What is Auto Detailing?

The polishing, waxing and cleaning of an automobile on the inside as well as the outside is called auto detailing. The auto detailing should be thorough enough to consider the automobile of show quality when the work is done. There are at least a couple of reasons why people have such intense car cleaning done and that is to satisfy themselves or to show the car. To bring your car to an auto show its appearance has to be flawless. Auto detailing, if done correctly, can preserve the car thereby giving it a longer life. It also increases the value of the car in the event of a sale.

Professional detailers are usually the ones that do the best job. Many are franchise operations while others are independent ones that work out of their garages, vacant parking lots, or other unused places and do not have permanent business addresses. There are bout fifty thousand of them in the United States however; this kind of work is not exclusive to the United States. In the United Kingdom auto detailers are known as “car valets” and the work they do is known as “car or auto valeting.”

There are many auto detailing supplies necessary to do the job. For the exterior, you have to make the paint shine, the chrome trim shine, the windows should be clean and scratches should be removed, and the wheels and tires should also be cleaned to look as if they were new. The supplies used by auto detailers include: ordinary detergents, specific detail clay, a variety of waxes and polishes, special cloths and applicators made of various fibers and consistencies.

There are three things that auto detailers do when detailing an automobile and that is to clean, polish and protect the automobile. It has to be cleaned of all the clinging dirt and debris such as bug carcasses that have adhered to the car, heavy dirt and tar and all other contaminants that have been picked up over time and may harm the exterior of the car. A thorough cleaning ensures that all of the clinging dirt and droppings are cleaned and there is no sign of them ever being there. Auto detailing is beyond a simple washing.

Although there is not as much to clean when auto detailing the interior, it is just as precise. They concentrate on the cleaning of the upholstery, carpeting and in particular the passenger side of the car. Vacuuming is a standard procedure in detailing the interior. Much of the interior is steam cleaned. A liquid cleaner and various brushes are used to remove stains from carpeting and upholstery and the non porous surfaces are polished.

Body work such as painting the car, mechanical work on the car and upholstery repair is not included as part of auto detailing. Although, some will do some engine detailing such as steam cleaning or pressure cleaning, degreasing and using degreasers to clean beneath the hood.

What to Look For From Your Auto Detailer

Auto detailing is one of those things that people think is easy to do. It isn’t. In fact, a proper auto detail can add hundreds of dollars to the value of your vehicle. We’re not talking a quick window clean and carpet vacuum, either. We’re talking the whole package: interior shampoo, vacuum, upholstery treatment, exterior cut, wax, wash, and polish. This is the difference between having a bath in a lake versus having a shower, washing and conditioning your hair, shaving your beard, and exfoliating your skin.

For your car, it’s automotive nirvana, and it’s your responsibility as a good vehicle owner to treat your car to a pampering every now and again.

What Makes an Auto Detailer Worth Your Hard-Earned Scratch

A good auto detailer doesn’t look at your car or truck as a dollar sign, but rather as a canvass by which they can exact their brand of art. With that in mind, it can be nearly impossible for the untrained eye to identify a passionate auto detailer from one who’s just looking to separate you from your wallet.

Keep your eyes open for a few indicators that the detailing shop performs quality work, such as:

  • Plenty of other vehicles being worked on, finished, or awaiting their appointment. While this is less of an indicator than others, especially in seasonal markets (such as the northern USA and pretty much all of Canada), it’s always a good sign to see other people using the same shop you’re considering using.
  • Samples of previous work, testimonials, or photographs of vehicles the detailer has worked on. Every automotive enthusiast worth their weight in car parts will gladly write their detailer a testimonial if the work performed was high-quality. Always ask for before/after photos, testimonials, or samples of work that shop has performed in the past.
  • Look online for positive reviews. This one is a no-brainer, and also the easiest to do prior to choosing a shop.

What to Expect from a Good Auto Detailer

Aside from using high-grade components and compounds on your car, you should expect your auto detailer to take great care of your vehicle while it is in their possession. As well, you can expect to leave your vehicle with the detailer anywhere from a few hours (if only getting an exterior or interior job) to a day or more (for a complete interior/exterior detail).

More importantly, you should be able to develop a level of trust with your detailer that is reflective of the service that they offer you. Don’t be afraid to point out imperfections if you feel that the service you requested should have taken care of it. Most good detailers will appreciate your feedback and will correct their oversight.

Auto Detailing – Save Your Knees and Find a Knee Pad Solution

A couple of years ago, I talked to a gentleman at Starbucks who was on disability. He had worked for a carpet installation company and had blown out his knees, both of them and could hardly walk, and one could not be repaired, although they tried by putting in some titanium. He admitted it did help for a while, but his knee was simply to tore up inside. You see, those that install carpets often use their knees to help pound the nails in the baseboard during installations as he explained it to me. Interestingly enough, I understand how important it is to save your knees because previously I was a tack star and later had raced street motorcycles, and also had done quite a bit of auto detailing. Okay so let’s talk shall we?

If you are in the auto detailing business you will be on your knees quite a bit cleaning wheels, under carriages, and putting on wax of vehicles which are very low to the ground, like most exotic sports cars. This means you have to get down and dirty, but in doing so you will be working in a parking lot if you are doing mobile detailing with gravel around, or you will be working on a cement floor inside of an auto detailing shop, those are very hard surfaces, and they can be quite challenging if you are in that position on your knees for long periods of time.

There are several auto detailing catalogs which have very small cushioned mats which are between six and 8 inches wide and 2 feet long with a handle on them, on one end. These work perfectly, and they are an ideal solution for an auto detailer. Best of all you can clip them to a work cart using a carabiner that rock climbers use. Another strategy is to get ahold of the type of knee pads that soccer players use from a sports store. Although they are not as good, they will save your knees. If you are an auto detailer you may put one on only one knee, and kneel down on that each time. Every few days you might wear it on the other knee, so you are not favoring one leg over the other. Always buy the fabric washable kind.

It’s amazing how simple things and proper ergonomic procedures can help you in your auto detailing this. If you are detailing aircraft, especially light aircraft, or small business jets, it is often very hard to clean the underbelly, or the bottom of the wings with one knee on the ground, either on the flight line or in a hangar on the hangar floor. Protect your knees so you don’t have to become a disabled auto detailer. Please consider all this and think on it.