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Everyone knows what a car wash is. How many £5 Car Wash adverts have you seen on the side of the road. Well this type of car wash actually harms your cars paintwork.
Detailing is the term applied to the safe & thorough cleaning, decontamination, polishing, enhancement and protection to all surfaces of a vehicle.
We take car cleaning to the next level and use specialist tools, equipment, products & chemicals that a normal car washers wouldn't typically use, to fully restore and enhance paintwork to remove light scratches, swirls and blemishes that are caused through improper vehicle cleaning technique. The finished results are better than showroom condition.
Through this section we aim to help you better understand the detailing process and help you choose a service that is right for you.
The time required to carry out detailing correctly and to a high standard depends on many factors such as the size & current condition of the vehicle, the types of product you use and the customers expectations. The time frames set below are a guide only.
Valets - Won't remove scratches but get a car clean - 1-3 Hours
Premium Valets - Includes deep cleaning services and the addition of higher end luxury protection - 3-5 Hours
Enhancement Details - Include minor paint correction and scratch removal - Normally takes a full 1 Day
Paint Correction and Ceramic Coatings - For a show standard finish - 2-4 days
At Detail Bug each car is assessed before hand to determine the amount of work required and we can advise the best course of action to suit your expectations.
We provide a price guide for the above based on £30/hour. See the Valeting Services Price Guide for more information.
Have you caught the bug? We have a set routine and methodology behind what we do. If you want to learn what we do and why we do it these Q & As may help.
A car wash is a generic term for removing loose dirt before any other exterior process is performed. This can vary from a simple Bucket & Sponge to Dual Bucket Methods or even a Water-less Wash and use of a Spray Detailer.
Normal wash techniques such as a single bucket, sponge or brush can inflict damage to your vehicles paint and bodywork if done incorrectly.
At Detail Bug we care about your vehicle and treat it as if it were our own. We always use Safe Wash techniques and each car receives several stages of pre wash treatments to safely remove dirt with no physical contact with a shampoo until safe to do so.
Grit guards are plastic inserts placed inside each bucket to help remove any loose debris from our mitts before they are wiped across your vehicles paintwork.
For maintenance washes on cars we have previously detailed or where requested the Dual Bucket Method is used where safety is the highest priority for your paint.
For regular cars where the condition is already poor or you just want a "quick Wash" a single bucket is used to keep the cost reasonable for you yet we still take other precautions to take care and ensure a safer wash than normal.
We use our own Range of wash products which are available for personal use too which includes:
After washing almost any car there will still be stubborn contamination left behind. The removal of this contamination is where detailing starts getting serious.
There are several types of contamination on a vehicles surface such as:
Ferric Iron Oxide - The result of brake dust from vehicles around us. This problem is increasingly more common as the amount of traffic on our roads increases. Hot metallic shards of iron lodge themselves on to our paintwork. Left untreated they will slowly corrode and damage your vehicles paintwork.
Glue & Tar - The result of road tar, wheel weight adhesives, decals etc. Tar spots are unsightly and can't be washed off using normal methods.
Organic - Bug Splatter, Tree sap, Honeydew, Bird Excrement etc all bond to a vehicles paintwork and can cause further damage if left untreated due to their acidic nature.
Inorganic - Paint Overspray, & Enviromental Pollutants that have bonded to a vehicles surface can dull the look of the paintwork.
Oxidation - The suns U.V rays can cause oxidation and fade paint.
Why is it bad?
Contamination means your paint will look duller, feel rough, attract and hold on to dirt and make washing harder the more it builds up. Iron fallout if left untreated can also lead to paint blistering and rust spots. It is always best practice to decontaminate when possible.
Contamination can also reduce the longevity and durability of your chosen protection layer.
There are two main types of Decontamination processes.
Choosing the correct method is vitally important to the Detailing process.
There are 2 Steps Involved here.
1. The use of Iron Fall Out Removers to remove fallout such as Ferric Iron Oxide from a vehicles paintwork and wheels. Look at our Blood Bug Fallout Remover for this job if you prefer to DIY.
2. The use of Glue & Tar Removers which aid in the removal of Tar Spots and residual adhesives. Look at our Bug Out Tar & Glue Remover for this job if you prefer to DIY.
Mechanical Decontamination (Clay Bars)
Involves the use of automotive detailing clay to remove organic & inorganic contamination that chemicals alone cannot.
Clay bars, as they are referred to, are a bodywork safe, non abrasive method of removing the most stubborn of contamination. It gips contamination as it glides over it and "rips" it out of the paint on a micro level.
You can see the contamination in the clay after and is always a surprise at just how much dirt there actually was, which can't be seen on the paint itself.
The only real answer is that Decontamination should be carried out only when it needs it. Always decontaminate ccording to the use of the vehicle.
It is recommended that for vehicles used every day & for long commutes, decontamination is carried out every 3-6 months. Vehicles with little use should be decontaminated every 7-12 months.
Chemical decontamination can be done on a more regular basis. Clay should only be done when you plan to machine polish a car after to remove any micro defects it may leave behind such as clay marring.
Over time incorrect washing causes "Swirl" marks and light scratches. These swirls build up and cause an unsightly cobweb effect which is visible under direct light such as the sun.
Swirls are essentially micro scratches which dull paintwork. other causes of paintwork dullness and imperfections are U.V oxidation, acid etching, marring, holograms, scuffs and scratches.
The only way to fix this is to use a Machine Polisher.
Machine Polishing is the act of using abrasive liquids to cut back and refine layers of vehicles paint to bring back shine and clarity and remove imperfections. Polishing is often confused with waxing a car.
The easy way to remember the difference between the two is polishing is for defect removal whilst waxes are for protection and easier washing.
There are several methods to polishing a vehicle. This is done using various polishes & compounds either by hand, by a Dual Action Polisher or Rotary Machine Polisher.
Detail Bugs experienced detailers can choose the correct polish & polishing pad combination for the paint meaning you get the best finish to meet your expectations in a givemn time. The method required depends on the paint condition and what your expectations are. Polishing is usually carried out in a 1, 2 or 3 Step Process.
By Hand - For hard to reach places such as under door handles to remove fingernail scratches
By Dual Action Machine - A unique, safe tool that offers good correction and polishing ability with a low risk of residual swirls or holograms.
By Rotary Machine - A tool that takes skill to master that offers the most correction in less time but can inflict swirls and patterns called holograms in to the paint if not used correctly.
A term detailers use to describe the paint correction process is a "Polishing Stage" of which there are 3 possible stages used most commonly.
To correct a vehicles paintwork it must undergo one of the following.
Using an all in one polish or a polish that that uses diminishing abrasives applied by machine to greatly enhance and remove 70% or more of the paintwork defects. It takes least time and is a great value choice but not as effective as a 2 stage.
The car first undergoes a compound or swirl removing stage using a firmer or wool pad to remove heavier defects. It is then followed up by a second, different type of polish to "refine" using a softer pad.
This second stage removes any compounding swirls inflicted by the coarser grade polish. By using the combination of two types of pads and polish you can remove a far greater amount of defects. Usually 85% or more. This type of finish is more than adequate for everyday cars and produces a gorgeous clarity in the cars paintwork that makes any colour pop.
This type of service is the most time consuming. Usually in excess of 30+ hours. The paintwork is rigorously assessed for defects, Severe defects may require wet sanding which will then undergo a Heavy Pre Cut Compound first, Swirl Removing Polish second and refined or jewelled with an ultra fine finishing polish last.
Defect removal is in excess of 95% with only the very deepest of scratches remaining. The service of choice for detailing enthusiasts & those attending car shows and competitions.
A polishing pad is something that is fixed to the end of a Machine Polisher backing plate and used to work in the polish to achieve the desired results of machine polishing defect removal. There are different grades of pads depending on the type of product you are using and to suit the task at hand.
These range from firm heavy cutting pads for compounding work to medium polishing and soft ultra fine pads for finishing.
All pads are re-usable if cared for correctly and at Detail Bug we take pride in keeping our pads in the best condition possible. Feel free to ask to see our pads to inspect cleanliness.
We use about 6 Polish Pads per vehicle during the compounding stages and 4 pads per vehicle for polishing and refining work. All pads used are clean and swapped out to a fresh pad every other panel. If you prefer we can use brand new pads on a detail which can be discussed at time of booking.
It may be a small detail but an important factor to consider when choosing your detailer. Would you really want a dirty pad, that's been used 15 times before, used on your car?
A great question as sometimes people just want a really shiny car but don't want a time and labour intensive enhancement package.
Instead a glaze is a fantastic aproach as a standalone or optional layer that you apply before a sealant or wax. It is a product that contains gloss enhancing oils, glazing and wetting agents to improve shine and clarity by "masking" or "filling" imperfections temporarily.
It does not offer any protection. It is strictly used as a visual enhancer. It is perfect for shows for the added wow factor or where time or paint depth for paint correction is an issue and a temporary high gloss finish is required.
Can be applied by machine but is much, much quicker to use.
A sealant is an easy to apply synthetic product. They are made of polymers which are composed of thousand of synthetic particles that bond together to form a protective barrier on a nano level.
They are extremely durable and last 4-12 months. Sealants have hydrophobic properties that repel water and their contaminants and protect paint against the suns U.V rays.
They come as Spays, Liquids, Creams and Pastes.
We often think of waxes as the classic oldschool paste wax in the tin. Wax on Wax off right?! Nowdays waxes have moved on so much in terms of durability and ease of use. They are still a fantastic option for enthusiasts.
A wax is different to a sealant in that it is normally composed of natural ingredients instead. The basic make up of a wax is Wax, Oils & Solvents. The wax is spread on the surface aided by the oils, the solvents escape (known as curing) and leave behind a thin layer of wax as protection. Natural waxes lack the durability of synthetics but are far glossier, naturally U.V resistant and more suited to show car finishes and summer use.
More modern waxes contain synthetic additives now though such as "ceramics" and "graphene" which improve the characteristics and give better results. Words such as Nano, Hybrid and Ceramic would indicate they contain these additives. Take a look at our very own Hybrid Car Wax for an incredibly easy to use wax with durability to match.
Most waxes come in paste form but spray and liquid variants are available too.
One question we are asked all the time is how do you apply our waxes?
All of our waxes are easy to apply and use provided you use the correct techniques and follow the instructions. Or visit our blog to find the infographic version.
1. Clean your car the normal way - We recommend the dual bucket method.
2. For best results fully decontaminate your car chemically (glue, tar, fallout removes) & mechanically (clay bar). Re-Wash your car if required.
3. Completely dry your car using a premium drying towel.
4. Pre-Wax Polishing step is optional and down to the user. If you polish use a panel wipe after to remove polish oils and promote wax adhesion.
5. You are now ready to apply the wax. Using a soft foam applicator pad, gently apply the wax to the paintwork.
6. Use gentle movements to glide the pad across the paint in circular movements to ensure even coverage. Apply a VERY THIN coating of wax. A little goes a long way.
WARNING - Do not over apply. Over application and thick layers will cause the wax to not cure effectively, will make removal harder (cause grab) and affect durability.
7. Apply the wax to the entire car and allow 5-10 minutes to cure and dry to a haze.
WARNING - EFFECT OF ENVIRONMENT ON CURE TIME:
Cure time will vary depending on the environment. Sun, shade, temperature, humidity, applied thickness etc.It is best to test the wax on a small section in an inconspicuous area before use.
8. Once cured use a premium, plush microfibre towel to gently buff off the wax with ease to a high gloss shine. Apply a second layer after an hour for optimum results and maximum durability.
1. Paste waxes vary in hardness depending on temperature. If the wax is cold it may need warming up by hand by gently massaging the applicator pad around the inside of the tin. Friction will cause enough heat build up on the wax surface to create an oily consistency and make spreading the wax easier and more enjoyable.
2. DO NOT USE in direct sunlight or if the panel is hot from the sun. This is the same principle for all waxes and it will make the wax "flash" cure/dry immediately. If you must work in sunlight or hot conditions work in small areas at a time, use a damp applicator pad and remove immediately with your buffing cloth.
This Section aims to answer questions on the increasingly popular Ceramic Coatings, whilst also dispelling some common myths and assumptions. Dishonest detailers and sales dealerships may try to make certain claims about these coatings so it is important to know what your are being sold.
Nano or Ceramic?
Their true name is a Nano Coating but they are often nicknamed "Ceramic Coating"
They are derived from inorganic nano compounds and combinations of oxides, carbides and silicides such as, but not limited to, SiC (Silicon Carbide) or SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide) which is the main substance of quartz, silica sand and glass hence the nicknames - ceramic, quartz or glass coatings respectively.
Nano Coatings bond differently to your paintwork compared to waxes. They form a semi permanent bond to paint with a covalently bonded nano network structure like a tight mesh (imagine a #), which increases durability and creates a super hydrophobic, high surface tension that repels many environmental factors.
Their main benefit is that the negative effects of water, dirt and contamination are reduced and U.V and chemical resistance is increased. It makes washing the car much easier as dirt is less likely to bond to the coating than it is to bare paint.
Supplied in a glass bottle they are applied by hand using a suede or thin microfibre applicator. To apply a coating however reuires alot of time & preparation to ensure the paintwork is contaminant free and defects are removed to ensure they are not sealed in under the coating. Lighting and visibility is also vital as any residue will set hard, be difficult to remove and leave what is known as high spots. Make sure your chosen Detailer has the correct enviroment for the job. Detail Bug has a fully lit indoor studio to maximise the effects of a ceramic unlike an outdoor applied mobile detailers offering.
You Won't Scratch Your Car
One common myth about ceramic nano coatings is that you won't scratch your car and you'll never wax your car again.
Whilst the coatings are harder than waxes and sealants you can still scratch and swirl a ceramic coated car through improper wash technique - it is afterall, the dirt itself that causes the damage.
Where this myth has some truth is that by coating a car you are icreasing surface tension which reduces friction. This in turn makes the dirt less likely to stick, and easier to remove by rinsing. Since it is dirt that causes scratches and it is less likely to stick you can reduce the chance of it scratching paint by pre rinsing the car first before a wash.
Claims of 9H hardness refers to the pencil scale and is a common marketing term to describe a hard scratch resistant coating. However it is not the coating itself that is scratch resistant. Any detailer or brand who says different is purely saying what you want to hear. (Probably to get a sale)
Tests to achieve the 9H figure are usually carried out by the manufacturer and are strictly controlled tests, in a controlled environment, with no independent statistics to back claims. They are, in our opinion, the most miss sold products in the car care industry made worse by lack of understanding from end users and consumers.
To explain on a larger scale the 9H Pencil Hardness is around 3 Mohs on the Mineral Hardness Scale (Measured in Mohs). To put that in to perspective:
So a 9H coating can actually be much softer than the paint already on your car and is easily scratched by anything harder thanyour fingernail. The coating is an ultra thin layer only a few microns thick and due to the thickness the controlled test results will actually be the hardness of the painted surface beneath - the substrate. This makes the hardness test irrelevant.
What does matter is that reduced friction mentioned above. Increased slickness is more important than hardness.
Never Wax Again
To never wax your car again is another false misconception as often a ceramic coat requires a conditioner (Ceramic Shampoo or Ceramic Spray Detailer) or an annually applied sacraficial top coat to keep the base layer in peak performance. You are basically protecting the protective layer.
In truth if you go down the ceramic route you do eliminate the need for a regular wax as they are often incompatible and won't bond to a ceramic coat. But by applying a ceramic coat you have created the need for a different form of aftercare in the form of these top coats and specific spray detailers.
So What is the Coating Actually Good For?
What a Ceramic Coating will do however is save you time by making your car wash routine simpler, easier and quicker. This is because of the coatings higher surface tension meaning dirt and contamination won't stick. Remove the dirt safely first and you can prevent the chance of scratches happening.
The stronger bond lasts longer and although you may need specific aftercare products these are usually very easy to use and makes the results last longer.
Just remember a regular wax will increase surface tension too...you just need to apply wax more often as it forms a weaker bond. Ceramic coatings are all about weighing up time vs money vs convenience.
- Easier to maintain a vehicles finish
- Up to 5 Years Protection (depending on Brand and top coat)
- Don't have to use a wax or sealant each month
- Top coats can be re applied annually to preserve the base coat.
- Exceptional Gloss
- Exceptional Hydrophobic Water Behaviour
- Extreme U.V and Chemical Resistance
- Involves a lot of prep work and labour before effective application
- Costly to buy initially but saves money over time and the duration of the coating
- Will not provide scratch resistance as claimed. Will only reduce the chances.
- Most coatings must be applied indoors and allowed at least 12-24 hours to cure
Totally dependant on the brand, prep and aftercare.
Entry Level Single Layer Coatings
Last 12-24 Months and are great value and easy to apply.
High End Dual Layer Coatings
Can be expected to remain effective for up to 36 months if applied correctly and looked after well.
Accredited Only Ceramic Coatings
Claim 5 to 7 Years of protection with some of their products, subject to annual check ups and correct maintenance. Application of these types of coatings require a controlled indoor environment and fully trained and accredited detailer.
Detail Bug takes a more realistic approach to durability claims. We can only go off what the chosen brand claims but feedback from customers who have used us is extremely positive and many are impressed with the real life longevity outside of maufacture test claims.