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The Importance of Car Detailing

Updated on December 29, 2020
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Professional Detailer out of Massachusetts gives you the ins and outs of car detailing. When and How much should you spend?!


I am very excited to bring you USEFUL information that I specialize in for the first time. My name is Nicolas Pazo, and I own a small mobile detailing business out of Eastern Massachusetts. Just so you know that I am not some random guy that says he knows about car detailing, I want to give you a little bit of information about myself. I started detailing cars and boats fresh out of high school in Orlando, FL. My girlfriend’s (at the time) father owned a mobile repair business for just about everything. He serviced the slides at Universal, serviced boats in the Orlando area, owned a mechanic shop for bigger repairs, and fabricated the boats in front of the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. He hired me, probably doing his daughter more of a favor, but either way we worked well together. He had me under his wing for sometime and then let me start taking care of the detailing aspect for our clients. We set them up on monthly maintenance washes and waxed the boats every 3 months. Fast forward to a 24 year old me, a long time friend of mine had been working as a detailer under a mentor detailer for quite sometime and then his mentor ended up letting him run and own the company. After that, he brought me on to help with the clients that they had built previously. Even with my background knowledge, I started back at the bottom of the totem pole making minimum wage but grew into a Regional Director of the company taking care of client accounts in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers. Now, I own my own detailing company that services all of Eastern Massachusetts with a fast growing following and clientele list. Which brings me full circle to me not being a regular Joe. Let’s dive into some content already!

A GMC SUV used for the family
A GMC SUV used for the family
Garage kept Jaguar
Garage kept Jaguar
Daily driver.
Daily driver.

BEWARE of the Car Wash

My purpose of this publication is to briefly explain what a car detail is. Then, how frequently a consumer should detail their car and what is it worth . The first step,
is to understand that a car detail is not a car wash. At a car wash, you take your vehicle to a place that has a drive through exterior wash that probably has the big spinning hairy looking thing. Which is super abrasive and is causing scratching and marring beyond belief and you are paying for it to damage your car. That big brush is slapping your cars paint like it just said something about its mother. Afterwards, if you pay extra the people making $12/hr (it’s an honest job, but you get what you pay for) reuses the same wash mitt and brush that was used on the car before you without a proper decontamination. So now that the big spinning hairy looking thing has slapped your car repeatedly with sand paper. The employees at the car wash are basically using more sand paper on your vehicle with their contaminated mitts, dirty buckets, and brushes. Now, it’s time for some extra greasy tire shine that is going to sling up the side of that “freshly washed” (if that’s what you want to call it) ride of yours. Your wheel barrels still have the same dirt from 2016 after leaving the car wash. All for the amazing price of $50. But for the special of the day they sprayed on a 1 month paint sealant for $15 extra that won’t even stick to your still heavily contaminated ride because proper paint prep was not practiced. Your $65 can go further. The icing on the cake is that you still have to pay and break your back to vacuum your own car too because you only paid to have your exterior beaten... I am mean washed. OK, I know I can’t completely bash car washes because some car washes do offer the professional services that are top notch in quality. Not only are their services top tier but the talented employees that work there are awesome. I am solely speaking about your typical car wash that is a “come and go” in style. With that said, the contactless car washes aren’t that bad as a “come and go”, I guess.

Paint Correction on a Black 2010 Acura
Paint Correction on a Black 2010 Acura

Contactless Car Washes... You are better off DIY

Using a car wash should be used with extreme caution. The only time that I suggest but don’t recommend that a client use a car wash is if the Car Wash is “Contactless”. Contactless car washes use a variety of high pressured pressure washers to remove dirt. Then foamy soap is applied as a dirt carrying lubricant that is then rinsed off by the high pressured pressure washers. These are safer than traditional car washes but are still dangerous at the same time. If you have any chips in your paint, you may fall victim to a stream of high pressure water hitting that paint chip so perfectly that it tears off a nice chunk of paint. Besides the danger associated with this style of car wash, the cleaning it provides is not sufficient. Bugs are still left on the surface, sap is left eating away at the clear coat finish, the rims still are dirty, the interior is still dirty and you are paying for this. These washes are more expensive than a traditional “big spinning hairy brush” car wash. It is definitely worth spending a little extra money on a wash like this if you don’t want to spent the money it takes to get your car detailed. OR just wash the car yourself!!!! We can ease our stress of wondering how bad the damage is to your paint by washing the car yourself. If you know the basics of washing a car you will do a more efficient job than any quick service car wash. The problem for most people is that they do not have the time themselves, they are getting older or they just don’t want to do it.

GMC Sierra
GMC Sierra

Car Wash vs. Car Detailer ... Why get a detail?

The main and obvious difference between a car wash and a “professional” car detailer is that we do not skip steps to achieve quicker results that lack in quality. Sometimes we might give ourselves more work to achieve a higher quality of results. We expand on the car wash strategy to take care of the people that care about their vehicles. Our main goal as detailers, is to get our clients vehicles to a certain level of appealing excellence and once that excellence is achieved you pay us to maintain that pinnacle of visual excellence. A quick service car wash is here to get you in and out no matter the outcome, you are paying. While detailers are here to get you in and protect your investment spent on us and your investment spent on the vehicle being detailed. Detailers have the knowledge and tools to take care of your car’s exterior and interior beyond a car wash. We are usually hired to fix a problem that a car wash or car neglect has caused. A huge difference that separates a car wash and detailer is the process that detailers prepare and wash your vehicle so that a paint correction can be performed or protective coating like a wax or ceramic can bond and/or stick to the painted surface. Preparation is 90% of the game and makes the difference.

With everything that is stated, why should you get your car detailed? Your car takes a beating everyday. Even if you keep your car in a garage, or cover it after every use; cars collect dirt, dust, spider webs, they get chips from the road, chips from rocks flying out of the freight truck in front of you, micro abrasions from the car covers, misuse of a product on your end, things happen to our cars. We drive our vehicles to get from point A to point B and a lot can happen in between that time. With extra passengers, like kids and pets your mode of transportation is really just a hot mess on wheels if it is not taken care of. With messes happening in the interior and dirt coating your car exterior every second, it is impossible to keep a car clean without you cleaning it on a regular basis or without having someone clean it at a hefty price to clean your mess. These messes that go unattended and neglected become built up, caked on, disasters that you don’t want to clean yourself because it is too gross to look at or it is too embedded into the carpet to even give it a try. I can go on and on about the messes that your car carries. The main reason to get your car detailed by a professional is because you can put your trust in us to clean your car properly with the right chemicals, tools and knowledge to complete the job. Our time is so valuable in the world we live in to do other things. For example, I do not even have time to go to the grocery store so I use an app and have my groceries delivered. Professional detailers go the extra mile so that they can make their job easier the second time around. In my opinion, a good professional detail will feature services by default such as clay bar decontamination for services that involve any paint sealants, cleaning the wheel wells, opening the gas tank door and cleaning inside that, APC spray down of the entire vehicle prior to preliminary rinse, vent cleaning, and the use of brushes to clean in between the cracks and crevices of the interior. These are some of the services that a basic full detail should come with it. So why should you hire a detailer? If you have never had your car detailed, if you have paint imperfections, if you have no protection on your paint, if you only use car washes, if you want a professional to work on your car, kids, pets, spills, stains, and most important if you want to get what you pay for.

I have been detailing everything from airplanes to boats and everything in between for over a decade.

When should I get a detail? Process and MAINTENANCE

It is a rule of thumb that car drivers should detail the exterior and interior of their car every 3 months. I believe that this rule of thumb has been in place because traditional carnauba waxes last about 3 months with proper wash maintenance. With that theory it makes sense to get a detail every 3 months. With ever growing research and development with paint coatings that come in wax form, liquid form, ceramic based, quartz based, graphene based comes different lifespans. The most common misconception of coatings that can last 3 months, 6 months, and even up to a lifetime is that people can go 3 months, 6 months, or even a lifetime without washing or maintaining the coating. That is simply not true at any stage. This means you should continue to care for the protectant protecting your vehicles paint or any other protected surface more frequently than once every 3 months. Meaning, that your vehicle at least should be washed aka maintained 1 time per month. I say washed at least once a month but is not limited to that. There are car enthusiasts that want washes bi-weekly, weekly, after each use, you name it but for the average car owner a wash once a month is sufficient for vehicle maintenance. During these maintenance washes, the steps that go into the process are far less extensive than a traditional detail. First, we ALWAYS start by washing the wheel wells, tires, and wheels in any process of washing the exterior (I will explain this process further in my next publication). The exterior wash follows the cleaning of the wheels and tires because during the washing process of the wheels and tires dirt can be slung on to the paint. It makes sense to wash that sling off during the exterior wash. The exterior wash resembles the contactless method by rinsing the vehicle off to remove loose surface dirt, then a foam canon is used to apply a thick layer of lubricating soap to further lift dirt off of the surface. The soap is then pressure washed off and then the detailer will use clean high quality wash mitts and brushes that have been decontaminated prior to use or new tools will be used all together. The wash method should always be a 3 bucket wash system; 1 bucket for wheels and tires only, 1 wash bucket with lubricating soap, 1 rinse bucket with clean water to rinse the contaminants off of the brush or mitt that just contacted the vehicle. After the wash, some people like to using drying aids that help lubricate the surface during the drying process. This drying aid is to deter micro abrasions and marring from the drying towel. If the car is ceramic coated and leaf blower (for you DIYers at home) of a designated auto blower is the best way to dry your vehicle because it is contactless. The least amount of contact to your car the better. If you or your detailer uses these methods then having a full detail every 3-6 months depending on your vehicle use and type of paint protection is sufficient. Maintenance is the most important step after your car is fully detailed. Maintenance will allow you to delay a full detail for a longer period of time, is cost effective in the long term and your vehicle stays clean consistently.

How much should this cost? $$$

If I have talked you out of going to the car wash, you are now left to wonder how much will all this cost?? It all depends on the condition of your vehicle and what you need done. For the ease of this article, we will assume the vehicle has never been detailed and has been owned for 2 years. The owners have 2 kids, a pet, and is the family vehicle. There is sand, pet hair, chicken nuggets, fries, dirt, caked grime on steering wheel, cup holder with dry coffee stains, more random debris, and stains on the seats from spills on the interior. The exterior has bugs, someone has written wash me on your window, the wheels have brake dust covering everything, there are hard little dots that are all over your paint, and the gas tank compartment is so dirty that the once white letters on the gas cap are now illegible . This is usually the average condition of a car that I have never detailed before. Based on these factors, for an exterior and interior detail without any paint correction you should expect to pay between $200-$400 depending on the size of the vehicle and the detailer. Some mobile businesses, can charge extra for the added convenience of having a professional on site no matter the location with all the tools necessary to complete the job. This service traditional comes with a paint sealant that is chosen by the detailer of choice. In my research and practice, for basic full details, detailers will apply a spray sealant that lasts up to 3 months. Most people will opt to choose the package that is not the basic option and not the most expensive option. So the next step up pricing tier is around $300-$500. It will include a stronger paint protection that will boost protection up to 6 months - 1 year with proper maintenance and some added interior features like steam cleaning or a more extensive upholstery extraction or protection. You will always be able to find someone who will do it cheaper. Just remember, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean go with the most expensive person or company. It means go with the person or company that can give you educated answers to your questions. Look up top rated detailers in your area and also look at the newer small businesses. Some of these new detail businesses have great detailers running them. They just don’t have the reviews yet to prove that they are legit, YET. Of course you can use the big name places that are charging a pretty penny because they have the experience and man power to do so. But, give a new small business a chance by calling them seeing what products they are using, their methods, and their background. With COVID shut downs happening again, it is a great time to give these small businesses a chance that are desperate for clients.



Is it important to have your car detailed? Yes. Should you detail your car yourself? If you know how to, YES. When should my car be detailed? A full detail should be done every 3-6 months depending on the type of paint sealant being used. Do I have to wash my car in between details? Double yes. The best protection for your car is a clean car. Many, if not all detailers, should offer a maintenance plan to keep up with the work that they have just finished. If you paid for a full detail service, chances are you care about your car and want to keep it clean with a maintenance option. How much should I expect to pay for a basic full service detail? Depending on the mess, and the detailers skill, prices range from $200-$500 for a quality detail. You will always find it for a cheaper price but remember, “You get what you pay for.”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Nicolas Pazo


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