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by David Zatz
The name Armor All has, for me, conjured up a glossy substance that left surfaces sticky and attracted dust. For that reason, I was reluctant to take an Armor All Ultimate Car Lover's Gift Pack, thinking it would be somewhat awkward when I wrote nasty things about it; but most companies don't mind negative reviews, as long as they think you were fair. Fortunately, either my perceptions were wrong or the formulas have changed. I tried every item in the box but one, and all left the surfaces goo-free. The all-surface spray, the "traditional" cleaner-protector, the cleaning pads, the windshield cleaner -- all wiped off easily enough and left a non-sticky surface behind. No, the surfaces aren't as glossy (sometimes you don't want them to be), but they also won't attract dust or feel sticky.
The Ultimate Car Lovers Gift Pack contains six containers, a microfiber towel, and a washing mitt. I will admit I did not try out the mitt, but it felt like it could go through a washing without falling apart, and didn't leave bright orange bits and pieces everywhere. I do plan to test it later. The glass cleaner went on, came off streak-free as promised, and it didn't smell like ammonia or leave a residue -- so that's a big gain over Windex and Glass Plus. The cleaner worked equally well on the fog inside the windshield and the filth outside, so it's definitely a keeper; it did not remove the glue left over from too many inspection stickers, and only did a so-so job removing the lesser glue from a company parking sticker. I tried it later on a far dirtier window, and it handled the dirt well, without streaking. Consider this to be the maintenance item for when you go to a show or want to get the glass clean inside, without having the car smell like ammonia for a week, or dealing with streaks.
[IMAGE OF WINDOW – BEFORE][IMAGE OF WINDOW – AFTER]
The next bottle was the "original protectant." I've never done a multi-year experiment with this stuff, doing half the car and leaving the other half bare, but someday I really should. It went on, cleaned a bit, and came off, leaving no visible or tactile residue. The jury's out on this until someone does some scientific research, but at least it defies the stereotype some have of Armor All, and if it really does protect the surfaces, it's worthwhile.The next up were the cleaning wipes. They made a friend with those. They provide 25 wipes, and you probably only need one for each cleaning. It took off years of fingerprint grime around the heated seat switches (why the #@*$&!%^! don't I clean those?) -- and with far less effort than I spent last time doing the same thing. They cleaned the fabric, too, but I'd stick with the Armor All Fabric Cleaner, absent from the Gift Pack, which has proven itself very handy indeed.
Moving on to stuff I don't normally care about, there were two tire car products -- Tire Foam Protectant, which again may or may not be useful; I've only ever had one set of tires go bad from age and the sun, and I didn't use anything on them, so I don't know. (Those tires lasted for a bit over five years and around 55,000 miles on our Neon before the sidewalls started to crack, and if we'd garaged the car, they'd probably have been on it when we sold it with double the miles). I sprayed it onto a test section of tire, and when I wiped it off, the tire was clean and maybe a little shinier, but again, not goopy or vegetable-oil-covered shiny. I got the idea that more subtle shine would last a lot longer than the showier stuff.
There was "Extreme Wheel & Tire Cleaner," and I tried that, and it worked very well on the wheels. Then I tried a plain paper towel and that worked just as well. It seems I need a tougher car to test this stuff on; the chrome-plated wheels may be too glossy to need a cleaner.
Finally, the Gift Pack includes a liquid car wash. I've usually preferred powdered washes just because they're cheaper overall and use less packaging, but I don't wash my car often enough to go through a box of powder any more, and a pint of wash stuff would probably last a long time. The bottle claims it was tested with carnauba wax, and that it "helps water beading." Again, due to time constraints, I wasn't able to use it -- yet. I will update this page when I do.
The Gift Pack is pretty heavy, as you might expect, but it comes in a sturdy box that can be tossed out or re-used when you're done. Personally, I'd think about buying some of these things separately and boxing them myself as a present -- I'd go with the glass cleaner, cleaning wipes, and (not included) fabric cleaner along with a high quality plastic scratch remover. But there's something to be said for an all in one deal -- well, almost all in one. Where's the wax?
I have a material connection because I received a cash payment and the materials themselves from a company affiliated with Armor All. Normally we do not take payments from companies supplying review materials. However, I felt it would not alter the outcome of the review, only force me to follow a shorter deadline.
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