Every so often, we give our cars a well-deserved wash. We either do it ourselves or go to the neighborhood car wash – the usual wash down, vacuuming of the interior and a coat of wax. And yes, even the engine bay would get a wipe down. But once in a blue moon, the car gets a chance to go the spa. Besides getting a tune up pampering and oil change, going to detailers is a must at least once a year. This is when your car gets cleaned the proper way. Now you can say that you could do it yourself on a weekend. Detailing products are easily available and your labor is free. True, very true… I used to do it years ago, minus the use of a polisher. By doing it yourself, labor cost is just about nil. Just make sure you don’t have a hot date in the evening as it can take you the whole weekend to finish. You would either get too engrossed in the cleaning process and eventually forget about your date or get too tired to go out.
Now, it’s easier to have it done by professionals. They do it faster and I have to admit – there are some trade secrets that produce a better finish. Actually, it’s also another way of saying that I am too getting old to do it.
When a car goes through a detailing process, a car is basically cleaned thoroughly. The interior is vacuumed and the carpet, shampooed, to the extent the carpet and seats are removed. Even the ceiling is scrubbed. The engine bay is cleaned of all the oil stains. The body is cleaned, rubbed down properly to remove road grime and given a proper coat of wax. Done properly and with the right product, your coat of wax can last up to six months – paint protection as they call it. This is good when you clean your car as it is easier to wipe it dry – the water beads off the surface of the car. Very nice if you want to maintain that show room look. Detailers now have products that can remove the water marks from the windshield and windows of your car.
But for me, a complete detailing is when I also have the underside of my car cleaned. I take my car to a gas station, put on a lift and let them clean the underside thoroughly with the wheels removed. That for me is a complete detailing of a car. After a complete detailing, it is easier to keep your car in showroom condition. Again, there are products available to help you do this.
What brand is the best? Well that depends. Certain products works better for others. Some require some training to really bring out the finer points of a certain product. It is best to follow the instructions to fully appreciate the product you are using. I have seen cars which were detailed by the owner himself and it looks as if it was done professionally.
Caution though if the product you are using is abrasive, even if it is mild, because it will remove a layer of clear coat or paint. If you keep on using it, the thickness of paint on your car will get thinner. Not good. If there are scratches, again think twice. A scratch is actually a cut. If you look at a cross section of a scratch, it would look like valley. It is seen because it creates a shadow, so the light can’t be reflected back. One way to remove it is to rub down the top part of the scratch and make it as the same level of the bottom of the scratch. But the paint thickness gets thinner. If the scratch is deep enough, you see the primer or the metal itself.
Now, keeping the car in show room condition also serves another purpose besides bragging rights – resale value. If the time comes you need to sell the car, it can add value. Personally I prefer looking at cars with original paint. A re-sprayed car may look nice but it can hide a lot of things. But that’s just me.