Everything You Need to Know About Car Exterior Detailing [VIDEO]
July 24, 2017
Exterior car detailing pays attention to every inch of your car. It gives specialized treatment to each part, depending on its material – e.g., metal or plastic. Additionally, it considers the contaminant it needs to deal with – e.g., rust, grime, or salt. Aside from the ordinary car wash processes, exterior car detailing may also involve claying. This is so in order to remove impurities from the paint, restore it , protect it, or avail of other specialty services.
What else do you need to know about exterior car detailing? Read on.
Do’s and Don’ts in Exterior Car Detailing
Do Go for a Hand Wash Service
A hand wash service by a detailing expert not only provides extensive cleaning, but also helps detect small issues and prevent them from escalating into major damage.
Do Rinse Vehicle Before Cleaning
Remove loose dust and debris from your car’s surface. Thus, you won’t scrub them in during the washing process.
Do Wash the Car’s Exterior from the Top Down
Starting from the roof of the car will prevent spreading dirt to the areas that are already clean.
Do Work on Small Areas at a Time
Working in small area segments will not allow the products you use for your exterior car detailing dry out and leave marks on the surface.
Don’t Let Car Air Dry
Wipe down the car after washing. Do not let it air dry. Doing so will let water beads on the surface dry out, leaving water spots. The latter can damage the paint.
Don’t Use Old Cloths to Wipe Your Car
Some fabrics can cause scratches and damage to your car’s paint.
Don’t Drop the Clay
Dirt and other abrasive particles will stick to the clay when it comes in contact with the floor or any other dirty surface. Using a dirty clay will cause scratches to your car’s surface.
Don’t Apply Wax Directly
Apply the wax with an applicator and not directly on the car.
Exterior Car Detailing Supplies and Equipment
Using cleansers and cleaning tools that are not specifically designed for cleaning cars may do more harm than good. The formulation of household detergents, for example, strips the protective layers of the paint making. This, in turn, makes it look dull after every wash. It is best to invest in proper exterior car detailing supplies and equipment to avoid damaging your car’s surface.
Using water that has no mineral content will prevent water spots from forming.
Formulated specifically for car washing, these are the best products to use to achieve a more vivid and shiny look after cleaning. However, not all car cleaning products are created the same. Be mindful of what the car wash products are made of when making a purchase. Go for products that are pH-balanced and ammonia-free. Beware of cleaning products that contain chemicals that are harmful to your health. A healthier option, both for the person cleaning the car and the environment, is an organic car shampoo. Made from plant-based ingredients, these organic variants are biodegradable, non-toxic, and powerful in removing dirt and grime.
Buffer and Buffer Heads
Incorrect cleaning methods, using dirty cleaning tools and harsh cleaning chemicals can cause microscopic scratches on the paint surface. Detailers use buffers to remove these fine scratches and swirl marks. They come in electric and manual kinds. The latter gives the user more control over the device. Electric buffers allow the user to apply consistent pressure and strokes to large areas of the car’s surface. The different composition and density of buffer heads and pads make them perfect for particular functions like fine polishing.
Car Wash Cloths
There are many types of cloth that you can use for specific steps in exterior car detailing. There are types that work well for picking up and holding dust particles like the microfiber wash cloth and washing mitt. Others, like the microfiber drying cloth and chamois wash cloth, have great absorption capacities and are mainly used for drying.
Can you clean an entire car with just a pint of water? With a steam cleaner, you absolutely can. Steam is very powerful in breaking down grime build up. Moreover, it ca do so even without the use of any car wash soap or shampoo.
Steam cleaning is an environment-friendly way of detailing your car. It reduces water consumption by more than 50 percent. Since the heat from the steam is very effective in removing gunk, no toxic chemicals from car cleaning substances go on your car and in water systems through wastewater. It is an efficient method that you can conveniently do in your own driveway. There is no need for fancy equipment. Just invest in a good steam cleaner and you’re good to go.
However, this equipment can be dangerous when used incorrectly. Take necessary precautions, like wearing protective gear. Set the cleaner to the recommended temperature setting. And, of course, follow the right angle and distance when applying steam to the car’s surface. If you are not confident that you can do all these by yourself, it is better to hand off this process to professional auto detailers.
How to Perform Steam Cleaning for Exterior Car Detailing
Are you wondering how car detailing professionals do steam cleaning? Let this video show you how:
Some businesses offer specialized services to address additional detailing needs of the car. These can be availed at an extra cost. Some of these services are:
Paint Scratch Removal
Scratches on your car’s paint are inevitable. These can be light (on the surface) or deep (have reached the base coat). Polishing and buffing car repair lightly scratched paint. Deeper scratches may need sanding and reapplication of paint.
Constant exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes a car’s paint to fade and oxidize. Oxidation on paint, depending on the severity, can be removed by using a clay bar and polishing.
Foggy headlights can cause accidents if not addressed immediately. Cleaning and restoring headlights to their original condition at a car detailing shop involves removing contaminants by sanding, polishing, buffing, and sealing.
A chip in the windshield of your car needs to be repaired right away. Even a small chip can potentially cause accidents by obstructing your vision while driving. The longer you wait, the bigger the crack will become and the higher the repair cost.
Cost of Exterior Car Detailing
Detailing costs more than a regular car wash. This is because you’re paying for high-quality supplies and equipment. Also, for the skills, time and effort that a professional detailer gives to enhance your car’s appearance. The prices across auto spa shops vary depending on the materials and technology they used. Other factors are the type and condition of the vehicle being serviced, geographical location, and turnaround time. The best way to know if you are being charged fairly for a detailing service is to do your own research. Look up rates of exterior car detailing services of different businesses within your community to have a general idea of how much particular services cost. Look into the inclusions of a detailing package being offered to know whether you’re getting the most out of your buck or you’re being sold an overpriced package of ordinary car wash services. Make the most out of special discount offerings but be cautious about rates that are too good to be true.
Where to Have Your Car Exterior Detailed
Detailing your car in the comfort of your own driveway may be the most convenient option there is. You can invest in your own detailing supplies and equipment and do the detailing yourself. You can also hire a mobile detailer to service your car at your home. Hands-on car enthusiasts will also enjoy using the facilities at a self-serve car wash to clean their own cars. Of course, there is the option of going to a professional detailer. Steer clear of shops that use improper detailing supplies and tools that may damage your car. Look for a detailer who takes the time to hand wash your car and pay attention to the smallest of details. It is ideal to find a detailing expert who values your car and your time as much as you do.
Here are the different car wash services/systems you can choose from:
Automatic Car Wash
In an in-bay automatic car wash, your car sits stationary in a service bay where dirt build-up is loosened up and cleaned by brushes, cloth, and soap (friction type) or by high-pressure water spray (touchless type).
Tunnel Car Wash
For a tunnel car wash system, you drive your car to a tunnel and wait inside the car as the conveyor pulls it through a number of wash components. Your car exits the end of the tunnel already clean and dry. Some common configurations of this system are the following:
- Express Exterior – tunnel system cleans exterior, free self-serve vacuum station sometimes offered,
- Full-Service – car wash attendants load and unload the vehicle, perform interior cleaning and sometimes some detailing services, and
- Flex-Serve – mix of full-service and express exterior.
Self-Serve Car Wash
Self-serve car washes have wash bays where you can manually clean your car yourself. You can use a bubble brush, high-pressure gun, and a vacuum.
Hand Wash Service
Hand wash services have professionally trained employees who will wash and dry your car by hand. Some offer vacuuming of interior and other detailing services.
Book an appointment with DetailXPerts now to get the professional car exterior detailing your prized possession needs.
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