Let's start with Detailing. What is Detailing and why is it different from Valeting?
Detailing is pretty much as it says. It involves paying more attention to detail than Valeting. With a simple valet or "splash and dash" as they are sometimes referred to, you will often find that there is residue left on trims and the glass that appears over time. With detailing it goes one step further. To make sure that this does not happen. On the interior details, things like cleaning out the air vents with a brush rather than just vacuuming the carpets and seats. Removing marks from leather work etc. This is why a detail is sometimes charged per hour rather than just a flat rate. It is easily possible to spend several days detailing a car in preparation for a special show etc.
The Two Bucket Method
This method involves, as it states, using two buckets of water rather than just one to clean your car. The reason behind this is simple. You have a "clean" bucket and a "dirty" bucket. The clean bucket is filled with warm water containing the cleaning product of your choice, Poorboys Slick n Suds or Mothers California Gold Car Wash for example. The dirty bucket is filled with nothing more than cold water. Simply immerse the washmit in the clean bucket, wash the vehicle in straight lines only (this will help to avoid swirling) and then rinse in the dirty bucket before repeating the process over the rest of the car. It is recommended that you place a grit guard in the bottom of each bucket. This will stop you picking up the dirt that you have removed from the car, into the washmit and putting it back onto the car and inflicting swirling on your paint.
A washmitt is made out of wool or sheep's skin. These are much preferred as they lift the dirt from the paint rather than the dirt becoming trapped on the leading edge and dragged across the paint. This is what happens when you use a regular car sponge. By washing with a car sponge and in circles, you will created the effect know as swirling on your paintwork. Swirling As above this effect is created when the wrong type of products are used to was your vehicle. The dirt that becomes trapped in a car sponge causes minute scratching to the paint's surface. Most people tend to was their cars using a circular motion. When bright sunshine or a bright light is shone on the surface you will notice many fine circular lines reflecting at you. This is what we term as swirling. Depending on how severe the swirling is and also the thickness of the paint on your vehicle, it is possible to remove this with machine polishing.
Machine polishing is as it states. It is polishing the cars paint using a machine. There are two main polisher types. A Rotary polisher and a Random Orbit polisher. Rotary polishing can be dangerous to your vehicles paint, if it is done by someone who is untrained. The rotary machine spins at high speeds in a circular motion. This allows heat to build up very quickly and can cause the paint to "burn through" the top coat to the under coat or even to bare metal. Obvious warning signs have to be ignored before this generally happens though. Random Orbit polishers are much safer. They use an elliptical motion that moves around at different positions and mimics hand polishing. This reduces heat build up and is safer on the vehicles paintwork. This type of polisher is much favored amongst enthusiasts and professions alike for it's safer characteristics. A popular random orbit machine is the Porter Cable 7424 or the Ultimate Detailing Machine or UDM.. Machine polishing will achieve great results far quicker than working by hand. With machine polishing it may be necessary to use a strong polish to remove swirls, scratches and bird etchings. It is then important to move up through finer and finer polishes and pads on the machine to achieve the desired rich, deep colour to your paintwork. However it is always best to try a test section with the least abrasive product first. This is for several reasons. Your paint may be soft which means that you will not need to use aggressive products on it and it will also save you time. It is better to step up to what you need rather than go in all guns blazing and possibly cause damage to your paintwork.
Microfibre Drying Towels and Polishing Cloths
The principle with these is basically the same as that with using a washmit. Chamois Leathers will also inflict swirling on your vehicle too. This is because of any contaminents left behind after the wash process, will stick to the leading edge and be dragged along. With microfibre drying towels and polishing cloths, dirt and residues are held into the cloth. Again dry your vehicle in straight lines not circles, this will again help to avoid swirling. Be sure to keep turning the cloth to a clean section as you work.
Clay bars are used with quick detailer to remove bonded on contaminents such as traffic film, tar spots and tree sap etc from your paintwork that the normal wash process cannot remove. This method involves spraying the paint surface with quick detailer or QD to act as a lubricant. This will allow the claybar to glide over the paint surface. In turn the clay bar then lifts the bonded contaminents away from your paints surface and leave it feeling silky smooth ready for cleansing and waxing.
Cleansing your Paintwork
This is an important step to take to get the best from the wax or acrylic glaze that you use on you vehicle. It will allow your last step product or LSP to bond to the paint and provide better protection.
Wax or Acrylic Glaze
The difference here is that waxes are often made from natural products. The best waxes contain the highest amount by volume of natural carnuba wax. Some of these waxes can cost in the region of £1800 per pot! Acrylic sealants are man made and tend to last longer than waxes, which is ideal if you want to car to stay protected for longer.