8 Tips to choosing a detailer that is right for you.
In this guide we talk about some things to consider when you are looking for the right detailer for you and your vehicle. Some people are just looking for the best price, while others are looking for quality workmanship and reputation, but what is the right detailer for you?
Craig from Revive Detailing Gold Coast has been detailing cars across the Gold Coast, and in this report he answers some of the most common questions detailers are asked.
What should you look for in a detailer?
It starts out with their online presence. What does the detailer’s website look like? Is it up to date? Is it easy to understand? Do they have their services spelled out? From there, what are they like to deal with on the phone? How did they answer the phone? Do they answer the phone, “Hello,” or do they answer the phone, “Hello, this is Revive Detailing, How can I help you?” or, “Hello, this is Craig speaking.” If they don’t have a professional web presence, it could be they aren’t a professional detailer. This just might be a hobby for them. If they answer the phone with a simple “hello,” again it might be a sign that detailing is a hobby for them, and in case it doesn’t go without saying, when you are spending your money, you don’t want the hobbyist, you want the professional.
Then from there, we look at the first time we meet. Are they prompt? If they set up an appointment, are they there on time to the appointment? If they’re going to be late to the appointment, are they communicating that with you? Are they communicating the services that they’re going to perform on your car? Are they communicating the price for those services? Are they asking you questions about what your needs are as the customer?
What’s the difference between a wash and vac, a mini detail and a full detail?
The problem is that all those terms get thrown around very loosely, and that’s why it’s important for the detailer to ask you what that each of those terms mean to you A wash and vac tend to be more of a maintenance and preventative detail. A full detail is when you would get into the shampooing of the seats, shampooing the mats, and even a clay bar and a wax on the outside of the vehicle.
When you start getting into the differences between a wax or a sealant it is best to know what each of those terms means. Most people know what a wax is. When you start getting into terms like a sealant or a ceramic coating, those terms get thrown around pretty loosely and then when you add to that, that consumers don’t know what they mean, you can see where the confusion comes from. These terms are getting into different levels of protection for the exterior of your car.
A wax is going to give you maybe a month or two worth of protection on the outside of your car from the elements – fallout, overspray, road grime, etc. A sealant is going to give you six months to a year worth of protection on your car. A coating is going to be 3 to 5 years or more of protection. What we are trying to protect is the clear coat on your car. That’s the final layer before the paint.
How much time should it take for these various processes?
The most basic detail, which would be a wash and a vac, should take about an hour. A full detail is probably going to run 4 to 5 hours.
When you get into any kind of extensive detailing, like removing scratches, putting on a ceramic coating, you may be up into the 8 to 12-hour plus range, depending on the condition of the paint, the size of the car and the level of polishing required.
Your detailer should be able to give you an estimate of the time required when they meet with you to look over your car to give you an evaluation.
What kind of exterior issues can be fixed with a detail?
Minor swirls & scratches, yellowed headlights, oxidation (depending how far it has gone). Using an example of a red car, if the paint is looking a little bit more salmon pink than red, that usually can be fixed and restored to a bright, deep red. White cars tend to start to get that chalky look. Same thing with a black or any color car, if it’s looking a little duller than it was when it was new, that can usually be fixed.
Those minor scratches are known as swirl marks or spider-webbing, and that can be fixed.
Water spots can be removed. Chrome rims can be polished out.
These are the main reasons people look for a detail, but sometimes these issues have been left too long and gone too far to safely remove without compromising the paint. But again, your detail should be able to offer identify any issues that are too problematic that cannot be simply polished out.
What kind of exterior issues cannot be fixed with a detail?
Deep scratches, like someone keying your car – that’s not going to be fixed in a detail.
Body damage, like someone, hit you, and there’s a gash in the side of the car, or the metal’s bent, or any real scratches in the plastic bumpers, that can’t be fixed.
What kind of interior issues can be fixed with a detail?
Dirt and grime mainly.
Any spots where any part of your hand or arm touches and leaves a build-up of grime can be removed. Elbow grease on the door panel can be removed, issues on the steering wheel as far as dirt build-up, grime on the center console, the little cracks around the shifters and the emergency brake where dust has crept into can all be cleaned out.
Most spots can be removed and stains can be made less visible.
Usually, anything except rips and tears can be fixed by a detailer..
What should I be looking for from a detailer to do on my tyres and rims to make them look good?
A good detailer should be able to clean up the rims back close to brand new condition, except any pitting from brake dust that has been built up on the rims and left.
Higher-end cars – Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Audi – will have softer brake pads. While these make for a smoother ride, it will produce a high amount of brake dust.
There’s a lot of heat and a lot of friction generated when you apply the brake, and the pad is stopping the rotor so that brake dust has to go somewhere, and it tends to land on the next closest thing, which is the rim.
If that brake dust is left sitting on the rim for long enough, it embeds itself into the rim and then that can’t be fixed unless you re-paint or powder coat the rim. But if it hasn’t gone to that extent, the detailer should be able to clean the rim back to almost brand new.
Cleaning should include the inside barrel of the rim or the inside of the rim. Tyre’s should be de-greased and any excess tyre shine should be removed from the tyre. Sometimes older tyres will start to look brown, the detailer will be able to remove that, and then apply a fresh coat of tyre shine to the outside of the tyre which will protect the tyre from cracking.
How should I find my detailer? Where do I find a good quality detailer?
Obviously, I want people to use me, but I also know I may not be the right detailer for everyone. Best advice is to ask around. Ask your friends who may have used a particular detailer in the past.
Don’t make the mistake of picking a detailer by price alone. Factor all the things I’ve already discussed – how does his website look, how do his online reviews look, what are other people saying about his work?
Look at who’s local to you, and then work your way out from there. Call the detailer and ask him/her to look at your car or give you a quote over the phone and see how the detailer responds to that request.