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Car Detailing Services: An Introductory Guide

Updated on January 13, 2010

My Detailing Story

If you are anything like me, you care greatly about how your car looks, and you want to keep it looking at its best for as long as you own it.

The best way to do this is by detailing your car. I used to have no idea about how to detail a car, but fortunately, I have learned, through reading and practice. Detailing a car can be a very rewarding experience for the person who is doing all of the detailing.

Before I get into specifics, I would like to tell you a bit about my story. I used to be the kind of person who knew next to nothing about cars. I could pump gas, and inflate my tires, and that was about it. I used to drive a '96 Astro minivan, and it was a clunker. Unfortunately for the poor Astro, I didn't take good care of it. There were more scratches and dings on the outside of the car than you would believe, partly from other people and partly from my own carelessness. The tires each had several small leaks in them, and I would have to reinflate them about once a week (this is the only reason I knew how to inflate a tire). Everything about my poor van was terrible. My minivan was the opposite of professional car detailing. It would probably qualify to be in some sort of car detailing guide on what not to do to detail a car. And it wasn't just the outside either.

The inside of my van was trashed. There were fast food wrappers everywhere, and all sorts of papers and other worthless trash. I didn't have respect for my van, and it showed. Both on the outside and on the inside. Dirt and grime had accumulated along the corners inside my van, and a vacuum was not something that my Astro had seen in years.

Well, my '96 Astro was getting up there in age, and I decided that it was about time that I had bought a different vehicle. I had realized that I had taken awful care of my Astro, and I wanted to change that with my next vehicle.

I found out that a relative of mine was selling their used Ford Tempo for a really, really great price, and I decided to buy it. The mileage was very low considering the year ('92), and the price was dirt cheap. I could not have found a better deal. (As a guideline, try to buy from relatives if you can. Generally, you can trust them, and they will usually give you a far better deal than a total stranger would.)

Once I got my Ford Tempo, I decided that I would take much better care of it than I did with my Astro. So I started going online and reading guides about how to detail a car and what kind of car detailing supplies to get, etc. After a while, I learned some of the tricks of the trade, and I would say that now I am able to detail a car and have it looking pretty decent without much of a problem. I definitely could not say this about my car detailing skills before!

So to get to the meat of the story, so to speak, here is something I learned about car detailing: it is far, far easier to keep your car in good condition in the first place than it is to try to fix your car once you have messed it up. Does that mean that you cannot repair your car so that it looks brand new? No, you still have the ability to detail a vehicle that has been damaged, or just looks bad. All I am saying is that you are better off not having your automobile get in that condition in the first place.

Automobile detailing can be a very overwhelming thing to learn, so let's start off with how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. One of the first keys to maintaining a car is to avoid scratches. You can best avoid scratches or dings in the vehicle by parking far, far away from other cars when you are in a parking lot. This alone will cut down on nearly all of your scratches, dings, etc. that will occur. Of course, you will also want to drive safely. Safe driving will greatly reduce the risk of car accidents and the resulting body damage that comes from them.

The next thing to do is to keep your vehicle clean. Be as much of a clean freak as you can stand to be. Believe me, it is much easier to keep your vehicle spotless than it is to try and get it that way! Vacuum your car out once a week (or more, if you prefer, but I have found that once a week is plenty), and always remove any trash in your auto as soon as you can.

There is some debate over whether or not car washes will get the job done. In my opinion, if you are looking to keep your vehicle maintained at a certain level, then you should not have any problem with only going to the car wash. Every two weeks or so will keep your vehicle clean.

Another thing to do is to wax your car. This will really give it a shine, and it looks absolutely great. If you wax your vehicle every three to four weeks, then you will really see an improvement in how your car looks.

This is enough of an introduction to car detailing that you should be able to get started. Feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

You don't have to own a Ferrari to detail a car!
You don't have to own a Ferrari to detail a car!

Quick Tips

  • Keep your vehicle clean, on the inside and outside. Car detailing is much easier when you are maintaining a level of cleanliness instead of trying to overhaul your vehicle.
  • Car washes are your friend.
  • Waxing is your friend as well.
  • Be obsessive about how your car looks and you will be able to get the job done.


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