Exterior Auto Detailing Services

The “Basic” Exterior Detail:
The first step is a basic wash to remove surface dirt and basic contamination (e.g., dirt, dust, grime).

The second step is to clarify exterior surfaces through a process known as decontamination. Decontamination consists of removing above surface bonded contaminants on paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal that washing alone does not remove. Contaminants consist of ferrous (iron containing, such as brake & rail dust) particles, dried soaps, old wax wax and sealants, adhesives, industrial fallout, bird droppings, road tar, tree sap, bugs, and paint overspray that is either on or embedded in the paint surface. Some of these contaminants may come off the paint surface with the initial washing. Other contaminants, however, will actually penetrate and/or bond to the paint and, over time, eat into the clear coat causing pitting, premature clear coat failure, and/or overall accelerated degradation of the paint. Note that even new cars are subject to paint contamination.

The third step is to apply a wax or sealant that provides longer-lasting protection to the paint surface. Without proper decontamination, any wax or sealant applied to exterior surfaces will not bond properly.

Clay Bar Decontamination
Vehicle surfaces (e.g., paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal should be very smooth). If they are not, above-surface bonded contaminants need to be removed. Detailing clay contains mild abrasives and is designed to remove above surface bonded contaminants from paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal and restores smoothness. Claying the surface is necessary about every 6 months. Embedded contaminants are not usually removed during the claying process; therefore, after claying it is still necessary to remove embedded contaminants using a paint cleaner. Note that while claying is excellent at removing above surface bonded contaminants, and is an essential step in the detailing process, it will not remove swirls or scratches in the paint. Since claying will remove any wax on the surface, applying a sealant or wax must follow. Especially on darker colored vehicles, polishing the paint is necessary to remove defects (e.g., swirls, marring, light scratches).

Polishing clarifies the paint and reduces scratches, swirls, and other paint defects, enhancing the overall appearance of your vehicle’s paint finish. The intent is to make the paint as perfect as possible by removing swirls, scratches, and any oxidation or other surface imperfections, which yields a very glossy surface with a lot of clarity in the color. Polishing means using a very fine abrasive to shave/cut/abrade/level the clearcoat layer to remove paint defects. Note that the total thickness of the primer/basecoat/clearcoat is about 100 micrometers…or 0.1 millimeters – thinner than a Post-it® Note – and that’s not very thick!

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.

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, 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.

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