Why is detailing important?
Most people's cars are their second biggest investment. In order to extend the life of the investment and increase the chance of a higher re-sale value, it is important to have your vehicle detailed. Detailing is both labor and time intensive. Experienced detailers use time-tested premium products that deliver outstanding results in less time. A thorough cleaning (Clean) is the first step, followed by making it look great (Enhance) and then extending the life of your detailing purchase (Protect) by adding layers of protection. Lastly, clean cars drive better (I actually have no empirical evidence to support this.... it's just my opinion).
What is clay bar?
Clay bars have been used for many years to decontaminate the surface of a vehicle's paint. Over time, industrial fallout, brake dust, dirt, bird droppings, tar and other contaminants bond themselves to your vehicle's painted surfaces. In order to effectively remove these contaminants, a clay lube is sprayed on the surface and a clay bar is rubbed over the paint to pick up these contaminants. After claying a car it is best to apply polish (to nourish the paint) and then a coat or two of wax to add a protective hydrophobic layer to the paint and enhance gloss. Clay bars, clay towels or clay mitts are highly effective cleaning tools, but they do not address scratches.
What is the difference between buffing and polishing?
Polish is usually the liquid or paste that is applied to the paint and "buffing" usually refers to the process used to remove polish or wax. Some use these two terms interchangeably, but what is more important is the level of abrasiveness of the polish, compound or wax, the method used to apply and remove them and the introduction of power driven tools like a rotary, orbital or dual action polisher.
Can you "buff out" a scratch?
Simply put, no, you cannot buff out a scratch by hand. While polish and wax may help to minimize the scratch in a clear coat, wet sanding along with using a rotary buffer and/or dual action polisher may be required to effectively shave down the clear coat in the area around a scratch to truly minimize the ability to perceive the scratch with the naked eye. Doing so may increase the aesthetics of the vehicle, but it compromises the protection of the paint by abrading the clear coat.
How often should I wash my car?
Only when truly needed. Washing lifts dirt off of the surface, but in doing so, the dirt particles scratch the paint as they are agitated. Washing every week may keep the surface cleaner but it also increases the likelihood of swirl marks or spider webbing on the clear coat which is especially prevalent when viewed at an angle in the sun.
Can I wash a car with dish soap?
If you want your vehicle's paint to be squeaky clean like your dishes after you wash them in dish soap, then using just dish soap is effective (but certainly not recommended)! It is far better to use a mixture of dish soap and a Carnuaba infused product to effectively strip off contaminants in a gentle manner. It is imperative to add a layer or multiple layers of protection once a vehicle has been cleaned this way.
Can I wash a car in direct sunlight?
Yes, but it is a bad idea unless you are very effiicent. De-ionized water will not leave water marks but most water sources contain a mixture of minerals that, if left on the paint too long, will dry and leave water spots.
How often should I have my car waxed?
A coat of wax every 3 to 6 months is ideal to aid in protecting the clear coat that is already on top of your paint. Modern vehicles come with a layer of clear coat that is about the same thickness as a post-it note and adding wax both protects the clear coat and enhances the shine of your vehicle. It also depends on the color of the paint (dark vehicles require wax more often to maintain the glossy look), how you use your vehicle (daily driver, long haul trips) and where you keep your vehicle (garage kept or exposed to the elements?).
What is the difference between polish, wax, sealants/coatings?
Polish usually has an abrasive component to it, wax is meant to add to the gloss and protect the clear coat, and sealants/coatings are more specific chemicals that act like a long-lasting and super durable wax.
What is the difference between a car wash, car detailing and paint restoration?
A coin operated car wash uses recycled water (that contains dirt particles from past washes) and brushes that collect dirt particles over time and increase the likelihood of damage to your clear coat. Thus, going to a coin operated car wash or commercial car wash usually results in adding micro-abrasions to your vehicle's paint. Detailing involves using a separate soap bucket and rinse bucket to continually cleanse the sponge before re-applying soap to the surface of the car. Detailing not only focuses on an in-depth cleaning, but the application of specific products meant to prolong the shine and protection of your investment into detailing services. Paint restoration is another level past regular detailing. It typically involves the use of power driven tools that shave off a layer of the clear coat in order to even out the surface and leave a glossy finish. There are many paint protection products that have been introduced to the detailing marketplace over the past decade and they provide double or triple the amount of protection of a typical wax, but require different surface preparation and specific application techniques along with a controlled environment. To that end, driveway detailing is the most cost effective way to deliver results without tying up the vehicle or having to take it to a fixed location.
My car is all cleaned up but there are still imperfections, why is that?
Over time, most vehicles develop certain blemishes depending on how and where they are driven. Oxidation, paint chips, scratches, bug-gut etching, paint transfer, "orange peel" and over-spray may be able to be minimized by a detailer but eventually, you may need to consider repainting the vehicle.
How long should detailing take to complete?
It depends on the condition of your vehicle and the service package that fits your needs. An experienced detailer will communicate with you beforehand and estimate the approximate completion time based on the specifics of your situation.
Do I need to detail a new vehicle?
Yes, but it probably just requires an exterior detail. When cars are shipped to their final destination to be sold they are exposed to rail dust, brake dust, hydraulic fluid, road tar and many environmental contaminants. Claying a new vehicle helps to remove these contaminants and polish along with wax adds protection to the new finish. It is important to tell a detailer what (if any) paint protection was applied along with the presence of a clear bra (transparent protective film) to avoid voiding any warranties on protection you may have already paid the car dealer for.
When should you pay for the service?
The detailer should encourage you to walk around and point out any areas that do not meet your expectations so that they can be addressed and then payment should be made.
Should I choose a certified detailer?
Unfortunately, there is very little agreement within the detailing industry as to which certifications are indicative of an all-around good choice for your detailer. As a potential client, I would encourage you to look at the number of reviews and specific comments left by past customers to gauge the efficacy of your detailer. If you are considering ceramic coatings it is imperative that you understand the certification that allows a detailer to install a specific ceramic coating. For example, as of 2022, I have 378 five star reviews left by customers on Google and I am certified by System X to install their Made in the USA 6 year and 10 year ceramic coatings and I have also earned my OSHA 10 Safety Credential.
Is tipping customary for detailing?
No. Tipping is not customary, but when you feel you have received excellent service and you choose to tip, please know that it is greatly appreciated!
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