Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between a valet and a detail?
Where as a valet will generally focus on a quick wash and perhaps some type of spray wax to clean your car and have it looking 'acceptable' from a distance, detailing goes far beyond simply cleaning your car. A 'clean' car can technically be free of dirt but can still lack that lustrous shine only found in a high quality paint finish. Many quick valets can actually cause more harm than good, often with dirty washing implements being used throughout the day on numerous cars. Poor washing methods with the main aim of speed rather than quality can all too quickly leave your cars paint looking dull and lifeless.
Detailing is more of a careful rejuvenation of every surface of the car, and when coupled with Paint Correction is a process that can completely restore a cars paintwork for a fraction of what a respray would cost. From the wash stage, where every care is taken to ensure we do not damage the paintwork in any way by using a tried and tested pre wash and wash method, through the decontamination stage where we start looking at your paint in more detail, carefully removing tar or sap deposits, onto the cleansing or correction stage (depending on your chosen detail), where the paints depth of shine is improved and finally onto the finishing stage where we can use a number of different carefully chosen protective products the ensure the paint, plastics, rubbers and glass look at their best for as long as possible after detailing.
Perfection however takes time, anywhere from 10-50 hrs, and this coupled with the higher cost of the high quality products we use means that detailing does cost more than a typical valet. With our fixed pricing system though there are no hidden surprises no matter how long the detail actually takes and with most main dealers now charging in excess of £100 per hour for servicing work, we feel we offer excellent value when you also consider that the resale value of any vehicle is affected by its condition and aesthetics.
What is Paint Cleansing and Paint Correction?
In the Protection Detail your cars paint will be cleansed. The products we use vary between jobs but essentially the cleansing products contain very minor abrasives that can be worked by hand. These do act to very mildly polish the surface but in this instance we are not looking at correcting the paint, rather we are aiming to get it as clean and as smooth as possible ready for the protective finishing layer. A cleansing product may also fill or mask minor swirls and hazing. This masking effect will last for as long as the protective layer. Usually around 3-6 months depending on the storage conditions and the daily use of the vehicle.
In both the Enhancement Detail and the Correction Detail we will use a machine polisher to actually remove a very fine amount of the cars lacquer and polish past the swirls that rob the paint of its depth and gloss. This is a skilled process and takes time to perfect. Working the polish for too short a time will leave buffer trails and hazy paint as well as not actually removing the original paint defects. Working the polish for too long can lead to the paint overheating, getting too thin and in some extreme cases, burning through to the undercoat. Cambridge Autogleam however have proven time and time again on a variety of different paint types and finishes that we do have the skills required to leave a perfect finish.
After taking digital paint depth readings to ensure there is a safe amount of paint to work with we will select a polish and pad combination from a large range available to us and working on small areas at a time will start correcting the defects in your paint.
For the Enhancement detail this polish and pad combination will be the strongest we can choose while still finishing down to a refined finish with just one polishing phase per section. While this technique will leave some of the deeper swirl marks, it will typically remove around 50-70% and greatly increase the shine of your paint. The Enhancement detail would also be ideal if you have previously had your cars paint fully corrected and over 12-24 months some minor marks have crept back into the paint and you would like these removing.
For the more discerning customer, where compromise is not an option, our Correction detail offers around 95-100% paint correction. We will choose a polish and pad combination that is slightly harder and will polish down to some of the deeper marks, all while still checking the paint depths to ensure we are working without endangering the integrity of the paint. After each polishing phase we will examine the paint under various lighting conditions and re polish (when safe to do so) until we are satisfied the finish cannot be improved upon. Once completely corrected we will then swap to a finishing polish and pad and refine the paint even further, giving an unbelievable depth and shine that needs to be seen in the flesh to truly be appreciated. It is not uncommon for customers to exclaim "that looks better than when it was new".
This Correction process usually removes around 5 microns from the clear lacquer coat from a total of around 130-150 microns on most modern cars and it is this process that provides the greatest improvements to your paint.
How long will freshly corrected paint stay swirl-free?
With a careful wash technique there is no limit to how long a car can remain swirl free. There are many cars we look after on a regular basis where the paint is swirl free 3-4 years after the initial Correction Detail. We will happily give you tips on washing methods and products while we are carrying out the detail and we offer our own top up service to help ensure your vehicle will look its very best all year round.
Why do I need to have my car detailed?
A car is often the second biggest investment you will make, regardless of if you've spent £15,000 or in excess of £150,000. With the resale value of any vehicle based not only on its age or how many dealer stamps are in the log book, but also on the condition and aesthetics of the car, does a drive through car wash, or even a bucket and sponge on a Saturday afternoon do it justice?
Without the skill, time, products or even the desire to spend hours washing, polishing and caring for your car yourself, you may be looking for a better service than the high volume, low quality valeting centers that now occupy the UK's old petrol stations can offer.