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Car Care Terminology for the Beginner

Published on 10/01/2019

Fall Out Remover

 A fall out cleaner chemically removes metal particles from the paint.  You will most often notice the tiny brown spots on a white or light colored car.  These spots are often referred to as brake dust, or rail dust.  Fall out cleaners, such as Iron Maiden, break down and liquefy the metal contaminants.  Fall out cleaners are relatively quick to use, and take most metal contaminants out of paint.  Why would you use a clay bar instead?  A claybar will remove all metal contaminants, and will also remove organic contaminants such as overspray and bug particles.


Clay Bars and Clay Bar Substitutes

Clay bars remove contaminants from your paint.  How do you know if your paint is contaminated?  If the surface feels rough there are usually contaminants in your paint.  Often even brand new cars are full of fallout from transportation.  Clay barring a car can take a lot of time.  You have to lubricate the section, using clay lube.  Next you glide the clay bar over the affected area.  Claybars have a consistency similar to play-dough.  You will feel a slight pull as it removes the contaminants from the paint.  Often one pass is enough, but several may be needed to remove heavily over sprayed or contaminated cars.

 Recently clay mitts and pads have hit the market.  These do the same as a traditional clay bar, yet allow for ease of use.

Blog: Clay Bar Use

All Purpose Cleaners

All-purpose cleaners are often referred to as APC, or degreasers.  An APC is a strong degreaser that removes oils and dirt from surfaces.  Most often you would use an APC before polishing and waxing a car.  It is also often used on wheels and engine bays.  Most all-purpose cleaners are a concentrate.  With a higher dilution they can be often be used on the interior as well.


No Rinse (NR)

No Rinse (NR) washes were designed for areas with limited water use, such as RV parks, Marina's, Apartment buildings.  They have gained popularity in the recent years as there have been several areas with water bans and restrictions.  The no-rinse wash is a concentrated soap.  You would apply with a sponge or foam cannon.  The wash, as per the name, does not need to be rinsed.  It will dry to leave a streak free surface. A no rinse product works well on not so dirty cars.  If there is heavy mud or debris a traditional car wash is more effective.

Wash and Wax

A wash and wax is a car wash, plus it has added gloss enhancers.  Wash and wax shampoos are safe to use on waxed cars, and they leave some additional short term gloss.  This product often has carnauba wax as an ingredient.  If the product freezes it may separate and need to be replaced. 



Compounds are designed to be applied by machine.  Compounds are used to remove small scratches and swirls from the finish.  Most compounds require the speed and heat produced by a polisher. 



A polish prepares the surface for a wax or sealant.  It removes minor swirls, cleans up the paint and makes it shiny.  A pure polish does not have any protection in the polish, just cleaners and often fillers.  A lot of polishes can be used by hand or machine. 


All In One (AIO)

An All in One product refers to polishing abilities, plus protection.  These products clean the surface, fill small imperfections, and give some protection to the surface. 



A sealant is synthetic protection that protects your paint. A true sealant does not have any correction properties and is usually very thin.  Most sealants last anywhere from 6 months to 18 months.  Depending on the product, and the environment the vehicle is exposed to.

Blog: Applying a Sealant


Permanent Coating

A Permanent coating is a coating that changes the paint.  Often there are ceramic particles in the paint that harden the paint slightly and help it reduce the frequency of swirls and small marks left from drying and everyday care.


Paste Wax

A wax is mostly a solid that is made from carnauba.  The carnauba is blended with other ingredients to make it soft enough to be applied to your vehicle.  A wax will give an amazing shine, and will last on average about 3 months.  A wax can be applied over a sealant or coating to add to the finish, but is not necessary.


Quick Detailer (QD)

A quick detailer is a spray wax that is designed to slightly clean the car and add some gloss in between washes.  It is in a spray bottle, and often can be used on plastics and metals as well.

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