So a few months ago I bought a new car, a brand new car, my first brand new car. Naturally I wanted to keep it looking good.
Now that I am living in America (I had been living in an apartment in South Korea for the last four years) I have a garage, access to running water, outside power, and most importantly, access to the huge amount of detailing products that you guys have here.
That's the good news; the bad news is that the sun in California is very strong, and the water quality in my home is terrible. Although the city says you can drink it, it tastes horrible, and a TDS meter shows it to have around 400 ppm of dissolved solids... A terrible combination for water spots.
Cleaning and drying my car was taking around 3 hours, as I carefully washed and dried each panel at a time. I was not enjoying this, and my wife was getting annoyed that I was spending so much time on my car, and not enough with our new born baby... she has a point. A solution had to be found.
The first thing I tried was a leaf blower. I bought the best Toro electric leaf blower, as recommended on various detailing forums, and though it does help a little, it's extremely noisy (wakes the baby if he's sleeping), and still doesn't get rid of all of the water spots, or eliminate the need to dry with towels. It does cut down on the time taken, but not much.
The second thing I tried, was washing my car inside the garage with Optimum No Rinse (ONR). This is an interesting product, and being out of the sun does help to stop the panels drying to quickly, therefore preventing water spots, but with this method, you really have to dry the car after washing, and ONR recommends that you work in small sections anyway; not a bad solution, but doesn't really save any time.
I had read great things about CR Spotless' product, that doesn't require you to dry your car after rinsing. I was concerned about the cost however, both the initial outlay (even the lower priced Costco unit), and especially the running costs given my water's 400 ppm TDS!
CR Spotless claim that the water coming out of their system should be spot free as long as the TDS remains below 30. This seems strange to me, since even 30 ppm TDS water contains some solids that will be left behind after drying.
I had already fitted an under sink RO filtration system for drinking water, and knew that the output of this system was water with a TDS of around 10 ppm, below CR Spotless' claim that 30 ppm will be spot free; perhaps I could use this water to rinse my car?
I tested this theory by washing only the bonnet (hood) of both mine, and my wife's black cars in the garage one evening, using ONR, and then rinsing off by pouring RO water from a bucket over the panels that I'd washed.
This failed; next morning, I still had water spots covering both of the bonnets of our cars. I was nevertheless disappointed, but still felt that there was some truth to the claim that 0ppm water would not leave water spots; I liked the theory, but would need to get some water that truly was 0ppm.
I still couldn't justify the expensive of a CR spotless system, but adding a De-Ionization canister to the outlet of my RO system would not be that expensive at all. I found the exact product I wanted at a fish keeping supply website for just $35!
I was now able to get water with a TDS of 0 ppm, which I was sure would leave no spots. I prepared a 5 gallon bucket with this 0 ppm water, and poured this over the bonnets of our cars after washing as a rinse to test again... This time it worked perfectly - finally no water spots!
The only problem with this final system that worked, was that I am only able to produce this 'perfect' water at a rate of 50 gallons per day. There is no way to have the RO pre-filter run any faster, so it can't be used like a hose to rinse off a car. Making enough water to rinse a whole car isn't difficult, but finding a way to do the rinsing was my next challenge, since pouring multiple heavy full buckets over the bodywork is exhausting and dangerous!
Solution to that problem in another thread!