Time is of the essence. The critical factor in quality detailing

It is perhaps an unknown fact that car wash cafes and shopping centre car washes represent more than 95% of the detailing industry in Australia, and this percentage might even be applicable to most other parts of the world.

They are aimed at the general public, motivated by volume of sales and is designed around the convenience of providing a quick clean whilst you sip your coffee or do your shopping. One may think that some car wash cafes are great at what they do finding the balance between speed and value for the customer, but their business model is not meant to serve the informed or enthused individual.

Anyone can wash a car, but it takes an understanding of paint systems, chemicals, processes and the right equipment to be able to safely detail or restore a car aesthetically to its original condition, or as best as possible. Without this knowledge, skill and time, there lies a risk of doing some damage to your car whilst detailing it.

The important word to take away is “time”. To detail at a higher level requires patience and a methodical approach encompassing different skills such as analysis, problem solving and hands on work. All of these factors come together and require time to properly execute.

One of the most common problems we are presented with by customers is buffer trails which is a paint defect caused by incorrect machine polishing. Many a time, we have had to fix up errors where another detailer was forced, by the constraints of time, to either rush through the paint correction stage or use more abrasive pads and polishes than necessary, or both – all to do the job quicker. The pressure of a waiting customer on-site and a queue of cars to be served would naturally be the proverbial whip to get things cracking.

The problem occurs when these quicker or poor methods induce finer scratches into the paintwork, which are typically only visible under direct light, such as when parking out in the sun. Without time to refine the paintwork over multiple steps of polishing or using finer abrasives, a flawless finish would never be achieved. It is, therefore, difficult for business models working with volume to deliver quality results when pressed to wash, dry, decontaminate, polish and protect within one to two hours, when it typically takes an experienced detailer at least three to four, or even more hours just for the polishing step alone. The precautionary steps prior to polishing, such as taping up trims, would be avoided to save time but risks irreversible damage or stubborn staining at the very least.

Another aspect, which is commonly rushed or overlooked, is the cleaning up stage. A quality detailer would aim to not leave any clues that the car has just been detailed. This means that any traces of polishing dust, waxes on trims and other residues would be cleaned up before handing back the car back to the customer. This step sometimes takes a significant amount of time and is the crux to what the art of detailing is about.

So be wary if anyone tells you that they can get your car polished or detailed by lunchtime. Ask them:

1.    What’s involved in their detail?

2.    What products and equipment do they use?

This is not to say an efficient detailer or operation can’t do a good job but raises the question if they’re given or utilise an adequate amount of time to detail your car in a safe and proper manner.

Give us a call now – I would be happy to answer these questions.

5 tips for professional-looking results.

As a premium car detailing business as well as a car care products reseller, we get asked all the time by hobbyists and D.I.Y enthusiasts about products like “which polish is the best?” or “Should I wax my car or apply a coating?”. They’re all great questions, and of course good products help lead to fantastic results, but the real secrets to achieving a professional finish is all in the processes. The products you use help you to get there either more efficiently or that little bit more effectively. Here is a short actionable list you can use to ensure you can achieve quality, professional results.

1. The result is all in the preparation

Most people will tell you it’s the paint correction, or more commonly known as cut and polish (which we’re not entirely fond of) which gets your paint looking immaculate and lustrous. Yes, that is true, but in order to get your car ready for correction you’ll need to wash it to as close to clinically clean as you can.

Adopting a pre-wash into your wash regiment allows dirt to dwell in lubricating surfactants and be naturally carried off the paintwork before you even lay a mitt (not sponge) on the car. This prevents you from inflicting new scratches and at the same time softens any remaining traces of dirt whilst you wash them off. ArtDeShine’s Organic Shampoo is an ideal product for those of you who do not have a foam lance attachment for your pressure washer. Diluted in a spray bottle, this will help soften and lift particles from the paint with its cleaning agents.

Washing in a systematic approach means that you will not miss spots and progressively move from the cleanest areas first and finishing with off the dirtiest panels to prevent spreading dirt between panels causing swirl marks. We have talked about the two bucket method in the past, so will skip this detail (Do read our FAQ’s to know more though), but start off by washing the top parts of the car such as roof, windows, bonnet and boot. Work your way around the car doing a panel at a time rinsing out your mitt regularly, finishing off with the front and rear bumpers where they collect bugs and exhaust fumes respectively.

If you have tar build up on the car then remove them off with a dedicated bug and tar remover. This is safer than trying to scab them off with your nails where being too aggressive or one slip may mean deeply scratching your car.

tips and tricks to car detailing   car detailing melbourne

2. The step pro-detailers embrace and cheap franchises ignore

In my very strong opinion, the secret and crucial step in achieving a show quality finish is by decontaminating the paintwork. Quickly dabbling into physics, reflection is at its optimal when the light ray of incidence isn’t disrupted by a rough surface.

Lifting off traces of microscopic dirt which couldn’t be removed during the wash stage promotes a smoother surface, not only to touch, but better for light to reflect and subsequently emitting higher amounts gloss and clarity in your finish.

We’re so passionate about this part that the majority of our wash stage is focused on decontaminating paint both chemically through dissolving ferrous particles like railway rust, and mechanically via clay bar to remove the remainder of organic impurities like tree sap.

Another benefit often overlooked is that lifting off these impurities mean you won’t press and embed them deeper into your paint whilst polishing by hand or machine, or seal them underneath your protective layer of wax or sealant.

paint decontamination clay bar treatment

3. Man vs. Machine

Rewinding a number of years when I used to be another time rich hobbyist who enjoyed hand polishing my car every few months, I wasted a full day to achieve not even half the results I hoped for. Believing you can achieve a show finish by hand polishing is a huge misconception as well as the number one shoulder and elbow workout no gym equipment can match.

Machine polishing allows the speed and consistency which your arms can’t physically achieve. With a machine polisher you’re able to correct paint with deeper scratches more efficiently and finish down finer when the right machine is coupled with the right pads and polish.

Never picked up a polisher before? No worries, with the technological advancements in dual action polishers, they are safe to use without worrying about damaging the paint such as burning the clear coat. The only real way of harming your car is if you drop the machine on it.

The initial learning curve will be tremendously steep which I won’t lie. There are different paint systems by different manufacturers which makes the paint often described as “soft”, “hard” or “sticky”. Various choices of pads and abrasive compounds will produce different levels of correction. Arm pressure and movement dictates how effective your results will be in working the product, and even what towels are best to remove polish after you’re done correcting.

Sounds like a bit much to take in? Don’t worry, that’s where Bon Vivant can take over for you.

Sounds exciting to see immediate and gratifying results? Then you’re probably looking into a very addictive hobby which can be tremendously rewarding.

Rupes machine polishing

4. The total package

There are people who are completely obsessed about paint. I am, and I’m not ashamed about it as it’s what I specialise in. But there are people who aren’t and that’s ok because they are part of the majority. Detailing is about presenting an automobile in its best visual appearance, and that means looking at it holistically to include the wheels, engine bay, interior, etc.

These areas have huge visual impact so making sure they’re clean, dressed and protected like how they should look coming out of the factory is just as important as improving the paint.

In fact, trying to perfect your paint and not tackling these areas will accentuate the dirtiness and detract the end result from your hard work.

leather cleaning and detailing advice

5. Clean up after yourself

This may sound odd, but a key component of detailing is making sure it doesn’t look like it’s just been detailed.

What this means is that there are no traces from polish residue left on trim and badge work, uneven tire dressing, smears on the glass, water dripping from crevices.

Allocate up to an hour of your time (if permitted) to do a once over with a fine tooth comb. Carry with you a fresh microfibre cloth, a small detailing brush, plastic razor blade, anything you think that can help remove those tiny stains of imperfection.

Once you’re done, move the car outside into the sun and do it again. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed from certain angles or different lighting.

Only once you’ve done that, then kick back, grab your favourite beverage and bask in the fruits of your labour. Perhaps even follow up by taking it out on a cruise. Nothing will feel more satisfying than that moment of pleasure knowing you’ve achieved some very professional results.

detailing removing polish residue trick

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