Auto Detailing Network
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Inside Detailing Network

Detailing Consumer Awareness:

In an ongoing effort to bring the detailing industry together and to educate the consumer on our industry, we are pleased to bring this feature to Auto Detailing Network

The following offer suggestions and guidance from leading detail industry training centers for the consumer to consider when deciding on Auto Detailing Service Providers.


Detailing Your Vehicle - By the International Detailing Association

By Bud Abraham – Executive Director of the International Detailing Association

There are a number of reasons motorists should have their car detailed on a regular basis. And, the reasons are not the same for all motorists. 

For example, the following are some of the reasons why you might want to have your vehicle professionally detailed: 

  • Protection of your investment
  • Protection of your leisure time
  • Ego gratification – the pleasure of riding in a clean, shiny car, especially if it is a luxury car
  • Increasing the value of the vehicle when reselling *(NADA reports that detailed used vehicles sell for up to $500 more)
  • Your inability to properly perform such maintenance yourself

    *NADA – National Auto Dealers Association 

Other reasons to use a professional detail business are: 

  • Professional detailers discharge their waste water into the sanitary sewer or contain the waste water and dispose of it in a legal manner rather than waste water going into the storm sewer or onto the ground
  • Professional detailers use “professional chemical products” formulated for the materials used in today’s vehicles, especially the paint and leathers
  • Professional detailers have a business license and both personal and vehicle liability insurance to protect the motorist and their vehicle
  • Professional detail business owners are properly trained in all aspects of auto detailing which includes a complete understanding of materials used in today’s motor vehicles
  • Professional detailers employ properly trained personnel
  • Professional detailing businesses employ local people

Professional detailers also have: 

  • The knowledge and understanding of all the unique paint finishes, problems and solutions
  • A knowledge and understanding of aniline, nubuck, suede and protected leather and how to properly clean and treat them
  • A knowledge and understanding of how to clean carpets and fabric upholstery, especially removing stains
  • A knowledge of the origin and removal of odors in vehicle interiors
  • A knowledge of how to remove water spots and paint and glass

The following are some things you should look for when choosing a detail business: 

  • Equipment – a professional detailer should have a high pressure washer; a powerful dry vacuum; heated soil extractor; vapor steamer; ozone generator; rotary buffers (for correction); dual-action buffers (for moderate correction) and orbital waxers (for wax/sealant application.)
  • Supplies – buffing pads for correction and polishing; both wool and foam; miscellaneous cleaning brushes each for a specialized application; pet hair removing sponges; microfiber towels; plastic razor blades.
  • Chemicals – a professional detailer will have specialized chemicals for every detailing job, not “one chemical does it all.”
      1. Engine degreasers for engine
      1. Wheel cleaner for wheels
      2. All purpose cleaners
      3. Tar & grease removers
      4. Various stain removers
      5. Soil extractor shampoo
      6. Carpet shampoo
      7. Glass cleaner
      8. Leather conditioner
      9. Vinyl/plastic protectants (dressing)
      10. Compounds (paint correction)
      11. Swirl removers (to remove buffer swirls)
      12. Polish (to smooth paint)
      13. Wax or sealant (protection)

It goes without saying that a professional detailer should have a complete knowledge of the particulars of each chemical and why it does what it does and how they are used in order to effectively detail your vehicle properly. You want to know what those working on your vehicle know what each one of these chemicals does in the detail process, and if a detail business does not have these chemicals they cannot effectively clean your vehicle and in some cases, may damage your vehicle. For example, using engine degreaser to shampoo carpets. 

Hopefully this information will allow you to determine the most competent detailer in your area.


Consumer Detailing Tips by Kevin Farrell of Kleen Car Auto

Hi my name is Kevin Farrell, owner of Kleen Car Auto Appearance. In this particular area of the website is a new section for a detailing customer, entitled “customer resources”. This is a little different than the majority of this website, as in this website, we generally speak to fellow detailers on a variety of topics to assist them and make them more aware of what’s going on in the detail industry. This website is a huge source of information to the detailing professional who wants to be at the top and make sure they are providing the absolute best services to you, the detailing customer.

However in navigating this section of the website, you as the consumer will be looking to choose a detailer in your area who will be able to make your car look new again and possibly gain some information on how to go about choosing a detailing company. We realize that when you open a phone book or look online to find a detailer, there are generally many to choose from. Some are mobile detailers that will come to your place and do the job on your location and there are some who have a fixed shop location. Some places are rather large and some are small. Some have high visibility and some are tucked away. Some companies have fancy slogans and advertising, while others are simple and bland in how they get their message across. You may think choosing a detailer is a very difficult decision and we would like to help you with that decision.

Is everybody a professional?

As in all business, there are true professionals, and people that “think” they are professionals but not very skilled and knowledgeable in what they are actually doing. Sometimes they are difficult to tell apart if you as a consumer don’t know much about that particular business. Detailing is one of the few business where even if the vehicle is not done all that well, it will generally look much better than before it was brought in. Some detailing consumers will never notice the differences in a perfect restoration detail, or simply, a wax job. There is a huge difference in these 2 examples and you certainly will pay for the difference. You as the consumer must know what you want. If you want a simple “wax job” and you are not a detailing connoisseur, then choosing a detailer will not be that hard of a job as most detailers will be able to handle the easier and simple “wax jobs”. However, if your car needs more than a simple “wax job”, and believe it or not, most cars need much more than that, you will need to find a true professional that can handle the challenges or a car in need of reconditioning and/or cosmetic restoration.

What to look for

Many detailers enter this business on a fairly low budget. They are not well capitalized coming in and that affects everything that they do. Therefore, they have either cheap equipment or lack the necessary equipment to do a great job. There have been many strides in detailing in the last few years. There are great tools and other equipment that only help make a detailer’s job much easier, but also help the vehicle to look much better when completed. Some detailers don’t have the newer equipment because they just don’t have the money, they think it’s a waste of money, or they don’t even know about it. Ultimately, this is a disservice to you, the consumer.

This brings us to education and training. Unfortunately at this time there is no certification or unitized body that governs the detailing industry. In some cases this is a free-for-all. There are high quality shops that have invested thousands upon thousands of dollars on top notch training and have purchased the best equipment and really know what they are doing. On the other hand there are shops or just guys running around working out of the trunks of their personal vehicles that have what amounts to a can of wax, a bucket and soap and a shop vacuum and they calls themselves professional detailers. However there is training and education in the detailing industry that can be obtained by individuals looking to be the best they can be. My company has been training individual shops for over 13 years and we have been in business almost 20 years. We created, implemented and do all the detail training for BMW and MINI of North America. We have trained hundreds of people and we have seen a wide level of skills and knowledge of detailing.

Many true professionals that want to operate a successful business from the start and perform top notch detailing will take a professional training course. There are some very good ones around the country and a detailer that attends a class will surely benefit from professional training. As well there are a few industry events with speakers and educational seminars that detailers can attend and learn from. Detailers can also buy educational book and DVD’s to help learn the business. Although this method of training is not the same as a hands on training course, it’s still a way to learn and improve a detailer’s skill. There are also professional level people on detailing forums such as the website where professionals gather and share information and help aid the beginners and guys that need some pointers. Ideas are also shared to help make jobs easier and if a great piece of equipment is found or a guy has tried a great new product, the forums help alert people on where to purchase these items and make life easier for the professional detailer.

So while these are a few ways that professionals stay up to date, even with this small community there are still varying skill and knowledge levels. But what’s worse is that there are a far greater percentage of detailers that do not use any of the information that is out there. They do not subscribe to magazines, attend industry events, or see what’s going on in detailing forums. And a bigger majority has not and will not attend professional classes or training seminars. This happens to be the large percentage of so called professionals out there. The vast majority of detail shops has no training and do not use all the information on the internet to their advantage. So when you are shopping for a detailer please remember some of this. All detailers are certainly not the same out there and we hope you can now understand why

The dos and don’ts of detail shopping

There are some dos and don’ts to choosing a true professional detailer. If you are serious about having your vehicle cleaned correctly with zero mistakes and the look of a show car, here are some tips on detail shopping

DO- visit the shop you are thinking of using. See how clean it is. See what kind of other vehicles they are working on. If they are working on very high end cars, chances are that those customers trust this shop with a very expensive car

DO- Once you are there, take the time to explain what you want done and how you want the vehicle to look. If the vehicle has imperfections, ask what can be done to either improve the look or make it perfect. Some things cannot be made perfect. If the car has a very deep scratch, it may not be able to be removed completely. If the carpeting has certain stains, they may be a huge challenge to remove. A true professional will be able to identify these problems and properly explain the solutions. This is why it’s extremely important to visit the shop. These things cannot be properly diagnosed over the phone.

DO- ask questions. A professional detailer that has years of skill and knowledge and has seen many things will be happy to explain what can and cannot be done. Hopefully the more questions that you ask will lead you to believe that this shop is truly professional and will do a great job on your car.

DO- inquire about what needs to be done on your vehicle to make it look its absolute best. Many consumers who also lack the knowledge on detailing will assume the car just needs to be waxed and the interior just needs to be vacuumed. This is generally very far from the truth. A true professional detailer will explain to you in terms that you can understand just what the interior needs and what the paint needs to look perfect. Many times this is a time consuming process which is much more than a “wax job”. The detailer will know that sometimes the vehicle needs more than what you want and you can be on the same page from the start. The un-professional detailers and un-skilled detailers will do exactly what you want, but then the vehicle will not look very good in the end and this leads to an unsatisfied customer

DO- ask about the products, tools and equipment that will be used on your vehicle and let the professional detailer show you. There are some great machines that will make your vehicle look showroom new. A true professional detailer will have these great tools and will generally be happy to explain how they work and why they are needed.

DO- understand that a professional detailer truly cares about how your car comes out. He takes pride in restoring your vehicle to a like new look or better. A top notch detail will take many hours to complete. Understand that a professional detailer is not trying to rob you or rip you off. If you look at the labor rate and what a detailer makes per hour compared to other professional trades, its about half of what a car dealer, electrician, house contractor or plumber charges per hour. So even if the price is more than what you thought it could be, it’s still not a rip off. When you realize the value added to the worth of your vehicle after a professional detail, you will actually realize you made money! Professional detailers can save hundreds on lease turn in repairs and make your car worth far more money in a trade in or if you are selling it. In addition, the sense of pride that you can take in your vehicle after a great detail is worth the money spent as well.

As well as the Dos there are some don’ts when detail shopping

Don’t- phone shop. If you are just shopping price, the more professional detailers will be the losers in this scenario. If you never enter the detail shop, you will never see the equipment, meet the owner, see the nice cars being worked on, etc. True, it’s easier and more convenient to call and get a price and compare that way, but if you are looking for a professional, you can easily be fooled by just phone shopping

Don’t- assume every detail is the same thing. You would never assume that a KIA is the same as a Bentley, or a Motel 6 is the same as the Four Seasons. The level of skill, knowledge, tools, products and equipment used will play a huge part in how the vehicle will come out. There are very low level details that can be just a bit more than a car wash, while there are details that can take days to complete and be of a restoration level. You will probably want something in between but you have to be on the same page as the detail shop so they can provide you with the best service

Don’t- be in such a rush! A professional shop generally has appointments only, and you may have to wait a few days….or even a few weeks to get the car in. This is a good thing! A busy shop usually means a good shop and the customers are coming back and are loyal. Also a professional detail takes many hours to complete, so be aware that you will have to drop off the vehicle and not wait for it to be completed.

Don’t- assume that every detailer is “experienced”. Many detailers have just entered this business and many claim that they have “experience” and may have been in the business for a while, but they may have been doing things wrong and lack the proper skills and knowledge to do the job correctly. I have personally seen and trained novice detailers that learned extremely quickly and had a passion for this business. I have also personally seen many so called detailers who have been in the business for a long time but have developed bad habits and do most things wrong.

Don’t- start the conversation of by asking price, or “how much do you charge”? A professional detailer will need to see the vehicle and know exactly what you want done to give you a fair price. The unprofessional detailers usually have a low set price to try and get every customer in the door. But then because of the low price they rush through every job and the vehicle never looks very good when completed.

Don’t- compare price to another detail shop. There may be a large difference in a price you received from another shop. But there also is probably a reason why you continued to shop the detailers in your area. Maybe there was just not something that you truly liked or trusted in previous shops, so you kept searching. But to compare a higher price and claim that the “shop down the street” was far cheaper is generally unfair to the true professional. There will be price variances just like any other business that you deal with. Its up to you, the consumer, to figure out which shop you want to deal with and trust with your vehicle

So if you have taken the time to find this website, do some research on detailing and read this article, you are probably looking for more than just a “cheap” detail or a “wax job”. Hopefully some of the information in this article will help you make a more informed decision when you choose a detailer to work on your vehicle. If we can be of more assistance to you, or if you would like to see and learn a little of what we do, please visit us at 


Consumer Detailing Tips by Renny Doyle of Attention to Details

Just like any industry, not all professional detailers are created equal and not all detailers are professional. So the number one action you, the consumer can do is exactly what you are doing now...your homework!

Below I have outlined several (but not all) items I would recommend that you the consumer look at or for conserning detailers you desire to do business with.

We all have those friends who are just plain car crazy and I can tell you now, that is a good place to start to learn who you should be using to perform your auto detailing services. Strong referrals like this are very important and odds are, if the professional detailer is making your car crazy friends will be happy also... so make sure to ask around! Here are some additional items to think about early within your search for a good car detailer:

Questions To Ask Detailers and Yourself Alike!

  • Are they insured?
  • Do they have references you may contact?
  • Who are they doing business with now?
  • If they are new in business, did they receive any formal training? If so, contact the trainer and ask the trainer for input.
  • Who have they done business with in the past? Have they or are they performing for others within the community that have high standards? Contact people they have and are doing business with.
  • Look locally within your Chamber of Commerce & your local Better Business Bureau.
  • What systems are they using and are they using methods and products that could cause damage to my health or the investment I have within my vehicle? Below I hope to help you within these topics.
  • Have they received formal training or what is their trackable experience they can provide? I personally train and coach detailers from all over the world and some come to me with some pretty bad habits yet leave with a sound foundation of skills both talent and chemical based. You can find some of our trained and certified students here.

Auto Detailing - It’s just a simple process...or is it?

Many consumers think of detailing as a simple process with little or no risk for damage. While detailing can be a simple service, allowing the wrong person with no formal detailing education to touch your vehicle could prove to be a very poor decision. Many items within and on your car can be damaged or left in a condition that could be hazardous not only for your car but to you, your family members and others who ride in your vehicle.

Your Safety

The first concern I have with a great number of detailers out there today is their poor selection of systems and cleaning products. For instance, we all get interior stains within our vehicles interiors and when we go to the detailer, we are simply pleased when we get our car back with no stains....right? did they remove those stains? Are the carpets still soaked with water and will mold set in? What chemicals did they use and did they remove the spot removal chemicals? Leaving chemicals behind could cause serious health issues for those that ride in the vehicle and could also shorten the life of interior surfaces not to mention that the surfaces will become dirtier faster (re-soil) all because chemicals were left behind. Here are several areas to think about when it comes to your safety.

Are those you are doing business with or desire to do business with using “clean” detailing systems such as Steam based cleaning? Steam based detailing can offer not only a more chemical friendly option but in many cases is a chemical free way of detailing. If you maintain your car’s interior and the interior is only moderately dirty, a car can be cleaned with little or no chemicals and today, detailers can use a host of products that organicly based or very friendly to us humans who are sensitive to chemicals. 

Chemical selection & The Safety of Your Vehicle - Using the wrong cleaning agents will not only cause damage that may not be visible for months or maybe years, it can cause health related conditions that should be of huge concern to you.

Sick car syndrome and outgassing issues are real and when you introduce even more chemicals into your car for the purpose of detailing, you want to be certain those chemicals are dealt with properly. Not dealing with chemicals used within the detailing process can breed further health issues that you should be concerned with.

The following sites offer additional information: and Ecology Center, Clean Car Campaign.

Odors within cars can be an issue and most detailers deal with those odors incorrectly. Make sure that the detailer you choose is educated within odor issue and is taking the correct steps in dealing the odor issues. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Removes all sources of the odor
  • Cleans the site with proper agents (each spill/smell is dealt with differently)
  • Uses the right odor removal chemicals
  • If Ozone is needed to deal with an odor (for those pesky or just down right bad odors), make certain the detailer you are using has that tool available. Corona discharge based ozone is most commonly used but UV based ozone is a safer way to go.

NOTE: Seat-belts cleaned with the wrong chemicals can weaken the material and thus undermine the seat-belts ability to perform during a collision.

Many detailers do not understand how easily this material can be compromised and thus weaken the seat-belts and in a case of accident that one action can be fatal. Uneducated detailers will use a host of chemicals to clean seat-belts while educated detailers will be using safe and proven chemicals and methods.

Make sure they have standards for infant seats and that they do not reinstall your infant seat! I am a father of four and our shops still will not re-install child seats. Your children are your most cherished gift in life so take the responsibility to reinstall your infant seat yourself! 

Your vehicle’s safety is also important and most detailers strive for perfection but that perfection can come at a high cost to you and your car alike. Here are some items to think about...

Clear coat/paint compromise is of major concern or should be to you, the car owner. Detailers are perfectionists for the most part and thus will attempt to make your vehicle look its very best...that is good...right? Well...maybe...or maybe not, allow me to explain below.

Measuring the Paint is an important part of proper detailing yet the majority of detailers fail to not only have the equipment to take such actions, most fail to know what it is they are looking for. Making sure your detailer understands paint systems and is taking measurements is a good idea for you as a consumer.

When is it to much polishing? I have clients that desire perfection but in reality these same clients are pretty hard on their vehicles. A professional detailer will know and share with you that you have limited clear coat on your vehicle and thus you have a limited number of “paint corrections” you can perform on your car before you start to run into trouble. Having a professional that educates you and offers you input is important. There are all to many paint systems running around that are on borrowed time and the cars are practically new! Be informed and listen to those who are educated and sharing their knowledge with you.

If you run into a detailer that all he or she desires is to get aggressive each and every time they see your the other direction and take your business to someone who is a little more educated! Paint perfection can be realized but should be realized in steps. We use the most aggressive and more advanced steps in isolated cases where that is the last resort! Again, if you run across a detailer who insists you need heavy paint correction during every service and that professional detailer is not explaining further facts....take are going to run into problems!

Environmental issues should also be of concern to you as a informed consumer as detailing can be a messy process. If you are utilizing the convenience of a mobile detailing professional, make sure that they are following federal, state and local laws pertaining to water run off. Also, make sure that the mobile detailer you are utilizing is not going to leave more behind for you to clean up.

There is nothing worse than to have someone come to your home or office and leave a mess. A true professional will leave the work area clean and spot free and will have a vehicle that does not mark its territory on your driveway. (oil leak)

If you are dealing with a fixed location that has a shop, the detailing shop should be clean and neat and will have proper drains and not allow used water to escape into catch basins that drain into the rivers, lakes, water supply or oceans nearest you. Make sure the environment is an important point when you choose your detailer!

Allow your detailer to service you better by being truthful and upfront with your detailer. When you are calling around for prices, make sure to explain to them what it is you desire.

All to many times I hear of consumers complaining that the “price changed”once I got there but many times consumers are not direct enough with the true condition of their vehicle. The best way to get a price for the work you desire is for the detailer to see the car first hand...this will allow the detailer to provide you with the different services they have available and the opportunity for you to pick out the service that best services what your car needs and your budget will allow.

The most important element within selecting a detailing professional...make sure you connect with that professional and that your selection is based on both educated decision making and gut instinct alike!

After all, your car is one of the largest and most important investments you will make and if you are like don’t really want just any stranger working on such an important element within your daily life.

I hope this article has assisted you within your efforts to find the right detailer...he or she is out there and that professional is ready to assist you!

Happy Detailing all,

Renny Doyle


Attention To Details, Ltd

Detailing Success, a professional detailing training & coaching organization.

Years in the industry: 25+

Contact Information: (800) 871-4781