A common misconception about car detailing is that it’s essentially the same thing as a car wash. Unlike simple surface washes, however, getting your car detailed can improve its appearance, function, and resale value.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about car detailing, from the process to the convenient affordability of mobile detailing.
What is Car Detailing?
Unlike a mere soap-and-water wash, car detailing makes use of specialized tools, products, and techniques to make your car look its best inside and out. Some light cosmetic touch-ups that buff out scratches and swirls are common, but not paintwork or bodywork.
Both the inside and outside of the car receive a deep cleaning that eliminates all dirt and minor imperfections. The end result is a car that looks like it’s brand new off the lot.
The Difference Between Car Detailing and a Car Wash
Either done by hand or at a drive-thru car wash, a wash uses brushes, soap, and water to remove surface grime from the car’s exterior. Unlike getting your car detailed, a car wash eliminates only the dirt on the surface of the vehicle’s body.
A car wash does cost less than getting your car detailed, and is less expensive upfront. This is because a wash produces only a fraction of the results of a thorough car detailing, which protects the vehicle from wear in addition to making it shine.
The Process of Car Detailing
Car detailing includes two main steps: interior detailing and exterior detailing. Next we’ll break down what happens in each step.
Exterior Car Detailing
The first step of exterior car detailing is to remove as much dirt as possible. The soap is allowed to foam to soften dirt and insect residue.
The wheels are thoroughly scrubbed next, using specialized brushes and cleaning products. Grime is removed from the entire wheel, including break calipers and lug nuts, to make your vehicle look showroom-perfect.
Now that the soap has had time to soften the dirt on the body of the car, the paintwork is washed and dried with washing mitts and microfiber cloths. An automotive clay bar may be used to remove deeply bonded dirt from the clear coat of the car’s surface.
Once the car is free of dirt the paint is polished by hand or machine to remove any minor scratches, swirl marks, or oxidation. Depending on the state of the car’s paintwork, this can be the most time-consuming part of the detailing process.
Lastly, high-quality carnauba based paste wax is used to add a protective layer of shine to the car’s paintwork. As a finishing touch, all exterior rubber and glass is thoroughly cleaned.
Interior Car Detailing
All interior upholstery is vacuumed and shampooed to get rid of dirt and stains. Any leather upholstery is properly scrubbed and conditioned to remove dirt and protect the surface of the leather.
All plastic and vinyl in the interior are cleaned and dressed as well, and interior glass is polished and cleaned.
“Optional” — But Important
Many people don’t recognize the importance of having the engine bay of their vehicle cleaned. They may either think that only mechanics should be under the hood, or simply not care if there is a bit of dirt around the engine since most people will never see it.
That being said, having your engine cleaned while your car is being detailed is extremely beneficial. It can be easier for mechanics to diagnose engine problems in a clean environment, and having a car detailer tend to the engine bay can protect engine components from wear and tear.
The engine bay is cleaned with a light spray of water and wiped down with degreaser before everything is rinsed clean. After everything is dried, the silicone, plastic, and rubber are dressed to prevent dry rot and cracking.
Cost and Value in Car Detailing
The size of the car can be a major factor in the cost of car detailing, as can any additional services that the state of the vehicle might require. On average, a basic detailing package can range from $50-$125, depending on various factors.
Mobile detailing is a great way to get the best value for your hard-earned dollar. Mobile detailing companies often save money on freestanding facility costs, and these savings are passed on to customers, making mobile detailing the less expensive option.
Mobile Detailing Pros offers discounts for servicing multiple cars at the same appointment, which means you can save money by having all of your cars cared for at once. Your friends and family can also benefit: you all can enjoy catching up while the detailing professionals work on all of your cars in one trip, saving everyone time and money.
Mobile detailing appointments can be made anywhere, even while you’re at work. That means no waiting around and no wasted time — and when time is money, this is a saving in itself!