was playing a factor to the dry-out time of the panels being washed so larger panels such as roof, bonnet, windscreen etc were washed and rinsed one at a time to prevent the wash solution baking onto the paint. Once these panels were rinsed, they were kept wet by running the pressure washer over them briefly whilst rinsing the adjacent panels. The entire car was given one last rinse down before it was moved inside out of the sunlight for the next few stages. Any excessive standing water on the panels was then dried away with a drying towel..
A medium severity of tar spotting was removed from the lower sides and rear panels using a dedicated solvent based tar remover. Applied via a hand pump sprayer and left for a minute or so, the tar remover was then misted into a microfiber and gently massaged over the affected areas. This process was repeated until the car was removed completely. Whilst the tar was being removed, the front number plate adhesive residues were misted with tar remover and left to soak before the residues become removable with a simple wipe with a microfiber. Now the tar had been safely removed, next was the fallout. Using Auto Finesse Iron Out once again, this time via a hand pump sprayer, the product was sprayed evenly over the entire car and left to dwell for 10minutes. A constant check of areas such as the bonnet gaps was carried out as the engine heat tends to vent through this gap and dries out the product prematurely. If it was seen to be drying out, another application on these areas kept the product wet and effective. After 10 minutes, the car was brought back outside and thoroughly rinsed free of the Iron Out that had turned a deep shade of purple in some areas. As the car was black, this was difficult to see in photographs.
The final stage of decontamination was to remove any remaining contaminants that the tar and fallout stages could not remove such as overspray or general stubborn contaminants. A surface prep towel (a claybar alternative) was used to remove a minimal amount of remaining contamination. Gladly, the weather turned from direct sun to cloud cover during the prep towel process so this allowed the entire car to be clayed without the solution drying out on the panels. The final step was to blanket the car with a light dilution of foam pre-wash once again to carry away any lifted contamination safely. A few minutes f dwell time was more than enough as there was no dirt to remove at this stage. The A3 was then brought back inside and dried down with multiple drying towels and warm filtered air to blow standing water from badges, wheels, grills and any other water trap areas.
Auto Finesse Ultra Glaze was applied to all painted areas via a DAS21e large-throw dual action polisher (DA) for an even area coverage and to gain the best results without overdoing the arm work. The Ultra Glaze helps to mask minor defect such as marring, buffer trials and lighter swirls whilst bringing back depth and gloss to the paintwork. A temporary fix to refresh the appearance of the car, as swirls were not required to be removed in the Protection Detail, a black finishing pad worked the glaze perfectly into the panels. Once each section received three passed the residue was gently buffed away with a fresh microfiber and repeated until the entire car was glazed. Any tigher areas such as door handles and lower bumper chins were glazed by hand. Here's a 50/50 of the bonnet after the left side was treated with Ultra Glaze..
A clear improvement of depth and colour between the left and right. A noticeable improvement on minor defects also.
The first coat of wax was then ready to be applied. After toying with what wax to use, Auto Finesse Spirit was chosen for its ease of use, respectable appearance and durability. An all-round wax to compliment the glossy paint. An even coat of wax was applied thinly to each panel. Working panel-by-panel, the wax was applied and then buffed away with a clean microfiber after a few minutes, flipping the cloth between panels to remove all residues. Once the whole car was given its first coat of Spirit it was left for one hour before applying the second coat. During this time a few other areas were worked on..
Plastic trims and window seals were dressed with Auto Finesse Revive to restore a high satin finish and to add protection against UV damage that causes plastics and rubbers to turn white and perish. The rubbers were dressed and any excess was immediately removed with a microfiber to prevent patching. The glass was then cleared of any dusting and water spotting before a hydrophobic rain repellent treatment was given to all exterior glass surfaces. Once applied, it was left for approximately 15minutes to cure adequately for best performance and durability, during which time the wheels received a coat of Auto Finesse Mint Rims wheel wax to aid future maintenance. Tyres were dressed with Gyeon Q2TIRE for its great durability and slick 'as new' appearance. Auto Finesse Dressle was then misted onto plastic arch liners. The residue of the glass treatment was misted with a light spray of fresh water and buffed to a clear; a final wipe down with Auto Finesse Crystal ensured a perfect smear free finish. At this time, the second Spirit wax coat was applied in the same manner as the first to complete the protection of the A3's body.
The exhaust tips were given a polish using Auto Finesse Mercury and the door, boot and bonnet shuts were wiped down with Auto Finesse Finale quick detailer to remove dust and water spots.
The interior received a thorough vacuum on all surfaces to remove debris and dusting. Glass cleansed with Auto FInesse Crystal whilst the dashboard and door trims were dressed with Auto Finesse Dressle for its subtle matte finish. A 'fresh' air fragrance was added to the upholstery and the exterior was given a final buff using Finale quick detailer to remove any remaining wax residues prior to the A3's collection. A Protection Detail has transformed this little hatch back to a glossy, well presented vehicle.
The final article..