What is Car Detailing?

What is Car Detailing?

Rob F


People looking to book a car detail commonly mistake car detailing with car washing. While both involve cleaning a vehicle, the difference between the two is pretty important.

With a car wash, the main goal is to remove the dirt, dust, salt, and grime that collects on the outside of your vehicle. This includes underneath your vehicle, but rarely, if ever, inside.

With a car detail, the goal is to make a vehicle look as brand new as possible from the inside out. So, if you are asking yourself, “what is car detailing, really?” then the answer involves a trained and talented professional applying a proven system to restore your vehicle to factory freshness. Detailers use special equipment and cleaning agents to make your vehicle look good as new.

What is Included in a Car Detail


Every car detailer does things a little differently. Each has their own approach and includes and excludes different services. That being said, most car details are essentially the same. The goal of a car detail is to clean every nook and cranny of your vehicle, and that never changes.

Interior Clean


Your detailer will spend a lot more time cleaning the interior of your car. Why? Because it’s the more neglected part of the cleaning process and it’s the much, much more important of the two. Even if you’re someone who prides themselves on your car looking nice from the outside, it’s better you clean the inside than the outside. More on why below.

A detailing team will use a combination of tools—steam cleaners, air tools, brushes, vacuums, and more—to give your car that deep clean it needs. A clean so deep that you probably won’t be able to do this yourself.

What Gets Cleaned Inside


Your carpets, seats, and trunk will receive a thorough vacuum. This is typically the first step in the process. Pretty much everywhere that can be vacuumed will be. Including your glove compartment.
The mats, carpets, and upholstery will receive a deep brushing and scrubbing. This is where the elbow grease comes in, and why you probably aren’t doing this by yourself. It’s time consuming and exhausting. The goal here is to remove all stains, marks, and imperfections that a regular wash just can’t.


Next, every surface in the vehicle will receive a thorough wipe-down. This includes windows, door panels, your dashboard, etc. Your detailer will use a special cleaning agent to give your car a shine like you’re rarely (if ever) seen.
Finally, a spray will be applied to your vehicle to make sure it smells as good as can be. If you have dogs, this is the best part. Usually, you get to choose the scent. If you don’t want a scent at all, your detailer can accommodate that, too. So, remember to ask!

Exterior Clean


While the inside of your car should be your priority (again, more on why that is below) the outside is definitely still important. It’s your vehicle’s first impression.

While a new coat of paint is the best way to bring back that factory shine, a detail can do just fine. Detailers will work on your windows, wheels, tires, and rims to make sure they look their best. They’ll get rid of as much dirt and grease and grime as possible thanks to degreasers and special detergents.

What Gets Cleaned Outside


A high-powered wash and dry, followed by a mild soap, gets the exterior wash started.
Any traces of over spray, like watermarks and soap scum, can be rubbed out with a clay bar.
To help restore more of the shine, the detailers will then perform a thorough polish.
Finally, a sealant is applied to give your vehicle that glossy finish you’re looking for. Some deluxe detail packages can contain a surface wax, but this isn’t guaranteed at every dealership.

The Financial and Health Benefits of a Car Detail


Think of the constant wear and tear your interior goes through: your carpets, mats, upholstery, and trim are subject to food grease, beverage spills, cigarette smoke, mud and dirt, pet hair and dander, and so much more. Even the sun can (and will) wreak havoc on your upholstery and dash. Detailers are pros. They know just how to restore your leather, your fabric, and your carpets, and more importantly, they have the materials to do it.

Booking a car detail is not just about getting your car cleaned. It’s about what this clean does for you and says to those around you. Believe it or not, consistent car details can affect the value of your car, improve your standing at your job, and make you healthier!

One: It Will Boost Your Car’s Value


This one seems self-explanatory. The cleaner your interior, the better it looks, the more money you can get for it when you sell, right? While that’s true, there’s an even more important place you should be cleaning before selling your vehicle: under the hood.

If the person buying your vehicle has any idea about what they’re doing, they’re going to pop the hood and take a look underneath. If that person sees a clean motor, free of grease and grime and oil, they’re going to feel a lot more confident in your vehicle. That’s why dealers have their detailers clean the engines of their used vehicles on their lots. Whether it truly makes a difference, performance-wise, doesn’t matter. There is an emotional payoff to a clean engine, and you absolutely cannot ignore that fact when selling or trading in.

How Your Engine Gets Cleaned During a Detail
Your detailer will clean off loose dirt first with a light spray.
All engine components will be wiped down with degreaser, then rinsed a second time.
After the engine has dried, all rubber, plastic, and silicone parts have special protective compounds applied to them to prevent cracking


Two: It Makes You Look More Professional


Current and potential employers look at more than just your work. Hell, they look at more than just your personal appearance. Like it or not, employers often take in the entire package and that includes the way you get around. It’s not just about whether you shave the back of your neck or wear shorts to an office.

While a dirty car, from the outside, won’t necessarily turn an employer off (let’s be realistic here), the sight of a dirty, disorganized, chaotic vehicle on the inside is a huge turn-off. It leaves an awful impression, whether it’s their first, or their fiftieth.

Three: It’s Healthier


Germs affect the air quality of your vehicle to an absolutely ridiculous degree. Which isn’t hard to believe when you consider that your car contains millions—if not billions—of microscopic creatures. That’s because your car is like Disney World for allergens and germs. Have you ever wondered why you’re constantly getting sick? It could very well be your car’s fault.

The average Canadian spends an hour and a half inside their vehicle EVERY DAY. Consider that when thinking about how important car hygiene is. Studies have shown that the air you breathe is worse than the air you breathe both at home and at work.

Your car plays host to food and drink spills, the walking germ factories known as children, not to mention your pets. There are so many opportunities for germs to bunker down and multiply. Dr. Chuck Gerba, a microbiologist, has said that “cars are the moldiest of all forms of transportation…because people aren’t really cleaning or disinfecting these areas.” And the biggest culprits? The dashboard, change holder, cup holder, car seats, floors, and door handles. Cars with car seats and/or pets are at an even greater risk.

Every time you turn on your car’s fan you’re breathing the air that’s been in your car’s ventilation system. This air may contain germs, road dust, vehicle emissions, mold spores, and more. This is why it’s also extremely important to service and replace your cabin air filter regularly. Bacteria love damp and dark areas because it’s easier to breed there. Which means they love your ventilation system.

  • Sick Car Syndrome can cause:
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Sinus issues
  • Cold symptoms and headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Increased asthma attacks

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