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เขียนโดย Waxcrazy   
Monday, 15 October 2007

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Introduction to Detailing

The term detailing has a lot of different meanings. To some, it means having their car washed and waxed. To others, it's a full cleaning and protection service, including having the interior shampooed and the engine steam cleaned. To the car enthusiast, a fully detailed car is a work of art to be displayed.

Whatever your intentions for detailing your car, this chapter will introduce you to the detailing process and terms commonly associated with detailing.

This beautiful BMW 2002tii belongs to Brad Bloomquist. Brad restored the BMW back to original factory specifications and keeps it perfectly maintained and detailed. The car is a daily driver, but it remains in showroom condition.

The most difficult part of any new skill is knowing what to do first. Detailing a car is no different. Ask any three professional detailers what to do first, and you'll get three different answers. So, perhaps the most important step of all is to evaluate the work required.

Paint Evaluation
The first step in any detailing program is the evaluation of your car's paint. Take a quick walk around your car. Do you see bug stains, water spots and tar spots, or is it completely free of contamination? How does the paint feel to your hand? Is it rough (small bumps), or is it smooth like glass?

Even though the paint surface on this car has a nice gloss, it feels rough. Holly is using a detailing clay and lubricant to quickly remove surface contamination.

If your paint is smooth and free of contaminants, the only cleaning maintenance it needs is regular washing (30 to 45 minutes a week). If the paint is stained and rough, it needs a good cleaning. Clean paint feels like silk. Cleaning your paint can take 30 minutes or 3 hours, depending on the level of perfection you want to achieve. Detailers use a paint pre-wax cleaner (a special cleaner/polish) or a paint-cleaning clay to remove surface contamination. It's like exfoliating your skin to deep-clean the pores.

Once your car's paint is clean, you can more closely inspect the paint for scratches, swirl marks and water spots. All of these minor imperfections can be fixed with a good polish and some elbow grease (1 to 2 hours), or a dual-action polisher, and should be taken care of prior to waxing. If you prefer, use a good orbital polishing machine for faster results.

If your paint has deep surface scratches (not scratched through to the primer or metal), you may need to use a scratch remover polish. Most scuffs and scratches can be polished so they will no longer be seen or noticed (1 to 5 minutes per scuff or scratch).

When your paint is contamination-free and polished to a high gloss, it's ready to be waxed (45 minutes to an hour) with a quality carnauba wax or paint sealant. Most cars will require deep-cleaning and polishing twice a year, whereas wax should be applied at least four times a year. With proper care, the paint finish will remain in good condition for many years.

Tire & Wheel Evaluation
Neglected wheels take a lot of care to bring back to life. If they don't receive regular washing and waxing, they will become pitted and develop black stains from brake dust and road tar.

Evaluate your tires and wheels. Are the tires brown and dull? Do the wheels have brake dust buildup? If so, plan on spending 15 to 20 minutes on each wheel with
brushes, tire and wheel cleaners, and a bucket of soapy water.

Interior Evaluation
Once you've sized up what needs to be done on the exterior, you can turn to the inside. Some people care more about the interior of their car than they do the exterior. This makes some sense, as that is where we spend our time. The condition of the car's interior generally reflects how you use the car.

If you haul kids around, the inside of your car will likely have more dirt and stains than that of a businessperson who travels in a suit. Likewise, if you drive a truck and use it for construction, you have a completely different set of cleaning needs.

The interior of this BMW needs a complete detailing.  It will take 4 to 5 hours to properly vacuum, shampoo and treat the interior so it looks and smells nice again.

Evaluate your car's interior. Does it need heavy or light vacuuming? Is it dusty? Does the upholstery need cleaning? Is the leather dry? Do you have stains or spills to clean? How does the interior smell? Is it musty?

A good interior detailing can take as long or longer than an exterior detailing. If you vacuum regularly (twice a month), it takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes. If you vacuum infrequently, vacuuming can take 30 minutes or more. If you wipe down the interior of your car (3 to 5 minutes) each time you wash the exterior, keeping the dash and upholstery clean is a cinch. If you wipe down infrequently (or never), cleaning the dash and upholstery can be a 1- to 2-hour chore. Doing a little interior detailing maintenance every time you wash the car is a lot easier than trying to do a full interior detailing once or twice a year.

If you don't detail your own car, consider having a full interior detailing once a year. A full interior detail includes vacuuming and shampooing the upholstery, carpet and floor mats, as well as cleaning the dash, console and vents. After cleaning, leather and vinyl dressings and fabric protection should be applied.

To maintain a full detail, have the interior vacuumed each time the car is washed, and apply dressing to the dash, vinyl and leather each time the car is waxed (every 3 months). This is the minimum interior detailing that will keep your car in good condition.
If you plan to detail your own car, divide the work into manageable tasks. It is a lot of work, and if you try to do it all in one day, you will likely never want to do it again. Keep after the interior a little bit at a time. Plan to do your shampooing and fabric protection in spring or summer, as nice weather helps speed the drying.

Dressing for Success
A big part of the car detailing process includes applying dressing to those surfaces that can't be waxed or otherwise protected. As just mentioned, your dash and other vinyl and leather surfaces need regular protection. Leather, vinyl and rubber dressings protect and beautify. For best results, dressings should be used sparingly and frequently.

Many detailers go overboard with applying protectants and dressings. Maybe they think that if a little dressing is good, a lot is even better. Not so. Porous surfaces, such as leather and rubber, can absorb only very small amounts of a dressing. Typically the leather, vinyl, or rubber has absorbed as much as it can within 3 to 5 minutes of applying a dressing. The rest of the dressing is waste and should be buffed off. If the excess dressing is not buffed off, it simply creates a greasy mess that attracts dust and dirt. For best results, dressings should be used sparingly and frequently.

Gel dressing, like Sonus Tire & Bumper Dressing Gel, are popular with many car enthusiasts because they create a dark, rich look that really stands out.

The Devil Is in the Details
The difference between a good-looking car and a great-looking car is in the small details. If you take your car to a professional detailer, make sure he or she will take care of the small details before you give the okay to do the job. Here is a 20-point detailing check list:

- Wash and dry exterior paint (20 min.)
- Scrub tires and wheels (20 min.)
- Clean and polish exterior windows and mirrors (15 min.)
- Clean and polish paint (60 min.)
- Wax or seal paint (45 min.)
- Polish chrome trim (15 min.)
- Clean door, hood and trunk jambs (10 min.)
- Clean and dress rubber seals (10 min.)
- Dress exterior trim, tires and vinyl top (15 min.)
- Vacuum (2 min.)
- Scrub or shampoo floor mats (15 min.)
- Shampoo carpet (45 min.)
- Shampoo or wash upholstery (45 min.)
- Clean dash and console (20 min.)
- Clean vents (10 min.)
- Apply dressing to console, vinyl and leather (20 min.)
- Clean interior windows and rearview mirror (10 min.)
- Empty and clean ashtrays (5 min.)
- Deodorize vents and carpet (10 min.)
- Protect carpet and upholstery fabric (20 min.)

If you look at the estimated average time assigned to each task, you can see that a complete car detail is no less than a full day's job. Most professional detailers will charge between $250 and $350 to do this level of work. If you have an expensive car or a neglected car, expect to pay even more.

Hear are some simple tips that will make detailing easier.

Keep Out of the Rays
If possible, work in a cool garage or in shade. Most detailing products do not work well on hot surfaces. Washing your car in the sun is a sure recipe for water spots and streaks.

Work from the Top Down
Your car is dirtiest on the bottom and cleanest on the top. Washing from the top down keeps your wash water clean longer and helps to prevent swirl marks. Dry your car from the top down, also, leaving your bumpers, rocker panels, tires and wheels for last.

Roll Lint & Pet Hair Away
Invest in a $5 masking tape lint roller designed to remove lint from clothing. These rollers are great for removing lint and pet hair from interior upholstery. Lint rollers work equally well on canvas soft tops, too. Roll away for a beautiful, lint-free top.

Hey, You, Cool Your Jets!
Never wash your car fresh off the road. Cold water can severely damage hot parts, including brake rotors, exhaust components and your engine. Let it cool for 20 to 30 minutes first.

More or Less?
Have you ever wondered why the instructions on most hair shampoo bottles read "Wash, rinse, repeat"? It's pretty simple; they want us to use more product. Most car care products are meant to be used sparingly, and the instructions will say so. Let's face it, most of what we apply, we wipe right back off again. Use less and save money. You'll get the same results, maybe better.

Is It Foggy in Here, or Is It Just Me?
That nasty film on the inside of your windows is a polyvinyl fog created by new plastics and vinyl. As your car ages, the polyvinyl fog diminishes. You can reduce the amount of polyvinyl fog created by using interior dressings and protectants sparingly, and wiping the dash and console dry. On new cars, keep a window cracked as often as possible to allow the polyvinyl gasses to escape. Use of a sun shield also helps.

Driving Topless Can Be Harmful
Sweat, oils from your skin, lotion and sunscreen will soil fabric upholstery, and damage vinyl and leather upholstery. If you drive scantily dressed, cover your seat with a seat cover, towel or an old T-shirt. In addition to upholstery damage from sweat, sunscreen and lotions, driving topless brings additional wear from ultraviolet (UV) rays, which quickly causes fading and rapid deterioration of the materials.

Details, Details, Details
You've just finished polishing and waxing your car until it glistens, but all of your hard work is overshadowed by white wax residue around your trim. This problem is easily solved while the wax is still fresh by using a few shots of detailing spray and a detailing brush or towel.

Hey, Buddy, Keep Your Zipper Up!
Be careful not to damage your car's paint with zippers, belt buckles, rings and other jewelry. Wear appropriate clothing and take off the hard stuff.

The following chart offers an ideal detailing schedule for the car enthusiast's "daily driver" car. The chart is based on a 13-week period. You can tailor this chart to meet your own particular needs.

Detailing TaskWeek 
Wash Tires & WheelsXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Detail Tires & WheelsX  X  X  X  X
Clean/Polish GlassX  X  X  X  X
Clean/PolishVinyl WindowsX X X X X X X
Detail Vinyl & Rubber Trim X    X    X  
Chrome & Polished AluminumX    X    X  
Carnauba Paste/Paste GlazeX        X   
Carnauba CreamX    X       
Carnauba Liquid/SprayX X X X X X X
Polymer SealantX            
Polish/Prewax CleaningX            
Shampoo CarpetAnnually 
Shampoo Floor MatsX            
Clean Leather & VinylX      X    X
Condition Leather & Vinyl             
Shampoo Fabric UpholsteryAnnually 
Spot CleanAs needed
Dust Vents & ElectronicsX  X  X   X  X
Rubber ProtectantX            
Spray Wax/Engine ShineX            
Wipe Down/Dust  X X X X X X
Treat Door & Trunk SealsX            
Detail Door & Trunk JambsX            
Detail Wheel WellsAnnually 
Detail UnderbodyAnnually 

Fewer than 10% of all car owners detail their own cars. Chances are you downloaded this guide because you want to learn more about caring for your car yourself. That makes you a car enthusiast and a kindred spirit. Most car enthusiasts find cleaning and waxing their cars rewarding, possibly even relaxing. Through this guide I will help you achieve better results so you can enjoy your car even more.
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