If you are considering having someone detail your car, I would urge you to use the same judgement you would in any other area of your car's maintenance, and treat with suspicion anybody offering a really low price. Don’t automatically assume that anyone that calls themselves a professional detailer is, in fact, a pro. Some have passed themselves off as competent professionals by stealing images of work done by others without their permission.
It may well be in your best interest to talk to a detailer who has a proven track record of satisfied customers as well as the relevant insurances, and someone offering a lower quote might not.
Request a reputable detailer’s name (s) on one of the detailing forums. Once you’ve selected a detailer to be specific about what services you require (i.e. full vehicle detail, exterior paint renovation, interior detailing, etc)
It requires an exchange of information between the consumer and the shop so that the extent of each detail and the estimated cost, a vehicle drop-off and collection time are clearly established before work commences.
A successful outcome will rely on good communication between you and the chosen professional. You want someone that makes you feel at ease with the process, someone that you can easily trust. They should be able to answer your questions in simple easy to understand terms, not techno speak so that you understand what needs to be done, and the benefits.
Listen to their suggestions. The more that things can be explained and agreed upon, the more at ease that they can make you feel, and the more confident that you can be in their ability to meet or exceed your expectations.
An accurate estimate can only be given when the professional is able to see the vehicle and ascertain your expectations, a phone-quote can only be a ball-park figure. Many professionals will need 10+ hours of work to transform your vehicle back to like-new condition
Some things you may want to consider
· Look for a courteous staff willing to answer all of your questions.
· Look for policies regarding estimates, labour rates or pricing, guarantees, acceptable methods of payment, etc.
· A Professional Detailer should have been in (full-time) business for at least one year
· Should have business licensed and be state registered
· Ensure they have adequate insurance cover (including Public Liability) and that they are a registered business
· Obtain (telephone number) references from three recent clients and check them
· How long they have been in business
· Check with the local Better Business Bureau
· Ask them where they received their training and what products they use.
· Ask the prospective detailer for photographs of vehicles they have done recently (most detailers have a portfolio) or they may have photos posted on detailing forums of their work on similar models
· Ask them their detailing ‘steps’ this will indicate exactly what you are paying for
· Ask them what detailing products they use (known brand names are preferable)
· Do they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee?
· Discuss a price and if satisfied set-up an appointment
· If they quote a very low price it could reflect the quality of service offered.
Provide tips on avoiding scratches by proper washing and drying techniques and any other tips they can give to maintain the finish on your vehicle. Client education in the aesthetic care of their vehicle should be equally as important as the detailing. The most common cause of surface scratches is washing the car improperly or using unsuitable washing media so I would suggest they explain or demonstrate the correct vehicle paint washing technique.
Detailing Pricing Guide
As with most other things, the price of automotive detailing varies by quite a wide margin. Many more people are concerned with perceived value (a cheap price) as opposed to quality; the secret is to sell quality over price while keeping in mind client needs.
The cost of having a professional perform a detailing job on your vehicle will vary by geographical region, the experience and reputation of the detailer, and the condition of your vehicle, and your expectations of the finished detail, among other factors. Most detailers will offer a specified package of services that are included in their standard prices, and generally will provide additional services on request for an additional fee.
Exterior (8 hours)
· Wash and dry exterior paint – 1.5
· Detailer’s clay – 1.0
· Tyres and Wheel surfaces – 0.5
· Clean exterior glass – 0.5
· Clean and lightly polish paint – 1.5
· Wax or seal paint -1.0
· Clean and protect rubber seals – 0.5
· Exhaust, tyres and trim etc 1.5 hours
Interior (4.5 hours)
· Brush and Vacuum carpets – 0.5
· Shampoo mats – 0.5
· Shampoo / extract carpet – 1.0
· Clean upholstery – 1.0
· Apply protection to vinyl and leather – 0.5
· Clean interior glass -0.5
· Deodorize interior - 10 min
· Protect carpet and upholstery – 0.5
This level of detail on an average sized and condition vehicle would take approx 13 hours, a larger vehicle will obviously take more time, most professional detailers will charge between $400 and $550 to do this level of work.
Depending on location/skill level / /reputation, to transform a vehicle back to ‘like-new condition; so expect to pay a fair price for the amount of work involved.
1. Inspect the vehicle
2. Note any serious scratches, stains or tears to interior materials
3. Adhesive residue, tree sap, bug spatters
4. Leaves, debris in jambs and cowlings
5. Remove all trash from interior including trunk, ashtray (place small change in Ziploc bag) and seat folds
6. Note stains or heavily soiled carpet or upholstery
7. Pre-spot and brush stained or heavily soiled areas
8. Clean wheels and wheel wells
9. Clean engine
10. Remove tar and/or adhesive residue
11. Wash vehicle
12. Clay vehicle if needed
13. Remove tree sap if needed
14. Polish and apply paint protection
15. Remove any polish residue
16. Dress tires
17. Interior cleaning:
18. Remove all items from interior and place in a Ziploc bag
19. Vacuum all surfaces
20. Pre-soak carpet and upholstery stains
21. Scrub stained areas with brush
22. Finish cleaning carpet and upholstery and apply fabric guard
23. Clean all interior surfaces, vinyl, and leather
24. Dress all interior surfaces
25. Clean interior and exterior glass
26. Replace all items in vehicle (Ziploc bag)
27. Final vehicle inspection
Paint Renovation / Restoration
Surface preparation for polish/compounding
· Wash 1 – 1.5 hours
· Paint surface decontamination 2 -2.5 hours
· Detailer’s clay 1.5 hours
· Rinse and dry surface 2 -2.5
Paint correction details- as a basic guide for each stage
Test panel – 2-3 hours
Compound 8 – 10 hours
Polishing 10 – 12 hours per stage
Wipe down process 2 -3 hours
Finishing 8 – 10 hours
Wet-sanding 3 – 4 hours per panel.
Sanding a painted surface is a very labour intensive way to eliminate orange peel or other paint surface problems; this method can take an entire day to sand and polish a vehicle properly ($1200 +)