"Detailing a vehicle vs. washing a vehicle, what is the difference?" - Is a question a lot of customers, friends, & family members ask. My hope is to break down the difference for those interested and to provide some tips and tricks to maintaining your personal vehicle along the way.
Let’s start with washing the outside of a vehicle and cleaning the interior. We all know to properly maintain a vehicle there are little things we need to do as owners to preserve the integrity of our car, truck, and SUV, which includes: engine maintenance, replacing normal wear and tear items (brakes, tires, etc.) & we also need to make sure we keep our vehicles appearance in order as well (although we sometimes skip this step -myself included. Washing a vehicle regularly is great to remove all the contaminants (salt, bird droppings, industrial fallout, iron particles, etc.) that our undercarriage and paint will accumulate over the days and weeks of driving. removing these road contaminants is important to the maintenance and appearance of our vehicles. We all know what road salt can do to a car, truck or SUVs body panels and undercarriage, it is imperative to remove it as soon as possible to limit damage, but did you know that bird droppings and industrial fallout can be just as damaging to the paint of your vehicle? For most of us washing our vehicle in an automatic car wash, touchless car wash or at home in our driveway with a towel and soap from an auto store is good enough and does the trick. While these options are better than nothing, sometimes these cause damage to paint and undercarriage as well. The damage from automatic car washes might go unnoticed at first but over time you will see swirl marks (small scratches in a circular pattern), other scratches and paint fading do to the brushes being dirty after wiping hundreds of cars and the soap/chemicals used will strip your vehicle of any protection it might have due to high concentration ratio of the soaps/chemicals used. Leaving your clear coat to the elements and sometimes even wearing down your clear coat to appoint where sun damage will happen (clear coat pilling and flaking) prematurely, the same goes for the touchless washes. Out of all the options of washing your vehicle, the old bucket and soap from the auto store is the best option for “do it yourselfers”. Just pick out a high quality ph balanced soap and wash in straight lines (not circle motions – causes swirl marks) with light to no pressure with your wash mitt/sponge, let the weight of the sponge/mitt do the work for you. Be sure to spray the parts of the undercarriage to wash off any extra road contaminates from the underbody to stop rusting. Don’t ignore your interior either, it is important and healthy to keep a clean interior. Just like the exterior the sun can do damage to the dash and other interior pieces. After cleaning be sure to apply a dash or interior protection to prevent sun damage and help maintain your vehicles value.
The best way to maintain your vehicle is to have it professionally detailed at least twice a year. Although this is a slightly more expensive option it is worth it. I will even pay another detailer to detail my vehicles (1. It helps another business & 2. It allows me to spend time working on my business and to spend time with the family). Detailers will get into every nook and cranny of your vehicle. We always start with detailing the interior first. This is a very short basic explanation of how we detail. I personally start by removing the floor mats and cleaning them. I move on to blowing out the underneath portion of the seat and vacuuming all carpets. From there I detail all interior pieces (dash, cup holders, vents, seats, etc.) to remove all dust. After your interior is detailed to my standards, I apply interior protections to every surface and condition/protect your seats from everyday messes. From there I move on to the outside, starting with the wheels and wheel wells. I scrub and wash until there is zero dirt/contaminates located in the wheel area. From there I do a pre rinse with a foam cannon with a balance ph soap and a soap with that in basic terms encapsulates the dirt so it will not scratch during the rinse process. I move on to soft brushing in all the hard to reach places, such as badges, door handles, and grill. While detailing the exterior we move in straight lines and move from panel to panel. We detail and rinse the exterior of the vehicle with deionized water to prevent water spots and mineral build up. After the exterior is detailed/washed to our standards we put on a protective layer such as a sealant or a high-quality wax. This step is important to help keep contaminants from sticking. I personally spend between 4 to 8 hours on a detail, depending on the condition of the vehicle or the needs/ wants of the customer. The best part about our detailing, is that we are a mobile detailing shop on wheels that comes to you and we try to fit into your schedule for convenience.
I am always open to questions and love helping others out. If you have question, I would be more than happy to talk you through your own detail or give advice to the weekend warrior. I will give you the secrets to my mobile detailing soaps, chemicals, cleaners, and the tools I use to complete an interior detail or exterior detail.