To restore. To preserve. That is your charge. You are a modern-day Ponce de León in search of an automotive Fountain of Youth. In your quest, you need to look no further than a professional detailing shop to restore luster to your vehicle and preserve the value of your investment.
You understand the value of routine maintenance to keep your engine running properly or your brakes operating the way they should. You invest in upgrades like ceramic brake pads and synthetic oil. But what is professional detailing? How does it restore and preserve your car, truck, or SUV? And why might you add detailing to your car care routine?
What is detailing?
Answer this question: Why does it take a half hour or so to wash your car in the driveway, and yet it takes a professional detailer hours to do it? What is the professional doing that takes so long and costs anywhere from just north of a hundred bucks to several hundred in some cases?
The answer lies in what the service entails. Wikipedia defines detailing as “the act of performing a thorough cleaning, restoration, and finishing of a motor vehicle, to produce a show-quality cleanliness and polish.” Detailing can be performed on a vehicle’s exterior, interior, or both. It could be described as the process of doing everything possible to make a car look new without sending it to the body shop for repairs or paint. Professional detailing can go a long way toward restoring your car to its original appearance and protecting it for the future.
Professional detailing is not merely a car wash. Although it involves washing your car, detailing goes far beyond cleaning. It delves into (sorry for the built-in pun) the “details” that detract from your car’s appearance: embedded contaminants, microscopic scratches, buildup in cracks and crevices that might go unnoticed but which make it look old. Then it protects your car from damage happening again.
How does detailing restore and preserve my car?
When your car is serviced by a professional detailer, a number of steps are performed using a wide range of products. The process begins with pre-cleaning to remove loose dirt and debris from the exterior or from the seats and carpet on the interior. Then the vehicle is carefully inspected to identify problems that need to be addressed: micro-scratches, acid rain spotting, damage from bug splatter, rail dust, and more. After the assessment, a detailer will take steps to remove contaminants, correct conditions, and protect components.
On the exterior, detailing includes removal of road tar and bug residue with special solvents. That is followed up with a clay bar to pull embedded contaminants like rail dust from the surface of your paint and trim. The tires are scrubbed with tire bleach, the wheels are cleaned with a chemical formulated to remove sticky black brake dust, and the engine bay, trunk jamb, and door jambs are cleaned with a degreaser. The interior is vacuumed out, blown out, and wiped off. A set of brushes and microfiber towels are used to clean surfaces and crevices, like the vents and cracks around the navigation system and door handles. Stains in the seats and carpet are treated with special shampoos and carpet extractors. An air ionizer, ozone generator, or spray might also be used to eliminate odors inside the vehicle.
Tiny scratches, scuffs, and swirls in the clear coat on your car dull the appearance of your paint. These imperfections can happen from simply running a cloth across the surface or improper washing techniques. They are removed by carefully wet sanding with micro-fine sandpaper. Of course, sanding dulls the surface further. So, either an orbital or dual-action polisher is used to buff the paint and make it smooth again. Buffing is followed up by glazing with a polisher to obtain a high gloss.
With the exterior (and interior) scrubbed clean and corrected to reintroduce a smooth and shiny surface, a detailer will apply products to preserve and protect your vehicle. For instance, a polymer sealant or wax (or both) is applied to the paint to help repel water, allow dirt to rinse off easily, protect against abrasion, filter out the harmful UV rays of the sun, and add to the shine. Your wheels may be coated as well. If you are interested in a premium service, some detail shops offer certified ceramic coating of the paint and wheels. Tire dressing protects and shines your tires and rubber weatherstrips. Leather conditioner protects interior leather and vinyl. Fabric and carpet protector might also be available.
Removing, correcting, and protecting is followed up with automotive glass cleaner for the windows, and maybe a hard surface protectant such as Rain-X for the windshield.
Why choose professional automotive detailing?
Professional detailing is not a substitute for regular car washing. You should wash your car every two weeks at least, more often in sloppy conditions. Your best bet for that is a soft-touch automatic car wash, where your car can be gently cleaned with the scrubbing action of closed-cell foam cloths. If you choose to add on services like Rain-X Complete Surface Protectant and Armor All ® Extreme Shine Wax, you can add to the benefits of the sealant and wax applied by hand (by you or a detailer).
But washing alone will not keep your car in pristine condition. And it certainly will not return it to its original appearance once the finish has begun to dull. For that, you need professional detailing.
Why a professional? Well, the cost of the products and equipment that are used by a professional detailer alone makes it unreasonable to do it yourself. And a professional has the training needed to treat today’s automotive paint finish and interior surfaces without causing more damage.
Your vehicle represents a significant financial (and sometimes, emotional) investment. The surest way to maximize that investment, the way to keep it looking like it just drove through the Fountain of Youth, is to have it detailed by a pro once every year or so.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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