The Do’s and Don’ts of Car Detailing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Car Detailing

Curious about the benefits of detailing? There are many reasons to have your car detailed, which include making it a cleaner space for you to spend your time, and protecting the exterior finish from outdoor elements. We’ve got the lowdown on reasons to avoid the carwash, and ways to help care for your vehicle after your next car detailing appointment.

What’s So Bad About the Car Wash?

When you go through a car wash, the brushes of a tunnel car wash damage the vehicle’s finish by putting hundreds of fine scratches in it, leaving it with a paint condition called “spider webbing.” This problem isn’t avoided by using a touchless wash because, without the agitation of brushes, it is impossible to remove ALL of the dirt from your car.

Instead, touchless washes use high-pressure jets and harsh chemicals to remove as much dirt as possible. These chemicals strip the paint and any other protection that has been applied, thus leaving your paint vulnerable to industrial fallout and other contaminants. Furthermore, the high-pressure jets are hard on rubber seals on cabriolets, which causes premature wear and can lead to leaks in the cab.

Coin-op bays come with their own set of problems. The bristles of foaming scrub brushes are general too stiff for the firm-but-gentle cleaning your car needs. They’re also probably loaded with dirt and sand from previous customers. Picture the dirtiest vehicle you have ever seen on the road, and ask yourself if you really want to scratch your paint with whatever was on that car!

When Does My Car Need To Be Detailed?

Detailing is more than a fancy word for a thorough car wash. Yes, your car comes out as clean as it was on the day that it rolled off the lot, but it is also freed of bonded contaminants that damage the finish and wear down your vehicle’s paint over time.

Sap, tar and rail dust are the most common bonded contaminants. They’re not always easy to see, but they are easy to feel by covering your hand in some thin plastic and gently running your hand over a clean car’s finish.

If you feel small catches and bumps on the paint, bonded contaminants are the likely culprit. The most frequently affected areas are the hood, the roof, the trunk, and behind the wheel wells. Removing bonded contaminants requires detailing clay and/or a paint correction mitt.

How Does Polishing Work?

Polishing removes scratches by removing the adjacent paint and clear coat until the scratch is no longer visible. This is fine for surface-level scratches, but for deeper ones, this could end up removing nearly the entire clear coat. Not a good idea!

The rule of thumb is that if you can feel a scratch with a fingernail, it is too deep to be removed by polish. In this case, intervention from a car detailing technician is required to avoid further damage to the vehicle’s paint.

Protect the Paint

Speaking of paint, after car detailing, there are aftercare steps you can take to protect and maintain the finish. Using a microfiber or lamb’s wool mitt, wash your vehicle regularly with a dedicated car wash product. Car wash products are milder than household cleaners, and they’re specifically designed for automotive paint. Be sure to remove bird droppings, tar and bugs as soon as possible. Yes, because it looks gross, but also because they will strip away wax/sealant and eventually eat into the cars’ clear coat and paint.

After Car Detailing Don’ts

There is something very satisfying about washing the car in the driveway on a hot summer’s day, but washing the car when the paint is hot to the touch is terrible for the finish. There is a misconception that you should move the mitt in circles when washing, but that can actually leave visible swirls on the car’s finish.

Once you’ve gone to all the trouble of washing the car, it may be tempting to take a break and let it air-dry. That’s a problem because of the mineral deposits hard water can leave behind. To prevent water spots, be sure to remove water before it has the opportunity to dry. A good coat of wax or sealant after washing and drying will also be helpful.

If there are water spots left after letting the car dry, whether or not you can easily remove them depends on how long the water spot has been there, and the overall water hardness. If detailing clay, a paint correction mitt, and/or bug and tar remover does not work, the water spot may be etched into the finish. In some cases, it may be so deep that even polishing won’t remove the spot. In fact, some hard water spots can only be removed after a trip to a body shop.

That seems like a lot more trouble than taking the time to dry, doesn’t it?

Now that you understand when car detailing is appropriate and how it protects your vehicle, it’s time to schedule your appointment! Be sure to ask your Motor Werke detailing technician for more tips to keep your newly detailed car beautiful between visits.