Auto detailing (British English: Car valeting), is the performance of an extremely thorough cleaning, polishing and waxing of an automobile, both inside and out, to produce a show-quality level of detail. Besides improving appearance, detailing helps to preserve resale value of a car.
Today, the United States has more than 50,000 detailers in operation. Some are franchisees of national auto detailing chains. Many auto detailing services can also help enhance the visual aspects of a vehicle before a car show.
Components of detailing
Exterior detailing involves cleaning and bringing back the shine and gloss to the car's paintwork, chrome trim, windows, wheels, and tires as well as all other visible components on the exterior of a vehicle. Different detailers use different products and techniques to do this. Products include but are not limited to detergents, acid free degreasers, detail clay, waxes, polishes, and a variety of applicators, brushes and special plush drying towels. The main components of exterior car detailing are preparation, the right polishes, and protecting.
Cleaning refers to the removal of all foreign surface particles from exterior surfaces through the use of the right products for your vehicle, water and washing and claying. A clay bar helps to remove all contamination/dirt from the surface and embedded particles in the clearcoat that cannot be removed through washing such as bugs, tar, sap, overspray, etc.
Polishing (Paint Correction) refers to using Electric or Pneumatic machine polishes, which can be Rotary Polishers which have a constant direct spinning action (Direct Drive) or Dual Action Polisher (which uses a Random Orbital Action plus Rotary Action) this is called forced rotation. Specific polishing pads (Foam, Wool or Microfiber) remove microns of clear coat from a vehicle in order to remove fine scratches, swirls marks, oxidation and other imperfections from a paint surface produced from improper washing techniques, drying techniques and other possible causes.
Protecting involves the application of a protective wax (in liquid or paste form) that prevents foreign matter (contaminants, pollution) from adhering to the surface of the vehicle, including minerals in water, bugs splatter, tar, and dirt. Then using a sealant to help stop contaminants embedding back into your paintwork, windows, wheels and trim. A maintenance program will aid in longer protection for your vehicle.
Interior detailing involves a deep cleaning of the whole interior as well as the boot of the car. All of the dash area, panels, windows, seats and carpets are cleaned extensively. Vacuuming is standard, and steam cleaning, liquid cleaners, and brushes may be used to remove stains on upholstery. Some nonporous surfaces may also be polished. Some detailers remove seats and other interior components to provide the most thorough clean possible.
Detailing does not include major body work. As detailing the engine involves electronics located inside the engine compartment, it is a delicate process. Detailers need to clean and protect all painted surfaces, rubber pipes and all metal and chrome. If not done properly, the engine of the car and other important parts and electronics can be ruined from water damage, chemicals and pressure.