Auto Detailing

Auto detailing is a deep cleaning of the inside and outside of a vehicle. A detailer will pay attention to all parts of the vehicle, large and small. They will produce a show quality clean and shine of the vehicle. They have a knowledge specific products, as well as how to remove different types of stains and marks from a vehicle's interior.

178 Questions

How do you detail your car?

We are often facing the question of what is the best way to achieve maximum results to detail a car. So I have decided to do a small write up of how "WE" do our detail jobs, I say "We" because there's many ways to do a detail job, this is what works for us and doesn't represent the only way to go about it. This is a system that we've used.

First Step- Vehicle placement,

To start your detail job, you want to make sure your car is not in direct sunlight and that the surfaces on the outside aren't hot. If shade cannot be found, you can wait until late evening so the sun isn't at its full intensity.

Step 2- Vehicle surface evaluation

One of the most important aspects of a successful detail job is the evaluation of the vehicle surface, this evaluation will allow us to prepare ourselves with the correct products and steps, things like light scratches, swirl marks and other paint imperfections can be evaluated at this time, from here we will have a plan of what products are needed and in what order.

You want to prep your washing materials first so you aren't running back to get items from storage while water is on the paint or wheels. You can use a pressure washer usually with no problems, just use caution when doing so. You don't want to get to close to any surface of the car with high pressure water, especially to pin strips or emblems, failure to do so can result in inevitable damage.

Step 3- Rinsing Vehicle- Pre Wash

I start off by rinsing all the loose debris from the top of the car working downwards. You want to make sure to get all of the loose grime off of the surface so you don't have to**your wash mitt. What I like to do at this point is just hit all the surfaces including, wheels and tires. I found out with this process we can avoid until a certain point swirl marks. Very often as you wash you may be dragging loose grime which will scratch the vehicle surface, these steps are by no means a solution, rather than a "preventative action".

Step 4- Washing- Tires and Wheels

Washing removes all loose contaminates from the exterior surfaces of the car and leaves a clean and prepped surface ready for other steps in the detail. You will always want to wash the tires and wheels first, so water doesn't sit on your clean paint and get baked in by the sun.

For the tires, wheels and wheel wells you will only need a few things. You will need a separate set of wash materials so your paint does not get contaminated by the metal particles and dirt on your tires and wheels. Do not use the same wash water or tools on the paint as you did your wheels. I like to have just a simple soft bristled brush.

There's a big misconception that all wheel cleaners will stain you wheels, all do in part, this is true, the majority of wheel cleaners will indeed stain and damage your wheels, The formula must work well on plastic wheel coverings as well., the product must be PH balanced and will not stain clear coats!

Starting with your tires and wheels first, don't wet the paint. Prepare your wash materials and get started doing the wheels, tires and wheel wells one by one. Don't do all of them at once, you don't want any of these cleaners to dry. I like to start out by rinsing the heavy debris from the tire and wheel well area. Most of the time mud and loose dirt accumulate in these areas, and you don't want to be scrubbing that dirt all over your wheels.

I start out by spraying down all areas. By the time I've sprayed everything, it's had enough time to sit and start working. I use the detail brush first to get to the backside of my wheels and get all that brake dust out of there.

Nothing looks worse than a clean wheel where you can see a dirty backside. After that step is done, I take my soft bristled brush and work on the face of the wheel. Light agitation is all that is needed. Last I work on the wheel wells with my long handled brush making sure to hit every part in the wheel well. Wheel wells are a really important step to a complete detail, and you have to make sure they are spotless. While you are washing, make sure when you dip your wash tools in the bucket, to dip them in the rinse bucket first to remove all the dirt, and then dip it in the soap bucket so you are getting clean soap. When you are done with each wheel, rinse the wheel and make sure the entire cleaner is off the wheel. Repeat for the other wheels. Make sure to get any undercarriage areas that are visible.

Step 4A- Washing- Vehicle painted surfaces

After the tires and wheels have been done and before wetting the paint, you will want to prepare your wash bucket and tools for the paint in this step you will use a Car Shampoo, that is highly lubricated formula with its unique foaming quality and quick rinse characteristics SAFELY lifts dirt and grime while helping to prevent swirls from washing.

The Car Shampoo safely removes dirt and grime without removing waxes or sealants. The shampoo is specially formulated to be absolutely harmless and safe for your car surface. The use of the wrong shampoo that doesn't remove the grime and dirt combine with a low quality sponge/applicator will eventually leave Swirl Marks in your paint surface something that all of us try to avoid.

The Car Shampoo must be PH 7 Balance, something that you don't find on those purple gallon jug's at you local store for $2.99 - one of the most common mistakes that customers make is to invest in a good quality wax only to use an inexpensive /low quality car shampoo, using the wrong type of car shampoo will remove the wax that you had previously applied to protect your investment. Good Car Shampoo's will remove dirt and grime without scratching and will NOT strip the wax like other brands do.

We used a 5 gallon clean bucket of water mixed with a ½ of a lid of car shampoo. During the washing process we have incorporated one of the most revolutionary products in the market today, the Oxidation block. The oxidation block is a product intended to be used to quickly and safely to remove bonded contaminants, droppings and insect grime from automotive finishes. For automotive paint finishes, this product has the same function and environmentally safety as clay-based stain removers. (Clay bars) benefits are endless but we will skip that information right now.

With a new high quality washing mitt on the bucket with the car shampoo we will work on sections, we wash the surface and immediately rinsed right after we then dip the oxidation block on the bucket which has the soapy solution, after that we proceed to pass the block with a horizontally motion to all the painted surfaces one section at the time.

Do it section by section so the soap doesn't dry. If it does dry, just re-soap the area and rinse again. I do the rear of the car and the front bumpers last, as these have the most grime. You want to wash in long sweeping strokes, don't wash in circles as this can induce marring of the paint. Also be sure to re-dip your mitt into the soap bucket frequently, rinse your wash mitt often to remove any dirt from it. You want to make sure you have as much lubrication on the surface as possible. We repeat that process to the entire vehicle surface.

With that process not only have we washed the vehicle but we have removed all bonded contaminants, droppings and insect grime from the surface, we have accomplished the most important task of a detail job. Surface preparation.

Step 5- Drying Vehicle surface

When you are done rinsing the car of all the soap, you want to remove the nozzle from the hose and do what's called the "flooding" method. Flood the surface of the car from top to bottom with the hose. This turns those thousands of little beads of water into one big sheet, and it helps dry the car faster. After that is done, use you waffle weave drying towel from the top down to dry the rest of the car.

There should be very little water left on the surface of the car left at this point. Make sure if you see a spot of dirt you missed, or loose debris on the car, don't touch it with your drying towel, re-wash the area and then dry.

I usually use a couple of inexpensive micro fibers to dry the wheels and tires. Wheels can get water spots as well, so you want to make sure you dry those along with the paint.

Using the proper drying tools is also important. I like to use something called a "waffle weave" towel for drying which is one of the safest way to dry your car. Another common tool is the chamois and we can go as far as using leaf blowers to completely remove all the water from all the tight spaces and trim.

Step 6- Tapping

Since we are going to do a full detail job the use of power tools will be needed, as safety measurement we will tape all the trim areas and delicate areas, the main purpose of this step is "in case" that we make contact with the power tool we will not damage the trim area, not taking the important step while using a power tool could result on leaving "scuffing marks" on the unprotected surfaces. We like to use 2' masking tape and at times we choose bright colors so they stand out.

Step 7- Swirl Remover/ Light Scratches and paint corrections

In this step you should tackle all of the above problems; this could be a very long section which can be addressed with many different tools so we will concentrate in the Swirl Remover and the Porter Cable for tool.

What is a Porter Cable- General Speaking?

The Porter Cable 7424 dual-action car polisher started the pro-consumer car polisher market life more than a decade ago, the Porter Cable 7424 is the industry standard which is a dual-action car polisher. A machine that operates by orbiting the polishing pad around a center spindle while the pad freely spins on its own axis. A counterweight on the opposite side of the center spindle dampens vibration for smooth operation. The tool head action, often called orbital, prevents the creation of holograms (symmetrical buffing marks), paint burns and other forms of paint damage often associated with high-speed buffing machines. The polishing action of a dual-action polisher closely mimics that of circular hand polishing.

With this tool(s) many different foam pads can be used, they all come in many sizes designs and colors, the color is the industry standard rule of thumb for a certain job, all do recently more and more colors are appearing in the market.

Yellow Foam Pad- Use for Heavy duty Compound

Orange Foam Pad- Use for Light duty compound

Green Foam Pad- Use for Compound/Polish

White Foam Pad- Use for Polish

Black Foam Pad- Use for machine Glaze

Blue Foam Pad- Use for Polish/Sealant

Those are the most popular ones when using such of tool; in our case we will use the Orange foam pad and the White foam pad.

With brand new foam pads we like to spray a very light mist of water or detailer, only when they are brand new pads.

Extreme care must be taken when working on near the taped areas, I personally like to start with a speed of 4 and from there work up to the speed # 6 but I do most of the work at 4, I believe this is a personal preference same as the machine in use, products, pad brand and technique, I also recommend to run the porter cable power core thru the shoulder to avoid any contact with the work area and surface area.

To accomplish this task we have found out that the systems that works for us is as follow: Use with an air or electric Random Orbital Buffer, preferably with a 3/8 stroke. With electric use a medium to high setting. With air, make sure 90 psi is maintained at the tool when in use. Shake well before using product. Apply product either to surface to be buffed or directly to pad, we like to apply it to the pad, we like to put 3 dime size drops in the pad after that buff using a light to medium pressure. We like to work on a 2x2 area always monitoring the process and results.

Buff until most of product has disappeared; decreasing to light pressure as buffing is finished. Wipe off any excess left with a dry micro fiber towel. If excess product slings onto adjacent panels or moldings, wipe off with a damp micro fiber cloth before going to next panel to be buffed. Pro detailers often use the aid of high powered lights to follow their work, this tool allows them to completely see all areas in need of correction.

Step 8- Pre Wax

We have not only completely stripped all the old wax via our oxidation block, while the vehicle surface has been corrected with our swirl remover I still like to go and apply our pre wax as part of the entire system.

Pre-wax is just as the name implies, to get the surface ready for wax to be applied. Tar spots, some tree saps and various other surface contaminates are usually not taken off by a product that is termed wax only. Your better pre-cleaners have a small amount of abrasive in them, and a lot of the wax/cleaners on the market have a very high content of solvents in them. The wax/cleaners with high solvent content in them need to be avoided, as they will eventually deteriorate the surface to which they are applied.

Pre Wax Cleanser is especially formulated to be used prior to applying Car Wax. If you're trying to get a really incredible deep, vibrant shine from your wax, you need to use a pre wax cleanser to properly prepare the surface prior to use Car Wax. The benefit of Pre Wax Cleanser is that is prepares the surface after you wash it, so that the paint surface doesn't get contaminated by dirt or anything else that may keep you from getting the ultimate protection.

The process is very close to the one done with the swirl remover, on this step we like to apply the Pre Wax by hand but will remove it via porter cable with a white pad and touch it up with a high quality super soft Micro fiber towel, again extreme car must be taken with trim areas and delicate areas.Applied by hand

Step 9 - Car Wax

We now move to the final step, the application of the car wax, Again we like to apply the wax by hand and remove via porter cable using a white foam pad and finished with a super flush Micro fiber towel. With our car wax you don't need multiple products to accomplish astonishing results, it doesn't get any easier. The use of porter cable is not necessary for the pre wax and wax steps but for an extreme detail they help a lot.

Applied by hand, I like to use the porter cable with a Microfiber towel to remove the wax, it seems to work great for me.

Step 10- Tire Dressing

I like to apply a tire gel using an applicator with a very thin layer of tire gel to the tire sidewall if more shine is desired a second coat can be applied, most of the time one coat is enough, The Tire Gel also prevents premature sidewall dry rot and cracking.

One of the biggest complains of today's car enthusiast is the "Sling" created by many of today's inferior products used to dress your car tires.

Step 11- Final Touch

At this time all the tape can be removed, any areas in need of a touch up can be done now, for this step I like to use a brand new high quality Micro fiber towel. From here relax and enjoy your accomplishment.

Thanks for looking and I hope this information is useful.

How do you replace the serpentine belt on a 1997 grand prix and there is apparently two designs of the 3.8 V6. so how do you know which design your motor is so that you order the right drivebelt?

I don't know anything about two designs, i know there is a 3.1 and a 3.8 liter v6. in my 97,3.8 v6 there is a tension pulley, this pulley only puts tension on the belt so it stays on. use a big wrench to pull it back and this will loosen the belt. if you are confused about your model have the vin number readily available when you try to get your part.

What does everyone think of custom airbrushed motorcycles?

If they are done right, they can look really nice. It's when the design starts to become gawdy that it becomes ugly.

How much do you tip for detailing a car?

Auto detailing can be a great way to bond with your car, and to make your automotive investment go farther, last longer and look better.

How do you fix a suspension popping noise coming from the axle of your car?

It can be a defective CVC-joint or other things. Have it inspected by a qualified mechanic and they will find the cause of the popping noise.

Does a slight gain of horse power make a difference?

Of course it does, it still produces a slight increase of power therefore there is an increase in speed and is slightly faster.

Can waxing the car make it dirty?

Waxing a car does not usually make it dirty. It may seem dirty if the surface has not been properly prepared with a micro polish prior to waxing. The best result is gained by first washing the car, then cutting and polishing it (if the paintwork is old), then applying the coat of wax before buffing.

What would one use a car detailing kit for?

Cleaning your car can often feel like a chore, but to car enthusiasts detailing is like car washing on steroids; a search for a cleaning perfection that goes beyond showroom quality. There are many different levels of car detailing logan services with hundreds of different techniques and theories, and tens of thousands of products.

Car or automotive detailing cleansed or restored the car to produce a better shine. Detailing also helps to protect paint and other car parts against exposure to UV rays and hazardous contaminants.

Auto Detailing?

form_title=Auto Detailing form_header=6773 What year is your vehicle?*= {Select One,2009 or Newer,2006 - 2008,2000 - 2005,1990 - 1999,1980 - 1989,Pre-1980} What will be the subject of the detailing?*= () Interior () Both () Exterior Can you give us the make of your vehicle?*= {Select One,Acura,Audi,BMW,Buick,Cadillac,Chevrolet,Chrysler,Dodge,Ford,Geo,GMC,Hummer,Honda,Hyundai,Infiniti,Isuzu,Jaguar,Jeep,Kia,Land Rover,Lexus,Lincoln,Mazda,Mercedes,Mercury,Mini,Mitsubishi,Nissan,Oldsmobile,Plymouth,Pontiac,Porsche,Saab,Saturn,Scion,Subaru,Suzuki,Toyota,Volkswagen,Volvo,Other}

What is auto detailing?

Cleaning your car can often feel like a chore, but to car enthusiasts detailing is like car washing on steroids; a search for a cleaning perfection that goes beyond showroom quality. There are many different levels of car detailing logan services with hundreds of different techniques and theories, and tens of thousands of products.

What is curb weight?

Curb weight is the weight of a vehicle with all the equipment and operating materials like motor oil, transmission oil and a full tank of fuel. Baggage and passengers are not included in curb weight.

Curb weight is the American term. Kerb weight is the English term.

How much do auto detailing trailers cost?

Cost all depends on what you want or need to perform your work. Used or new, the cost can range from $0.00 to $5000-$6000. You can buy the trailer and put the components on yourself, or buy them pre-built from companies such as 3d Products.

I bought an inclosed 12 ft trailer for $2000 and added and designed my own. IThe total cost is about $7500.00 fully stocked.

Can detailing make a car smell?

Every Car Product has it's own smell. Overtime there is a possibility that the smell will remain on/in the car. But it will depend on the product and the strength of it's smell.

How do you stop water leaking on the rear carpet on 1994 Suburban with barn doors?

check your hinges make sure the doors are not sagging or you can get new weather stripping and replace the old j.c. Whitney should have it

What is the market size for Car detailing services?

please define your target market and a comparison point or points.

Duties of an auto detailing manager?

A manager of an auto detailing business sells products and services, prepares estimates, coordinates special events, hires and trains help, and researches competitors.

What causes unplesant car smell it lingers when the car is off sticks to clothing causes breathing problems it does not seem to be the heater and detailing and cleaning under engine did not help?

Consider mold growing in the jute (soft padding under the carpet) after exposure to water. Also check for water leaks at windows (including windshield) around doors or in the trunk.

What is the typical price for detailing your car?

The typical price on the South Florida and Lower South Eastern Estates is around $80 to $150. This is a rough and average estimate. Some detailers use higher quality chemicals than others. Although wax is made of just the same components pretty much, you should still ask your detailer what waxes he will use on your vehicle and how long it will last around.

What does it mean to detail a car?

It means you clean your car making it look brand new. You wash it, wax, polish wheel/tires, vacuum, and clean anything else possible.

How much does car detailing cost?

100 dollars on up depending on how detailed you want it and how big the application is

I just got my car detailed and I got the works done. I had a sick puppy in there who left quite a mess. It cost me $300- but it literally looks brand new plus they got all the gross smell out. I know they had cheaper offers ranging from $170 and up but I needed them to do a thorough wash and sanatize every surface in the vechile... litterally every surface. Totally worth it- would do it again.... Hope this helps

It depends what sort of service and options you choose. The price can vary greatly depending on what you want done to your car. Finding the right products is the hardest part even for a professional. If you take it to a professional shop, they will test products until they get the one that works for your paint. You can even do it yourself if you're serious about your car. A good place to get started would be DetailBox (see related link) which is a service where you get monthly car care samples to test out first. Making sure a product works before buying it will save you tons of money.

For a basic hand-wash and -wax with interior cleaning typically costs $20-$150,depending on the make and model of vehicle, Expect to pay $100-$300 or more for a standard auto detailing that typically takes two to five hours and for a deluxe auto detailing can cost $150-$500 or more, and can take four to 18 hours, depending on the detailer and the condition of the vehicle.

When detailing a car with good paint can you start with glaze and then use a cleaner wax?

First you want to put cleaner wax then use a glaze like a good caranuba wax, Meguiars makes a pretty good wax I'd use their waxes

Do you need a special license to start an auto detailing business out of your home in NYC?

Yes, first one must get training and an auto detailing school for 4-5 years, because it is a very demanding job. Then the license is given after that.

Is auto detailing an expensive hobby?

I think that yes, it might be an expensive hobby. You have to buy wax, polisher,detailing clay, compound, the swirl remover, and all the car cleaning products needed.

It can be expensive since you have to find the right products for YOUR car and paint. There are ways to get sample products to test on your car such as by going to conventions or joining services like DetailBox (see related links). If you can figure out what products work well, then you can make sure you won't purchase a full product and end up wasting it.