• Richard Donlevy

What is Car Detailing? A simple walk-through

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

If you seriously care about and wish to protect the paintwork of your car, then car detailing is 100% for you, no matter what kind of vehicle you own.

Car detailing should not be confused with valeting. A valeter will clean and polish your car, whereas a detailer will meticulously remove the defects from your paintwork and in the process, will add significant value to the price of your vehicle.

What is Car Detailing?

Car detailing is a term used to represent a meticulous polish, clean and restoration of your cars paintwork. A detailer uses a set of specialist tools combined with high end products to give your car a spotless appearance as well as protecting your paintwork. The process of car detailing will fully restore your vehicles paintwork leaving a stunning deep gloss mirror finish.

Side photo car reflection

However, car detailing isn't defined by a simple answer.

There are multiple levels and processes a car can undertake to be "detailed". The services can range from something as basic as a single stage machine polish, all the way through to a full paint correction detail, which will remove virtually all of the defects from your cars paintwork..

But if there's one thing you can take for sure, it's that the process of car detailing is designed with only one goal in mind... to leave your car looking as good as it possibly can,


What does car detailing include?

As we mentioned above, car detailing can include multiple services and processes depending upon the finish that your car requires.

If your vehicle arrives and is littered with defects, covered in swirl marks or scratches from poor washing techniques, automated car washes or a previously "cheap" detail, then your car will no doubt require much more work to restore its paint to pristine condition.

The main priority of a car detail is to enhance and restore your vehicles paintwork leaving you with an incredible showroom shine with maximum paint protection. This all prevents your paint from returning back to how it was when your car was first brought in.


Before commencing work on a full car detail the exterior of your car must be thoroughly washed and cleansed.

The last thing we want is to rub dirt into your cars paintwork.

The first step to a car detail will be a simple safe wash, starting with snow foam.

This will completely remove all of the dirt from your car and as many contaminants as humanly possible without having to touch it.

When a vehicle is covered in foam this is left to stand and allowed to soak, which helps when removing any dirt. The dirt will lift up into the foam ready to be washed off.

The vehicle is then dried off with a touchless drying system or plush microfibre drying towel to ensure that there are no water sports or streaks left on your car.

Notoriously, alloys and wheel arches tend to be the dirtiest of places on your car.  So before washing the paintwork with foam or shampoo, specialist products and tools will be used to remove iron fallout, brake dust, grime and dirt from on, and around your wheels and calipers.

Once this has been completed, only then can the car can be cleaned as above.

You may be used to a quick 20 minutes clean if your car is taken to the local "valet garage", but for a complete professional valet this process can anything from two to four hours.

back of car being washed

Once your paintwork has been washed thoroughly, it is then clayed using a specialist clay bar and lubricant.

The clay bar is used to gently remove any contaminant that a simple foam wash alone can't do. This is usually contaminants that are embedded into your paintwork and are tough to remove.

Nearly every car brought in will need work from a clay bar, so we will analyse your car under direct light and feel the smoothness of your paint to identify the deep dirt embedded.

You don't need us to tell you that having deep dirt and scratches in your paintwork can prevent the car from having the top quality finish it deserves.

It's all in the preparation

The whole process so far has been to prepare your car for a polish. The polish is generally done using a rotary polisher or dual action polishing machine. Both of these are high quality tools which allow us to remove any light scratches, swirl marks, and other paint imperfections from your vehicle.

The dual action polishing machine is much more helpful for those with thinner paint.

A car polish can be achieved by hand but the results are nowhere near as good as when using a machine polisher, but having access to the above tools will improve the standard of polishing your car receives.

Once this process has finished, your cars paint will look better than when it left the showroom.

But, don't mistake this for a quick and easy method. A high quality polish can take a number of days to be finalized, depending on your vehicle and it's size.

bmw car buffing

Once the whole procedure above has concluded. Your detailer will then finish all the paintwork with a top quality wax and sealant. This is done to protect all the work that has been done over the course of the last few days.

The paint sealant bonds to your cars paintwork to protect it from future scratches and swirls.

Depending on your paintwork and vehicle, multiple layers of wax and sealant may be applied to ensure its durability.

By now your car should be looking incredible and ready for you to pick up. The quality of the service provided will be something you have seen none of before, and your car will glisten as you drive away from our studio.

wiping down car wax


If your car is booked in for a valet don't expect anything like your local services.

The same type of things may be offered to you, such as a polish and vacuum including wiping down your seats and dashboard, but with our high quality products and brushes you can expect a much more in-