Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System Review and Tutorial

Meguiar’s is continually adding new items to their extensive lineup of professional detailing products, and new for 2011 is their highly anticipated DA Microfiber Correction System. This new system was soft-launched at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas this past fall, but very few details have been released up until now. They have kept detailers and detailing enthusiasts on the edges of their seats for months by teasing with information on their website, and finally after extensive development and testing processes, the official release is now upon us.

Before I go into details about the new system, let me give you some background about my involvement in the testing of the DA Microfiber System. Back in October of 2010, I was contacted by detailing legend Kevin Brown about being a part of a pre-production development team for Meguiar’s for a new product they had been working on for the better part of two years. He said that we would be a part of an elite group of detailers around the U.S. (approximately 28 of us) and other parts of the world, and they would be looking to us to put the product through its paces and provide feedback on our findings. A day or two later we were part of a large conference call directly with Jason Rose, who is the Field Marketing Manager for Professional Products at Meguiar’s. After about an hour on our conference call, we all had a good idea of what the products were, what they were intended for, and what forms of testing that would be required. While they had already completed plenty of testing and development of the new system in-house, they wanted to get it in the hands of the real-world professional detailing community to see how it worked for us. Companies will design and test for a specific application in mind, but the end user may (and often does) find different ways to use it based on their own needs. If there were any weaknesses in the system they wanted to know about it…and we were just the group of detailers that could find them if they existed!

The plan then was to do a soft-launch at the SEMA show (it would be in a showcase, but no information was provided otherwise), and then we would receive our kits immediately afterward.

While at the SEMA Show, a group of us detailers that were a part of the pre-product development team were invited out to a dinner with the big dogs at Meguiar’s. It was truly a who’s-who of the highline professional detailing community including the likes of Todd Helme, Bryan Burnworth, Bob Willis, Richie Carbone, and Kevin Brown. Here’s the cool part though…out of all of the people in attendance, the authors of the DI Ask A Pro Blog by far outnumbered everybody else (how’s that for credibility, eh?). At the dinner were DJ Mayo, Greg Nichols, Chad “Rasky” Raskovich, and myself. Ivan Rajic was also a part of the development team, but did not attend the show (you’ve gotta be there next year buddy). It was really a great opportunity to get all of us together at one table for the evening, and despite the fact that we discussed a lot of business, we all had an absolutely fantastic time…thanks Meguiar’s!

Once we returned from SEMA, we received our testing kits and it was time to give it a try!

What is the Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System?

This new system is a revolutionary concept of pad technology, and as the name indicates…the polishing surface of the pads are made out of microfiber! There are two different pads; a compounding pad (burgundy backing foam) and a finishing pad (softer, black backing foam). The microfiber is exactly the same on the two pads, whereas the backing foam’s density differs on each. The compounding pad utilizes a much more dense foam to allow much higher pressures to be utilized to achieve greater correction. The pads are available in 3.37″, 5.5″ and 6.25″ sizes. As for the polishing liquids, these were actually developed after the pads, and the chemists at Meguiar’s were given the task of developing compounds and polishes specifically to work in conjunction with the microfiber pads. With that, you have the D300 DA Compound and the D301 DA Finishing Wax. Once again as the name says, this system is designed to work exclusively on a Dual Action (DA) polisher…not a rotary.

What application was the DA Microfiber Correction System designed for?

This system was designed for light to moderate defect removal on OEM paint (many times aftermarket paint…especially fresh…isn’t DA friendly!). Meguiar’s had the mobile detailer (more on that later), and the detailing shops specializing in volume-based paint rejuvenation in mind during the development process. The system needed to be capable of significant correction capabilities, with long working times of the polishes, and be user-friendly at the same time. When their chemists developed the Compound and Finishing Wax, their goal was to get great results, easy on and off, and without being finicky to use (many polishing products out there have steep learning curves and can be finicky to use). So if this new technology is only designed for light to moderate defect removal, does that mean that it’s not capable of correcting severe defects? Read on…

How to use the Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System

Now that you’ve gotten some background on the development process of this exciting new system, and what it is intended for, let’s take a closer look at how to use it to get best results.

First of all, you need to forget what you’ve known up until now about DA polishing as it relates to speed. Faster isn’t always better, and that’s exactly the case with these new products. To quote Jason Rose, “It’s a slow-down-to-work-faster approach”. You want to slow down the speed of the machine, and your arm movement speed as well to get the best results. Meguiar’s recommends a D/A speed of 4800 opm for the compounding stage, and 2800-3800 opm for the finishing stage.

Let’s take a look at the process as I work on this 1992 Ferrari 512 TR. It had moderate to heavy defects, and my goal was to achieve as high of a level of correction as I safely could on this single stage paint.

1. Prime the pad! Just like with the Meguiar’s M105 system, the new DA Microfiber system requires a thorough and even priming of the pad with your compound / polish to achieve greatest results. You want to get a complete coverage of the compound or polish onto the microfiber surface without it being “drenched” in product. In this photo below you can see how I first apply the D300 compound to the pad to start the priming process.

As you can see from these photos, this cutting pad has been used on several red single stage cars already…brand new pads are white.

Now that you’ve applied your compound or polish onto the microfiber pad, use your (clean) hand to completely work the product into the fibers. If you see some bare spots once you’re done, then add a little more product to those areas and work it in again until completely covered. If you apply too much product and the pad seems to be overly saturated, then clean some of it off either with a microfiber towel or blow it with compressed air.

Now that your pad is primed, it should look a bit like this.

2. Add a small drop or two of product directly to the pad. Either too much or too little product can negatively affect your results, but you will quickly learn how much is just enough.

3. Lightly spread the polish around on your working surface. You can do this either with the machine on a slow speed, or off. For me, I simply spread it around quickly with the machine off before I get started.

4. Set your speed accordingly. On the PC7424XP, I find that a speed of about 4.5 works great. Remember, you’re using lower speeds even for the compounding stage than what you might be used to.

5. During the compounding stage, you want to use the same basic overlapping technique as you would with any other product on the DA (left-right, then up-down overlapping each pass 50%). Use slower arm movement than you normally would, and for heavier correction you will use a lot more downward pressure than is normal. You’ll need to experiment a little with the amount of pressure required depending on the paint type. Harder paints or heavier defects will require more pressure to achieve the desired level of correction. Don’t “short cycle” this application. The compound needs to be worked in thoroughly with multiple passes to a fine, thin residue. The compound has long work times if necessary, and you should find the residue afterwards to remove very easily from the surface. If you need to make an additional application to further remove defects, you can lightly mist the working surface with water, and then re-work the area without applying more compound. The water will help to re-activate the compound in the pad and on the surface, and it also helps to keep the pad cleaner as well.

6. Clean your pads often! To allow the microfiber pads to work to their full potential, you will need to clean them out often to remove spent compound and paint/clearcoat. I will typically blow them out with compressed air after each panel. You could use other methods, but in my experience compressed air is a must-have when using this system!

Here are a few photos of what the paint looked like before compounding:

And after! Does this answer your question about whether the new system can tackle serious defects?

Tips on using the Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System

  • D300 Compound: Slow down to work faster! Slower machine speeds and slower arm speeds will provide better results.
  • D301 Finishing Wax: Even slower machine speeds!
  • Be sure to use backing plates with short hook & loop material (most are). Tall hook & loop can cause higher operating temperatures, which could lead to premature pad failure.
  • Do not apply the DA Compound to a hot surface.
  • After evenly priming the pad, only a small amount of product is needed. If you find it difficult to remove the compound residue, then you’ve used too much.
  • The Finishing Wax is very simple to use. It is a very mild finishing polish, with a durable wax (polymer and carnauba blend) in the mix.
  • If the paint you’re working with requires an intermediate step, try M205 with a foam finishing pad after the Compound and before the Finishing Wax.
  • Supplemental wetting agents (mist of water) can help during the compounding stage, but are not recommended for the Finishing Wax stage.
  • DA haze can be experienced with some paints using this system.  There are a number of potential contributing factors; the two most notable are the top-coat hardness of the paint itself and a loaded or dirty disc.  If you get severe and persistent DA hazing on a car, chances are you have a soft paint or a refinished panel (doesn’t matter how long ago.)  This is especially true if you experience DA hazing with the second step DA Finishing Wax and the DA Finishing Disc.  Some paints simply don’t like the DA action, no matter what product or pad you use (for example refinished paint tends to not like DA polishing in general).

Final Thoughts

I started using this new system immediately upon arrival, and for the past 3 months I have used the compounding system exclusively (with the exception of some 4″ spot-pad compounding), regardless of paint type, level of defects, hardness, etc. I have used it on single stage paint, clearcoat systems, incredibly hard paint (Lamborghini), very soft paint, and I have even used it to clear up sanding marks! While Meguiar’s may not have designed it for really heavy defects, it sure is capable of fixing them. Is this a game-changing technology? In my professional opinion it certainly is. Is it going to be the perfect solution for every detailer and every paint type? No it isn’t…but then again, show me ANY product that is perfect for every situation. There are always limitations.

One important note that I should make on this new DA system is that it was also designed to achieve rotary-like correction capability (or better) on a dual-action polisher. A rotary polisher requires a very high level of skill and experience to do correctly without the safety issues of burning edges and creating swirls and holograms. The myth is that if you want to do heavy paint correction you need to use a rotary. This myth is wrong with today’s pad and polish technologies and techniques. I network with many of the top highline detailers in the country, and most of us are doing our heavy correction and compounding with the dual-action polisher, not the rotary!

Another big plus for this new system is that on the compounding stage in particular, you can use just one or two pads for the entire car if you’re able to regularly clean it out with compressed air or by brushing. And given the fact that these pads take up much less space (very thin) than traditional foam pads, it will be a huge plus for mobile detailers since they won’t have to carry boxes full of different compounding pads. I recently jumped on an airplane for a detailing trip, and these pads were priceless. I obviously had little room in my carrying case for all of my equipment, and I just brought a few DA Microfiber pads and I was all set.

I also took a little time to do some comparisons with other products on the market just to see how this new system stacked up. For all-out correction capability, I still find that the Surbuf pad teamed up with M105 compound has an edge in cut. Having said that though, the Surbuf pad doesn’t finish down as well as the Microfiber pad (nor is as safe), so it just depends on what your needs are. I’ve also successfully used M105 with the new Microfiber compounding pad with great results. It has the slightest edge over D300 in terms of overall cut, but runs hotter, dusts more, and isn’t as easy to remove from the surface.

As for the Finishing Wax, I think some people may still want to use their sealant of choice instead, so they will opt for another finishing polish that doesn’t include wax. That is fine, and I have done that a lot myself (D300/Microfiber pad for compounding, followed by a black foam finishing pad with Menzerna 106FA on the rotary). I do however, think that the Finishing Wax will be a huge hit for single step polishing, so you get the bonus flexibility in the product. I have used it for this purpose quite a few times, and have been extremely happy with the results and ease of use. And since it polishes and waxes in one step, that will save a tremendous amount of time since you won’t need to do yet another process or two afterwards. If I had a volume detailing business that focused on the more quick details, I would knock it out of the park with the Meguiar’s Finish Wax when performing one-step polishes.

I’ve said a lot of good things about this new product / technology, so it’s only fair to point out some areas that might be of a concern to some people.

  1. You really need to have access to compressed air when working with the compounding system in particular if you want to get the best results.
  2. When using compressed air, you create a tremendous amount of dust when cleaning out the pads. After one single stage red Ferrari, my entire work area was totally covered in red compounding dust from blowing out the pads.
  3. On some paint systems (aftermarket or soft), finishing with a rotary may be your best bet. This is not a knock against the MF / Finishing Wax, because in each case where I couldn’t get it to finish down, I tried other products on the PC and couldn’t get them to finish down either! You know that when Optimum Poli-Seal and a blue pad mars the finish…you’re dealing with some seriously finicky soft paint!
  4. The sytem works too well, and when general enthusiasts start to get the same results as what we professional can get, then we might be out of a job!

Well there you have it…the good, the bad, and everything in between. I’ve put more testing into this new product than perhaps anything else out there, and working with Meguiar’s directly in the pre-production development has been a great experience. They were very receptive to all of our questions and concerns, and in the end I am quite pleased to have been part of the process.

Meguiar’s has developed game-changing technology here; particularly on the compounding side of the equation. Heavy defect removal, ease of use, and with the relative safety of using a dual action polisher is a winner in my book!

Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System:

Thanks for taking the time to review my work, and please feel free to post any comments or questions you may have in the comment box below. Also feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc by clicking on the respective icons below under “Share The Knowledge”.

This entry was posted in Auto Detailing, Business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Meguiar’s DA Microfiber Correction System Review and Tutorial

  1. Joshua Hash says:

    Great insight and review Todd! Woke up this morning and could not wait to read this article. Looking forward to working with these new products!! Congrats on being selected by Meguiar’s……that’s a great achievement.

  2. Kevin Brown says:

    Todd-
    Once again, a very through and accurate write-up.

    You covered all the important points. I’m pleased that, through working behind the scenes on this system, I was able to introduce myself and meet you at 2010 SEMA. This is the first article pertaining to the Meguiar’s DA Microfiber System that I’ve been able to thoroughly read and leave a comment about. As I expected, it is high caliber, just like your work.

    I 100% agree that compressed air is by far the best way to clean the pads. In fact, I’m planning to mount a compact air compressor and vacuum onto a foldable dolly. Then, I’m going to have a friend form a rectangular airbox that will be placed at the top of the stack, so I can hit a switch, point the machine & disc in the direction of the airbox, and blow the dusty stuff directly into it. It’ll probably cost about the same as a high-end rotary or forced rotation orbital, but it’ll be worth every penny, and deliver better performance that a new machine. The whole deal will easily come apart, so transporting it from job to job will be a snap.

    Loving the site… great job all around!

    • Thank you kindly Kevin, the compliments on the article are much appreciated!

      I too have thought of a way to cleanly capture the dust…perhaps I’ll just have to buy a setup off of you! :)

      It was great to finally get the opportunity to meet in person and talk shop, and I hope to see you again at another event in the near future.

  3. Greg Symoens says:

    I like your work there, I use this system at the shop I work at and it is just amazing the results this system can achieve. Every step you have showed is exactly the way I use it, except when your applying the compound to the pad, I dont rub it in to the pad with my fingers, when the reps from meguiars came to our shop they did not show us that. but just to put 4 small dots around the pad then rub it into the paint then start. It works amazing, the best product i’ve used in a while. I might try your process at home and see if the results are different and then run it by my shop if they are.’

    Thanks Alot
    Greg

  4. Very nice article Todd. You captured all the benefits and features of the Microfiber DA Correction System. In one of your last points, this one,

    4. The system works too well, and when general enthusiasts start to get the same results as what we professionals can get, then we might be out of a job!

    Good insight. A few years ago Joe Fernandez posted on MOL that it used to be that in order to get professional results you need a high degree of skill and lots of experience and in the last 10 years or so a lot of new technology has been introduced that people brand new to detailing, with little experience and skill are able to achieve incredible results using only a DA polisher and he was dead-on accurate.

    It's a fun time to be involved in the detailing world and it will be interesting to see even more new products introduced into the market in the future.

    Again, nice article.

    Mike

    • Thanks Mike. Despite the fact that the professional knows exactly what they’re doing, seeing, and evaluating, the gap has definitely closed between the enthusiast and the professional given the new technologies!

      Thanks again,
      Todd

  5. Kenneth Tang says:

    Dear Todd,

    Thank you for this great article. I detail during the weekends for some side income and prefer to do heavy compounding and reducing orange peel for that mirror finish. However, this takes up too much time and effort. In the sense that, there is the extensive amount of taping involved, as well as the extensive clean up afterwards.

    After compounding, I will tend to get compound residue in the panel gaps and cleaning up can take up to an hour or more since I work on the cars alone. However, I plan to start a mobile detailing alternative where the paint polishing would not be as detailed, e.g., no orange peel reduction. The car would have to be finished in a day instead of 2-3 days which is my usual working time frame when I do the cars at home.

    I would like to know if you have tried this microfiber pad system with the FLEX XC3401 machine? I wonder if the forced rotation movement will optimize the cutting ability of the microfiber pads compared to an oscillating movement with random rotation.

    Has this system managed to save you time? I assume polishing with a DA will require minimal to zero taping and D300 claims to be low dusting. However, I can’t help to think that having to perform slower passes to remove the defects will actually slow the detailer down instead of speeding up his overall workflow.

    Is the Microfiber correction pad and D300 capable of reducing some amount of orange peel? I’m from Malaysia and the car in our country are very highly taxed, hence, a person that can afford a Honda Civic here can actually afford a Mercedes C-Class in the states. Therefore, there are more Japanese cars on the road as well as local cars, and the OEM paint on these cars have terrible orange peel, even when they are swirl free, there is no depth or clarity in the reflections because of the orange peel. If the D300 and Microfiber cutting pad can reduce some orange peel, it would be a great bonus.

    Apologies if I am asking too much, would love to hear from you. Don’t worry if you are busy, I can wait for your reply.

    Thank you!

    Kenneth

    • Kenneth,

      Thanks for checking in. I haven’t used it with the Flex, but I have with the Festool in forced rotation mode. I don’t know that it’s better, more efficient, or quicker per se. On most paints I find that the random orbital mode is all that is needed to achieve a high level of paint correction with a fine finish even at lower speeds.

      Time saving…yes and no. I don’t have to do nearly as much taping which is a time and expense saver. At times the compounding stage can be a little slower given the slow arm movement, however you save time on the finish-polishing stage compared to what you would need to do if comounding with a rotary. The finish is typically so good after compounding with D300 and the Cutting Disc that just a very light (and relatively quick) finish polish is all that is needed to fully refine it.

      You will not reduce orange peel, which is good in my opinion. Removal of orange peel or even significant reduction on OEM paint requires a high level of material removal…which actually takes you to the maximum recommended removal over the entire life of the vehicle.

      Thanks again,
      Todd

      • Kenneth Tang says:

        Hi Todd,

        Thank you for your invaluable reply! I guess I need to buy the pads and really try it out for myself to see if I am able to save time overall. Having to compound without taping and worrying about the dangers is already a huge plus.

        Thanks again!

  6. Pingback: Rotary Compounding – Is It Dead? | Todd Cooperider Online

  7. Steve Baker says:

    Hi Todd,
    Great article, Regarding the cleaning of the pads with compressed air and the down side of doing it this way, would it not be a better option to change the pad for a new one after each panel.
    I take it that the pads are washable? Last question Todd on washing the pads do you add a conditioner to keep them soft?
    Regards Steve.

    • Thanks Steve! If you don’t have the ability to use compressed air to regularly clean out the pads, then yes…switching to fresh pads more frequently is definitely an alternative. Even if you used a brush to clean the pad (similar to spurring a wool pad), it would be acceptable. Yes the pads are washable, and there’s nothing special you need to do to them to keep them soft. I wash them by hand just like foam pads and then allow them to air dry, but you could lightly machine wash them as well. I hope this helps!

  8. Ken De Koven says:

    Hi Todd,

    Excellent article; it gave me my first thorough understanding of the system. I have a question: I have a year-old silver Volvo XC60 in very good condition (caveat: it is not garage kept in NJ), and I am not sure how aggressive a product to start with. Was hoping I could start with 205 but not sure whether I even need a “cutting” pad. Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>