People often get confused between the term’s car wash and car detailing. What is the difference between a car wash and a detail, how are they different and what does each of them entail?
Both of them are necessary to keep your car looking good, and are important to protect the exterior and preserve the interior of the car.
A clean vehicle is also a lot more pleasant to drive and be driven around in, and you get to enjoy your car as if it were new once again.
Car Wash Vs Car Detailing: What is the Difference Between Them?
A thorough wash will be able to keep your car’s exterior clean and maintain the paint so that there are no stains, scratches or blemishes on them.
A deep cleaning that happens during a car detail session prevents corrosive materials from attacking your car’s paint and adds a layer of protective sealant that protects the paint.
Car washing and car detailing are two similar activities, yet have their own benefits and procedures.
What is Included in a Car Wash?
The exterior of the car is given a thorough cleaning during a car wash. It is used to wash away dirt and grime from the paint surface.
It is a quick way to get rid of dirt on your car without going through a time-consuming process. A car wash is not an invasive process and generally only soapy water and some microfibre cloth is used to wipe away visible stains and grime.
Hard to reach places are sometimes missed out with a car wash, especially the automatic types with large revolving brushes that are rolled onto the surface of the car.
What Exactly is Car Detailing?
Car detailing is a much more deep and intensive process as compared to car washing. With detailing of the car, both the exterior and the interior of the car is involved.
During the car detailing process, the hard-to-reach places, all the nooks and crannies of the car are looked into, which is usually missed during a regular car wash.
Car detailing is also tailored towards the client who may want a certain part of the car to be focussed on, to get rid of a stain or to fix a blemish or scratch.
There is much more precision involved in car detailing, and a wax sealant is added to the exterior to protect the car from damage in the future.
Car Detailing: a Precision Process
Car detailing will take a longer time to complete and cost comparatively more than a regular car wash because of the level of precision involved and the use of cleaning equipment used (cleaning solutions too).
Since the quality of the work is much higher, the more expensive price of car detailing is justified.
The car is protected and will be in a new look condition for a much longer time.
Which is the Better Option? Car Wash or Car Detailing?
It largely depends on the situation and the conditions the car has been through.
If the car is exposed to corrosive substances, is taken off road and is filled with dirt, sand, dust and grime, and the interior is filthy with lots of stains, then a car detailing job is in order to save and restore the vehicle to its former glory.
A car detailing job will clean off all the dirt and protect it from damage in the future. The interior can get cleaned as well and will offer the driver and occupants a better experience, especially if it smells fresh and clean on the inside. It may also prevent them from suffering from dust allergies.
If the car is driven in regular conditions around the city, and has a thin layer of dirt on it, while the interiors are generally spotless and clean, then a simple car wash may be enough to keep the car clean. It is a quick process that can be carried out and will not cost a lot for the car owner.
With a car detailing process, there will be a lot of waxes and polishes used to get the car back to looking like new. Even the interior has their own cleaning fluids to keep them smelling fresh and clean. A sealant will be added to the exterior to have the paint shiny and protect it from damage in the future.
A car wash will last the car only a few weeks because of the lack of after wash treatments. But if the car is being regularly washed at least twice every month, then a car wash should be enough to keep the car looking and feeling good.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is car detailing?
Ans. Professional detailing is the process of rejuvenating the car’s exterior and interior. With detailing the car is restored to an almost new like condition.
Car detailing focusses on deep cleaning, paint restoration and protective coating to keep the vehicle looking new. Car washes make use of only soap and water and should be done approximately every week. Car detailing on the other hand requires the use of special chemicals, waxes, polishes and buffing compounds that should be done at least once a month.
Auto detailing is the process by which the car is kept in the best possible condition, as regards to the exterior or cosmetic appearance. The mechanicals of the car are not included in car detailing.
Invisible and visible contaminants are taken out of the car’s interior and the exterior is polished to a blemish free finish.
Q2. What is a Car Wash?
Ans. A car wash is the cleaning of the exterior and interior of a car. There are automatic drive through car washes that consist of large revolving brushes and jets of soapy water that are dispensed on the exterior of the car.
Interior cleaning of the car includes using a vacuum on the seats and floors and cleaning of all interior parts with semi wet micro fibre cloths.
The primary purpose of a car wash is to remove dust, dirt, salt, tar and other contaminants from the exterior and interior of a car. A car wash may also include the application of wax and polish to give the exterior a shiny appearance.
A complete car wash includes washing the exterior, cleaning the tires and wheel rims, polishing the tire with dressing, polishing the shiny aluminium rim, applying a polish or wax to the exterior paint, vacuuming the interior, brushing the dirt away and cleaning the trim.
Q3. What Does Detailing Do to a Car?
Ans. Car detailing is different from a car wash in that it not only gives the car a good wash, it also protects the exterior and the interior from wear and tear and exposure to the natural elements.
Car detailing goes a long way in extending the life of the paint on the exterior and keeping the interior looking like new. This is especially important to increase the resale value of the vehicle.
A professional detailing job adds satisfaction to the driver, brings more value to the car, and prevents any major restoration efforts in the long term thereby saving money.
For driver satisfaction, the car is shiny like new and has a new exterior because of fresh looking paint.
Although the car detail work will cost money now, in the long term it saves money by increasing the resale value when the car is about to be sold. Regular maintenance pays off in the end.
All contaminants are removed from the exterior and interior of the car which allows the occupants to breathe better with dust and dirt removed. When the windscreen and windows are cleaned well, the driver is able to drive better having a clear vision of the road.
Q4. What Differentiates a Car Wash and a Car Detail?
Ans. The major difference between a car wash and a car detailing job is how in depth the cleaning process is.
In a car wash, the surface is cleaned using soap and water and lightly scrubbed to get rid of external dirt and dust. This prevents natural elements from damaging the paint, especially the clear coat which is vulnerable to damage.
With car detailing, the maintenance is more in depth and preserves the life of the external paint work and the interior materials.
Car detailing will involve waxing, polishing and vacuuming the interior of the car. The interior and exterior of the car is also deep cleaned to give the car that new feel. Detailing also includes shampooing of the car floor mats, carpets, restoration of the headlight lenses.
Where a car wash may take up 15 to 30 minutes to complete, a detailing job may take many hours or even a whole day.
The cost of car detailing may significantly be more than a regular car wash, although a detailing is required only once every few months whereas a car wash is needed every few weeks.
Q5. What does a full car wash include?
Ans. A car wash can be done at home with a simple hose, a few brushes and some liquid soap. Alternatively, you could have a professional wash that makes use of high-pressure hoses, soap dispensers and professional cleaning equipment.
The costs and time involved with a car wash are not that high, although a car wash handled by a professional may take longer and cost more. Usually, a car wash can be completed in half an hour.
A car wash should be administered every few weeks to keep the paint in good shape and to protect it from sun damage or exposure to the elements.
Q6. What is Included in a Detailed Car?
Ans. In addition to a regular wash with soap and water, car detailing may include vacuuming of the interior and shampooing of the carpets in the interior.
Car detailing makes use of special brushes and cleaning liquids that are essential to removing dirt, dust and debris from the exterior and interior of the car.
A clay bar is usually used to eliminate the debris that is bonded to the paint surface. A polish and special wax are added to give the paint a good shine.
A sealant is added to the paint so that dirt and debris cannot penetrate the surface. It also keeps the paint intact until the next detailing job. The exterior is also waxed and polished to cause the paint to shine like new. The interior is also treated to a similar wax and polish.
The car glasses are cleaned, leather or fabric seats are given a once over. Finally, the engine bay gets clean and all dirt that is accumulated is removed.
Q7. Is Detailing a Car Worth It?
Ans. The main purpose of car detailing is to preserve the original look of it. A car that has been waxed and polished will shine for a few months until the next detailing work.
It is good for maintaining the car’s appearance. If you are planning on reselling the vehicle after a few years, car detailing goes a long way in increasing the resale value. Obviously, a car that looks new will have a better resale value than one that looks old and worn out from the outside and inside.
Q8. Does Detailing a Car Remove Scratches?
Ans. A car detailer can indeed remove minor scratches and nicks in the car’s exterior. More severe damage to the paint will require a repainting over the area.
For small blemishes, scratches and nicks in the paint, the car detailer will apply touch up paint to remove the damage.
Larger areas will have to be repainted, a clear coat is applied, then the surface is sanded and a polish or wax is added.
Q9. What Do Car Detailers Do?
Ans. Car detailers focus on both the exterior and interior of a car. It is just not a quick wash of the car. Detailers are able to make the paint shine, remove any blemishes, scratches or buffs and apply a paint sealant to prevent any damage to the paint from the rain or sun.
The car is washed with a high-pressure hose, the rims of the tires, doors, and all glass surfaces are cleaned thoroughly.
A clay bar is then used to remove impurities from the paint and other blemishes that don’t go away with water washing.
The car is then polished with a good quality wax and buffing agent.
Finally, a sealant is added to give the paint a glossy shine.
Q10. Does Detailing Remove Rust?
Ans. Rust is often a sign that the metal is corroded not only at the surface but deep down inside, and can only be seen completely when the paint is removed and the metal is exposed.
Simple surface rust can be removed by detailing by the use of a little sanding and reapplication of paint, but a deeper rust problem will require the efforts of a paint specialist to get rid of completely.
Q11. Can Car Detailers Remove Stains?
Ans. No matter how clean you try to keep your car, some stains will appear on the seats over time as dirt and dust accumulate.
Car detailers can easily remove stains from your seats and interior, and make it look and feel like new.
Q12. How Do I Remove Tough Stains From My Car?
Ans. For small stains such as those caused by bird droppings, you can use distilled water and some vinegar on a dryer sheet to scrub the stains away.
Always dry the car after a wash and apply a couple of coats of wax to keep the paint in good condition. Water will then drip off the car and not remain in one particular spot.
Soapy water and a microfibre cloth are the best way to get rid of fingerprints and other such stains on the car’s paint.
For wet cement or paint stains, use an oil-based cleaner or a lubricant like WD40 to remove the stains, but be careful not to scrub too hard. Scrubbing too hard may cause scratches in the paint.