The 3 things you absolutely need to know about auto detailing

Taking good care of your car requires more than just a regular car wash. Auto detailing (a "deep clean" for your car) increases the life of your paint and can increase the resale value of your vehicle, which can end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.

1. The basics: What is auto detailing?

Auto detailing is a service that has one aim: to make your car look like it just left the factory floor. Car detailing can be done at a detailing shop or an auto spa, or at the location of your choosing with a mobile detailing services. Mobile auto detailers are actually very popular, since you can leave your car in your parking lot at work or your home driveway, and find it spotless when you return to it.

Unlike a regular car wash, car detailing includes polishing and waxing the exterior, and involves far more attention to detail hence the name detailing. The interior of your car is usually vacuumed or even steam cleaned, and all the surfaces that can be polished will be polished. Some detailing shops will offer engine detailing. If you opt for it, your engine will be steamed, degreased, and usually coated with a nice finishing polish to make it look show-room fresh.

2. How do I know if my detailer did a good job?

You should expect every inch of your exterior to be spotless and waxed. Your paint will be clean, minor scratches should be buffed out of the paint, and it will be waxed and protected. Make sure there are no specs of dirt or other grime embedded in the paint, especially if you live in wintery locales: road salts and other debris from asphalt can slowly destroy or decrease the lifespan of your paint job, and a good auto detailing will remove any such debris. The wax coating afterwards helps prevent dirt and debris buildup.

Also remember to check your tires and interior! Your tires and rims should be clean of dirt and break dust, and the interior should look like new or as close as possible. Good detailers should be able to take care of most stains in fabrics and other interior materials as well (within reason).

3. How often should I have my car detailed?

Depending on the conditions your car is exposed to, the rule of thumb is to get your car detailed when the seasons change, but you might want to book more regular auto details in cold, snowy areas or if you live near the ocean (road salts and salty air are bad for unprotected paint). In warmer, dryer locations, as little as twice a year may be enough.

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