4WD Detailing

We have a large fan base in the 4WD community who enjoy maintaining their rigs with our great range of detailing products. Whether your 4WD has just got back from a trip, or you just need to tidy it up for the school run, the fundamental principles still apply for safe washing and drying. There will be some minor adjustments with washing technique around roof racks and the like, but all of our washing and sealant products will be suitable, and will offer UV protection.

This article will run you through the steps for a maintenance wash/detail. For more in-depth articles about decontamination, Paint Cleanse & Restore, paint preparation, and other specialised areas around the car, you can see our other guides here - https://www.bowdensown.com.au/guides/exterior-care 

Gear you'll need

Looking after your 4WD with Bowden's Own products couldn't be easier. From pre washing with our Snow Job snow foam, all the way through to protecting your 4WD to make it easier to wash in the future.

3 Buckets - Wash, Rinse, Wheels + Great Barrier Thingy x 2.

The Flat Head, Little Chubby, Nuts and Guts and the Big Black One brushes.

Orange Agent 

Wheely Clean 

Wet Dreams

Snow Job + Snow Blow Cannon

Auto Body Gel, Nanolicious Wash or Wax Wash

The Wash Pillow, Shagtastic Wash Pad or Shagamittastic Wash Mitt

Happy Ending + Happy Ending Cannon Bottle

Big Green Sucker + Boss Gloss

Tyre Sheen + Dirty Deeds cloth

Naked Glass + Big Softie

Microfibre Wash

Cleaning tyres

If you're using your 4WD as it was intended to be used, it will have dirt caked onto the tyres. Even normal city driving will see the larger sidewalls of the 4WD tyres picking up extra dirt and junk off the road, compared to low profile tyres. We want to remove as much of that as we can before putting our Tyre Sheen on. We do this using our Orange Agent all purpose cleaner. First, wet the tyre, then spray Orange Agent directly onto the tyre and then scrub it with the Little Chubby brush. When you're finished, pressure wash or rinse them off thoroughly.

Doing the wheels

Always do any car washing in the shade, with the paint cool to the touch for best results. Not doing this can cause the water and the wash suds to evaporate faster than you'd like, possibly leading to water spots on the glass and paint!

We've always liked using pressure washers to help detail our cars, and they help a lot with wheel cleaning. If you don’t have a pressure washer, and you’re using a hose, or your wheels needed some extra cleaning after the pressure washer, grab the dedicated Wheels bucket (place a Great Barrier Thingy in it if you like). Add half a capful of any of our car washes and then fill it to the desired level and suds it up using the hose or pressure washer. Get the bucket situated next to the first wheel you are going to clean.

For wheel face and under guard cleaning we always use the Big Black One and Little Chubby brushes with a capful of any of our lubricating washes in the dedicated Wheels Bucket. It's great to use in conjunction with our Wheely Clean and Orange Agent, to help get a totally perfect, no fuss clean. Grab the bottle of Wheely Clean and spray 6-8 sprays all around the surface of the wheel and allow 30 seconds to 1 minute for the product to turn purple as it reacts with the brake dust on your wheels. Then, dip your brush in the bucket and take the wash mixture to the wheels or inner guards. The bristle density means the brushes will suck up and transfer heaps of suds, for an even more fantastic clean. After running the brush over the area, bring it back to the bucket and thrash it about, before going again on the next section you need to clean. Rinse the wheels off with a strong jet of water and then with both brushes in the bucket you move onto your next wheel, till the job's all done.

Grab your Flat Head brush and dip it in the wash suds solution, take it to the wheel and begin cleaning the inside barrel at the top of the wheel. Work your way in one direction around the wheel in and out of the spokes, dipping the brush back into the suds solution as needed, to clean the brush out and get more wash suds as you go. Be sure to get in behind the brake caliper - this is a great feature of this brush with the flat and flexible end.

Now is a really good time to spray Wet Dreams on the wheels to add protection and make them easier to clean next time around. Spray 6-8 sweeping sprays around the wheel, then immediately pressure wash or hose it off thoroughly.

If you're cleaning really dirty or mud caked wheels, it's recomended to use a two bucket method with both the Wheels Bucket and a separate Rinse Bucket as well, rinsing the grit and grime from the brushes in the Rinse Bucket before putting them back into the Wheels wash mix. This really helps keep your wash water clean and grit free as you do all four wheel arches and wheels. Be sure to wash and wipe out the Rinse Bucket if you'll be later using it with the Wash Bucket on your cars paint. 

Once you're done, rinse the brushes out in fresh water and hang them by the hooks on the handle ends with the bristles facing outwards, or place them in the Wheels Bucket with the brushes facing outwards or upwards, to not disfigure them. If they do ever get a bit mashed down or up by mistake, just run hot water over the bristles with them facing downwards to help regain their shape.

The pre clean

If your 4WD is super dirty, like it's just come back from a mud park, or has heavy red dirt, then you will need to rinse it down first with a pressure washer. This is going to be the best way to remove that really bad muck, before you move into the pre wash with the Snow Job snow foam. We are currently working on a stronger snow foam that is specfically for really dirty 4WDs, but for now, our Snow Job is a great pre wash that can be used over and over without any detriment to waxes and sealants on your 4WD. Some stronger cleaners can affect the protective abilities of waxes and sealants, and can really diminish them, so be careful there!

If you've got caked on mud or dirt on the paint, particularly the lower sections of the doors, you need to keep in mind that this dirt could be in the very acidic or alkaline ranges of pH depending on where you live. This means that the dirt caked on there will dramatically affect any waxes or sealants you have previously used. It could mean that you have to top up the protection on your 4WD more often in these areas.

Once that initial pressure wash down is done (if it was needed), it's time to snow foam. If the 4WD is a bit more dirty than usual, you can add 100ml of Orange Agent into the Snow Blow Cannon along with 100ml of Snow Job, and 800ml of water. This will make a stronger snow foam solution that we refer to as a "strip snow". If you don't need to do this, just mix your Snow Job up at the normal 9:1 ratio, and begin foaming. Leave the Snow Job to dwell for a few minutes, but don't allow it to dry.

Keep in mind that this is only a pre wash, and you will still need to move onto your normal 2/3 bucket wash after completing this step.


Safe washing

With your buckets ready, and the Great Barrier Thingy's in them, fill both buckets 3/4 full with water. Add a capful of your favourite Bowden's Own wash into the wash bucket, then hit it with the pressure washer to froth the mixture up and give a nice little head of suds.

For 4WDs and other larger vehicles like Trucks, Caravans etc, we find the Wash Pillow the absolute best, as it holds a lot of suds, and makes short work of lage areas.

Wash the car from top to bottom, rinsing your wash tool in the clean water after each section (one section could be a panel, or half a panel depending on how dirty the car is).

TIP: When using the Shagtastic Wash Pad, Shagamittastic Wash Mitt or Wash Pillow, take care around badges and sharp corners, as the shagadelic weave can get caught if you're not careful. Just use lighter pressure around these areas. If you have roof racks, just do your best around these areas - the Shagamittastic Wash Mitt can make these areas a bit easier. Side steps can make it easier to reach the roof if you need, otherwise a small safety step or step ladder might be helpful for you to reach the roof.

After the whole car has been washed, use a gentle stream of water over the car from the hose, to help remove the larger water beads and droplets.

The technique is outlined below in the video:

Maintenance + adding protection with Happy Ending & Wet Dreams

Happy Ending will add awesome protection and shine to your 4WD after washing and rinsing. It is to be used on a still wet car if you have a pressure washer, and our Wet Dreams product for if you use a hose. The biggest thing these products will do is to make your 4WD easier to wash next time around - and who doesn't like their 4WD to be easier to wash?

Happy Ending was made to quickly give a visible boost of protection to the car at the end of the wash, as well as creating a super high gloss and slippery smooth finish. All this happens from simply spraying it on, and then pressure washing it off, to leave a super hydrophobic coating, before drying the car as you do in a normal wash.

Before we begin, there are some important things you must follow, as this product is very concentrated and cures quickly when it dries. If you're someone who dislikes following product instructions, we don't recommend this product for you. Please take note of this first important section:

DO NOT USE ON HOT/WARM PANELS, IN THE DIRECT SUN AND NEVER ALLOW TO DRY. Only use on wet panels in the cooler morning or afternoon, preferably out of strong wind. It is not suitable for fabric or vinyl convertible tops or ute tonneau covers. Nor is it ideal for poor quality, single stage, porous or oxidised paint. If your paint feels rough when washing, we suggest you quickly clay bar or use our Claying Rubber with the car wash before use, as this product will bond better to uncontaminated, good quality surfaces. 

1. Mix the Happy Ending in a Snow Blow Cannon bottle (a separate Happy Ending labeled bottle is available - part code to order one from our resellers is BOHCB). It handily uses the same dilution ratio of 9:1 as the Snow Job foam. If using the same bottle as the Snow Job, rinse it out with water first. Then, add 900ml of fresh water, before turning the Happy Ending bottle upside down above the cannon bottles inlet and open the pop top, to ensure there is no wasted product when filling. Add 100ml of the Happy Ending using either the measuring marks on the cannon bottles label, or from watching the 100ml increments on the side of the Happy Ending bottle. You don't need to rinse out the brass cannon unit after use with our Snow Job, as the formulas won't contaminate or affect each other in small amounts. 

2. Carefully screw the Happy Ending mixture bottle to the cannon unit and attach to your pressure washer. Adjust the cannons top air knob to full clockwise (-) and adjust front nozzle to give a medium arc, a little bit wider than you would use with the snow foam.

3. Apply the light foam to the roof and then work to the bottom. It's safe for all glass, exterior plastic trims, wheels and tyres. Slowly walk around the entire car till it’s covered. Note that this product doesn’t create a thick foam. Do your best to try and avoid applying directly to the windscreen. On larger vehicles like trucks and vans, or in warmer conditions, we recommend that you do half the vehicle at a time.

4. Once finished, quickly remove the cannon from the lance and change to the lances power wash fitting. Immediately begin to THOROUGHLY pressure wash the product off, especially on the glass. Start from where you began applying, use a methodical, overlapping motion from the top of the car to the bottom, doing a couple of passes over each section to activate the bead porn. The bead porn effect is activated by the friction from the strong jet of water over the surface. You'll notice it gets better over time as the product cures on the surface. Work right around the car till you're finished. If you wish for more water beading after the first application, re-apply as per above to the separate areas for complete satisfaction. 

5. Now use the new found surface tension to help dry your 4WD. Do this by taking the end off your hose and flooding the panels with water, sheeting the majority of the water droplets from the now coated surface. Dry the car with our Big Green Sucker drying towel, with 6 to 8 mists of Boss Gloss as the drying aid in each side of the towel. Boss Gloss used this way will not affect the super hydrophobic surface. It's at this stage where the smoothness of the surface will become apparent, and also how much easier the drying has become. It's very important to use a drying towel for this job and ensure a perfect finish - never air dry the car or blow dry the car down after applying Happy Ending

6. Quickly clean the windscreen and wipers with Naked Glass and a big softie cloth to prevent the chance of the wipers smearing the next time you use them.

7. The protective finish and beading lasts for up to two months on a daily driven 4WD - longer on 4WDs that are better pampered or have better paint. Any left over Happy Ending foam mixture can be left in the cannon bottle and reused up to 3 months later. Store it in a cool area out of direct sunlight and use a cap or some race tape over the top to dust seal it. Note that the cannon bottle uses a unique machine thread, so no cap exists that can create a 100% perfect water proof seal. So just be sure to store it upright.

An extra tip for before you begin packing everything away - re-attach the cannon to the pressure washer and run just water though it, to flush the Happy Ending from inside the unit. This can be done by using it without the cannon mixture bottle screwed on, or by simply turning the top blue mixture knob all the way to positive, so only water goes through the unit. 

On the slight chance that you get any streaking or uneven patchiness when using Happy Ending, simply wipe over the marks with the Big Green Sucker using a bit of extra pressure on the towel to remove these "high spots". If the marks are left to dry, don't freak as the Paint Cleanse and Restore can remove them easily.


Wet Dreams

Application method 1:

This is for the first time application of the product to your 4WD, or if you don’t use a pressure washer:

1. Work on one wet panel area at a time, evenly mist Wet Dreams in a sweeping motion over the entire surface.

2. Wet and then wring out a Big Softie microfibre cloth, then wipe over in a back and forth methodical action to get an even coverage. (Continue to wring this cloth out between different panels/sections as well)

3. IMMEDIATELY rinse off thoroughly with a strong jet of water in a methodical side to side motion. Being sure to rinse any glass and adjoining panels that might have gotten overspray on them as well.

The bead porn effect is activated by friction from the strong jet of water over the surface. You'll notice the beading will get better over the next 10 to 15 minutes as the product cures on the surface. If you wish for more water beading after the first application, re-apply to the areas that need it for complete satisfaction. 

Once done, rinse out the Big Softie cloth and then put it into a bucket of clean water. Machine wash it in our Microfibre Wash with the Big Green Sucker and other cloths once you're all packed up and finished. You don't want this towel to dry with product in it, otherwise it will become super hydrophobic as well.  


Application method 2:

This method is best if you're using a pressure washer and also great for touch-less use or quick top ups: 

1. Work on one wet panel at a time, mist the Wet Dreams in a sweeping, even motion across the entire surface.

2. IMMEDIATELY rinse thoroughly with a pressure washer. Being sure to rinse any glass and adjoining panels that might have gotten overspray on them.

3. Work right around the car till you're finished. The bead porn effect is activated by the friction from the strong jet of water over the surface. You'll notice the beading will get better over the next 10 to 15 minutes as the product cures on the surface. If you wish for more water beading after the first application, re-apply to the areas that need it for complete satisfaction. 

With this method you will use more product over the spray and wipe/spread method mentioned above. But it can be handy if you're using the Happy Ending finishing foam, as this way is faster and easier to quickly boost smaller sections between its applications. Just spray it on the areas the beading is reduced and then pressure wash it off. 

On the slight chance that you get any streaking or uneven patchiness when using this method, simply wipe over the marks with the Big Green Sucker using a little bit of extra pressure on the towel to remove these "high spots". If the marks are left to dry, don't freak as the Paint Cleanse and Restore can remove them easily. 

Now you're all done, it's time to move onto the drying stage below. 


We have 2 primary ways of drying; Boss Gloss with The Big Green Sucker and the perfectionist way of drying with After Glow.


The Big Green Sucker + Boss Gloss:

Get The Big Green Sucker and drape it over your arm with the bulk of the towel hanging down. Spray 4-6 sprays of Boss Gloss straight into the towel. Flip the towel over and spray another 4-6 sprays on the other side. Now dry the vehicle like you normally would, starting with the glass, then working top to bottom.

If you've got a larger truck, you'll notice when the towel starts to get full of water, as it will feel heavy and start to smear the water. It’s just telling you that it's time to wring it out. Don’t worry though, as you can wring it out multiple times without affecting its ability to dry your vehicles' paint. The Big Green Sucker can even do multiple vehicles, one after the other. If you do wring the towel out after it’s become drenched, spray a few more sprays of Boss Gloss onto each side of the towel as previously mentioned and continue drying.


After Glow:

The way you use this one is to get two of our Big Softie cloths. Using clean, fresh water, completely drench one cloth, then wring it out till it's just damp. Fold the damp cloth into quarters, to the low pile side, then spray 3-4 sprays of After Glow into the cloth. Work on one panel at a time, work in side to side motions; up and down/side to side. Leave the product to flash off for around 1 minute, then buff off any remaining residue with your second Big Softie cloth, again folded into quarters to the low pile side. Continue this technique for the entire vehicle.

After Glow is great to finish with if you're after something to put on your 4WD that won't attract as much dust. After Glow's formula is anti static, so it will help lessen the amount of dust on the surface - great if you're doing some off roading!


Glass, Tyres and drying Wheels

We like to do these last...

Interior and exterior glass can be cleaned in the same way. 

Naked Glass and a Big Softie in hand, follow these simple steps for the perfect finish.

Lightly mist Naked Glass into a folded Big Softie cloth and apply to the glass. DO NOT drench the cloth - a spray or two is always enough. Back and forth, then up and down, ensuring good coverage.

Turn and fold the cloth to the dry, plush pile side and buff off any residue to a perfect finish. If your cloth is wet from product, or you begin to notice slight streaking, it's time to swap it for a fresh, dry cloth. It's imperative that the cloth is dry to achieve that perfect, streak free finish.

We say to spray into a cloth and apply so you don't get over spray everywhere, saving you time in cleaning up later. Only if the glass is really, really dirty is it a good idea to spray a little bit extra directly onto the glass.

Wheels and Tyres are lucky last. Dry the tyres first with a clean and dry Dirty Deeds cloth. Then, spray 3-4 sprays of Tyre Sheen into a Sacrificial Muffy then wipe over the tyre, covering all the rubber surface, getting it into the lettering on the tyres. If you like a shinier look on your tyres, you can apply a second layer of Tyre Sheen after the first layer has dried.

We aim for a mid sheen on the tyre, just better than a new tyre; that's the finish we get with this applicator.

TIP: If you're working in the sun, you would dry your wheels earlier in the process to avoid water spots.

Microfibre Care

One of the most important jobs of the entire detail is making sure you clean your microfibre cloths properly. Look after your cloths, and they'll look after you for years to come. Our Microfibre Wash was made specifically to clean waxes, polishes and cleaning products from microfibre cloths. It won't work for your clothes to remove tomato sauce stains, but it'll keep your microfibre cloths like new.

Add 20-60ml of Microfibre Wash to your machine (depending on how many cloths you're washing), and put the machine on a normal wash cycle with warm water. DO NOT ADD FABRIC SOFTENER.

Once the cloths have been washed, pop them in the dryer on the cool/warm setting for around 45 minutes, or until they come back nice and fluffy. Once the cloths are dry, pack them away in a sealable container, ready for their next use!

For a more detailed explanation of this process, please see our dedicated caring for microfibre guide here.

Any questions?

Should you have any questions about anything mentioned in this article, or have questions about other products and processes, feel free to get in touch on 1800 351 308, or shoot us an email to info@bowdensown.com.au