Car Detailing and Auto Detailing

Now that you've modified your car by fitting a turbocharger or even just added a cold intake system and got sounding powerful, you might want to pimp out your car to get it look fantastic! You may consider detailing your car. Professional car detailing shops charge hundreds of dollars as car detailing, which is also referred to as auto detailing, is a big job that entails carefully washing, waxing, vacuuming and conditioning your car. But it's not necessary to pay a professional to detail your car. You can do it yourself in your own driveway for a fraction of the cost. All you need is a little auto detailing know how, the right tools and a little elbow grease. Below are some car detailing tips that will help you detail your car like a professional!

Professional car detailing supplies

Some car detailing supplies

What You Need

There are a few car detailing supplies that you will need before you can begin to detail your car:

  • A vacuum cleaner, preferably a wet and dry vacuum cleaner with attachments.
  • Some rags, preferably terry cloth and fine cotton towels.
  • Brushes of various sizes, which could include toothbrushes and paint brushes.
  • Cotton swabs and some spray bottles.
  • A few tins of canned air or a mini-compressor.
  • An assortment of cleaners, including all-purpose cleaner, upholstery cleaner, glass cleaner, carpet stain remover, vinyl conditioner, and detailing clay bar.
  • Surface protectant.
  • Car polish or wax.

Car Detailing Tips for the Interior

The logical place to start detailing a car is on the interior. You can begin by taking out everything that didn't come with the car when you bought it; and pull out your floor mats as well.

Next you'd want to vacuum up all the sand and dust on your floor mats, carpets, seats and the center console. Be careful not to scratch the center console and make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies, and to move your seats forward and backward to clean up and vacuum under your seats as well. With the dust and sand out of the way, check your upholstery and carpet for any stains that would need some spot treatment, and any holes that would require some mending. If you have leather upholstery, you would want to treat the surfaces with some leather conditioner. If you need to do some spot treatment, use as little water as possible to prevent mould from forming and leave the doors open to allow the carpets and upholstery to dry out completely.

Now with the car doors open, wipe the metal and plastic parts with a soapy solution. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies where dirt tends to collect. Dry the surfaces thoroughly with some fine cotton towels and use a cotton swab to remove any tough stains.

The next step is to wash the inside of your car windows with a soapy solution and polish any chrome on the inside with some glass cleaner. Be sure to dry the glass and chrome surfaces with paper towels to lint-free cloth so that you’re not left with streaks on the shiny surfaces. Then use glass cleaner to make them shine.

Next clean your dashboard and center console. Begin by wiping it down with a damp cloth and then use some compressed air to work dirt loose from the nooks and crannies. You can also use cotton swabs to clean out air vents and other tight corners. Now use a conditioning vinyl cleaner to clean your dashboard and center console. Make sure you're using the correct cleanser or conditioner on the plastic parts and on the vinyl. You can clean the steering column with your soapy solution and apply a surface protectant maybe a little accent spray once everything is thoroughly dry.

With everything clean and shiny on the inside, you can put the floor mats back in the right place and move on to detail your car's exterior.

Car Detailing Tips For the Exterior

The first step to car detail on your exterior is to give the car body and windows a thorough wash with a good quality carwash detergent rather than some ordinary all-purpose household cleaner. Work on one panel at a time and pay special attention to the lower body panels that are prone to pick up dirt from the road surface. Rinse the car with a bucket of clean water rather than a garden hose as it will save water, and then dry the body with a soft chamois. You can use glass cleaner to bring the shine out of your car windows, the wing mirrors and on any chrome on the outside, but be careful not to get glass cleaner on the paint work!

Once the exterior is thoroughly clean and dry, you may want to give it a good waxing but hold off for a while and run your hand gently over the paint work, especially on the lower body panels. I am sure you will feel irregularities on the paint surface that is caused by tar, oxidation, road grime, and even diesel soot, that was not removed despite the thorough wash. These contaminants can be removed quickly and easily before they become embedded in your car's paint work by using automotive detailing clay. Automotive detailing clay is a professional paint care product that will wipe off any debris that stands out on the flat surface of the paint and will not scratch the paint work as long as the detailing clay bar is properly lubricated. Once the paint work has been clayed and is the contaminant-free, you can apply your wax or sealant to your car body.

Once your body work has been waxed, you can turn your attention to detailing your wheels. Begin by using a stiff brush to get the brake dust a grim off the wheel rims. Then wash the wheels with soapy solution, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where dirt tends to collect. You can use some vinyl conditioner on the tires to make that rubber shine, and if you have white wall tires, you can use some household bleach gel on a toothbrush to make them as white as possible.

The final car detail steps is to inspect your paint work for minor scratches and swirl marks that may have been caused by caused by snow brushes or tree branches. You can use a scratch and swirl remover to remove these and then proceed to wax or polish your paint work. Waxing and polishing the paint work is probably the most important aspect of detailing a car as it will make your car really shine and stand out. Remember to apply the wax evenly in circular motions and always use a clean cloth to buff and remove the excess wax. You should avoid getting wax on the hard plastic parts on the exterior and if you do get any wax them or on any part that shouldn't be waxed, just use a toothbrush or a few cotton swabs to clean it off.

Once you're done waxing and polishing and car detailing, your car should look brand spanking new! And that's also all the car detailing tips you'd need to keep your modified car looking at its best. Remember to follow these auto detailing tips and detail your car regularly (at least once a year) to keep it that way. If you want your car to look even better, you may want to check out our pages on how to tint your car windows.