The main area and aim of car detailing is to fully enhance and restore the vehicles paintwork by eliminating light scratches and swirl marks that have been inflicted over time and that reflect the light in such a way that they give an unsightly cob webbing effect on the surface of the paint or clear coat.
Before this is undertaken though, the exterior has to be thouroughly washed and cleaned in order to remove as much dirt and as many contaminants as possible. The first step of the exterior detailing process is usually to foam the vehicle completely and allow it to soak, this helps to soften up any dirt and lift it off from the surface prior to pre rinsing. Whilst soaking, a soft bristled detailing brush may be used to agitate areas like the window rubbers, plastic grills, trim details and badges. The foam, along with the loosened dirt and grime is then thoroughly rinsed off.
Before washing the paintwork, wheels and wheel wells/arches are cleaned as these tend to be the dirtiest and most contaminated parts of a vehicle. Specialist brushes and wheel cleaning products are used to remove grime and baked on brake dust from all areas of the wheels and wells/arches including suspension components, brake calipers, around lug nuts and even from the wheel rears.
After the wheels and arches have been thoroughly cleaned, the paintwork can then be washed from top to bottom using plush wash mitts instead of sponges and soft micro fiber towels instead of chamois leathers in conjunction with the two bucket technique and grit guards, which all help to prevent any damage (in the form of light scratches and swirl marks) from being inflicted. The complete wash process including the wheels and arches can take anywhere up to two hours to complete, depending on the size and condition of the vehicle.
After washing, paintwork is clayed using a specialist automotive clay bar and lubricant which gently removes any bonded surface contaminants that washing alone cannot remove. This is an important step in the car detailing process as these contaminants can hinder the polishing process and prevent a top quality finish from being achieved. Car detailing helps to retain much of a vehicles origional value and it can also add a considerable amount to the value of older more neglected or abused vehicles that have never seen that level of care.
An interior detail comprises of all upholstery being vacuumed and thoroughly shampooed to remove any contaminants and stains, while also brightening and freshening it up. Headlining is cleaned, leather is thoroughly scrubbed to remove any dirt from deep in the grain and is then conditioned and protected. Plastics, vinyl and trim are cleaned and dressed using appropriate products to revive and protect them from the sun, then the interior glass is also cleaned and polished to give a crystal clear, smear free finish. The interior detailing process is also very involved and time consuming as every area including even the smallest vent and switch are properly dealt with using a wide variety of brushes, swabs and micro fiber towels to remove the smallest dust particles from the tightest of areas.
The general practice of car detailing is undertaken to ensure that the vehicle is kept in as good condition as possible during ownership. Once a full detail has been undertaken, mini details or maintenance cleans can be performed on a regular basis which will not be as involved as a full detail yet will help to give all parts of the vehicle that ‘just detailed’ look.