If you value the investment you made in your vehicle, you probably take pretty good care of it. And, unless your vehicle is a work truck pounding through the mud on a construction site every day, you likely keep it clean most of the time. Maybe you make a quick trip through the automatic car wash on the corner. Maybe you give it a quick bath at the coin-operated self-serve station. Or maybe you take your time and provide a sponge bath in your driveway. Keeping your car clean is important if you want it to last. But is it enough? Is washing your car sufficient for the long haul?
The answer for some drivers might be, yes. If you tend to be meticulous when you clean your car and have the tools, materials, and know-how to do it properly, you might be right on track.
But the average vehicle owner is probably not altogether familiar with the effects of spider webbing, or rail dust, or acid rain. And most don’t know the difference between treating road tar, tree sap, or paint from the freshly-painted lines you ran over on the road. What about correcting scrapes and scratches? Or protecting the clearcoat? And did you know that the usual methods of cleaning a car – the drive thru, self-serve, or driveway approach – can actually cause damage to the paint?
Regular cleaning is important, but so is expert care. That is where professional detailing comes in. Trusting your investment to the pros can help you not only maintain a clean vehicle, it can also help you to retain its value.
Are automatic car washes and other methods bad for your car?
Washing your car is a good thing. Dirt, debris, sand, salt, and other contaminants on your car’s paint surface or packed inside recessed areas, if left untreated, can cause significant damage. It is important to keep your car clean. But how you clean your car matters.
An automatic car wash is a great option. But always do your research and make sure the automatic car wash you use is maintained properly and uses soft brushes. Abrasive brushes can whip dirt against your car and create fine scratches that dull the paint.
A coin-operated self-serve wash does let you do it yourself. But the brushes are often caked with mud from the guy who just cleaned his monster truck or backhoe. The pressure wand can strip the paint off your car if you are not careful. And again, where does the water come from?
If you are careful, knowledgeable, and have plenty of time on your hands (not to mention professional equipment, materials, and someplace to work), washing your car at home is a better option. But a car should not be washed in direct sunlight. And even if you know what you are doing, the equipment and materials can be costly. Dish soap is not a suitable cleaner for automotive paint.
What does a professional detail service consist of?
First of all, professional auto detailing is not a simple car washing, though it will start there. The job of a detail technician is to notice and correct the “details”, problems that the average person is not trained to identify or fix.
So, after a thorough hand washing, a detail technician will evaluate the condition of the paint and recommend any paint correction that is necessary (removal of swirl marks, light scratches, contaminants, etc.). Different levels of detailing service are usually available depending on the amount of paint correction needed. If contaminants on the paint surface do not come off during the washing stage, clay bar treatment might be recommended. If light scratches are present, machine polishing might be necessary. These more advanced procedures are usually available for an additional cost above standard detailing services.
Barring any advanced paint correction, a basic car detailing service will include the following:
- Hand car wash – Using a range of cleaners formulated to work on automotive clearcoats, in engine compartments, and on sensitive aluminum wheels, a detail technician will carefully and thoroughly hand wash and rinse your vehicle.
- Removal of road tar, sap, bugs, etc. – Before and during the hand wash stage, any contaminants on the paint surface, in the door jambs, and in the engine compartment will be removed using a range of specialized cleaning products formulated to treat each type of contaminant.
- Chamois dry – Once the car is washed and rinsed, it will be dried with a chamois (or special towels) that will not leave behind scratches.
- Wheels and tires cleaned – Wheels build up a layer of tar and brake dust, requiring unique treatment. Aluminum wheels are subject to serious damage if the wrong cleaner is used on them. A detail technician will choose the correct product for the specific wheels on your vehicle. Tires have a cleaner of their own as well.
- Tire and trim dressing – Tires and other rubber components (weatherstrips, etc.) are coated with a premium dressing.
- Application of durable wax sealant – Once the vehicle is clean, the detail technician will apply a protectant coat of wax, usually Carnauba, to the paint surface.
- Clean windows inside and out – A detail technician understands how to produce a streak-free surface on your windows.
- Polish accessories – Chrome bumpers, exhaust tips, and certain wheels are cleaned and polished.
Go ahead, keep your car clean. Hand washing services are the way to go between exterior detailing appointments. Why not make exterior detailing part of your regular routine?
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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