How to Detail the Exterior of Your Car

Check our Latest products!


If you investigate you will find that there is no formal definition for taking care of the both the inside and outside of your vehicle. You would assume that there would be some common agreement on a process that may cost several hundred dollars. Most people assume that they know what car detailing means. Since there is not a common agreement on what car detailing, be careful when you ask someone to do it to your car. Insure they are planning on doing what you want and expect to receive. We suggest you ask very specific questions and understand what the company is planning on doing.

However there are certain common steps that are done in a typical car detailing project. Usually the average car detailing job consists of doing a thorough washing, cleaning, polishing and waxing the exterior of the vehicle. There should also be a through cleaning of the interior, but this article will not address those interior detailing techniques.

Some companies start on the exterior of the car, and others begin on the interior. Most of the professional detailers will begin on the interior. This is because if any of the chemicals used in the interior wind up on the outside of the car, they will be removed as part of the cleaning step.

Assuming we start on the exterior the first step in detailing is to wash the car to remove all heavy particles of dirt and related materials. This car detailing step removes surface contamination. Special soap are made for the car’s paint and they are designed not to strip off the wax. If you use dishwashing soap, then you must rewax the car.

In the next step a Clay Bar is used with some type of liquid lubricant such as spray wax, window cleaner or sometimes even water. This step should remove road grime, tar, bugs, light rust, tree sap and even some paint over spray. Clay helps removes contamination that is embedded in the paint. The first two steps remove contaminates which are on and in the surface. A good detailing job should always have both of these steps as part of the process. If someone tells you that they do not do the claying step, you are not receiving a professional job.

The third most common step is polishing the vehicle. Polishing is a critical major step as it can usually remove oxidation, swirls, water deposits, light scratches and some other minor surface imperfections. A good car polish can be just a chemical that cleans the surface and removes oxidation for a new car. For heavier needs such as an older car which has been left in the sun a different type of polish containing various abrasive materials will be used. The most severe polish used in detailing is usually called rubbing compound. It looks like a heavy paste but acts like a very very fine sandpaper. Rubbing compound can remove too much paint if done incorrectly. This is why you want a professional to do your work. A professional will use a rotary buffer, while an amateur should use an orbital buffer which is less apt to remove too much paint. Remember that the goal of polishing is to give your car a deep shine. The next step protects the finish, but it does not create the shine.

The last major step in taking care of the exterior is the use of a sealant or a wax. The newest sealants are typically a polymer based product which seems to offer more durability from than the best wax. They are liquid based and applied like a liquid wax. One factor should be kept in mind if you want a sealant instead of wax. Sealants must not be applied over wax or any surface contamination, If you did it can slow down or stop the bonding of the sealant to the paint surface. There is always disagreement between owners if a chemical product or a real wax looks better. The wax can enhance the gloss of the paint and give it the appearance of depth.

You can apply a carnauba based wax or a synthetic wax. Car crazy owners and most owners who show their cars, are on a never ending quest to find the best wax to use. Some car waxes are even being sold today with instructions that should be applied with your bare hands. The heat from your hands rubbing in the wax is supposed to give you a better finish. I have never seen proof that this is a better wax than others.

There are various one-step products which claim to clean, polish and protect at the same time. A professional shop will never use these type of products because of the compromises that must be made for each one of the steps. Reports that I have seen suggest that the synthetic products for car detailing go on easier and last longer than pure wax. But don’t try and convince most owners of this. On the typical car, either one will give you a great finish.

Taking care of the chrome, trim and tires must also be accomplished for that truly show car finish.

write by sanchez

Leave a Reply