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.

 

 

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!

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.

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.

5 Reasons to Detail Your Car

People choose to have their cars detailed for different reasons. Selling or trading in a car is a very common one. A person realizes that their car looks less than presentable, and hopes to improve it’s value with detailing. Another reason I frequently hear, is; “we are going on vacation, and the car needs to be detailed before we go”. Both of these examples, are wrong reasons to detail your car. In both of these situations, the car is probably at the point where the owner realizes the car needs some much needed cleaning and detailing. Auto detailing should be classified as routine maintenance for your vehicle, just like an oil change. Here are five great reasons to have your car detailed often.

1.) It will help to keep the re-sale value high. A car graded in excellent condition can sell for thousands of dollars more than the same car graded only “good”.
2.) Having your car detailed is convenient. A mobile detailing service will come to you home or office and save you time.
3.) The interior of your car will be a more healthy place to be. Dirt and dust will be removed and the hard surfaces will have less germs. It will also smell much better.
4.) The auto detailing process is eco-friendly. Environmentally conscious auto detailing companies use “rinse-less” wash products that use a fraction of the water used at a car wash. Micro-fiber towels need less chemicals and eliminate paper towels.
5.) Frequent detailing keeps your car looking great. Impress your boss and sales prospects with your immaculate car. A spotless car makes you feel great!

 

What Does Auto Detailing Cost?

The prices you can expect to pay for auto detailing services can vary widely.  You can purchase a service commonly called a “detail”, for less than $50 dollars at some commercial car washes.  This type of service is performed in large volumes and most likely, will not exceed your expectations.  Other sources of low priced auto detailing services include newly created businesses and auto dealerships.  You will also encounter auto detailing companies, who are charging a premium for their services.  When shopping for auto detailing services, it is important to examine the benefits of doing business with a particular company.  What is the level of training and expertise of their employees?  Are they licensed and insured?  Do they offer a mobile service to your home or office?  These types of questions will help you to determine which company is giving you the best value for your money.

Auto Detailing Takes Time

Now that spring is here and the the sun is shining, people want their cars to look great.  For us, this means there is a lot of work to be done.  Recently, I have had to tell customers that it may be a few weeks before I can get them on our schedule.  Our goal is superior customer service, so we do our best to accommodate our customer’s needs.  The fact is though, that proper detailing takes time.  Even with two trained people, even a basic detail can take 2 hours or more.  More extensive details can take up to 8 hours.  Our efficient process covers almost every area of your car, and can not be rushed.  Additionally, our mobile service requires that we travel to our customer’s location.  As most of you are aware, traveling in the DC area consumes a lot of time.  I am also dedicated to being involved in every detail job.  I feel that quality is too important to leave up to someone else.  During this busy time of the year, please understand that the process of auto detailing is time consuming, and that we always do our best to get your car looking the way it should as soon as possible.

Decoding the Auto Detailing Process

I recently gave a detailing workshop to some eager members of the BMW Car Club of the National Capital Area. The participants were all auto enthusiasts, who truly care about the appearance of their cars.  Most of them already had some knowledge about the process of detailing a car.  My goal was to clearly layout before them the process, the equipment, general products, and the supplies that go into achieving superior auto detailing results.  As I went through my presentation, I realized the participants were very interested in what I had to say.  Many stopped me on multiple occasions to ask detailed questions about the process and products.  I did not mind this at all, but rather encouraged it.  I wanted it to be very clear, that auto detailing is a process that needs to be methodical and complete.  I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the participants seemed overly concerned with the exact products I use.  I made it a point to mention that the process and equipment are more important than the products, and little difference exists between the top products on the market.  Either way, the workshop was a success if everyone took something valuable from it.  I feel that goal was accomplished.  In the future, if you ever have any questions about the process used to detail a car, please feel free to ask.

Routine Auto Detailing

When most people think of routine maintenance for their car, they think about oil changes, tire rotations, and brake jobs.  Auto detailing is usually not put into the category of routine maintenance.  In actuality, frequent auto detailing is a very important part of properly maintaining your car.  I have mentioned before, that neglecting your car’s appearance can quickly damage both interior and exterior surfaces.  Changing your car’s oil often will reduce wear on it’s engine, and detailing your car often will significantly reduce wear of it’s surfaces.  A frequently asked question is: “How often should my car be detailed?”  The answer depends on several factors.  How often and in what environment you drive your car, how many miles you drive it, and whether or not it is garaged.  If you drive your car daily and live in a region that gets winter weather, more frequent detailing would be required.  A general rule to follow is, you should have your car detailed twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall.  This means a thorough interior cleaning and a wash, polish, and paint sealant of the exterior.  The interior cleaning removes dirt, sand, dust and other materials that can quickly damage interior components.  Exterior detailing removes dirt and road grime, while making sure the paint stays shiny and protected from UV rays.  If you follow this schedule, most likely your car will look great for years to come.  In between “details” your car should be washed and vacuumed as often as your schedule and wallet permit.  You can choose to do this yourself with the proper process and materials or find a qualified company to provide this type of service.  You may be thinking that detailing your car twice a year will be expensive.  Yes, it will cost you a few hundred dollars, however, the benefit of keeping the re-sale value high and the satisfaction of driving a great looking car is well worth it.  Next time you think about your car’s routine maintenance schedule, be sure to factor in frequent auto detailing as part of that schedule.  If not, you will quickly become the proud owner of a car that does not look the way it did when you bought it.

Customer Service For The New Year

I recently have had some not so good experiences with other companies.  In my opinion, I was a victim of sub-par customer service.  This is especially troubling to me because, after all, I run my own company.   Customer service is defined as; what ever the customer says it is.  This means that you, the customer, is the person who decides what good customer service is, and how it should be delivered.  It seems that good or great customer service is rare in this day and age.  Large companies that dominate many industries generally do a poor job with customer service.  Even small companies, which have an advantage because they are small, are guilty of providing lackluster customer service.  Excellent customer service adds value to a product or service.  It also makes you want to patronize a business again in the future, and tell others about the great service you received.  Things such as returning your phone call or email promptly, having a pleasant phone demeanor and accommodating attitude, convenient scheduling, and proper follow-up all contribute to a good customer service experience.  What are some things you would add to this list?  The truth is, there are many attributes to great customer service, and it is all determined by you.  As we move into a New Year, make sure you demand excellent customer service from the businesses you choose to give your hard earned money to.   If you receive customer service that does not exceed your expectations, bring it to the attention of the manager, or better yet, the owner.  If you are still not satisfied with the service you are receiving, take your business to another company that is willing to go above and beyond, to provide you with outstanding service.

A good way to find businesses that offer outstanding customer service is to ask friends and family for recommendations.  Usually, if someone recommends a company, it is because they have had a great customer service experience.  Chances are, you will also find their service outstanding.  You can also check online sites that contain customer reviews.  Google Places and Yelp are a couple sites where customers can post reviews of a business.  Positive reviews usually indicate that a company is committed to providing it’s customers with outstanding customer service.  Remember, customer service is not something that should be hard to find.  Businesses should be thankful that you are willing to pay them your money for a product or service.  In return, they should be willing to do what ever it takes, within reason, to meet and exceed your expectations.  If they are not, simply choose a company that will.