How Often Should I Detail My Car?

A common question I receive is: How often should my car be detailed? The answer depends on several factors, including: how frequent and how far the car is driven, how it is stored during the day and at night, and how frequently it is washed. A car that is driven only on weekends, will not need to be detailed as often as a car that is driven daily on a long commute. Conversely, a car that is never stored in a garage, will need to be detailed more often. As a general rule of thumb, detailing your car twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall, is a good idea. This assures that the paint will have protection on it at all times, and the interior’s surfaces will not get soil build up. The twice a year rule assumes that the car is preferably hand washed at least once a month. Automatic car washes are better than nothing, however, they can cause scratches in the paint. If your car is a garage queen, that is only driven on weekends, you should detail it once a year. Asking yourself a few simple questions about how your car is driven, stored, and maintained can give you a general idea of how often you should be detailing your car. Another rule to remember is: once your car looks like it needs to be detailed, it is already too late. As always, please contact us with any questions. We are here to help.

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Mobile Auto Detailing Technician

Reflections Auto Salon is an in demand mobile auto detailing service here in Northern Virginia.  We are frequently booked a couple weeks out in the spring, summer, and fall.  Because of our high level of service and quality, finding top talent to better serve our customers is not easy.  I am extremely conscious of the high level of service demanded by our customers.  To this end, not just any candidate will be a good fit for Reflections Auto Salon.  Ideally, the right candidate would possess the following attributes:

  • Effectively speak and understand English.
  • Be punctual and cognizant of customer’s time.
  • Be friendly, and interact with customers well.
  • Extremely motivated and focused.
  • Able to follow a detailed process.
  • Be in top physical condition.
  • Possess a Virginia drivers license, clean driving record and criminal history.
  • Have a working knowledge of modern automobiles, electric power tools, and small engines.
  • Be able to drive a manual transmission.

If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you.  We are looking for individuals who possess these attributes, and want to help us grow.  Please contact us through this website, or see our job listing on Indeed.

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Detailing Confidence

Think about the last time you bought a product or service. Why did you choose to buy that particular product, or purchase a service from a specific company? Was it because of the price? Perhaps, it was because of superior customer service. More than likely, it was because you had confidence in the product or the company that provided the service. Confidence. is in fact the number one reason why people purchase a product or service. Apple products are purchased because individuals have confidence that the quality and performance of their products, will be good. Price, although important to people, is usually further down on the list of why specific products or services are purchased. A service such as mobile auto detailing is no different. When looking for a mobile auto detail company to care for your prized car, you want to have confidence that the company will deliver quality service. Asking family, friends, or co-workers for recommendations is usually a good place to begin. If these people have been satisfied with a particular company’s service, that should give you confidence that you will be as well. Online reviews can be another source of confidence. If an auto detailing company has positive reviews online, chances are they provide a high level of service to their customers. This will help you to have more confidence in choosing a specific company. Most likely, the company that your friends or the online community recommends, will not be the cheapest. You will receive a better value by getting better service and higher quality. So remember, next time you are looking for a product or service, make sure you choose carefully based on the level of confidence you have in the product or service.

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Car Wash vs. Auto Detailing

I believe there is some confusion between a commercial car wash and an auto detail.  Some believe that taking a car to a commercial car wash is the same as having it professionally detailed.  The following information will help you to understand the difference, and make an educated decision on which service is best for your car.

At a car wash, cars are routed through a tunnel where mechanized cloths and brushes, detergent, and water jets are used to clean your car.  After your car travels through the wash tunnel, car wash employees may be present to dry your car.  Some car washes also offer interior services that are done after the wash process; either in front of the facility or on a conveyor belt in another area.  Interior work usually consists of a quick vacuum and wipe down of interior surfaces.  The process, as mentioned, produces a relatively clean car at an economical price.  The main problem with this process, is that it is not thorough and the tunnel wash can cause damage to your car’s paint.  The mechanized brushes and cloths are usually the source of paint damage, however, it can also occur during the drying process.  If the towels used by the car wash staff are not clean or have been cross contaminated by the wheels or other dirty areas, damage can occur.  These types of issues may not be typical of every car wash, however, I frequently observe it on customer’s cars.  If you are really enthusiastic about the appearance of your car, a commercial car wash is not likely to exceed your expectations.  Please keep reading to see how the auto detailing process is different and offers many more benefits to you.

When your car is detailed by a qualified shop or mobile detailing company, it is usually hand washed.  Each section of your car is carefully washed with the gentle touch of the human hand.  The wheels, wheel wells, and tires will also be carefully cleaned by hand.  The paint is gently dried with quality towels that never touch any other area of the car.  When your car is detailed, the paint will either be hand waxed or polished and sealed with a machine polisher.  This process will both protect and enhance your car’s paint.  Paint protection is important because it prevents UV damage and keeps contaminants from bonding to the paint.  Polishing and waxing services are sometimes offered at car washes, however, it is frequently done incorrectly and with little attention to detail.

When the interior is professionally detailed, the same care is taken.  Brushes and various vacuum attachments will be used to get into cracks and crevices.  Hard surfaces, such as vinyl, plastic, and leather will be carefully cleaned.  Care must be taken because certain interior surfaces can be damaged with the wrong cleaning process.  I have seen plenty of badly scratched touch screens, which are expensive to replace.  Only water-based UV protectors should be used on interior hard surfaces, which have a natural matte shine.  Thick and oily products applied at some car washes,  can attract dust and create a glare effect on the dash.

In summary, when you have your car professionally detailed, you will notice the difference.  More time will be spent on the key areas and greater care will be taken not to cause damage.  The benefit to you is that your car will look like new for many years.  Sure, auto detailing is more expensive than a car wash, however, the value is many times greater.  Please feel free to ask us any questions you may have regarding this topic.

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Mobile Auto Detailing At Your Location

Our goal is to make our service convenient for the customer.  We will come to your home or office and meticulously clean, polish, and protect your car; saving you time.  While your car is being detailed, you can be working or doing other things you enjoy.  Reflections Auto Salon is based out of Ashburn, Virginia.  Our service area is generally within a 20 mile radius from Ashburn and includes: Leesburg, Sterling, South Riding, Herndon, Reston, Chantilly, Oakton, Vienna, and the surrounding areas.  We do sometimes get requests from individuals who are out of these areas.  In some cases we will travel, however, because of the cost of fuel and the time needed for travel, we charge a travel and fuel fee.  The fee varies depending on the travel distance.  In general, any location within the capital beltway takes additional time because of the traffic that can be encountered.  If you have any questions regarding our service area or travel fees, please fee free to contact us anytime.

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Car Detailing Products Decoded

A lot of confusion exists regarding auto detailing products.  The internet has spawned many websites and detailing forums that sell products, and discuss them.  Forums contain endless opinions on which products are the best for a given task.  All of this information can be very confusing when you are simply trying to keep your car looking it’s best.  The bottom line is, most of the best products are very close in performance.  In fact, if you examined the chemical formulations of the products, most would be nearly identical.  As discussed in previous articles, the process is more important than the specific products being used.  In addition, the simple fact that you are taking the time to maintain your car’s appearance or paying someone else to do so, is most important.  Neglecting the appearance your car is a recipe for disaster.  Once the surfaces are damaged, it can be very difficult or impossible, to fix them.

A simple strategy for selecting products and materials is best.  Ask a detailing professional what he or she recommends.  Most professional caliber products can be obtained from online retailers or directly from the manufacturer.  Most online retailers of car detailing products carry good quality products and may contain information on their use.  Just remember that the differences between the best products are marginal.  As for wash mitts and towels, simply make sure you have access to new or very clean materials.  It is also important to separate towels by task and never cross contaminate.  For example, you would never use a wheel towel on painted surfaces.  Interior towels should be reserved only for interior detailing.

Unless you have the experience,  knowledge, and equipment to handle more complicated auto detailing tasks, such as polishing and waxing, it is best to leave those tasks to a professional.  You can, however, do simple car detailing tasks such as washing and interior cleaning, with basic products that are available online or at most auto parts stores.  The bottom line is, do not get too caught up in the web that is car detailing products.  Take a simple approach to choosing products and follow a good process.

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Auto Detailing FAQ’s

Auto Detailing is an often misunderstood concept.  The confusion seems to lie in what exactly is the goal of auto detailing, and what it can and can not accomplish.  The following questions and answers should help to clear up some of the misconceptions.

Question: What is auto detailing?

Answer: Auto detailing is the process of thoroughly cleaning and preserving the surfaces of an automobile to a high standard.

Question: What is the goal of auto detailing?

Answer: The goal of auto detailing is to keep a car’s interior and exterior looking like new.

Question: When should a car be detailed?

Answer: A car should be detailed at least twice a year from the time it is new.

Question: What types of issues will auto detailing address?

Answer: Auto detailing will remove surface dirt from interior and exterior surfaces, such as wheels, painted surfaces, and glass.  It will also refine and protect the exterior painted surfaces.

Question: What issues will auto detailing NOT fix?

Answer: Auto detailing should be considered preventative maintenance.  It will not address very dirty or neglected surfaces, or surfaces that have been scratched, torn, or otherwise damaged.

I hope this short Q and A has addressed some of the confusion regarding auto detailing and it’s goals.  It is important to consider auto detailing as part of your car’s routine maintenance schedule.  If it is done on a regular basis, it will accomplish the goal of keeping your car looking it’s best.

 

 

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Spring Car Detailing

We have been lucky here in Northern Virginia; spring came a bit early for us this year.  After a few really rough and long winters, we deserve it.  Spring is the time when many people plan to do some cleaning.  This time of year is also a great time to get your car cleaned and detailed.  I recommend that your car be detailed once in the fall, in preparation for the winter, and once in the spring to prepare for the summer weather.  If you follow this schedule, your car will look great for many years to come.  Spring is a great time to have your car detailed for several reasons.  In this area during winter, the roads are treated with excessive amounts of salt brine.  Road salt is corrosive to the surfaces on your car and should be removed as soon as possible.  Having your car detailed in the spring will remove any residual salt from the interior and exterior of your car.  The detail process will also leave your car’s paint protected.  This is very important going into the summer months.  The sun is much stronger during the summer, which can fade your car’s paint if it is not properly protected.  Interior vinyl, plastic, and leather should also be protected from the sun’s rays.  Spring and summer also bombard your car with pollen, bugs, and bird droppings.  All of these substances can damage your car’s surfaces and should be removed as soon as possible.  If your car is detailed and the paint is protected, these substances will have a less damaging effect and will be easier to remove.  The above mentioned benefits are in addition to the fact that your car will look awesome for those summer cruises!

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New Year’s Detailing Resolutions

New Year’s is a great time to initiate your resolutions and changes for the upcoming year.  Whether it is eating more healthy or exercising more, we have all made resolutions at one time or another in our lives.  Keeping up with the resolutions is another subject all together.  You can also choose the start of a new year, to stay committed to your car’s appearance.  Keeping your car looking it’s best, requires that you set a maintenance schedule, and stick to it.  Most importantly, is to frequently and properly wash your car on a regular basis; usually at least once a month.  This will remove the dirt and grime that eventually will bond to and damage your car’s paint.  A proper hand wash is best, and should include thorough cleaning of your car’s wheels.  If a hand wash is not practical, a commercial car wash is better than letting the dirt dwell on your car.  When you wash your car, use this time to vacuum the mats and carpets, and lightly clean all the interior hard surfaces.  A damp micro-fiber towel works well, just as long as the interior is not too dirty.  Your car should be polished and the paint sealed twice a year to keep it protected from the sun and road grime.  This process should be done once in the fall and again in the spring.  If you are not confident or skilled enough to do the polishing yourself, hire a qualified professional to do it for you.  If you are committed to keeping your car looking it’s best for years to come, these simple resolutions will surely help you accomplish that goal.

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Limitations of Auto Detailing

Recently, we have worked on some cars that were older and a bit neglected.  Because of this fact, the results of the detail were not quite up to our usual standards.  I explained to the customer, up front, that I expected the results to be less than stellar.  Auto detailing is meant to maintain the like new appearance of a car, not completely restore it.  In some cases, our auto detailing process can restore  soiled or damaged surfaces, but it is a lot more time consuming and expensive.  Frequent detailing (twice a year) from the time a car is new, will keep it looking that way for many years.  Neglecting a car for even a year, can lead to damage that is not fixable or very expensive to fix.  During our auto detailing process, two important things are accomplished.  First, the surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.  Dirt and grime are usually acidic and will eventually damage the interior and exterior surfaces of your car.  Removing soil frequently is a very important part of keeping your car looking it’s best.  Second, most surfaces are protected after they are cleaned.  Painted surfaces are polished and sealed, and interior surfaces are protected with a UV and soil protectant.  Paint sealants and interior protectants keep dirt and UV rays from damaging these surfaces.  It is important to be proactive about your car’s appearance.  Sticking to a frequent car detailing regimen should be part of your car’s routine maintenance, just like an oil change.  Neglecting your car is likely to result in permanent damage that is not easily fixed.

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