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Detailing and Caring For Your Edge

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I mentioned in another thread that I would post a write up on claying. I started writing up the thread but then remembered a friend of mine, someone I consider to be one of the best professional detailers in North America, has already done a detailing write up on another forum. He is based out of Toronto and has some serious skills when it comes to detailing. So here is his writeups on detailing and caring for your vehicle. :)



OK, here it is, the "how does Kevin maintain his own car" post, I will try to keep it relatively short and easy to understand. I will also link autopia a lot (since they have great how to's).


First, this post assumes you have a PC; but not that you know how to use it.


The first thing you want to do is evaluate your paints condition. The best way to do this is to put it in full direct sun and take a look at it. If you see swirls and scratches you need to *compound*. Compounding is the process of removing paint to level off scratches and leave the paint smooth. If the paint is already smooth (no swirls or scratches), then you don't need to compound, however a light polish may still help. This guide will assume you need a moderate level compounding. Swirls like this:






...are what I am talking about. Most people would look at those cars and either say "it's clean" or "those are just light swirls", they aren't - there about 5-6/10 on the picus "swirl scale", meaning you will need at least two polishing steps via a PC to get rid of them. So, where to start?


First, wash and clay the car. Now I am going to skip these for now; I will cover wash and clay in my "how do I maintain my car" section.


OK, so the car has been washed and clayed, time to polish.


First, always start with a less aggressive combination of pad and polish than you think you'll need. I am going to continue this by refering to Menzerna polishing, however for reference Menzerna polishes are generally interchangale with poorboys or optimum in the following ways:


Menzerna PG = Poorboys SSR3 = Optiumum OHC

Menzerna IP = SSR2.5 = Optimum Compound

Menzerna FPII = SSR1/2 = Optimum Polish


Also, I use lake county pads, so I will refer to them as yellow, orange, white, and grey. They stack up like this:


Yellow = heavy vut

Orange = light cut

White = polishing (or very light cut)

grey = finishing


So let's start with a fairly mild combo, say, FPII (or SSR1 or 2) on a white pad. Put a couple dabs of the product on the pad (which is on the PC), then dab the pad on to the paint in a small area with the PC off; so put the PC on the paint and make sure it's set to speed 2-3, turn it on. It will be spinning slowly, apply no pressure at this point and move it over the area you intend to cover. A 2x2 foot area is normally ideal. At this point you're just spreading the product, not polishing. When the product is spead (only takes 10-15 seconds), turn the PC to speed 5 or 6 and apply pressure. How much? Just enough so that the PC does not bog at all (so the pad still spins freely), but if you apply any more it will bog. I hope that make sense. Now, most important; MOVE THE PC *SLOWLY* over the intended area. I can not stress how important SLOWLY is, I mean 1/2 inch per second *max*, it is a slow process. MOve in overlapping passes like you're cutting your lawn.


How do you know when to stop? All polishing "flash", that's the term for when all the abrasives in them have broken down. Most polishes do one of two things when flashed; they either turn clear or start to dust. Turning clear is obvious, so is dust (dust literally forms and starts to come out of the pad), when you see the polish go clear or dust, you're done. Turn the PC off and wipe away the reside then evaluate.


Now, this first pass is kind of a test to see what combo you'll need. If you have achieved no results, or very little, you need to move up in abrasion (or you're doing something wrong). On most cases you will need a stronger combo to remove even moderate swirls, so lets try something stronger.


Try IP (ssr2.5) on an orange pad, same process. Now, this should remove up to moderate swirls (5/10) with ease. If you're still seeing no results you're moving too fast or not applying enough pressure. You will notice as you use a more abrasive pad you will be able to apply more pressure before the PC bogs due to the density of the pad.


Repeat the combo that works over the entire car. Do small areas, work slowly, take breaks, wipe away residue thoroughly. Other tips:


Switch pads as they get gummed up/saturated. Why? They become less effective and residue begins to become harder to remove. This is why I recommend two or even threeof each pad. If you run out, wash one (soap and water), dry it by putting it on the PC, putting the PC in a bucket/recycle bin etc, and spin it up to speed 6; the water will flyout into the bucket.


Some more important notes: As you start to use more aggressive combos you may notice *hazing*. Hazing is basically millions of smaller less deep scratches caused by the abrasives in more aggressive compounds. By removing more paint they leave the surface rugged; this is why we follow up with a finishing polish on a less aggressive pad. That's why you'll often see me list my process like this:


Meznerna IP, orange pad

Menzerna FPII, white pad.


IP on an orange (or ssr2.5/OHC) can leave hazing, so it is important to follow up with a less aggressive combo. If you notice the hazing is persisting even after the less aggressive combo, try polishing a little differently; often times I will use a grey pad instead of a white (even less aggressive), and will only polish at speed 4 with little to no pressure.


Here is a good "how to" on autopia:




It's less detailed and assumes the reader is a total novice; that's fine. I know you guys aren't dumb so I may not explain everything in detail. If you have questions let me know.


OK, so I am done polishing, what now? First, wipedown the car with isa:water. What's that? It's rubbing alcohol (store bought, 70%) mixed with water in a spray bottle 50:50, spray one squirt on a panel and wipe off. This helps remove any leftover polish residue. You *do not* want polish residue left on the car because if you seal or wax over it you'll be left with a gross oily stain that is hard to remove. It also effects the durabilty of your LSP (for future reference, LSP = last step product, so a sealant or wax).


When you're done this it's time to seal/wax. Which you pick is up to you. *Generally* sealants last longer than waxes, some people prefer the look of waxes. I think there is a right product for each car, no best. It's a personal decision. Remember, prep is 95%; the sealant/wax is for protection and some added aesthetic, but proper clay and polish is what makes a car look good. So spend time prepping rather than worrying overly about the best wax.


Here is my car after an isa wipedown, no LSP.




See what I mean? It's all about prep, not wax/sealant. Those are for protection.


So pick your sealant and wax and apply as directed. Now, I normally apply liquids with the PC on a grey pad. Why? I find it applies them more uniformly and much faster. You will use more product this way. I just do it on speed 1. Paste waxes I apply by hand. Each sealant/wax requires you to buff it off differently, some require you let them haze, some require you wipe them off wet; use as directed.

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OK, so maintenance. Now this is even more important that polishing. Why? Proper maintenance means less polishing is required over the life of the car. You want to wash and seal/wax in ways that DO NOT scratch the car, thus eliminating the need for polishing. So, the most important part of car care: how do I wash?


I wash in two ways, either the regular bucket + hose way, or with a rinseless wash. I will go over both.


First, bucket and hose. OK, products I use:


One or two buckets, both with grit guards. You can get them at CT (red, $15.99)

At *least* 2 sheepskin wash mitts. Why 2 or more? you'll see.

A good automotive soap. What's good? Most are; Meguiars deep crystal is cheap, locally available, and good. JUST DONT USE TOO MUCH OR IT WILL STRIP WAX. Use the quantity directed, don't just pour a bunch in the bucket. Remember, as nice as suds are, too many = too much detergent.

2-3 good microfiber drying towels.

5+ good microfiber clothes.

A good all purpose cleaner and/or bug remover. I like poorboys apc 2:1 with water or bug squash 3:1 with water.

A wheel cleaner and sealant


So, so let's start:


First, the wheels. I only use a wheel cleaner if there is a significant amount of brake dust. What wheel cleaners do I like? The best, imo, locally available are Eagle One All Wheel & Tire Cleaner (caustic), or for less acidic/caustic, their aluminum wheel cleaner. A lot of you have P21S cleaner; use it when needed, it's great stuff.


Put the car in the shade. This is important. If you're using two buckets, fill one with soap and water and the other with just water.


If the wheels are dirty go to step 1, if not, step 3:

1) Hose wheels off (make sure they are not hot). Spray wheel cleaner on wheels and let dwell. Agitate with a brush (a wheel brush, not a tooth brush or a carpet bursh) or an old wash mitt, or an old mf cloth. Something soft basically.


2) Hose off, if there is still dust repeat. Go to step 4


3) Wash with soap and water (the automotive soap) and an old mitt.


4) If you washed with your bucket water, dump it out and re-pour it. Wheel dust in the water = don't put it on the paint, EVER.


5) Soak one mitt in first bucket with soap. Not all of them.


6) Rinse the car. If it's very dirty/buggy, apply liberal amounts of diluted APC/bug remover to effected areas and let sit.


7) Get the mit and start washing. Use almost nopressure, start at the top and move down. So roof, front and rear window, side windows, upper side panels and fenders, hood, rear deck lid, trunk, lower side panels and fenders, and finally rockers. Why? The lower part of the car is almost always dirtier, you don't want to use the mitt on them then move it to the cleaner areas. Now, don't do this all at once. Do it like this:


8) Wash roof and front and rear window. Put the mitt in the clean water bucket and thoroughly rinse it out. Put it back in the soapy bucket and wash the side windows and upper side panels (doors, fenders), then back into the water only bucket, rinse... see the pattern? Dirt gets rinsed out. As the mitt gets more and more dirty put it aside and USE A NEW ONE. I use 3 per wash almost always. One for roof, windows, upper side panels, one for hood, read decklid and trunk, and one for lower side panels and rockers.


9) if its hot, rinse the car often; keep it wet at all times.


9.5) Put the hose over the roof and let the water flow freely over the car. This will "sheet" water off and make for about 80% less water on the car to dry.


10) Now dry. How to dry? Take one towel and spread it on the roof then slowly move it the same way you washed (top to bottom), DO NOT worry about getting the car dry at this point, you want to remove most of the water but leave it damp.


11) get towel two and finish any areas you missed, then re-dry the entire car to clean up the dampness left behind by towe one. You will be amazed how much easier this makes drying.


12) Now, if your waxing or sealing, do it.


13) Dress trim while wax/sealant is hazing, also dress wheel wells, tires, dry wheels, polish chrome, and clean door jambs.


14) If you're using a spray wax/sealant for maintenance (highly recommended) then go from step 11 to this step and spray seal/wax, then do #13.

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OK, so claying. Why clay, and how do I do it?


Why - you clay to remove bonded contaminants from the surface of your paint. Now you might be thicking, eh? Washing does that right? Well, no; they're bonded, meaning stuck, meaning in the paint. You can see some of them and can't see others, you can sure feel them though. Want to feel them? Get a plastic bag and put your hand in it then run the tips of your fingers over the paint lightly. Feel the sandpaper-y texture? That's crap. That's rail dust, fallout, brake dust, etc; it's bad for your paint and it feels bad, makes the paint rough and gross. You can't get it out by washing, it's stuck; which is why we clay.


Clay removed these contaminants, you can tell it works with the bag trick; aftr clay the paint shoot feel smooth (it will, trust me). How do I clay?


It's easy, and I mean easy. Get a bar of clay and some lubricant (I like a quick detailer cut 2:1 with water), cut the clay bar in half or in thirds, you don't need it all unless the car is really in rough shape. Also if you drop it, toss it, so if you use the whole bar and drop it... you lose.


Lubricate an area of paint *well* (lots of lube), then rub the clay over the paint lightly, almost no pressure. Just move it back and forth in overlapping motions, lubricate more as you go. Top to bottom, never in circles, always the way the wind flows over the car (which is almost always back and forth from the front to the back). After each panel re-mold the clay in your hand to get the crud off it's surface. Again, if you drop it (you will the first time), throw it away. THROW IT AWAY. If you put it back on your paint you will scratch the paint, period.


CLay is also awesome at removing overspray, product sling, tar, bug guts, etc.. it's really great stuff.


You should clay once per year. White cars or cars in heavily railed areas, twice. (why? white cars you can SEE the rail dust (little orange dots), it looks bad, so do it 2x if needed).


Clay will also remove your wax and sealant (obviously), so you can use it to strip waxes/sealants, and you need to re-wax or seal afterwards.


You can clay your wheels too! Next time you have them off clay them, you'll go "WOW" when you see what it does.


Next, waxes, sealants, lions, tigers, and tire dressing.

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So what's all this sealant and waxing business, wtf?


Sealants and waxes are two very different products which are intended to serve the same purpose; the protection of your paint. They protect from UV damage, bird bomb etchings, acid rain damage, water spots, and make the car easier to clean in general. As a side benefit they also enhance gloss, slickness, wetness, depth, etc...


So which is the best? I hate this question; I will only say this once: THERE IS NO BEST. This is like saying "So I'm golfing tomorrow and only want to bring one club, which is the best?" or "which is the best wine?". It doesn't work that way. I can tell you what the differences are and some attributes of popular ones.


Let's start with waxes. Waxes have been around forever; it's wax. Todays waxes are actually only 1-10% wax (most of them), the rest is oils, silicone, etc... Generally waxes will last on a car 2-6 weeks, so you need to re-wax pretty often. Waxes TEND to give a more subtle "carnauba glow" type look; wet, deep, darken color... They can also mute metallic flake and tend to make the paint look soft, like water. Waxes come in liquids and pastes, neither is better, just different. They are mostly applied in the shade by hand, you let most of them haze then wipe off.


Sealants are synthetic polymers which do the same thing as a wax, but longer (generally). Sealants are always liquids, and last normally between 3-6 months. In general sealants give a more reflective "harsher" look, they make your clear coat look thicker, they are intense and very glossy. Some people like this, others describe it as "wrapping the car in saran wrap". I took some wax off Peter "G-Force's" car today and put on a sealant, we both commented how the car looked incredibly slick and glossy, the metallic flake was absolutely popping, but the blue color was a little lighter looking, almost lost in the intense reflections.


Which is better? Neither. It's which is better *for you*. If you don't want to wax or seal often, then sealants tend to be a good choice. If you like the way sealants look, then again, good choice. If you don't mind waxing every 4-6 weeks and like the look of a wax, go with a wax. Make sense, right? If you want an easy to maintain protection sealants are generally easier because you apply them less AND there are many spray sealant boosters that are incredibly easy to apply.


Now, you can combine them, you can put a wax over a sealant and get the best of both worlds; however your wax will still fade after 4-6 weeks. You will still have the protection of the sealant but will need to re-apply wax for the "wax look", also, you can not apply a sealant over a wax, so when it comes time to re-apply it all you will need to start from scratch (no big deal).


What do *I* think about them on different colors? Well here is a little rundown. Remember, this is MY OPINION ONLY.


Non-metallic dark colors (black, blue, green). On black I like waxes, period. I find sealants take away too much of the black color; they make it looks grey-ish from a distance because they are so reflective. Which waxes? Nattys Blue is a great $20 wax, easy to apply, easy to buff off, looks very wet, glossy, and deep. Another is Clearkote Carnauba; less wet, more depth and deep dark black color. Another is Souveran, it's expensive, and lasts only 2-4 weeks, but it looks incredible. Another option here is to add a glaze to the mix (next section).


If I went with a sealant on black it would be Z5 pro or Poorboys EX. Z5 pro sealant looks the most like a carnauba and gives 6 months of protection and fills minor marring. It can also be "boosted" easily with the spray sealant, Z8. EX actually has carnauba in it so it looks very much like a wax, and can be applied in full sun.


Non-metallic red: Again, I like waxes. Nattys Blue looks absolutely awesome on red. Especially over a glaze (next section). So does Souveran (it's made for red), but it's pricey.


For sealants on red I would go with Z5pro if you have some marring, or FMJ + HGAS if you don't. FMJ + HGAS are incredibly wet, reflective, and glossy, plus it's easy to maintain and it looks very wet on red.


Metallics, all of them but silver/white: I like sealants here. Why? You don't loose as much color as dark colors, so the added reflectively and metallic "pop" is nice. Waxes tend to mute flake. Which one? Z2pro with Z8, Jeffs Werkstatt Acrylic Jett (which AJ trigger) or FMJ with HGAS, all these are liquid sealants with their respective spray booster. All last 4-6 months, all look incredible and are easy to maintain.


If I went with a wax on metallics it'd be P21S, since I find it's the "clearest" wax.


Silver/White (metallic or non). Either 4* UPP or Acrylic Jett, period. Why? I don't know; both of these just look awesome on silver and white, so wet, so glossy - something about them just works on these two colors, IMO.


OK, up next, a quicky on glazes.

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Alright, so what the heck is a glaze? Glaze is an often mis-used term because it tends to apply to a lot of products. Generally a glaze is a product that provides no protection AND no corrective abilty, but is purely aesthetic. These are often filled with oils and deepen and darken paint, their primary function is often filling marring (filling, NOT removing). They work best in conjunction with waxes, not sealants. Sealants do not like bonding over glazes (though some will).


When do you use a glaze? Before waxing, after your isa rubdown (the alcohol will strip it, so polish, isa, glaze, wax). I don't use glazes a ton, but do sometimes. Here is when I do:


1) I am going to use a wax ont he car for sure.

2) The owner doesn't care about durabilty, glaze + wax usually means 4 weeks or less.

3) The car spends a lot of time in a garage *OR* lastly:

4) The car is a black or dark daily driver and has marring that is un-fixable.


Now some guys use glazes a lot to fill marring. I like fixing marring, so I don't use them to fill often, but in some cases it's just unreasonable to expect to remove all marring, so they have their place. Which glaze you use depends on what you're trying to accompolish, for example:


My favorite glaze is Clearkote Red Moose (or machine) glaze. It's sister product, Vanilla Moose, is a light polish and glaze that is also wonderful. Neither of them fill a lot of marring, but both do some filling. What they do best is make paint much deeper and darker. The first time you apply RMG to black you *will* notice a difference, it makes it look like black, liquid, oil. It's great. RMG is also laughably easy to use (as is VM), apply and remove wet or dry, super easy to buff off.


On the other hand if I need more filling, I often use Menzerna Final Touch Glaze. This has more fillers but less deepening/darkening, it's also very pily and much tougher to remove. The same goes for Megs #7 show car glaze, it's great, but hard to use.


Should you use a glaze? Well, if you intended on re-glazing and waxing every 4 weeks, then sure. It will make a difference, but it's a comminitment (basically). I glaze my car because I wax it every couple of weeks (and re-glaze every month), also because I like it to look crazy good, and also because it's a black daily driver that was abused for 2 years and it does have some marring which will never be fixed... I use RMG and top it with Souveran or Nattys Blue. This combo is disgustingly good looking, but it's at the expense of durabilty.


What else? Oh, dressings, tires, trim, etc.. I'll do that next quickly.

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OK, so trim. Trim is funny; I have a lot of it on my car so I've gone through a lot of dressings/products to restore and maintain it. Surprisingly there are very few I actually like. A couple things before we restore/dress trim.


First, clean it well with alcohol and water. (same as the stuff you used before), if it's dirty any dressing will not penetrate it, so make sure it's clean.


Now, if it's stained or dry/greyish you need to restore first before dressing. A couple product I like are:


Poorboys Trim Restorer

Einszett Tiefenpfleger (yes, that's what it's called).

Leatherique Trim Dye


Now the first two are basically oily restorers that re-hydrate dried trim, they are oily and can be a pain to use, they are hard to clean off paint so be careful. Just apply them with a mf cloth, let them sit, then wipe any residue off after 10 minutes. Now you may notice the trim looks the same after 10 minutes, that's because it's dry and is sucking the stuff up. When I got my car I used almost half a bottle of TR on my front trim peice before it stayed black.


Leatherique Trim Dye is an actual dye, I like it, but be very careful as it literally dyes trim.


Use these products only when needed, not to maintain.


Now dressings. Use these to maintain after every couple washes (or every wash). I like:


Poorboys Natural Look (silicone based)

Meguiars #40 (silicone)

Mothers Back to Black (water)

Aerospace 303 (water).


Now the silicone dressings last longer by virtue of their silicone content, they are also messier and harder to apply. They steak more too, so apply them then wipe away right away with a clean mf to prevent streaking. The water based ones are easy to use, but will only last 1-2 washes. All of them will protect from UV.

Edited by CanuckG35
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Alright, so I'm pretty much only doing winter preps right now, so here is what I basically do, and recommend everyone do prior to winter (right around the time they put their winters on).


1) First, if you're changing your tires, let's do that first. Get the summers off and put the winters on, before you put the winters on make sure to clean them well and if you have it, use some Wheel Sealant, Wheel Wax, or a paint sealant on the mags/wheels/alloys. Put the summers aside for now, more on those later.

2) Wash the car really well. We all know how to wash, there are FAQs on this forum how to do it. I suggest really getting down and dirty, use a fine brush to clean out body panels, door jambs, polish your exhaust and use a sealant on it, open the hood and trunk and clean the water gutter areas.

2) Strip whatever sealant/wax you have on the car, you can do this a few ways so here come the options.

- If you have some marring you want removed, skip to #3

- If you do not have marring but will be using a chemical cleaner, skip to #4

- If you do not have marring and will not be using a chemical cleaner, skip to #5.

3) Polish the car. Hopefully you don't have much marring, so lets assume you're using a light polish, there are FAQs on polishing, so if you're doing that read this. Now if you're using a chemical cleaner next go to step #4, if not, go to step #5.

4) Wipe the car down with alcohol and water. Assuming you polished and/or are using a chemical cleaner I will assume you know how to do this. 50/50 alcohol/water, regular 70% off the counter isa alcohol. Apply your chemical cleaner (Klasse AIO, Werkstatt Prime, etc.), I very highly recommend these before winter for a few reasons. One, they will remove most waterspots you have from the summer/fall, they will really help "deep clean" the paint, and best of all they add a sealant base for your sealant, which will only help it last even longer. Buff off when ready (most are apply to a panel, remove). Go to step #6.

5) If you're not using a chemical cleaner you're going to want to use alcohol/water liberally to strip your old sealant/wax, clean your trim and windows, and remove any polish residue (if you polished). 50/50 rubbing alcohol/water, regular 70% off the counter isa alcohol.

6) Apply your sealant. What do I recommend? Well, we want to use something long lasting, there are quite a few you can choose from. A sampling of the ones I like: Zaino Z2pro/Z5pro, Werkstatt Acrylic Jett, Poorboys EX-P, Klasse HGSG. How you apply and remove the sealant depends on which you use. Almost all of them are apply, let haze, remove *except* HGSG, which you want to wipe on/wipe off. Apply over entire car, including windows.

#7) As the sealant is hazing, do little peripheral jobs, polish exhaust, clean and dress trim, Clean/wax door jambs and hood/trunk jambs, clean and dress wheel wells.

#8) Buff off the sealant however you choose (some dry buff, some buff w/quick detailer, some buff w/spray sealant).

#9) Dress tires if you like that!

#10) If you're not too tired go clean your summer wheels. I like trying to use soap/water first, but if that doesn't do it move to a highly diluted APC or non-acid wheel cleaner. If that doesn't do it you can try acid, but make sure you know how to use it. DO NOT use acid or apc on aluminum lips. Use a metal polish or soap and water. Seal them, cover, and put away.


Any one of the sealants above will last 4-6 months, longer with a sealant base and even longer if you maintain with a spray sealant.


Now for maintaining through winter you have a couple options, I get questions on "how to winter wash" all the time. Here is how I answer.


If you're lucky enough to have a garage that is heated and you can spray a hose, wash normally. Now most of us don't have that, so if you insist on washing in the winter I highly recommend rinseless washes, like QEW or ONR (more info on them in the FAQs), do this in a garage only. If you do not have a garage and insist on washing you can find a decent local coin-op and bring your bucket/mitts/soap/towels. Try not to use auto washes, ok? I know it's hard, but it *so* isn't worth the marring you'll have come spring.


Me? I wash occasionally with rinseless washes, but mostly I do this - when I am back from a long ride and I have a lot of salt, I will go to a local coin op, put in $2 and spray the snot out of my wheels, wheel wells, and undercarriage, I will also spray the paint and windows *lightly*, to remove any loose salt/junk. That's it, no actual touching. Remember, washing = marring, and also remember its winter, so washing is largely pointless if you use your car. ALSO remember salt will ONLY react with paint when it's over 0c/32f, so if you park in a garage or its warm, so just make sure to get it off when you can. If you NEED the car clean, use rinseless, or use your own stuff in a coin op. If someone puts a gun to your head you can go to a touchless, but don't blame me when I am polishing your car come spring. smile.gif


Why do all this? Well, the obvious reasons (keep it looking good), UV protection, bird poop, acid rain, also sealing windows WILL improve visibility, make it easier to wipe them on the highway, and make it much easier to remove snow from the car (I promise), it'll also help mitigate salt damage.

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