blank 05/12/14 09:47AM Cleaning, detailing, Paint detailing, Polish and Conditioning

Dr Detail Article...COMMUNICATION

Dr Detail Article


Did I mention communication?  When it comes down to detailing a car, who’s the expert?  In other words, who are you going to PAY?

That’s important you know.  Do you want your vehicle to look it’s best?  Then you’re going to pay SOMEONE!  Either you’ll hire a professional to spend his time, using his chemistry and his expertise OR you’re going to buy all the good stuff & do it yourself.  If you can, why not? 

The point is that you’re going to pay SOMEONE.  So … let’s talk about the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck and everything you expect from the job at the same time.  Sound good?  Then listen up.

The first step is to NOT tell the professional (Detailer or Supplier) what you want!  Really!

Here’s a scenario: 

Fred (I call everyone and everything I don’t know “Fred”) walks in to a Detail Supplier (if you can find one) or his local Detailer and says. “I have a black 2007 BMW M3 and I’m looking for a good wax.”

What’s wrong with that scenario? 

1.      Any good supplier will have a good wax to sell you.  Fred will get what he came for BUT will he be happy with the result?

2.      A great supplier will ignore all the information about what’s sitting under the paint and start asking questions because Fred didn’t tell him anything useful.

BMW M3’s come in a variety of colors and they all are subjected to the same kind of abuse on the road.  Should it matter to the supplier that the color BMW Fred chose is black?  No, it shouldn’t.  Does it matter that it’s a BMW at all.  No.  He’s not going to be working on a BMW, he’s going to be working on PAINT (specifically Clearcoat most of the time).  It’s nice for Fred that he could afford to put a BMW under all that paint but it doesn’t supply real info to the detailing process.

What the supplier NEEDs to hear is what the customer SEEs.  How much gloss is left?  Are there any scratches?  Are the birds still laughing as they fly away into the distance?  Did you hit a bush driving back to the camp site?  Get the point?  Remember, this guy has not and may never see you vehicle.  (If you’re really smart you’ll take the vehicle with you when you go see him.)

OK.  So here’s what Fred should have said, “My paint is a little dull but has lots of gloss otherwise.  I want to bring it back to it’s original shine and protect it.”  Now that’s useful information.  “Dull” suggests oxidation and fine scratches.  Either will require paint correction.  It’s a good start.

If it’s a little dull you shouldn’t wax it.  It needs work prior to waxing.  If it’s really dull YOU CAN’T WAX IT (effectively).  If it’s full of scratches or etchings WHY WOULD YOU WAX IT?

The duller the paint the more oxidation is masking the color and shine of the good paint beneath.  It has to go!  Levels of gloss will easily lead a good supplier to the best product for the job. 

Tell him …

a.       It’s very glossy, or it’s new or recently painted.”

RED FLAG!  If it has been recently painted it should not be waxed for a period of 45 to 60 days as a Rule of Thumb.  Always check with your painter or the paint manufacturer on this subject.  Sealing or waxing a fresh paint interferes with the paint’s drying process.  It’s a critical period.  Had he just sold Fred the wax he asked for Fred may have paid a bigger price down the road then just the price of the wax alone.

b.      “It’s pretty glossy but could be better”. 

This is where the supplier alerts.  The paint will need more care than a wax can deliver.  The customer may still only want a wax due to finances or indifference but he should at least know all his options before deciding.

c.       “It’s pretty dull” or “There’s not much gloss left”. 

Send that puppy to ER.  It will need some serious work and a lot of care to get it back to normal.

The point to take from this is that Fred is now describing only what he sees and is finally providing useful information.  Fred is “Communicating.”

Scenario 2:

Here’s another scenario:  Fred walks in to a Detail Supplier or his local Detailer and says. “I have a black 2007 BMW M3 and I need a Swirl Mark remover.” 

Fred weren’t you listening?  It’s best not to tell the expert what you want or diagnose your paint problems.  Make him earn his pay!

Better - “Sir.  My paint has a lot of circular scratches that I can see day or night.  Can they be removed, what will I need and can I do it?”  Now that’s useful.  The expert now knows what shape the scratches are and therefore probably where they came from.  What he still doesn’t know, and you can’t tell him, is how deep they are.  Circular scratches are not necessarily swirl marks although swirl marks ARE circular.  Some circular scratches can go very deep.

A good supplier will start reaching for his sample rack and will ask to do a little experimenting to find the … wait for it … it’s the doctor’s mantra … all together now … “Least aggressive material that will get the job done in a reasonable amount of time”.  If starting light doesn’t get the job done he can increase aggression until the right product is found.

By the way, if you know how the marks got in there in the first place – TELL HIM.  If you did it, GREAT, he’ll know better how to approach a repair.

Now a good supplier can list what items will generate what the customer is looking for.  All or only some of the 4 steps of Detailing may be necessary.  Maybe you’ll have some of the proper materials. Tell him what you have so he can incorporate the products you already own into his list.

Step #1 Cleansing: Cleaning will always be called for before you touch the surface with ANYTHING else.  Maybe you’ll have a good automotive shampoo, bucket, Grit Guards, wash mitts and drying towels.  If not, now’s the time to talk about your options.

Step #2 Paint Correction:  If you need to work the paint he’ll tell you what level of cut to use and how to use it.  If you have an Orbital buffer he’ll explain it’s limitation and recommend an alternative or he can point out, even heavy compounds that can be used by hand with the new Nanotechnology available today.

Step #3 Polish/Condition:  Oxidized paints are usually badly dried out (something a paint will do throughout it’s lifespan).  Conditioning with Glazes reverses that process.  Polishes are Glazes mixed with fine Rouge sufficient to remove a true swirl mark and the fine marks left after paint correction.  (It’s always a 2 step process  Cut & Polish, Cut & Polish.)  Even though the newest Nanotechnology cutting materials may leave a mark-free finish you’ll still want to Condition before waxing to remoisturize.

Step #4 Protection:  Waxes are for frequent users and Sealants are for the rest of us.  Now walk away and leave it alone!

So, don’t tell the pro what you need or think you want.  Tell him what your problem looks like and turn him loose.  A good supplier will sell you the best material for the situation.

When he’s done with a list of recommendations it’s your turn.  Take notes if you have to because a good supplier will start telling you how best to use the products you’re buying.  Write it down if you can but if you can’t get his phone number so you can double check to clarify instructions in two weeks when you start the work.

You will also hear about the best machines to use (and possibly rent) and the proper pads and fabrics to go along with it.

To Summarize:

1.      Find a good supplier or detailer.  Pay his price because you’ll get it back in the realized value of your trade in when the time comes.

2.      Tell him what you see not what you think you want

3.      Tell him what results you want to achieve.  It may not need to win the next Concourse de Elegance.

4.      Listen to his explanations & procedures.  Write them down or double check with him before you actually start.

5.     Pay the man.  He earned it!

Please submit your questions for this column at and we’ll cover them in a future column.  You can also submit your own testimonials and comments about the subjects covered here and we’ll try to publish them as well.

Thanx, until next session.  So let the shining begin!

Dr. Detail

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