Car detailing is the process of thoroughly inspecting and treating the interior and exterior of a vehicle, which includes cleaning it, correcting elements that need it and then protecting the results of the work.

The term “detailing” generally refers to the process of methodically and comprehensively treating an object to ensure its excellent visual and functional properties.

Autodetailing (Automotive detailing, Car detailing, UK: Car valeting) is the most common. It is echoed by Motorcycle detailing. There is also detailing of ships on water (Marine detailing) and aircraft (Aircraft detailing). Generally, you can “detail” anything, even slippers, but most people still prefer more expensive and beautiful things – cars.

The prefix “auto” is often omitted in discussions about the widespread use of automotive detailing. Nevertheless, the basic techniques and methods of automotive matting are also successfully applied to other forms of transport. The only difference is in the materials used due to the different operating or storage conditions of the objects being groomed.

Detailing is used to prepare your car for sales, shows, exhibitions and competitions in order to achieve a longer service life of its components, the most expensive of which is the car body. It is also possible to use this treatment to preserve a vehicle in order to reduce the effects of aggressive external influences during long-term storage. Properly conducted autodetailing and treatment may significantly increase the market value of a vehicle. Many car owners turn to car detailing services for the sake of aesthetic pleasure, and also for raising the status, in fact, a sparkling car raises the prestige of its owner in the eyes of people around him.

Conventionally, the process of auto detailing can be divided into three components: exterior, interior, and engine detailing.

Exterior detailing involves cleaning and polishing the paintwork, chrome and plastic body panels, glazing, optics, wheels, and tyres. A wide range of car care products, accessories, and consumables are used to achieve the goals described.

There are three main steps in exterior styling: cleaning, polishing and protection.

The purpose of cleaning is to rid the surface to be treated of dirt and foreign matter by washing it and treating it with a special cleaning clay. The clay helps clean the paintwork from dirt that cannot be removed even by regular washing: insect residues, bitumen, poplar bud marks, etc.

Restorative polishing aims to remove paint oxide, minor scratches, and dings caused by vehicle use, as well as those left by careless car washers. As a rule, this layer is usually only a few microns thick and is removed by hand and machine polishing with compounds of varying degrees of abrasiveness applied on polishing pads of appropriate hardness. Generally speaking, the coarser the abrasive, the harder the polishing pad and the larger the removable coating and therefore the deeper the scratches.

Protecting involves applying liquid or paste-like compounds (silants, waxes, nano-compounds, etc.) to the prepared surface, which form a thin protective film on the top layer of the coating to be treated. This reduces the adhesion (sticking) of dirt, bitumen, and insect debris to the protected surface.

The coating is less likely to burn in the sun, is more resistant to the damaging effects of UV light, aggressive precipitation and bird droppings, and is easier to clean and less scratchy afterwards. Due to their complex chemical formulation, protective compositions are the most expensive components of car care products, and very demanding in terms of surface preparation and observance of the technology of application and curing.

Interior styling involves cleaning and maintaining the interior of the vehicle. The upholstery, décor elements, seats, dashboard, interior glazing are all cleaned using different methods. The standard method consists of vacuuming upholstery and upholstery with a hoover, steam treatment, liquid cleaners, cleaning using special appliances (such as Tornadoor), ozonation and non-contact cleaning of the air conditioning evaporator. Brushes, cotton swabs and even toothpicks can be used to remove dirt from inaccessible areas. Certain parts of the car interior may also be polished, and the final stage of cleaning may conclude with the application of protective coatings and conditioners to leathers and fabrics. Some particularly thorough detailers may even partially dismantle the cabin for a better clean.

Engine detailing. This involves a comprehensive under-hood cleaning and cleaning of the engine exterior by steam treatment, high-pressure cleaners, universal cleaners and degreasers. After drying, the engine exterior components can be coated with protective coatings that have good electrical insulation and water repellent properties. Washing the engine is a sensitive operation that requires precision and knowledge of the location of the protected components and attachments, which is why not all car washers undertake it.

It should be noted that, depending on the condition of the vehicle and its components, some of the stages of the car detailing process may be excluded. For example, there is no need to polish a new car and a light cleaning and protection of the body is enough. A classical interpretation of car detailing does not include car bodywork, painting, repair of mechanical parts and wrapping. However, many detailers are open to this type of work. To weld up a bumper, touch up chips, repair a dent on the body, hem the seam on the seat – these operations, depending on a craftsman’s skill, may be performed in addition to detailing.

Below is an indicative list of operations that may be carried out during auto-detailing. The operations that can be carried out depend on the client’s requirements, the condition of the car and the availability of the necessary equipment and chemistry.

The list is not intended to be exhaustive and may be adjusted and supplemented.

Exterior work:

  • Contact-free and/or hand-washing and drying

    initial cleaning and degreasing of the bodywork with anti silicone agents
  • Bodywork cleaning with abrasive clay
  • Inspection of the vehicle and identification of those parts that need service
  • By measuring the thickness of the paintwork step by step and drawing up a measurement map, you can decide if and to what extent a paintwork repair is necessary.
  • Buffing and/or abrasive reconditioning of the paintwork
  • Anti-scratch polishing
  • Windscreen and mirror cleaning and polishing
  • Optical polishing
  • Cleaning and polishing of chrome parts
  • Cleaning and treatment of plastic parts with the appropriate compounds
  • Cleaning and polishing of wheel rims
  • Cleaning and treatment (blackening) of rubber
  • Application of protective compounds (polishes, waxes, nano-protecting, anti-rain protection, etc.) to bodywork elements, glazing and wheel rims

Work inside:

  • (dry/chem/steam) carpet cleaning
  • (dry/dry/chem/steam) interior/trunk cleaning
  • wet interior/trunk cleaning with shampoo and chemical agents and following drying
  • pet hair removal from mats and upholstery
  • Dirt removal from crevices and hard to reach places
  • localised removal of stains, streaks, food, coffee, blood, lipstick, oil, petrol, etc.
  • cleaning of ventilation deflectors and air ducts
  • removing of tobacco, pet odours, food, etc.
  • cleaning of ashtrays, cup holders, pockets
  • arm rests, seat belt cleaning
  • mould removal, disinfection
  • chemical cleaning and disinfection of air conditioning evaporator
  • cabin, boot ozonation (removing persistent odors)
  • cleaning, polishing, and protection of plastic panels, door upholstery, etc.
  • Cleaning of dashboard, buttons, knobs, switches etc.
  • Cleaning/restoration/repainting of leather
  • Application of conditioning and protection compounds on leather interior parts
  • Application of protective water-repellent impregnation on fabric upholstery

Engine compartment:

  • Engine compartment cleaning and care
  • Powertrain washing
  • Blowing and drying of engine compartment components
  • Application of protective coatings on powertrain components.
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