There is a lot of advice regarding paint protection, from sealers/waxes to paint protection film (PPF). I just spent a lot of money on a vehicle and did want to spend thousands more on PPF, so I went the liquid chemical protection route. I've since driven thousands of miles and am happy to report minimal wear to the paint. Is it perfect? No. Of course there are a couple of small dings, especially to the front bumper façade, but I credit the protection scheme below with these results.
Pre-rinse with a pressure washer. Make sure to use a top-down approach ending with the wheels and fender wells.
It is important to use the pressure washer properly. Never go full blast with the strongest (highest PSI) nozzle directly at a panel (90-degree angle). I usually use the white nozzle that produces a 40-degree stream, creating a fanned-out pattern of water that is safer that a direct, focused stream.
Wash tires with a good tire wash like Turtle Wax's Hybrid Solutions Pro All Wheel Cleaner + Iron Remover. Let the cleaner sit for a minute and do its job lifting dirt, brake dust and other containments from tires and rims. Agitate with a good tire brush like Mothers Wheel Brush and Tire Cleaner - use additional chemical if needed.
Pre-wash vehicle (minus wheels) with your pressure washer and a foam cannon like the Adam's (I generally find Adam's products to be of high quality, but you would probably do just as well with a less expensive model). Snow foam will pull more dirt down and away, a gentle method for surface cleaning vehicle before washing.
PRO TIP: Clean the bottle and nozzle thoroughly to prevent clogging upon next use.
Rinse entire vehicle with pressure washer again.
Dry with a high-quality microfiber towel. One towel should be enough to dry most vehicles. I have tried several towels, but this microfiber drying towel has worked best for me. Let the towel absorb the water by gently pulling it over each window and panel.
PRO TIP: No need to press hard or rub fast, that may cause fine scratches in the clearcoat so slow and steady is the way.
Decontaminate with a quality iron remover. For this, again I like CARPRO's IronX Remover. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
PRO TIP: This has a date sticker so make sure you check before use as it expires after 2 years.
Clay if needed with a light-to-medium clay bar unless you have heavy oxidation, then use a heavy-duty clay bar. If you are following this regimen regularly, you should go light and even consider alternatives such as Mother's Speed Clay 2.0 (which is what I use).
Apply base application of wax. I use Hybrid Solutions PRO To The Max Wax as a base coat of protection. This should be done once per year but can be done more often (I apply in early spring since we typically have a harsh highly salted roads winter). Again, just follow the instructions on the bottle.
Apply topper of choice. While this isn't absolutely necessary in many cases, it will generally provide the best gloss, slickness, water repellency, and heat dissipation for increased UV protection. I use Hybrid Solutions Pro Graphene Flex Wax (yes, I like the TurtleWax products).
PRO TIP: Reapply this topper throughout the season to maintain protection (and gloss, of course).
Add a tire shine as a final step in making your vehicle look great. I use... you guessed it, Turtle Wax's Hybrid Solutions Graphene Acrylic Tire Shine Spray Coating. I have not tested other products but can says this provides a longer lasting shine than the product I was using previously.
If you have any questions or need further assistance, I highly recommend several pro detailers on YouTube: Apex Detail, Pan The Organizer, and ESOTERIC.
Do not forget to check out my other articles on windshield and interior cleaning.