Washing your car at home is *technically* free, if you don’t count the water bill, power bill, time lost, and cost of cleaning implements. You might get the neighbourhood kids to do it for $10 to $15 if you can’t bully your own kids into doing it. You could drive to an automated carwash and spend a little more. If this is your regular routine, it’s a hard sell to spend $50 to $100 on a professional car wash. They may offer added benefits, like driving to you.
When you call in a mobile detailer, they’ll drive to you, no matter where you are. Some popular services have such a wide network of franchises that they stretch from Darwin to Tasmania and even service parts of New Zealand. But it still costs ten times as much as a regular DIY, so is it really worth it? Well, the better you care for your car, the longer it will last, and professional cleaning is part of that.
Save time and money
You might know – for example – that bodywork is the most expensive part of vehicle maintenance. It doesn’t seem like much, because it’s just a little paint. But repairing a single scratch could force you to repaint the whole car. That means sanding it down to remove paint flecks, treating the body for rust, applying several coats of filler, redoing the whole car in several coats, buffing the top layer, and glossing it if needed. It could cost thousands.
A regular home wash – especially at an automated drive-through – may involve harsh detergents that wash off your car paint and fade it out. At the same time, their harsh brushes and mindless machines can cause scratches and abrasions which not only elicit repainting but also expose the car to rust damage while it’s driving through suds and steam. And this is just the outside of the car. Professional car detailing has more oversight.
It may be done by hand or machine, but even the machines are hand-operated. A human detailer will hold the brushes, scrubbers, vacuums, and hoses, keeping a close eye on the process and ensuring there’s no accidental damage to the car. They can also identify stains and do some spot cleaning, which you wouldn’t get in a machine wash. Another helpful factor is deodorising. Professionals do a much better job extracting bad smells because they have specialised equipment and technology for the task.
Bang for your buck
Professional car detailing also enhances your car’s resale value. Some detailers have specialised pre-sale packages that restore your car to its showroom status. But even in regular use, detailing the car every once in a while keeps it looking newer for longer. You could ask for additional services like paint protector. It gives your body-work a few months of shielding from damaging UV rays, road lime, gravel, acid raid, even errant birds with unfortunate aim.
You rarely check your car’s lighting systems, not until a cop pulls you over and tells you it’s broken. But even if the coloured casing is intact, your lights may be dimmer than ideal and you wouldn’t even know it. Once you do realise your headlights are fogged over, you might apply elbow grease and realise no amount of scrubbing will brighten them. You’ll be tempted to unscrew them and check the bulbs or replace them altogether.
In reality, some good defogging will do the trick, but this needs the specialist services of a professional detailer. They have the right tools and chemicals for the job, and they’ll charge you far less than a garage would. So before your shifty mechanic charges you hundreds of dollars for new lights, check in with a detailer and watch how easily they’ll make your light bright and sparkling again. It takes less than an hour.
Brighten your night drive
Another area that’s frequently overlooked is your wheels. You’ll see them dull, drab, and caked with mud, and it’s easy to believe your mechanic’s recommendation for new tyres. But give a professional detailer a crack at them first. Once they’re soaped, hosed, dried, and glossed, you’ll be surprised how new they look. You’ll also have a clearer view of tread wear, so you’ll have a more accurate gauge of when/whether they need replacing.
On every part of the car, there’s build-up of substances you can’t remove with garden-variety household cleaners. These include lime, oils, odours, salts, chemicals, car fluids, and more. Professional detailing gets rid of all this more effectively than you ever could. Use it once a month and your car will consistently look (and feel) brand new, not just on the outside, but the inside too. A thorough vacuuming, shampooing, and drying will improve your driving experience and eliminate the so-called allergies caused by cloying dust and damp.