Everything You Need to Know About Car Exterior Detailing
July 24, 2017
Car exterior detailing pays attention to every inch of your car and gives specialized treatment to each part depending on the material (e.g. metal, plastic) or the contaminant (e.g. rust, grime, salt) being dealt with. Aside from the ordinary car wash processes, detailing may also involve claying to remove impurities on the paint, paint restoration and other specialty services.
What else do you need to know about it? Read on.
Do’s and Don’ts in Exterior Detailing
- Go for 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.
- Rinse vehicle before cleaning. Remove loose dust and debris from your car’s surface so you won’t scrub them in during the washing process.
- 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.
- 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.
- Apply the wax with an applicator and not directly on the car.Do not let your car air dry after washing. Leaving water beads on the surface of your car to dry out will cause water spots that can damage the paint.
- Do not use old clothes to wipe your car. Some fabrics can cause scratches and damage to your car’s paint.
- Work on small areas at a time
Auto 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 it look dull after every wash. It is best to invest in proper auto detailing cleaning supplies and equipment to avoid damaging your car’s surface.
- Distilled water – Using water that has no mineral content will prevent water spots from forming.
- Car wash soap and shampoo – 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. Buffers are used to remove these fine scratches and swirl marks. They come in electric and manual kinds, with the latter giving 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 cloth – There are many types of cloth that are used for specific steps in car exterior 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.
- Steam cleaner – 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, even without the use of any car wash soap or shampoo.
Steam cleaning is an environment-friendly way of washing 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 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 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). Lightly scratched paint can be repaired by polishing and buffering. Deeper scratches may need sanding and reapplication of paint.
- Paint oxidation restoration – 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.
- Headlights restoration – 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.
- Windshield repair – 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 be and the higher the repair cost.
Cost of Car Exterior Detailing
Detailing costs more than a regular car wash because you’re paying for high-quality supplies and equipment used, and for the skills, time and effort that a professional detailer gives to enhance your car’s appearance. The prices across auto detailing shops vary depending on the materials and technology used, 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 comforts 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:
- 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).
- 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 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 washes have wash bays where you can manually clean your car yourself using a bubble brush, high-pressure gun, and a vacuum.
- 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.