You’ve finally done it. Saved up, done your research, and bought the brand-new car of your dreams. The first few weeks were perfect; Your vehicle was immaculate, with gleaming paint, a perfect interior and that fresh, new-car smell. Now that you’ve had it for a while, though, the new-ness is probably staring to wear off, and before you know it your “new car” is just your “car.”
When you’re trying to keep your car feeling like new, you’ll probably do your best to keep the inside clean, and maybe hit the car wash every couple of weeks. For a real deep clean and the ultimate level of maintenance, though, the best way to go is a thorough detail. Unlike your average trip through the car wash, a complete auto detail deep cleans everything from lug nuts to upholstery, and pays close attention to every part of your vehicle. If you’re interested in having your car detailed but don’t know what to expect, read on for a step-by-step guide to a typical auto detail.
Step 1: Thorough wash
First, your car will receive a thorough exterior wash, with careful attention payed to removing dirt and mud. Aside from being generally more extensive than a regular car wash, the wash you get with a detailing treatment also pays specific attention to your wheels, which is a big deal. Our friends at Sunset Mitsubishi tell us that your wheels are usually the dirtiest part of your car, and the part most often overlooked during home and regular car washes. Detailers will have special brushes and products made just for cleaning wheels, and will get in to all of the crevices to get them sparkling and clean.
Step 2: Paint touchup and protection
After your vehicle has been washed and dried, it will be checked for any paint imperfections. Many detailers will polish your paint to remove scratches, swirl marks, or other blemishes, and leave it looking just like new! Whether your paint needed touchups or not, your detailer will protect the exterior of your vehicle with a layer of wax. Not only will this keep your paint safe from the elements and road debris, but it will also give your vehicle the like-new shine that drew your eye to it the day you bought it!
Step 3: Exterior details
The last step in detailing your vehicle’s exterior is the little things: the rubber and plastic around windows, chrome accents, door handles, and all of the other small details on the exterior. Using special tools, conditioners and polishes, your detailers will clean and shine these parts. Going this extra mile really marks a big difference between your typical wash and a thorough detail, and can also help extend the life of rubber and plastic elements of your vehicle, which are generally the first parts to fade and wear out.
Step 4: Interior deep clean
Some car washes offer a vacuum treatment to remove dirt from your car’s interior, but it’s no match for the comprehensive cleaning you’ll get with a detail treatment. In addition to vacuuming your interior, a detailer will shampoo carpets and cloth upholstery. Leather upholstery will be cleaned and conditioned to maintain its quality, and interior glass is polished to have your windows and windshield gleaming inside and out. When your car is done being detailed, your interior should be essentially as clean as the day you bought it!
Step 5: (Optional) Engine bay cleaning
This isn’t always a standard part of a detailing (like paint touchups, whether this is part of the package or an extra usually depends on the detailer) but if it’s not, you can ask to add it on. A lot of people skip out on getting the engine bay cleaned because, let’s face it, most of the time the only people looking under your hood are mechanics who are pretty used to dirt and grease. It’s just a part of the job! However, aside from making your mechanic super happy next time you go in for an oil change, cleaning your engine bay can help extended the life of the little rubber and plastic parts (much like on the outside of your car) and give you and your mechanic a clearer view of everything under the hood, which can help diagnose mechanical problems earlier. In addition to this, anyone who’s considering buying a used car (or any dealer considering one for a trade) is going to look under the hood. While you might not be planning on selling or trading in your vehicle any time soon, regular engine bay cleanings are a lot easier and more effective than one last-ditch effort to remove years of grime right before you show it to a prospective buyer.
Getting your car detailed is a great way to maintain that brand-new feeling, which is one of the best parts of buying a new car. Aside from making it a more pleasant place to spend your commutes, having a regularly detailed car is something to be proud of. Another great thing about having your car detailed? Maintaining your vehicle and keeping it as “like new” as possible will make a huge difference in how well it retains its value, which means you’ll get a better deal when you decide to sell it or trade it in.