Fast and Efficient Car Detailing Tips

0. Car Detailing Tips
1. Recommended Car Detailing Products
2. Recommendations for time versus cost trade offs
3. How to wash a car
4. How to get an great shine
5. How to clean the interior of the car
6. How to maintain the shine

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Recently a DealCloset employee was exploring the world of auto detailing. This article aims to share their new found knowledge so that an anyone can benefit from the new products and technology in car detailing. This article is aimed at the novice, although intermediate car detailing hobbyists may benefit.

I think of cars as transportation. Not a show piece of shiny metal and sparkling interiors to impress friends and passersby. I was surprised at just how nice a car can look when I had my 2001 Volvo XC 70 detailed to make the sale go smoother. Sure I'd run it through a reputable car wash, vacuumed, and made it look generally nicer, but frankly not a lot nicer than with it's typical layer of dirt on it. I had seen before and after pictures on the web of detailed cars and felt this car would probably benefit from some extra care. It sure did! The difference was dramatic even to my untrained and rather indifferent eye. It was an expensive $350 operation, not something I would do even annually at that cost. Still I wondered if there was something I could do that was easy and relatively inexpensive that would provide much of the comfort I experienced after the detail. I invite you to benefit from my overly exhaustive searches and learning on the web and talking with various detailing professionals.

My goals and recommendations in the various pages that follow are somewhat different from the typical car hobbyist. Car hobbyists seem to value improved looks and reduced tiny scratches, but don't value the time required to achieve these goals. They may or may not be very sensitive to the costs of the products. I consider time very valuable and wish to minimize time spent, but with as much quality as I can get for the time committed. I'm not adverse to paying a professional for one time services, or even perhaps annual services, but really $350 is a lot of money. Something more like $150 is more like it and then only annually. Further I only want to pay them for what I consider skilled and/or very tedious work. Finally I'm happy to pay more for various products if they last longer and reduce the time I spend keeping the car looking nice.

I learned that keeping a car clean and shiny requires very careful preparation of the paint surface followed by application of excellent long term protection products. After that the car should be washed weekly to maintain the nice surface and a simple spray on wax coating should be applied to further repel the dirt and grime of road travel. With proper maintenance, the initial detail can last six months to a year.

The inside should be carefully and thoroughly cleaned with a powerful vacuum. Then the surfaces should be washed with a gentle cleaner. Finally the leather and vinyl needs conditioning for longevity and great looks.

The first steps for both the exterior and interior take the most time and effort. They also give at best a transitory result. It is in the last steps of sealing or conditioning that the real benefits can be seen and enjoyed. The last steps go fastest.

I was also surprised to find that even the most oxidized scratched up paint can be beautiful again. There are countless pictures of dull red paint that is rich and glossy after a skilled detailer does their magic. The results often strike me as perhaps better than the day the car was purchased. While anyone should be able to achieve these results, I'd recommend hiring a professional for the level of polishing required. Polishing is inherently about careful removal of bits of paint or clear coat with unspeakably fine abrasives. An unskilled person could easily damage the paint beyond repair. To me the most important lesson is that even a neglected paint job can be recovered with a skilled hand.

Of course, after everything is shiny, regular use of the car (wasn't that the reason we own it?) causes the car to loose its shiny look. Could maintenance of the detailed car be fast, simple and cheap? It seemed that there was hope on that front. In addition to getting that clean shiny look, understanding maintenance is critical. Without it, your car will loose the wonderful look in a little as a few weeks or months (depending on how critical you are). Maintenance must the quick, easy, and painless!

I quickly discovered that washing and waxing the car has gotten a whole lot more complicated. There are tons of products that aid in getting a great look. The whole process is frankly overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming. My goal was to understand the various products and techniques to find a solution that did not involve spending $350 every 3-6 months with hand washing costs of $25-$30 weekly. If these costs are well within your budget, I'd recommend finding a professional car detailer and having that person maintain your car. It's easy, fast (for you), and you'll get a reliably great look.

For everyone else, I learned about car detailing so you can find the salient information summarized in one easy place. Then depending on your patience and time constraints you can decide how you wish to maintain a great look.

I divided Car Detailing Tips by various sub categories:
1. Recommended Car Detailing Products
2. Recommendations for time versus cost trade offs
3. How to wash a car
4. How to get an great shine
5. How to clean the interior of the car
6. How to maintain the shine

Web resources for car detailing that I used most extensively was: A great forum with many helpful people: for their products, for their products, for their products.

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