5 Common Detailing Mistakes

Red Jaguar

Tips from a Professional Detailer

Much like life, when you’re detailing a car there are common mistakes that come up all too often. Luckily, enthusiasts have various resources to get tips and advice from, such as articles, publications and even professionals. I sat down with our CEO and IDA Certified Professional Detailer, Jim Lafeber, to see what advice he can give after many years of professional detailing experience and 8 years of operating Chicago’s premier detailing shop.

Jim outlined 5 common mistakes that the everyday enthusiast runs into when detailing his or her car. It’s important to remember that these mistakes are preventable, and after reading you will have the knowledge you need to see better results from detailing your car. Read on to see Jim’s 5 common detailing mistakes…

Aggressive Polishing

“Many people overlook how aggressive some polishes really are,” says Jim. “Traditional compounds that were once popular use old technology. These products use old-fashioned formulas and are too aggressive for modern paintwork.” According to Jim, years of testing and improving polishes have shown him that it’s most effective to start slow. “Use a lighter car polish first. A good modern polish with micro-abrasives will remove most scratches. If that doesn’t remove everything you want it to, then move onto something a little heavier.” As surface science shows us, it has become increasingly important to preserve your car’s clear coat. Do your car a favor and start gently during your next polishing procedure.

Improper Claying

When claying, the objective is to remove embedded dirt and debris from your car’s paintwork. Clay does this by trapping the contaminants and literally pulling them out of the surface. “At-home detailers often tend to forget about clay lubrication,” warns Jim. “The fact is, clay needs to glide over the surface to be effective in cleaning the paint.” As simple as it sounds, it’s the truth. Jim also strongly advises against reusing clay bars. “Once a clay bar has picked up debris, it’s contaminated,” says Jim adamantly. “toss it out to prevent against future problems!” It’s a good bet to always cut your clay bar in half to clay your car, especially if it’s over 100 grams, so that you can use the other half at a later time. Fact: If there’s not enough lubrication or you reuse a dirty bar when you clay, you’re putting your paint at possible risk of surface scratches.

Overly Powerful Cleaners

It has become standard in the car care industry to provide aggressive formulas with extreme pH levels to quickly do the job. According to Jim, these products can help clean, but they might be doing just as much harm as good. “Wheel cleaners and interior cleaners tend to be the worst. Companies pack them with highly acidic formulas that end up leaving residual chemicals behind that eat away at the surface over time.” Because of this, it’s always important to neutralize the surface. Neutralizing removes impurities and contaminants while bringing the surface back to a neutral 7 on the pH scale; ideal for applying protection products, conditioners, and more. As Jim says, “neutralizing is one of the most important steps to take if you’re looking for excellent results and an overall healthier car.”

Too Much Wax

When applying wax, only a thin layer is needed. “Some enthusiasts advise a thick application, but that is simply unnecessary,” says Jim. “People need to know that a thin coat is all you need. Slathering on too much car wax is a waste because wax bonds singularly. In other words, there’s only so much wax that will stick to a car at a time.” When you remove wax, you’re actually taking off excess that hasn’t adhered to the surface. So no matter how much wax you put on at once, you’ll achieve the same result. Wax can be layered, one coat on top of another, for better protection and a deeper shine. However, if you put on more than necessary during a single application you just create more work for yourself when removing the excess. Not to mention all the wasted product that you could use down the road.

Lack of Protection

The average person doesn’t know about protecting their car’s surfaces. Maybe they’ve heard about waxing, but haven’t really looked into it. Those who do know about waxing tend to think that’s all you need to protect your car from the elements. “Truth is, there’s a lot more damage being done to your car that you might not notice at first glance,” says Jim. “UV rays, road salt, acid rain and more tend to beat up your car’s trim, glass, and wheels more than you’d think.” After years of servicing cars, Jim says that many people forget about the many other areas of their cars. “Using a wheel sealant protects against brake dust corrosion, a quality plastic sealant protects against fading, and a glass sealant shields glass from pitting and rain while providing enhanced visibility.” Some other surfaces that can and should be protected are leather, interior vinyl, carpeting and interior trim. You can even prevent against bug splats using this new technologyTip: Protecting more than just your car’s paint increases it’s value overtime. It also makes your next detailed cleaning much easier!

Overall, Jim hopes to help educate the car care community on proper detailing procedure and product use. In fact, if you’ve got a detailing question that you’d like answered, drop him a line at jim@drbeasleys.com and he’d be happy to help. His experience, combined with his recent International Detailing Association Certification (first ever IDA Certified Detailer), makes his expertise unmatched in the detailing community and he loves to help at-home detailers to reach their goal of a beautiful, healthy car.