Exterior Detailing Services Information

Basic Exterior Detail
A basic, proper exterior detailing consists if three steps. Washing removes surface dirt and contaminants, and is only the first step to protecting the exterior surface of your vehicle. The second step is to clarify paint surfaces by claying and/or polishing to deliver a deep clean. The third step is to apply a wax or sealant that provides longer-lasting protection to the paint surface. Applying a sealant or wax must follow claying or polishing. Wax and sealant products should exhibit water beading on the paint surface.

Clay Bar
The clay bar restores smoothness to the paint on your vehicle. The paint should be very smooth. If it is not, there are above-surface contaminants that need to be removed, such as bugs, tar, sap, old cleaning chemicals, and overspray. Claying will not remove swirls or scratches in the paint. Claying the surface is necessary about every 6 months. Since claying will remove any wax on the surface, applying a sealant or wax must follow.

Paint Polishing
Polishing cleans and clarifies the paint and reduces scratches, swirls, and other paint defects, enhancing the overall appearance of your vehicle’s paint finish. A compound polish should not be applied more than once a year. If using a polishing compound, applying a sealant or wax must follow.

1-Step Cleaner/Wax or Cleaner/Sealant: A cleaner wax is a product that does three steps in one step. This includes cleaning, polishing, and leaving behind a layer of protection (i.e., wax or sealant). Please know that a quality brand cleaner wax professionally applied will do a good job of restoring a clear, shiny finish, but these types of products will NOT normally remove swirls and scratches. It will make swirls and scratches shiny. A fairly strong cleaner wax can remove very shallow defects like swirls and scratches but removing swirls and scratches is best done with a dedicated compound or polish using a 2-step or 3-step approach. A cleaner wax can be applied twice a year, depending upon the paint’s condition.

2-Step Polish & Wax: A two-step polish and wax will remove a majority of the shallow paint defects like swirls, light scratches, water spots, and light oxidation and restore a much nicer looking overall finish. A two-step approach requires a person to run a polisher two times over the paint, which requires more time than using only a one-step cleaner/wax. The first step involves machine polishing every square inch of each panel and then carefully wiping the polish residue off the surface. Next, the wax or paint sealant is applied by hand or machine and then it is carefully wiped off the surface.

Comments About Polishing

  • Polishing Takes Time: Polishing procedures take time and add to the total cost of the detailing service. The key to good results when machine polishing (the first step) is to move the polisher slowly over the surface enabling the polish, pad, and the action of the tool to do its magic to the paint. Moving the polisher quickly over the surface in an attempt to do the job quickly will not remove the swirls and scratches and will give you the same results as only using a one-step cleaner/wax. This is where most shoddy detailing work takes place; that is, moving a polisher too fast over the surface in an attempt to reduce buffing time.
  • Deeper Defects: Deeper below paint surface defects like key scratches and severe type II water spots may be too deep to safely remove. For most people and their cars, it is better to learn to trust your detailer to make the judgment call as to which defects to let remain versus trying to remove 100%. Often times a thorough compounding and polishing using premium quality products will reduce the visibility of deeper defects to the point where they are a lot less visible and this is the preferred approach for any vehicle that is used as a daily driver.
  • Factory paint is thin: The factory clear coat on most new cars is around 2 mils thin. That’s thinner than the average 3M Post-it Note. If too much clear paint is removed in an effort to remove a deeper defect by 100%, it’s possible the car could suffer from clear coat failure down the road due to too thin of a layer of clear paint left on the car. Hire and trust a qualified, knowledgeable detailer and trust they will do what’s right for the paint and thus do what’s right for you.


Synthetic Paint Sealants
Paint sealants provide additional protection to your vehicle’s paint finish against UV rays, salt, insects, road film, harsh detergents, and other environmental contaminants. Synthetic paint sealants are replacements for a car wax and, as the name implies, the protection ingredients are synthetic or man-made. Premium quality synthetic paint sealants will tend to last longer than traditional car waxes but should still be re-applied on a regular schedule to maintain protection and appearance quality of the finish. A good sealant lasts 9 to 12 months.

Car Wax
Wax places a protective layer over your vehicle’s paint. Car waxes are normally considered products that contain some type of waxy substance either natural or man-made or a combination of both natural and man- made ingredients to aid in spreading, wipe-off, protection, and longevity. Not all products with the name “wax” on the label do in fact contain Carnauba wax, the most well known ingredient used to make a car wax. Premium quality car waxes will tend to create a warm, deep shine. It’s a good idea to re-apply a coat of wax to maintain protection and appearance quality of the finish before all of the previously applied wax has completely worn off. A wax should be applied after claying or polishing. Applying a wax before the paint has been clayed or polished is not recommended because it can trap in anything that is left over after washing. A good wax lasts for approximately 3 to 4 months.

A glaze adds luster to the paint’s finish. Applying a glaze once a year can be helpful to maintaining a mirror-like finish, especially to darker colors, such as black, burgundy, and navy blue. A glaze can also help to fill in and hide light swirls and scratches.

For more information:
Call: 203-584-1594
Email: info@onsite-autodetailing.com

Mailing Address:
Onsite Auto Detailing, LLC PO Box 934
Branford, CT 06405