The appearance of your car has a huge impact on how much you enjoy it and how long you keep it. If your vehicle looks rundown and old, chances are good that you’re not going to enjoy driving it that much, even if it’s mechanically sound. However, you can keep your car looking great for years and years to come by taking the right steps. One of those steps is to have it detailed periodically. While you can certainly take care of basic cleaning on your own, a good detailing service can offer some significant benefits.
What Is Detailing?
Auto detailing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You take your vehicle to a professional detailing service and they go over it thoroughly, cleaning and polishing, buffing and shining it until it looks great. A good detailing service can offer a lot of benefits, even going beyond just giving you a good looking vehicle to drive. Protecting your vehicle’s interior and exterior will keep it looking great for years, but it will also help improve the value of your car immensely, as well as protecting the interior and exterior from the damaging elements.
What Should a Detailing Include?
Most detail shops offer several different levels of service – you’ll find them listed on their service menu. The majority offer a basic level cleaning, a mid-range option and a full-service cleaning. That lets you choose the option that best fits your needs and budget. However, you’ll find that going the full-service route is often the best choice. It can:
• Save you time and hassle
• Protect the interior and exterior of your vehicle
• Prevent damage from sunshine and acid rain, as well as dirt and grime
• Hide minor scratches and scuffs
What Services Should a Good Detailing Include?
Of course, you’ll need to know what services should be included in a quality detailing. The actual options you have available to you will vary considerably depending on the company you choose, but the most common options can be found below:
• Engine Bay – Not all detailing companies offer this, but cleaning the engine bay can help keep dust, oil and grease from building up. It can also help you spot leaks more easily.
• Washing – A full washing of the vehicle’s exterior should be performed. The service should use a microfiber cloth and a specialty car wash formulated for automotive paint rather than any other type of cleaner.
• Waxing/Polishing – The detail service should offer both waxing and polishing service. Waxing and polishing in conjunction will help remove imperfections, hide blemishes and protect against further damage from the elements (including oxidation and etching from acid rain).
• Interior – The interior of your vehicle should be thoroughly cleaned (from the seats down to the floor mats). A protectant should be applied to all vinyl and leather components (including the dashboard, console and door trim).
• Wheels – Proper wheel care is important, and a good detailing service will use the right cleaner and protectant for the type of wheels you have (steel, aluminum, etc.).
What to Expect in Costs
Auto detailing isn’t “cheap”, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. A full service on a car in good shape might run you about $150, but that will vary with different factors, including where you live, the condition of your car and the extent of the service that you choose. Rather than choosing based on price, it might be a better idea to choose a detailer based on the reputation, the services offered and the results they can provide for their clients.
* About the author: Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore, an auto flooring company based out Columbia, Missouri. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on logo, carpeted, molded and all weather floor mats.
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