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Kevin Farrell

Kevin Farrell

Articles by Kevin Farrell.

Owner of Kleen Car Auto Appearance is one of the leaders in the detailing industry. He has owned and operated a full service detailing center for 18 years and has written dozens of technical, and business related detailing article for major auto publications.

Inside Detailing Network

Kevin Farrell's Detailing Articles

Kevin created and implemented the detail training program for BMW of North America and now uses that same program to train detailers nationwide at the Kleen Car Detail training facility in NJ. In addition he has partnered with Optimum Polymer Technology to create a line of Optimum buffing products that are state of the art in the detail industry. He tests and does research for different equipment and product manufacturers to develop the best possible products. He has also helped develop buffing pads, Steam machines, and one of the most technical detailing videos in the industry, Buffing with confidence. He has spoken and presented at industry events and lends his skill, knowledge, and expertise whenever possible. His involvement in the International Detailing Association will hopefully lead to more awareness and better training and education in the detail industry.

Comments or Questions regarding these articles should be directed to Kevin Farrell.

Kevin can be reached at Kleen Car Auto Appearance's Website

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Why are only 34% of detail shops cleaning with steam?

I was looking at the new detailing survey in the January 2011 issue of the magazine I write for, The Auto Laundry News. In the detailing survey there were many interesting things regarding detailing such as pricing, types of details being done, retail and wholesale work, services being offered, labor times, labor rates and much more. It’s always a very interesting read when it comes out every year. But one thing kind of jumped out at me. In the equipment section where the survey asks what type of equipment detailers are using, I noticed that almost all  detailers use the more common equipment such as high speed buffers, orbital buffers, wet dry vacuums, pressure washers carpet extractors, micro fiber towels, etc. We would assume at this point, these are the bare minimum or “essential” equipment that a professional detailer should have.

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Steamer or Extractor - Which is best?

Like a heavyweight fight, or a big game between 2 top notch teams, there will be “fans” of both sides and strong opinions for both. In this battle, or debate there is the clash between dry vapor steam machines and carpet extractors.

Years ago, it wasn’t even a battle. There were very few steamers on the market and the few that were out there, weren’t very good. Many detailers had never heard of using steam to clean a car and the “high tech” method of interior cleaning was a carpet extractor. Today, the tide has turned. There are many more steamers out there and car interiors have changed, making steamers not only a contender these days, but basically the heavy favorite. But before we crown one a winner, lets logically look at the pros and cons of both and let you decide where to place your money in this heavyweight battle

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Removing Swirl Marks From Clear Coat

Swirl marks — or buffer marks — have been a big problem in detailing for ages. Even before people began to refer to this business as “detailing,” there were issues with the unnatural, ribbon-like abrasions in the paint surface that make a vehicle look extremely poor and make customers cringe. Some detailers view swirl marks as a major catastrophe, while others view them as a minor obstacle in completing a perfect job. Swirl marks are a reason why some detailers never want to use a high-speed buffer, and why some customers request that their vehicles only be hand polished and waxed.


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How often should you wax your car?

My wife and I just purchased a new MINI Cooper. The day we picked the car up, it looked great! Clean windows, shiny new tires, and no blemishes of any kind. The dealer did a great job prepping the car. The paint surface however, was a bit dry and felt a bit gritty. This told me that the car had not been waxed. When asked, the salesman confirmed that the car was washed, but not waxed. He further informed me that the dealership does not wax new cars because the paint is still “drying,” as he put it, and the wax may actually hurt the paint.

His answer concerned me. Not because the dealership chose not to wax the car, but because of his explanation that the paint was still “drying.” I am not sure if this was a convenient excuse to give the customer because the dealer didn’t want to take the extra time to wax the car, or if the dealer personnel are under the misconception that new cars really should not be waxed because of possible paint damage. Let’s examine why the salesman’s statement was incorrect.

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Detailing Clay Bars

Auto Detailing Clay - "The Can Do Tool"


Depending on whom you speak to, clay can either be one of the most useful “tools” in your shop, or just an expensive piece of play-dough. It’s been around for quite a few years now. Some detailers have embraced it, while some have no use for it. I believe that clay can be a valuable tool with many uses.


The most obvious and popular use for clay is overspray removal. For this, it has been a godsend. Before clay, detailers had to use other methods for the removal of overspray. Compounding, which involves friction, heat, and heavy cleaners, is one such method. However, along with the overspray, this friction and heat could also remove some of the paint.

Another method for overspray removal involves dissolving the overspray with solvents, such as lacquer thinner, and rubbing it off. However, if a vehicle has a singlestage paint system (e.g., lacquer, enamel) some of the paint, including possibly a painted pinstripe, will dissolve along with the overspray. In addition, this method can be hazardous to other parts of the vehicle, as well as to the detailer.

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