We realize that for most non-car enthusiasts, the difference probably isn’t very significant. However, all car owners, enthusiasts or not, should look at getting their car fully detailed every so often, and should also perform smaller details regularly to have their car looking at its best all the time.
I. What is Car Detailing?
Simply put, getting your car detailed means a top-to-bottom thorough cleaning of your vehicle using specialized tools and products. Normally, a detailer will also perform some light cosmetic touch-ups, but the process does not include paintwork or body repairs.
Car detailing involves cleaning and reconditioning the interior and exterior of the car. The aim of this is to restore the paintwork by eliminating scratches or swirl marks to make the car look almost brand new like it did when you first drove it out of the shop.
II. What is the difference between a Car Wash and an Auto Detail?
Now that you know what car detailing is, we are going to quickly outline the differences between a car wash and auto detailing, before going on to talk some more about why car detailing is a seriously good idea.
Aside from cost, which ranges from $10 to $40, a typical car wash only covers a fraction of the cleaning that you can get from a detail, and so only achieves a fraction of the result.
III. What are the steps in Auto Detailing?
A thorough car detailing consists of two main phases: interior detailing and exterior detailing. We are going to break down each phase so you know exactly what to expect when you get your vehicle detailed. Feel free to ask your technician if you have any questions about the process, as most of them love to share their art of detailing with others.
Exterior Car Detailing
We begin with an exhaustive exterior wash to remove as much dirt as possible. By allowing the soap to foam, dirt and mud are softened and lifted off the surface.
Next, using special brushes and wheel cleaning products, the detailer takes off all the dust and filth from the wheels; brake calipers, lug nuts, etc. The wheels are usually the dirtiest parts of the car!
After the wheels have been cleaned, the paintwork is washed and dried from top to bottom using washing mitts and soft microfiber towels. The paintwork is then clayed using automotive clay bar that removes the tightly bonded dirt of the surface of the car, which is your car’s clear coat.
If required, the paint is polished to eliminate any light scratches, oxidation, and swirl marks. The paint can be polished by hand or by a polishing machine. This can be the most time-consuming part of the detailing service depending on the car and the state of its paintwork.
Finally, the paint is waxed to give it an additional protective layer using high-quality carnauba based paste wax. This added protection results in a noticeable shine too, the kind that you saw when you first bought it!
The remaining exterior parts, like the windows and other rubber parts, are then polished and methodically cleaned, adding the finishing touches in all the corners of the car’s body and exterior trim to make the entire car sparkle.
Interior Car Detailing
All of the upholstery inside the car is thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed to remove stains and dirt. If the car has leatherwork, this is often conditioned and scrubbed to remove dirt that is deeply ingrained. Plastics and vinyl are also properly cleaned and dressed.
Lastly, the interior glass is also cleaned and polished.
An Important Optional Step
Cleaning the engine bay is an important step but a lot of people simply don’t do it. The reason for this is probably that some people don’t care what their car looks like under the hood, or that they think only mechanics should venture to clean anywhere under there.
Having the engine bay cleaned can make identifying any engine problems easier and faster. Mechanics love working in a clean engine bay, and if the car owner is having the car detailed before selling, a clean engine bay can make a big impression on how well maintained a car is. Anyone that purchases a used vehicle will likely glance under the hood, and a clean engine bay can only raise the value
However, there are steps you can take when you have your car detailed to protect some components from wear and tear. The detailer cleans the engine bay by lightly spraying it with water, and then wiping it down with a degreaser before rinsing everything clean. Once properly dried, all silicone, plastic and rubber components should be properly dressed to protect them from cracking. This is a simple process that ultimately serves to protect the car from everyday problems of wear on rubber and silicone.
IV. What are the benefits of getting your car detailed?
A complete car detail will bring your car to its best condition. You can then perform mini details to keep your car looking as good as new.
V. How much does a car detail cost?
You’re probably thinking ‘Alright, I’m sold… but I don’t know how much this is going to cost me’. Well, according to this article, the size of your vehicle is a major factor in determining car detailing prices. So, a Humvee won’t cost the same as a Prius – but the difference isn’t as huge as you might think.
A basic car detailing package ranges from $50 to $125 for an average sized vehicle, while an SUV or van tends to cost between $75 and $100. However, additional services like clay bar treatment, leather conditioning, and pet hair removal, as well as the quality of these products, can increase the cost (so keep those dogs under control!).