Auto Detailing FAQs

Nicholas Edwards

Q: What is Auto Detailing?

A: Auto Detailing is a process of using various tools and products to clean, shine, and protect the bodywork of cars.

Although most people understand that auto detailing covers many areas, some don't understand how it all works together to keep their car looking its best.

Q: What does Auto Detailing include?

A: Auto detailing includes any of these processes carried out on a vehicle: exterior cleaning and polishing; interior cleaning and conditioning; scrubbing and vacuuming carpets and upholstery; shampooing carpets and seats; applying dressings to exterior trim pieces such as rub strips or bumpers; detailing wheel rims; cleaning, polishing and waxing the vehicle.

Q: What is the difference between Detailing and Cleaning?

A: This is an easy one. Cleaning refers to the process of using soap, water, brushes or sponges on any exterior surface to remove dirt while detailing takes this a step further by finishing with a layer of polish or wax which leaves your car shining like new.

Q: I have heard about 'Claying' recently, what is it?

A: There are many different types of clay bars available but in essence they are all used for removing embedded particles that cannot be removed by any other means besides abrasive methods such as machine polishing.

If you plan on doing major paintwork, you will eventually need to use a clay bar.

Q: What does Wheel Dressing do?

A: Wheel dressings are available in many different forms from high gloss to satin finishes. They can be applied by hand or machine and once polished on they give the wheel a nice new shiny look that makes your car stand out from the rest.

Q: Is it important to use a wax?

A: Of course. A good quality carnauba or synthetic based wax is used after polishing to give your finish that extra depth and shine that attracts attention from everyone who sees it.

Waxing should be done in conjunction with a sealant, either in the form of a paint coating or a polymer sealant which acts as a protective barrier in between washes so you don't have to polish as often if at all in some cases.

Q: What about a coat of paint protection?

A: Yes, paint protection comes before waxing and this film-forming shield is applied by machines just like polishing compounds but has far greater durability. The result - your car's paintwork is protected from environmental contaminants and it just needs a quick wash every now and then to maintain that look.

Q: How long does a detail last?

A: The difference between a cheap detail job and a quality job can be determined by how long the paintwork looks shiny.

If you follow good product application procedures, carry out the correct steps in the right order at each stage when detailing your car's bodywork, employ effective machine polishing techniques when necessary, use professional grade products only when required, apply sealant after polishing and waxing, protect all painted areas with a paint coating or polymer sealant before any other treatments are carried out you should get about six months of 'show' finish from your work if not more, depending on the products used and how many times you wash and wax your car during that time.

Q: What is Machine Polishing?

A: Machine polishing in Auto Detailing is nothing like machine polishing in furniture polishing. Most people use a drill attachment to polish with but there are some polishers available with built-in rotary motors which get the job done much quicker.

In essence, machine polishing describes a process of removing paintwork defects such as light scratches, swirl marks or etching caused by bird droppings using an abrasive compound under high speed rotation from a foam pad or wool wheel impregnated with a specialised formula of compounds designed for specific tasks such as scratch removal, compounding, oxidation.