The concept of auto detailing has already become a well-known term for automotive fans, but it is still easy to find uncertainties and misconceptions. We often come across questions about what can be considered detailing and what shouldn’t. This article will answer exactly the questions of what detailing is and what treatments are performed by professional detailers.
Definition of car detailing
Detailing is a collective term for a set of treatments aimed at beautifying, renovating, and protecting the exterior and interior of the car so that they remain in perfect condition for as long as possible. This applies to all parts that are not mechanical or electronic, and as a matter of fact, detailing doesn’t have to be limited to cars only. Such services are also popular among owners of motorcycles, boats, and even planes and helicopters. In short, vehicles after the detailing procedure are supposed to shine and be protected against external factors for a long time.
While the very idea of taking care of vehicles is probably as old as an internal combustion engine (and maybe a steam engine), professional detailing takes it a few levels higher. The most significant role in developing the detailing movement is played by technology and the creation of more and more advanced cosmetics and car care tools.
External and internal detailing
Detailing services are often divided into those relating to the exterior and interior of the car. Let us describe both categories.
What does external detailing include?
First of all, car washing, which in the detailing sense means much more than scrubbing the car body with dishwashing liquid and a window cleaner. We are talking about procedures such as chemical and mechanical decontamination of the car body, i.e., getting rid of various residues, tar, asphalt, iron filings, or glue. During this several-hour process, the detailers thoroughly clean the whole car body, wheels, and rims. In addition, external detailing also requires a look under the hood and safe cleaning of the engine compartment.
The next step is polishing, and we’re not just talking about the car body but also card windows and headlights. It’s crucial in the process that the tools and polishing sponges used must be adapted to the type of surface and its degree of wear.
The culmination of the above actions is protection, which may involve various methods. The classic one is waxing. However, in detailing studios, the most popular nowadays are ceramic coatings (also known as quartz) or protective films.
Ceramic coatings play a protective role, especially for strong chemical detergents, insects, micro-scratches, or bird dropping. Still, they also provide an excellent paint appearance and easy care thanks to the hydrophobic effect. PPF protective films, on the other hand, provide a higher degree of protection against mechanical damage, but are significantly more expensive.
However, both methods protect against sun rays, which can damage the car body. We elaborate a bit more on that topic in the article “The influence of UV radiation on the car body”.
The entire operation differs from a visit to a car wash, not only in terms of scope but also in the cosmetics and technology used. The final effect is that the owners rub their eyes when picking up the car, because the last time they saw their car so pampered was in the showroom (or never in the case of second-hand cars). And this is before looking inside the car and seeing the effects of internal detailing.
What does internal detailing involve?
This stage begins with a thorough vacuuming and cleaning of the car. During such an operation, detailers are not only getting rid of the M&M’s laying on the floor but all the smallest crumbs and dust. Of course, the process covers the entire car, including the trunk, lockers, and crevices, not just the most visible parts.
The next step is in this procedure is cleaning windows and mirrors, which are treated with a potent degreasing agent. In addition to the excellent gloss effect and the absence of streaks, it is a necessary step before applying hydrophobic coatings, which increase safety while driving and provide better visibility.
The last and probably the most time-consuming step is upholstery maintenance. Depending on the type of upholstery, universal cleaning solutions, dedicated products for washing upholstery, or special leather care products are used for this purpose. The seats must be removed to complete this process accurately.
The detailing ritual finishes with taking care of the scent. It is not only about perfuming, but also eliminating unpleasant odours that beloved pets like to leave in our cars.
Of course, not all detailing treatments need to be performed with the same frequency. For example, the durability of ceramic coatings is up to 100,000 km, but you need to clean and wash the car… a bit more often.
How is auto detailing different from valeting?
The terms detailing and valeting are often used interchangeably, while the one refers to a slightly more expansive set of treatments. Car valeting is mainly limited to washing and cleaning the vehicle. Usually, we are talking about a somewhat more comprehensive range of services than a traditional car wash. In this case, such services as waxing or even polishing are often encountered, but their meaning is a bit narrower.
Detailing includes car cleaning and advanced maintenance procedures, which are associated with an expert approach to car care. The idea of detailing is not to clean but to maintain and protect the car using advanced technology and cosmetics.
Why is it worth using the services of a detailing studio?
The described detailing treatments are intended to make the car look great and stay in excellent condition and thus maintain its value. And in the case of classic cars, it even increases it.
On the other hand, a trip to a detailing studio is for car owners to show care and respect for their vehicle, like having dinner in the best restaurant for a wedding anniversary. And it is well known that such incidents cement relationships for years 😉