Whether you have experienced car detailing with your own two hands or by the service of an auto shop or car wash then you will understand that it is a time-consuming process. There are so many different products and services offered for car detailing that the standard definition, of what is considered a “full detail” varies greatly according to storefronts and even more so on an individual level. Detailing a car can have many steps involved that are all geared towards high-quality car maintenance. Depending on how thorough you would like to be, your definition of a “full detail” could be as pared down as a wash, shine and wax or be as extensive as an interior scrub, custom hand polish, and protective spray coating. Many of these processes involve a completely unique list of products – so you can start to see how car detailing can be a more thoughtful endeavor than simply taking an hour of your weekend for a quick wash or dropping your vehicle off at the shop for an afternoon clean.
In order to better understand everything that you may need to know about car detailing, this article will overview some of the main objectives for each step of the detailing process, as well as outline some preemptive measures and protective efforts you can take to ensure that your car looks and functions as best as possible.
Assess Your Vehicle – whether or not you confer with experts for their opinions, evaluating your car’s exterior surface needs is pretty self-explanatory. Identifying imperfections like scratches, dents or chips will inform you on if you need to invest in car scratch repair products or car waxes and polishes. Take a close look at the paint on your car – sometimes even driving through clouds of insects will damage your paint, so really touch the surface to feel how smooth or rough certain areas are because you never know what sort of small debris could cause abrasion. Often times the most damaging contaminants are bonded to the surface, so even if you scrub and wash the area thoroughly, a lot of those particles will begin to oxidize over time and you may never actually see what is causing it to happen. That’s why feeling the paint with your hands can help you identify if there are some slightly rougher areas that require more attention if you choose to use a paint pre-wax cleaner or a similar tool. Continue to inspect your car’s paint for any undesirable textures, marks or impurities as this will require you to polish them away before you move on to the next steps. Even if your car needs car scratch repair products for the nastier cuts and blemishes, you will address these concerns later after you wash your car first.
Pre-Wash – depending on how dirty your daily driving routes are, it may be obvious if your car needs a couple of washes. Even if you don’t have a heavy cake up of dirt and dust, it always helps when fully detailing your car to preemptively wash away dirty surfaces in order to identify the harder to clean areas. Enthusiasts and experts recommend for the pre-wash stage to use a foamy soap to cover the most surface area. Look for soap products that are sold for soap cannons/hoses because they are specially designed to soften dirt on the surface. Research and be wary of any chemicals that may damage sealers on your car, as you do not want it to eat away at that much of the surface. Bug removers can be used in conjunction with foam to ensure a clean pre-wash.
Wash – once you have let the foam dissolve most of the dirt on your car, and have then rinsed the vehicle, the next step is to prepare a bucket or a hose in order to do the main wash of the car. While this is a fairly straightforward part of the process there are a couple of factors to keep in mind as you wash your car. It is a common mistake for people to use a car wash bucket and continually transfer dirt particles from the car into the bucket, and then back into the sponge. Just think about it: you should not be rubbing the dirt you just removed back onto the surface of the car. Using a dirty filter, or grit guard can minimize the number of particles that end up back into the water of the car wash bucket. The only other factor to keep in mind is that when you go to dry the car, be sure to use soft and clean towels – improper drying techniques can actually mark up the car, or leave very undesirable patterns and textures on your surfaces.
Wheels & Tires – due to the high-stress load of wheels and tires, they tend to have a different type of dirtiness to them. The dust and material from the car brakes inevitably leave industrial residue in the grooves and cracks of your rims and wheel wells. One of the best ways to clean your wheels is to use powerful wheel cleaners along with high-pressure streams of water. As always, when purchasing products be sure to check if your car has any sensitive or uncoated surfaces so that the chemicals in strong wheel cleaners will not eat away at your rims. In order to optimize this step of the process, it can be helpful to use a wheel sealant to minimize the work for next time.
Paint Correction – as mentioned before, once you have washed the body and wheels of your car, the next step is to address any significant blemishes that you had seen during your initial inspection. It is important to do this before you begin to wax the surface because after, there will be a protective layer that you won’t want to disturb. Paint correction, in car detailing, refers to removing any of the scratches, marks, and blemishes that reside on the surface of your car. This is where most amateurs in car maintenance are concerned, as car scratches are some of the most noticeable and undesirable reasons to want to detail your vehicle in the first place. Today on the market there seems to be a growing demand in products for car scratches, so when you are looking for car scratch repair products it is important to see how well the product will reintroduce paint to the scratched area. Most of these car scratch repair products will work by diminishing the damage of the scratch by applying pressure so that paint particles will fill the space. The best products for car scratches will not only save you money from body shops, but they will also include polishing kits and tools for you as well. Quixx is a prime example of a car scratch repair product that offers additional products with your purchases to polish and finish your surfaces after you have removed any scratches
Of course, these are not all the steps and materials involved in a “full detail” for a car – but hopefully, it does give you a better sense of the order of operations and maybe some products that you may need. As always, research the products that you are using so that you do not cause any damage to the car that you are trying to maintain.