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What is vehicle detailing?
It’s understandable that vehicles become dirty, banged up, scratched and bruised, with the paintwork getting the worst of it. If your car goes a long time between drinks (washes), then you might start to notice that the quick ‘soapy water and sponge’ wash you do once every month or so stops being as effective as it used to.
This is because, over time, your paint becomes more susceptible to marks and scratches that aren’t easy to get off. These require more attention and specialist equipment than your spare half hour on a Sunday afternoon has to offer.
Auto detailing involves very thoroughly cleaning and reconditioning the exterior and interior of your car, through various stages, using specialty products and tools. It’s one of the most intense cleanings your car can go through and is designed to bring your car back as close as possible to as new condition.
How to tell if you need a vehicle detail
Does your car have faded paintwork, surface scratches, marks, scuffs and stains? Have the black plastic trimmings faded to grey both inside and out and is your interior looking pretty worse for wear?
If you answered yes to any of those, then your car probably needs a detail. Car detailing is all about restoring the physical appearance of your cars many surfaces and is extremely effective at tackling tough to remove marks. Remember though, car detailing doesn’t remove dents or other serious damage such as deep scratches or chipped paintwork.
How important is it to get a vehicle detail
The most obvious goal of car detailing is to improve the aesthetics of your car, so whether that is important or not is completely up to you. There are, however, additional - and arguably more important - benefits of getting your car detailed.
A proper detail performs a deep clean of your car. It’s meant to get into every nook and cranny to clear away dirt and other build up so that it doesn’t eat away into the surfaces of your car. This includes seats, trimming, body panels, glass and wheels, and it keeps them all in great condition by preserving and protecting them as much as possible.
Some detailing packages will include a protective wax coating, which adds another barrier of protection between your cars paintwork and the harsh elements.
And if you really want to get into it, getting an interior detail can also help ‘sanitise’ your interior by assisting in removing germs and bacteria. Your interior takes an absolute battering, with food and drink spillage, young kids, pets and not to mention yourself, contributing to the mess and abuse your interior is subjected to.
How is a vehicle detail carried out?
Depending on who you go to, a standard car detail could be very different and include different tasks. In this section, we’re going to cover detailing tasks that you might get in a mid-range detailing service. When you book in for a detail, it’s important to ask exactly what they’re going to do to your car for the price you’re paying.
- Car goes through a high-pressure clean to remove dust, dirt and lose particles
- Car is washed by hand using microfiber mitts and Ph neutral wash and then dried
- Wheels are soaked in wheel cleaner, which will remove tough stains and marks
- A tyre shine may be applied to your tyres
- Glass cleaned - removing all spots and should be left without any streaks
- Car is hand polished to improve gloss and will also remove, or reduce the severity of, scratches and tough marks.
- Tar and bug buildup is removed
- Black plastic trimming will be rejuvenated
- A complete vacuum of your car, including the boot
- Door trims cleaned
- Dust removal and clean of dashboard and centre console, including cupholders and gloveboxes
- Instrument console and dash are detailed using speciality brushes
- Glass cleaned to remove spots and should be left without and streaks
- A shampoo clean of cloth seats + floors, or leather conditioner applied to leather seats and trimming
- UV treatment applied to interior plastics
Remember, you might not get everything listed here, but you also might get more. Don’t forget to confirm with the person or business detailing your car!
How much does a vehicle detail cost?
The price of car detailing can vary, and it comes down to the point mentioned in the previous section. Different businesses can have completely different standard inclusions, all at different price points. Many of them, however, do have easy to understand ‘menus’, which is essentially a list of what you get in certain detailing ‘packages’, and how much they cost. More often than not, they’ll also have a list of optional extras which you can add to any package you want, at a cost.
You also need to keep in mind that the cost may change depending on the type of car you bring in. A 2-door hatchback will cost less than a big 5-door SUV. Some businesses will categorise a car as either a Small, Medium, Large or Extra-large. The price difference for the detail package between a Small car and an Extra-large car can easily be $100+.
Below, we’ve broken down the rough prices of some car detailing packages that generally include both exterior and interior.
Basic detail: $140 - $240+ (depending on inclusions & car size)
Mid-level detail: $160 - $360+ (depending on inclusions & car size)
Premium detail: $540 - $670+ (depending on inclusions & car size)
Where can you get a vehicle detail?
There are businesses that specialise in car detailing, and they’re quite easy to find. One of the most convenient parts of car detailing is there are plenty of mobile businesses that can detail your vehicle in your own driveway!
It may not be possible to complete all steps in your driveway, however, as there are laws regarding the disposal of harmful water waste, such as chemicals that may be used during the detailing process, in roadside drains, but you’re detailing professional will advise.\
Additionally, if you’re getting protective paint coatings applied, these are most effective when applied inside, such as a workshop, or at the very least, inside your garage if being done by a mobile business.