A clean automobile is a delight to watch because dirty and dusty cars take the spirit out of going anywhere. Moreover with people spending more time in their cars rather their homes, automobiles become an extended home. Therefore keeping it clean not just from the exterior but the interiors as well is what makes the difference. Auto detailing is the process of thorough cleaning of the automobile along with complete polishing and waxing. The process of detailing initiates cleaning thoroughly not only from the outside but from the inside too. This practice of auto detailing is done not only for personal satisfaction but can be used to prepare the automobile for car shows or to increase its value if resale is intended.
Professional detailers have the requisite knowledge and expertise to carry on the job of auto detailing. They take it as a work of “science and art”. The detailing on scientific grounds includes elements like equipments, chemicals, complete information and knowledge of the surface of vehicles, standards followed by the industry and most importantly the requirements of the customer. The artistic aspect of detailing includes the activities involved in the combination of the above mentioned elements into specific procedures that work according to each situation. Successful completion of the activities produces quality service and a satisfied customer and this is what professional auto detailer aim for.
As mentioned auto detailing is more than just washing and waxing and complete detailing comes by working both on the exterior as well as the interiors.
The exterior detailing of an automobile involves cleaning the car thoroughly from the outside and bringing a shine to its paint, wheel, chrome trim, windows and the tires as well. There are many products that are used for the exterior detailing. These include detail clay, detergents, waxes, polishes and a host of other applicators. The first step towards exterior detailing involves washing the excess dirt and dust that has settled on the automobile. One must start with the wheels and the rims of the brake and then move upwards.
The process of exterior detailing involves cleaning, correcting the surface and protecting. Cleaning removes the foreign elements that settle on the surface by washing and detailing. The dirt and pollutants that settle on the clear coat of the surface of the automobile cannot be removed by normal washing. A clay bar can thus be used to remove this dirt. When still wet after the final rinse, a light spray of the quick liquid wax can be applied to the surface. The correcting process involves polishing the surface either by hand or by machine. Polishing pads specifically made for the purpose are useful for removing fine scratches produced by improper drying or washing techniques. Protecting is the last stage where protective material is applied to the surface to prevent foreign particles to adhere to its surface. This barrier is thus provided by sealants and waxes. Light buffing with the wax off towel is the best way to remove any water spots that might have stayed back. The painted surface thus gets a depth and there is nothing else but a great shine.
Before the entire process of exterior detailing is complete, it is good if the horizontal panels like the trunk, hood and the roof are clayed. Although the process takes just a few minutes extra, its impact is much more, as the smoothness that it leaves would have the customer delighted.
The second part of detailing involves interior detailing where the interiors of the automobile are cleaned thoroughly to bring it as close to the original condition as possible. This is done by vacuuming the car first or steam cleaning. This might be done by removing the car seats. Stains on the covers and upholstery also have to be removed. Various products like rug shampoos, upholstery foam or spot cleaners can be used depending on the vehicle’s interior conditions. Most of the dust stains and dirt are removed by interior detailing. Except the physical damage all stains are removed by the process.
The next area to be cleaned is the windows of the automobile. After thorough cleaning with the cleaners, the windows must be sprayed with a rain repellent that does not let the rain water stay on the window but makes it slip.
The areas such as the door panel rim, the dashboard and the console are of vinyl and therefore needed to be cleaned first. Conditioners are then used to treat the vinyl to make it pliable. Scratches from the speedometer face are removed and polished to make it shine. It is essential to remember that the foot pedals and the steering wheel covers must not be conditioned as this would make them slip.
The heater and air conditioner vents are also included when interior detailing is carried on. They are generally cleaned by the usage of Q-tips. The dust and dirt that collects in the console seams are also removed using the same technique. The glass is thoroughly cleaned off any scratches or films both from the exterior as well as the interior to provide a clear vision.
Engine bay cleaning
Professional detailers provide another form of automobile detailing in the form of engine detailing. This involves cleaning the engine and its various parts thoroughly by steam, degreasers, high pressure water and other cleaners. However when cleaning the engine it is essential that the electrical or computer modules are kept away from water. Therefore it is best to clean the engine with a towel. Also the engine must be cleaned before washing the automobile as any dust or grease from the area that might settle outside can be later cleaned during exterior detailing.
Here it is important to note that the process of detailing does not include any body work, upholstery repairs or mechanical repairs. It is thus the process of cleaning the automobile thoroughly to give it a presentable look and enhance its longevity.
Car detailing can either be carried out by oneself by making use of detailing kits or can be done by professional detailing companies. However as auto detailing is time consuming it is expensive when compared to normal washing and cleaning the vehicle. But as this is a good way to bring the automobile close to its original condition, it is worth the effort and the cost.