People confuse a car washing and a detailing, and there exists a misconception that once you take your car to the wash, then does it really need a detailing? The short answer is yes. These are two very diverse services, with one of the glaring difference being that car washing can be done with a machine, while detailing requires an attentive human hand. Other contrasts are that a car washing involves a lot less work and therefore will take less time to complete. It takes a car wash as much as 15 minutes when using a machine service, while detailing can take a few hours to as much as a day. Detailing also typically costs more, and you are advised to have it done at twice a year compared to a wash every week.
To better understand car detailing, you should look at it from the perspective of its two components; interior and exterior detailing. As the name suggests, interior detailing revolves around the inside of the car, where they use different techniques to clean including steam cleaning and vacuuming. Interior detailing takes into consideration the type of fabric, vinyl, or plastic that your car has inside.
Exterior car detailing on the other hand, deals with the outside of the car, to restore it to its original showroom status. It handles all the visible contents, taking into consideration the paint and colours involved. Exterior detailing uses a host of products including polishes, detergents, degreasers, and of course, wax.
Here is a more in-depth look at what services car detailing includes:
Other than a quick wash, there is a lot more to properly taking care of the outside of your car. A well carried out detailing should take care of all the dirt, scratches and scuffs, and every component of the outside of your car. Here are some of the common exterior detailing practices:
This part goes deeper than an ordinary wash and is done by hand from start to finish. Some machines may be used, but these are used to remove grime that an ordinary hand cannot eliminate. This step involves spraying the car with a high powered jet of water, then handwashing every inch of the car, including the rims, door jambs, windows, and the underside of the wheel base.
After cleaning, a clay bar is used to take care of all the contaminants that could be on the clear coat. These are the impurities such as metal particles, industrial fallout, tar, and overspray that normal detergents cannot remove.
This is probably the most known step of vehicle detailing. It takes place after cleaning and claying has happened, and takes care of all swirls and scratches that could be on the paint.
An appropriate car wax is used to seal and protect the car. This is what gives your car that glossy shine that accompanies a good detailing.
Other services that can be carried out to the outside of your car include engine cleaning where a degreaser is used before taking care of all the silicone, plastic, and rubber components are taken care of to prevent their cracking.
This is a process that takes care of every inch of the inside of your car. It typically requires more effort than the exterior detailing service, since it works to remove all the stains, dirt, grime, and bad odours. It also takes care of allergens in the cabin and grit on the switches. These are some of the services that will typically be included in an interior detailing:
This is typically the first step in any detailing job in the inside of your car. It takes care of any dirt on the seats, headliners, boot, shelf, and any other cargo area. Floor mats are removed and cleaned on their own and an air compressor is used for those areas that a vacuum cleaner cannot reach.
- Brushing and steam cleaning
This is the most effective way to clean the carpets and the mats in your car. A thorough scrubbing is done to remove any and all the dirt that could have accumulated on your mats since your last detailing. Specialised cleaning supplies may be required to remove stubborn stains such as food stains and ink. It is important that carpets and mats are let to dry out completely after this, to avoid mildew growing on the inside of your car.
- Glass cleaning and leather trimming
A glass cleaner is then taken to all the mirrors and the inside of the windows to make sure there is an unobstructed view by the driver on all sides. Leather cleaning is a little more complicated, and takes quite some time. A leather cleaner, leather soap and saddle soap are used to clean out all the leather parts. A damp cloth is used to take care of all the excess soap. In the event that your leather is all dried up, a specialised conditioner that is customised for your leather may be applied to make working on it a lot more efficient.
- Re-vacuuming and wiping
This is the last step in the detailing process but no less important than the rest. Here, any of the dirt that could be remaining is removed. The dash, all the cubby holes and holders are wiped clean with a cloth and detergent. A deodorant is then used on the car to give it a lasting good scent. The perfuming step is optional however, for people who are easily irritated by strong scents.
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