Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tips #1: How to choose a detailer?

In Malaysia, wherever you go, you'll be able to see "Car Wash", "Polish & Wax", "18 months Shine Warranty", etc...signboards. What do you think about them? Of course some of them are good, some of them are bad. Most car owners are amazed by the "18 months Shine Warranty" marketing hype. In fact, there's no such product in the market. Any sealant or wax applied on the surface will wear off as soon as you start to use and wash the car. The best quality sealant can only slow down the process of bird dropping etching, it will not completely prevent etching.
Also, to most people, "convenience" is the keyword. They want the car to be cleaned and shined within a short period, preferably during their shopping time. This explains why the so-called-car-detailing-shop in most shopping complex car parks have good business, especially during the weekends, and this explains why they produce poorer quality during the weekend. Unfortunately, car detailing is a process which requires both time and passion to be done correctly. Any fast job will not bring any good outcome. I know that those "carpark detailing centers" completing their so-called "polish & wax" process within 3 hours. How do they do it? Firstly, they'll spend very short time to wash the car, then they will simply rub the polish by hand and finally apply wax by hand. There'll be lots of fluorescent light tubes above the detailing bay to give plenty of light. This could also blind the owners with the amount of light, so that the paint defects can't really be spotted out. However, once the owner drove the car back, they'll be very frustrated with the detailing job under different lighting conditions. Some owners even complain that the swirls are back just after one car wash. Worst is, they pay over RM1000 per year to get this kind of low quality detailing job. Most of the time, those shops are doing more harm than good.
So, how do you choose a proper detailer? Firstly, you have to set a budget in mind. Quality detailers will put in the amount of effort according to the price you pay. However, if you just wish to get the best result from them, you have to let them quote you a price. It might sound expensive, but the end result is always satisfying.
Secondly, you have to survey their detailing facilities. They must have a close environment, not those under the trees please. Usually the washing bay is separated from the detailing bay. Detailing bay must be spacious enough to reduce the chances of doing mistakes.
Thirdly, the detailer must be knowledgeable. They need to have good knowledge on automotive paint. They also need to know how to spot defects, because they can only know the defect is there when they know how to spot it. They should know what kind of defects can be removed, what can only be reduced. Working too much on the finish will end up burning the paint.
Forthly, the detailer should have good skills on handling rotary buffers. I had seen some "detailers" have very bad rotary buffer handling skill. Basically they're just fooling around, trying to let customers feel that they can do quality jobs just because they're using a rotary buffer. They can burn your paint anytime. A skilled detailer will produce the finest finish, which only rotary buffer can produce, and at the same time being swirl-free.
Fifthly, there are certain steps which a detailer should never skip, for instance, claying, trim masking, polishing residue removing, etc...These are the important steps which can help you to determine whether the detailer is detail enough. A good detailing job shouldn't include wax stains on rubber/plastic trims, door jambs, cracks and crevices.
Sixthly, the detailer should have passion on what he is doing. He should adapt the mindset that every car they detail is their own car. This will always help them to produce the highest quality detailing job.
There are alot more factors to be considered, above mentioned are just a few simple ones. Maybe I'll add-in more when I feel it's needed.


Anonymous Car Detailing said...

Some great advice there. I think a sign of a good detailer who has confidence in themselves and their work is one that posts their work up on their website or blog - there's nothing to hide that way ;)

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