Project S4: Auto Genie Pro Valet

A few months ago I tested a load of car cleaning products from SONAX with the skillful help of Stuart Staples, aka, The Auto Genie They worked pretty well, digging Project S4 out of a mucky hole (I’m a driving dynamics, not aesthetics man and arguably the world’s worst car cleaner). Stu and the Sonax gear did the job affordably and made the S4 look better than it ever had.

But Stu was not impressed and reckoned his own Auto Genie treatment, using pro products would be “like night and day.” He said: “All that SONAX stuff was off-the-shelf and today’s ‘proper valet’ is about using products only the trade can buy, which will make all the difference. We should end up with a professional finish, inside and out.”

So, here we are again… this time, doing a “proper valet.” And my God, does Project S4 need one. She’s as filthy as a Scouse docker – covered in mud, silt, sand, tar and enough stuff off nearby trees to warrant being called one. Stu is suitably unimpressed, casting me a ‘you f*****r’ look. I like to create a challenge. And the Auto Genie likes rising to one.

The pro valet procedure is at a level I can’t even conceive, and takes real skill, knowledge and dedication – not to mention a van full of about £2,000’s worth of equipment and products. This takes car cleaning to a whole new, meticulous level. The job takes 7-8 hours. Stu works really hard, 100% focused.

And yet, as is the Auto Genie’s USP – in the middle ground between a £30 roadside ‘full valet’ service and a two-day £1,000+ uber-valet – the job is very affordable too, costing just £120. So, whether  you’re just a terrible car cleaner who loves their car and wants it looking better than it did from the factory (in S4’s case, now 15 years on), or you’re after trying to get the best price for a car you’re selling by making it look superb (as many Auto Genie clients intelligently are), or you want your motor looking its best for a show, track day or just your own sense of pride… the Auto Genie way makes perfect, affordable sense. Stu even offers a consultation service prior to the valet, to fine-tune the aims of the service. Superb.

In addition to blinging the S4 into a state previously unimaginable with this service, Stu says it should make it much easier to maintain the S4 – requiring just simple hose cleaning and drying – for about three months. This is great news for a shoddy, lazy car cleaner like me. Maximum enjoyment for quarter of a year, for minimum spend and zero effort on my behalf on a job I hate – because I’m worse than average at it.

This Auto Genie valet service is an exterior and interior, under-bonnet, wheels and tyres, paintwork and trim full service – using a bewildering array of products and more brushes, buckets, buffers and microfibre cloths than you can keep count of.

The process and products used during the process is as follows:

Description of process Product used Applied and inspected
Pre-wash (wheels, arches, tyres and lower panels) AS G101 1:20 X
Detail clean of alloys and exhaust AS G101 1:10, AS Smartwheels 1:20 and Kleers metal polish for the exhaust X
Seal alloys (inside and outside faces) NA
Shampoo (2 bucket method) AS Duet X
Detail clean (hinges, locks, badges, lights and panel shuts) As G101 1:20 X
Rinse Water X
Paint contamination removal (chemical or clay bar) AS Tardis and clay with      Car-Chem detailing spray X
Rinse, shampoo and re-rinse AS Duet X
Dry panels using Uber soft towels Completed twice X
First stage polish paintwork AS Evo 3 X
Second stage polish paintwork AS Platinum X
Seal or wax paintwork AS Platinum as sealant X
Clean and treat plastic exterior trim AS G101 1:20 X
Clean and treat tyres Car-Chem tyre dressing X
Clean and treat exterior glass Autoglym Fast Glass X
Hoover carpets and mats Completed X
Shampoo carpets and mats AS Brisk Extra X
Clean and treat interior vinyl and rubber Sonax Interior cleaner X
Clean and treat leather interior NA
Clean and polish headlights and taillights NA
Arches cleaned and treated AS G101 1:20 X
Suspension cleaned and treated NA
Underside of bonnet degreased and treated AS G101 1:20 and AS Starburst to polish X
Inner arches degreased and treated As above X
Engine plastics degreased and treated AS Finish X
Engine brightwork degreased and polished NA
Door shuts, panel gaps and fuel flap cleaned and treated AS G101 1:20 to clean and treated with AS Platinum X
Washer jets, badges and locks cleaned AS G101 1:20 X

 

Of the now aging S4 – which is now got a mildly rusted front wing, broken side light, slightly corrode alloys and more cat scratches than you can shake a tail at – Stu says: “The S4 is in good condition fundamentally, with just some  corrosion to the arches at this stage. The paintwork has lots of paint swirls and some random deep scratches at the moment, but this was improved upon with today’s emphasis on polishing. Further improvements could be made by hand, but any meaningful progress would only be achieved by a dedicated session of machine polishing in my opinion. The alloys are in need of a refurbishment, but other than that, the car is in very good order for something of its age. The front offside indicator lens also needs to be replaced or repaired to stop water ingress. The interior is in superb condition, as is the engine, save for one of the small engine covers being cracked. Generally, for a daily driver, it’s in bloody good order. The products have done their job, but that’s not guesswork. I know they work and I knew they’d bring the colour and shine back to the S4. It’s helped getting rid of that SONAX (green! don’t ask!) polish. That was not helping and was no doubt contributing to the overall flatness and darkness. She’s got a good clean finish now though and is reflecting the light a whole lot better.” Typically under-stated from Stu!

In fact, the S4 is looking better than I ever could have imagined, and certainly have ever seen. The paintwork is like a blue mirror now – reflecting all it sees in stunning high definition. And the colour! Wow. I knew it was blue under all that muck, but not THIS blue. It’s a really nice colour, this clean: Deeply impressive.

But it’s not so much the massively impressive overall, radical improvement to the bodywork that is the biggest improvement. AS with so many things, the devil’s in the detail. The shining rain channels under the bonnet and boot, the removal of the fingernail scratches on the door handles, the unreal gleam on the Milltek stainless steel exhaust, the criss-cross patten in the now black-again carpets, the immaculate door hinges, the de-grimed inside of the fuel cap, the deep matt black covers under the bonnet, the spotless wheel arch returns… hell, even the knackered alloys look great. Impressed.

“There’s no point buying a boutique product, unless it offers a significant advantage over the cheaper off-the-peg version” says Stu and that sort of sums it up. Using a distinctly female analogy I’ve often heard but hitherto never understood… you could buy the £30 shoes from Primark, but why not get the £120 shoes from Office. They look SO much better. They will last. And they’re in a different league.

Just like the Auto Genie. He said the difference between the last SONAX valet (with off-the-shelf gear, yet a professional hand) and the full monty pro product would be like night and day. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t believe him! But gentleman Stu was bang on. The S4’s looking utterly amazing – inside and out – and certainly doesn’t show her age anymore. It’s a miraculous transformation – from neglected scuzzbag to gleaming pride and joy. Yay!

Want your car transformed to enjoy, sell or just get ready for action? Then call the Auto Genie today and enjoy a richly rewarding, great value experience with a top petrol-head guy who really knows his valeting onions and is a pleasure to have around on 07733-527430. Or visit the Auto Genie website for more detail, to see past projects or to book.

And you can see more images, with captions, on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/roadmagblog

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