Cars are among the fastest depreciating products on the market. They can lose up to 20 per cent of their original value right after they get off the showroom floor. Regular washing and maintenance may help keep your car in good shape but you have to do a lot more than that if you want to significantly slow down its devaluation. That’s where car detailing comes in.

Did you know that car detailing is one of the oldest existing types of car service? It originated in 1800 and has been around longer than cars themselves. It was originally performed on horse carriages. Surprisingly, many car owners still refuse to include this service in their car care regime. Most are satisfied with basic wash and DIY restorations using products from their local hardware.

Car detailing is similar to car cleaning, but, as the name suggests, much more meticulous than regular washing – sometimes also encompassing additional services to keep your car looking pristine for longer. It is the perfect technique for bringing a vehicle’s exterior and interior surfaces back to their exquisite selves. If this is your first time taking your car for detailing and you don’t know who offers the best car detailing packages in your area, here are the questions you should be ready to ask the detailer.

What types of vehicles do you detail?

While it seems senseless to ask, this question actually prompts some useful information. Maybe they detail all kinds of vehicles except the one you have, or perhaps you have a motorcycle and you’re thinking about having it detailed, too. Although many detailers accept all kinds of vehicles, some specialise only in certain types, makes, and models. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure they do handle the type of vehicle you have before driving all the way to their workshop. Only have 2 wheels? It’s worth noting that motorcycle detailing also requires a particular set of skills that you won’t find with every detailer.

What types of damage on my car exterior can detailing fix?

A detailer will try to fix a multitude of different kinds of damage on the exterior and interior surface of your vehicle – ranging from light corrosion marks left by bird poo and tree sap, to swirls, marring and scratches. These imperfections are repaired by performing a machine polishing and paint correction service with specific cutting and polishing compounds, depending on the kind of paint being worked on. When it comes to paint chips, dings or dents, a touch up specialist and paint-less dent removal technician will be required. For your convenience, Clean Getaway has access to all these services for you to utilize under the one roof at their Ultimate Detailing Workshop.

How long does it take to finish?

Unlike car washes, which normally last for 45 minutes or less, car detailing may take up to a whole day to finish. For ceramic paint protection services, the vehicle will often then need to ‘cure’ overnight as well. This is quite understandable considering the different processes your car has to go through to regain its pristine appeal. Before taking your car to a car detailing workshop, make sure you ask them how long the process will take, so that you can plan your day accordingly.

Which is better – wax, sealant, or ceramic coating?

The last phase of the car detailing process is the application of paint protection. Your car detailer wants to make sure that any repair they did on your car’s exterior will not oxidise too quickly, as well as offer additional protection from UV Rays to reduce paint fading. Applying paint protection seals-in the repair works, making your car appear brand new for longer.

There are a few types of paint protection they can use – carnauba wax, a polymer sealant, or a professional ceramic coating. While all three can provide a smooth, shiny finish to the exterior surfaces, a ceramic coating is a much harder coating that will protect from light scratches, while also acting as a durable UV shield to prevent paint fading. A ceramic paint protection that is hydrophobic will also cause “water beading”, which makes the vehicle much easier and faster to clean. Once applied, the coating will cure and turn completely transparent (often called a “glass” finish), giving you a brilliant sparkle and long-lasting protection. Prominent car detailers, such as Clean Getaway, use the highest quality paint protection products to achieve outstanding results.

What types of paint protection do you use?

It is important to ask about the type of paint protection the car detailer uses, especially if there’s a particular type you prefer. If they are using superior products, such as Opti-Coat Pro+ for external protection or Opti-Guard for Hydrophobic Interior Protection, then you’re certainly on the right path. There are many kinds of ceramic coatings available today, some will only last a year or two and others will last longer! What kind of chemistry is used is also important to know. There are PTFE, Teflon, SiO2 and (the more superior kind) SiC formulated ceramic coating called Opti-Coat. For added protection under the hood, you can also consider rust protection solutions such as ERPS that use electrolysis to prevent the chemical reaction that causes rust in the first place. These are currently the most advanced among all commercially available paint protection products on the market.

How do you clean leather surfaces?

Experienced detailers know that each of the materials that comprise your vehicle’s exterior and interior surfaces require a particular type of cleaning or polishing agent. Especially when cleaning or restoring leather, using the right chemical is critical to avoid damaging the material or pushing dirt and oil deeper into it. Make sure that the detailer has all the necessary cleaning products in their workshop.

Do you deodorize the interior?

It seems a no-brainer, but ask this question anyway just to be sure your detailer is not going to give your vehicle back with its interior stinking of chemicals. What good would a clean vehicle do if you can’t breathe freely inside? Most reputable car detailers offer deodorizing as part of the detailing package.

How long before my car needs detailing again?

While detailing can undoubtedly prolong the immaculate appearance of your car, and paint protection services will certainly help you achieve that more easily, its overall durability will depend on how you take care of your car in the long run. No matter how excellent the detailing job on your vehicle is, if you fail to practice proper car care, it won’t take long before you need to go back to the detailer again. Even worse, your neglect may leave damage on your vehicle that even the best detailer in the country will not be able to fix.

Ask your detailer as many questions as you think necessary. Being inquisitive will save you from getting screwed. Plus, you can make the best decision for your vehicle if you have all the information you need. Perhaps by knowing how much to detail a car or what to do to prolong the result of the detailing job, you can get the most value for the money you will spend for the service.