The car care industry has recently had a massive expansion in terms of the tools, products and processes we use to do something most people consider to be relatively simple and it struck me that just about anything I say to a customer is going to sound like snake oil and witchcraft if I'm explaining so many processes at once.
What was once shampoo, bucket, sponge, chamois dry then finished with a paste wax that lasts 3-4 weeks for a basic wash is now one or two stages of prewashing with a snow foam lance and low pressure sprayer, a few choices of shampoo depending on the desired result, wash mitt, two or even three buckets, wheel brushes, soft brush for the gaps, microfibre drying towel, quick detailers and a whole range of choices of protection requiring different levels of preparation that can last weeks to months. With the correct prep even years....and that's just a basic exterior wash.
So to cut to the proverbial chase I want to try and clear up some of the terminology. If you see a product and don't know quite what it is or if you email for a quote for one of our services and you're not quite sure on what they entail you can refer here to start...or feel free to just email or call and ask if you'd prefer to hear it direct from us. If you think anything should be added to make it easier, please let us know.
Full Valet/Detail - This term is subjective and doesn't really mean anything. A full detail to one person could mean a basic exterior wash and then a full valet to the next person could mean two days spent extensively cleansing the interior and exterior, polishing and glazing as well as many options in terms of protection. It's whatever you want it to be as we will tailor make our packages to suit you, not the other way around.
Pre Washing - Before we touch the car we aim to remove as much dirt, traffic film and grime from it so as not to rub these hard particles over the paints surface causing swirling and scratching. It seems extensive...until you think about it in that way and realise how easy it is to scratch the paint. Pre washes can include citrus wash, TFR (Traffic Film Remover), snow foam, degreaser as well as some brushes etc.
Wash Mitt/Sponge - When washing a car, if there is any remaining dirt or grit, a sponge will keep it on its surface and then as you continue to wash it will drag it across the paint causing scratches. A wash mitt is designed to encapsulate the dirt and when used with the two bucket method will be much safer for and kinder to your paint.
2/3 Bucket Wash - Wash, rinse and wheel bucket. Wash bucket contains your shampoo and water mix, rinse contains clean water, wheel contains a wheel shampoo or clean water as well as your variety of brushes and wheel cleaner. The reason for so many is to avoid transferring dirt back on to the car - so the process is mitt in wash bucket, clean a panel, shake off dirt in rinse bucket, back to wash bucket then next panel and continue. What we also use is grit guards in the bottom of the wash and rinse buckets - this traps the dirt at the bottom to stop it being transferred back on to the paint. The wheel bucket is always separate as it will always be the dirtiest.
Drying - Drying the car after helps prevent water spots forming on your car (I'm not insane, honest). Basically when the water is allowed to dry naturally on your car not only will it not look great it will also leave any minerals in the water, such as calcium, on the panel when it evaporates which you'll see in the form of little white deposits. A high quality microfibre towel can make a world of difference.
Decontamination - three separate processes (tar removal, fallout removal, clay treatment) that will remove what's left after washing I.e. tar spots, metal fallout from brake dust and other industrial sources and any embedded contaminants. This process is what makes your paintwork go from feeling rough to feeling smooth as glass. It would normally take 3-5 hours to get to this stage depending on the size and condition of the vehicle.
Polish/Glaze - There are lots of options out there so I won't over complicate this; polishes correct using abrasives, glazes fill defects and give a lovely show finish. Somewhere in the middle is the AIO that polishes, glazes and leaves a layer of protection - a favourite for valets.
Paint Correction - Paint correction is the process of using a wide range of techniques, products and tools to safely assess and correct the damage to your vehicle. It can range from holograms, light to heavy swirling, clear coat damage from bird lime, light scratches, deep scratches, scuffs, paint transfer and then there's also stone chipping and the worst really deep scratches that require paint or at the highest level there's orange peel removal that requires sanding of the full car. Fixing or hiding this damage can be as simple as a days valet with an AIO and a polishing machine at the end or a spot correction on a single area to several days of work even up to and over a week. So don't be afraid to ask, it may not cost as much as you think it does to restore a lot of gloss and depth to your paint.
Paint Protection - Also known as LSP/last stage protection/last step protection depending on who you ask. We offer a wide range of paint protection products with varying levels of durability: AIO, spray wax and liquid wax tends to look great but not last very long. Sealant comes in different forms and can last from as little as a month to over a year. Wax can vary in levels of durability from a few weeks for the basic ones to 2-6 months for the hybrid waxes depending on choice. Ceramic products tend to have the best durability but are the trickiest to apply and can often need layering or maintenance that can get complicated however we can help there. Durability is measured in years for these products.
For now, I'm going to leave this one here as about two and a half hours on a Saturday morning writing is about my limit but I'll take notes of the constructive criticism and what people want to see added in here and may edit this one later to feature your ideas.
Thanks for reading.