Originally Posted by T_D
Thanks all, 1,200 mile service went well. I reminded them to not drain the DCT trans fluid, was nervous that they might, especially after hearing all of the horror stories here!
I'd love to hear any tips on keeping the car looking good - I can already tell it's going to be tough to keep her shiny.
The mod bug has already hit...forgot how much fun it is!
EDIT: Any thoughts on the Liquid Highway car wash on the Connector/Hungryneck? I've gone through a couple times with my old E46 and they actually detailed it before I sold her...but the car washes with that aren't "touch free" concern me...seems like it could be very easy to get some extra dings/scratches in there.
It's actually much easier than most people would think, it's just a matter of having the knowledge about proper paint maintenance and knowing what type of techniques are being used on your vehicle.
Tip #1 - Absolutely NO automatic car washes! (Touchless or not)
Other than regular wear on your cars paint from the elements, this is where 50% of your light swirl marks and other light paint damage can from. Automatic car washes are in the business of enhancing their profits and not in the business to enhance or protect your cars paint. In most places the water is "filtered" and reused. So the water and brushes that just washed the mudded 4x4 in front of you are going to be used on your car. This goes for generic car washes that offer hand washing. If you've ever washed your own car think about how much dirt and grim are in the buckets and washing pad after cleaning your 1 car. Most places reuse these car, after car, after car. HAND WASH AT YOUR HOME ONLY using a product that will lift
dirt up and away from your car as your cleaning it. A very thick and dense microfiber pad or a wool pad will be the least abrasive on your paint. If you don't have a place to wash your car at home and can't use a neighbors place than you'll have to find a self car wash that doesn't re-use their water. Bring your own buckets, car soap and wash cloth. DO NOT USE THE BRUSH THAT'S IN THESE BAYS. This can be difficult, but the results are worth it! You'll find minor to no swirling and won't need to have your paint corrected as often (I'll get into paint correction later)
Tip #2 - The Detail - Know what's being done to your car!
"The Detail" is probably the most mis-used phrase in the car industry and as a result has harmful effects on the condition and preservation of our cars paint. If the neccessary steps, techniques and products are not being used during a detailers process, then the other 50% of swirls and paint damage to your car can come from this. Most of low and high end dealerships, detail shops and car washes don't posess the proper knowledge thats neccessary to detail a car. How does this go unoticed? Why haven't you heard of this before? Simple, it has to do with acceptance. The day you get your car back from one of these places the car looks amazing! It's just been waxed and they've made it look like a new again! About 1 maybe 2 months later the wax wears off, and it's back to looking at those awful swirl marks and same imperfections that were there when you dropped the car off. You accept the fact that the only way to keep your car looking brand new is to return to the same detailer to get it looking new again. If they aren't using the proper techniques and products this is a great way to continualy DAMAGE your cars paint. The most difficult part to understand about this is that in the eyes of the individuals performing these types of details, they are thinking the same thing because they don't know any better!! To say these places knowlingly damage your car with their detailing process would be incorrect. They just simply have not been given the proper knowledge.
Tip#3 - A base for finding a true professional detailer
Start by looking at their pricing sheet. It's important to remember that if you're only looking at the actual price and not the description of what type of treatment your car is getting, your headed down the wrong path. A true professional treats detailing cars as more of an art form than just a source of income. Proper detailing technique takes a LOT of time, effort, knowledge and most of all passion. To say you get what you pay for is an understatement in this line of business. In your case, with your car being basically brand new, with your dealer most likley damaged your paint already with their "new car prep detail," and with taking it to an automatic car wash, than you need to look for a detail that involves a Interior cleaning, Hand wash, Claying, Minor paint correction, Sealant and Wax
- Interior is vaccumed, cleaned and conditioned. Specific spot removal is normally extra
- Hand washing will lessen the likely hood of any further paint damage.
- Claying removes any debris that has not been washed off with the hand wash. This process will leave your cars paint smooth and clean of any small contaminents that could have caused further damage when correcting and sealing your paint.
- Paint correction is a multi layered process that will actual remove any light imperfections and swirls in your paint by using either hand or machine polishing methods with various abrasives (Polishes) and using a machine to polish ONLY when neccessary. This step needs to be done by a professional who understands paint depth and how to remove these imperfections while retaining as much clear coat as possible. This is a common step where swirling comes from when the paint correction process is left in the hands of an inexperienced detailer.
- Sealant, depending on the quality of the product used, can act as a clear film that protects your cars paint from road debris, sun fading, minor sctraches and other natural elements. A good (expensive) sealant can last from 6 months to a year. This process retains the depth and clarity created by the paint correction process and helps keep your cars paint looking new.
- Wax This will enhance the depth and the wow factor after this entire process. The wax acts as an additional layer of protection against the elements and lasts about 2-4 months depending on the qulity.
There are ABSOLUTELY no shortcuts when it comes to these steps
It's common for this type of detail to take about 2-4 days with an experienced detailer and can cost anywhere in the range of $400-$700. However, the results are unparralleled and well worth it if you want to see your car's true color.
I detailed for a proper shop through college and now just do my personal cars so unfortunately I don't have any references for you in this area. This is really just scratching the surface, but I beleive that all car owners should poses the knowledge that not all details are created equal. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'd also be happy to point you in the right direction if you're looking into doing some of these steps your self. It's truly a rewarding process when done right and the results are amazing.