Its that time of the year, when removing the ravages of winter from your car becomes the priority and Iain Robertson visited Autoglym, a Great British institution celebrating a fantastic Fiftieth Anniversary, to experience its expertise.


Allow me to make this clear…Autoglym is the ultimate automotive companion. In consumer test after test, Autoglym car care products percolate to the top, whether by just washing off the dirt, or adding that final reflective sheen. As a consummate protector of your investment, there is no finer exponent of the art and it is not my idle boast on behalf of the company.


Now that our particularly lengthy and chilly winter appears to be over, an invitation to Autoglym’s Letchworth Garden City base, in Hertfordshire, was very much in order. While I do enjoy the typical Sunday morning ritual of washing the car and applying polish, to see the experts do it appeals not only to my sense of well-being but also to my aching bones! Plus, I never cease to learn something, besides, the last time that Autoglym cleaned one of my cars was around six years ago.


My ‘expert’ was Ryan Belmont. My Citigo was to receive the full treatment. While the car lives outside in the driveway, it is always under the assault of typical British weather and, although it looks fairly clean, because I like it to present well, the full treatment would remove dirt and detritus from places that most car owners would scarcely believe possible, which would include acidic sap deposits, tar spots and corrosive brake dust.


Starting out

With the wheels cool and dry, Autoglym’s Custom Wheel Cleaner (1) was applied to each alloy and, using a wheel cleaning brush, brake dust residue, which can eat into the alloy wheel lacquer, was removed effectively. A balanced, acid-free formulation (a common, non-toxic thread in all of Autoglym’s products) is applied to each wheel, before simply hosing off (Autoglym tip: Never allow any cleaning materials to dry out! They can leave marks that can prove very difficult to remove).


While many of today’s hand car washes are far preferable to automatic machine washes, which can destroy a car‘s paint finish, the liberal applications of ‘TFR’ (traffic film remover), when it is your turn, will remove the protective wax that coats and protects your car’s bodywork, so beware of the consequences, unless you intend to apply polish immediately after a visit to the car wash.


Ryan’s process now concentrates on removing ‘imbedded’ flies on the leading edge of the bonnet, bumper, front spoiler and door mirrors, using Active Insect Remover (2). Were he to clean the under-bonnet area, this would also take place next and Autoglym produces a most effective cleanser that removes grime and dust to leave a sparkling engine bay. Contrary to popular practice, this is the best time to clean the boot and cabin areas, because you do not want interior dust to coat the freshly cleaned bodywork. With the car doors open, mats can be removed (3) and the interior can be cleaned more effectively (4).


A decent wash

Wet the car’s paintwork thoroughly with cold water, working from the top down to allow the flow of water to remove surface dirt naturally. Measure a couple of capfuls of Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner into a bucket of tepid water and, using a large sponge, wash the car one side at a time (5), using plenty of water to remove any foam residue (Autoglym tip: never use washing-up liquid, which contains salt, your cars enemy! In addition, too much foam is unnecessary).


One of Autoglym’s most recent products is Rapid Aqua Wax, which can be applied to a wet surface, which Ryan demonstrated effectively on the Citigo’s bonnet (6). Having applied TFR solution to remove any polish on the body panel, after a quick post-wash buff-up to one half, the difference between treated and untreated surfaces was abundantly clear (7). Water simply beaded and rolled off, while the untreated surface retained it. The new Aqua Wax is both easy to apply and a great means to refresh the bodywork between more intense polishing sessions.


To ‘dry off’ the bodywork, the company’s Hi-Tech Flexi Water Blade removes most of the water from the bodywork and windows, the finishing touch being to use Autoglym’s Hi-Tech Aqua-Dry synthetic chamois leather, or its Microfibre Drying Towel (which is amazing!), to sop up all remaining water. (Autoglym tip: use the chamois, or towel, flat and draw it gently across the body panels to absorb all residual water, using the edge of the material around lights, panel shut-lines and apertures, such as the fuel flap).


Applying the polish

As you do not wish to apply polish to still drying bodywork, some interior detailing is a worthwhile exercise, with the doors open to allow drips to disappear naturally. Ryan used Bumper & Trim Gel on the interior door panels and even the vacuumed floor mats (8). Unless you wish to make your car look as though it had emerged from a ‘used car lot’, do not apply any sheen applications to the dashboard, as unwanted reflections can occur.


As a neat finishing touch, using a rubber dog hair removing brush, Ryan also ‘combed’ the car mats to give them a lovely striped appearance (9). With the car’s paintwork completely dry and an Autoglym Perfect Polish Applicator to hand (10), the firm’s Super Resin Polish was applied all over but not on the windscreen (Autoglym tip: Autoglym polish is guaranteed easy-to-apply, leaving a light residue that can be buffed-up subsequently. In fact, if laying-up a car over winter, Super Resin Polish can be applied and left on the paintwork for months, until you decide to remove the white residue, which leaves no marks, especially on rubber, but an immaculate, protective finish).


The applicator pads are shaped to enable proper coverage of curved and styled body panels. For badly soiled glass, Autoglym Car Glass Polish removes contaminants without leaving a dusty residue. The company’s Fast Glass cleaner is a fantastic alternative for more regular treatment (which also works brilliantly on the glazing at home…loads better than ‘Windowlene’).


The final wax

It is notable that, in true Mr Miyagi-style (from the ‘Karate Kid’ movies), Ryan applies polish and wax in small, even swirls (11), using a Hi-Tech Polishing Cloth in broader sweeps to remove residues. It is the rule of thumb.


High Definition Wax is the penultimate car treatment. Supplied as a ‘kit’, the wax is applied all over the bodywork, using a damp applicator pad (12). It can be left for upwards of two hours, to allow the resins and high Carnauba wax content to ‘cure’, prior to buffing it to an exceptional, blemish-free shine (Autoglym tip: turn the buffing cloth frequently to avoid any residue build-up, which might scratch the finish).


Using the edge of the finishing cloth, wipe away any wax residue from the edges of doors, bonnet and boot, around the door mirrors, along the door sills, around the lights and where the bumpers are ‘flush’ with the body panels. Finally, using the Wheel Protector (13), Ryan applies the spray to the alloy wheels, which is left for a couple of hours to ‘cure’, prior to buffing to a high shine.


The results speak for themselves. What looked like a fairly clean but lightly grubby Citigo (14), emerged after four hours’ attention looking as ‘showroom fresh’ as any car with more than 15,000 miles on the odometer ought to. The range of Autoglym products used was small but immensely effective and the car is now protected fully for the summer months. I shall reapply Super Resin Polish in late-autumn in preparation for the winter months but, apart from regular washes and the occasional valet, it is all the treatment that it needs (15).


The final frontier

One of Autoglym’s latest developments is its Life Shine System (16). Available through specialists and the motor trade, using the firm’s Carbon Shield Technology, it applies a robust barrier to vehicle paintwork, its glazing and interior trim, to protect it against the effects of ‘acid rain’, harsh contaminants and the environment.


It needs to be applied professionally, probably prior to taking delivery of your new car, as it can take several hours to apply it, allow it to ‘cure’ and provide a lifetime’s guaranteed protection. The treated exterior repels all conflicting elements and rainwater simply beads and rolls off the body, while the same applies to the car’s interior trim (even on fabrics), ensuring that spillages and moisture can be wiped away easily. Optically clear, the glass treatment is a revelation, as rainwater simply rolls off the glazing, as you drive.


Conclusion:   The car cleaning market is immense, worth in excess of $9bn in the USA alone, with a similar value attached to the UK and Europe. Judging by Autoglyms consistent, award-winning, fifty years of worldwide progress and the amount of investment it makes annually to refine its existing products and introduce new detailing products, the British firm warrants its market-leading status. On a personal front, I have no qualms about recommending Autoglym for all vehicle detailing duties and its comprehensive products range is readily available, at motor dealerships, Halfords and other automotive retail shops. Its more specialised motor trade products, like the Life Shine System, are popular around the industry. Autoglym is, without doubt, a deserving market leader, that enhances the value of your motoring investment in all respects.