Whether you wash your car every week or leave this job to the rain, you can extend its life and improve its appearance by periodically deep cleaning or detailing it. With modern car payments going on for up to 72 months, you want your car to look great while you're paying for it and beyond. As Mike Schutlz, head of new products at Turtle Wax says, "Think of the surface of your car as you would your face. It needs to be properly taken care of in order to have a healthy glow."
Properly restoring your car to showroom-new condition is a labor-intensive job that you can attempt at home or entrust to the pros who have the experience, equipment, and supplies on hand to do it right. Detailing goes far beyond a car wash and includes several steps, whether it's you or your body shop doing the work.
Good detailing starts with the interior and includes totally cleaning the upholstery, dash, ducts and glass. Most people can do this part, but it is the exterior that may need the help of the pros.
Detailing The Outside Of Your Car
- Start with a car wash, using a car wash solution, rather than dishwashing detergent that will strip away wax and leave your finish subject to nicks, scratches, and stains. Start from the top down and make sure to concentrate your efforts on lower panels that collect abrasive dirt. After washing, wipe the surface with a rubber blade squeegee that removes the last touch of minerals and dirt from the finish or with a thick, soft terry towel or chamois.
- Clean your wheel wells with an all-purpose cleaner, followed by final dressing. Make sure to wash wheels too, avoiding acid-based cleaners on polished alloy wheels or clear coated wheels. Make sure to gleam up chrome wheels with a glass cleaner or metal polish.
- Run your hand across the finish to feel for signs of roughness, which indicates that old wax, bird droppings, and other contaminants have bonded to the paint. Clean with paint cleaner or by rubbing a small block of paint cleaning clay, lubricated with liquid-cleaner wax, over the finish. If you use a paint cleaner, make sure it is safe for clear coat finishes.
- After cleaning, polish with an oscillating polish machine. The pros use a rotating buffer, which can harm the paint if you are unfamiliar with the process. Polishing will hide small scratches and feed the paint with oil that prevents it from drying out. If you find deep scratches, make sure to put your car in the hands of a pro. Once done, the pros measure the results by holding a ruler perpendicular to the car surface to see how high a number they can read as a measure of glossiness!
- With all the major steps done, you should finish up by cleaning the tires with white wall cleaner, followed by tire dressing.
Why Consider Professional Detailing?
While anyone with a free afternoon, an armful of car care products, and the willingness to stick with it can adequately detail a car, it is tempting to skip a few steps that might not seem important. Even with car care, the "devil is in the details" and it is the small things, like using the right product in the right place and removing any excess, that make a difference. Considering that a car is a major investment, many owners find that professional detailing is a worthwhile investment at least annually.