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Auto detailing is the act of performing a thorough cleaning, restoration, and finishing of a motor vehicle, to produce a show-quality cleanliness and polish. Detailing can be performed on a vehicle's exterior and/or interior.
Professional detailing services and sale of products to both professionals and hobbyists represent a large commercial presence in places where autos are a primary mode of transport. In the United States alone, the professional and home detailing industry was over $9 billion in revenue, as of April 2014.
Components of detailing
Detailing is generally broken down into two categories: exterior and interior (or cabin). There are products and services that focus on these two areas specifically.
Exterior detailing involves cleaning, and either restoring or exceeding the original condition of the surface of the car's finish (usually a paint with a glossy finish), chrome trim, windows, wheels, and tires, as well as other visible components on a vehicle's exterior. A wide array of detailing products and techniques is used, based on the vehicle's surface type and condition, or the detailer's preference. Products include, but are not limited to: detergents and acid free degreasers (to break down dirt and soil), detail clay (to remove embedded contaminates), waxes, shines, and polishes (to resurface and then improve reflectivity, or to give the tires a shine), as well as a variety of applicators, brushes, and drying towels.
Interior detailing involves a deep cleaning of the whole interior cabin. Vehicle interiors of the last 50 years comprise a variety of materials, such as synthetic carpet upholstery, vinyl, leather, various natural fibers, carbon fiber composites, plastics, and others, which necessitates the use of a variety of cleaning techniques and products. Vacuuming is standard, and upholstery stains may be removed using steam cleaning, liquid and foam chemicals, as well as brushes. Additionally, some nonporous surfaces may be polished.
As extensive as the detailing process may be, it typically does not include corrective action such as major body shop repairs, but may be limited to some paint restoration via a dual action or rotary polisher to eliminate swirl marks within the paint.
- "Car Wash & Auto Detailing in the US: Market Research Report". Ibisworld. April 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014.