How to Detail Your Car like a Professional


If you own an expensive car or have one you love, you want it to look as new as possible. That’s why many choose to detail their car– to have it look as brand new, just like when you originally bought it. Remember that this is entirely different from going to a car wash to remove dirt, dust, grime, and other debris. Car detailing takes cleaning to a whole new level, and it’s what many people and businesses do before selling a vehicle at a dealership. So, how can you detail your car like a professional? Follow these four steps.

Proceed with Precaution and Gather Your Tools

Although detailing a vehicle isn’t necessarily a difficult task, you need to know what you’re doing. You could end up scratching and damaging parts of your car that were fine before. Detailing your car includes using power tools, chemicals, and other supplies that may be intimidating for a beginner. However, if you follow these steps carefully, you should have no problem detailing your car. Just make sure you approach these steps with confidence.

After a car is cleaned, adhesive floor mats can be used to protect the carpet of the vehicle from becoming dirty again. You can purchase auto dealer supply products including adhesive floor mats from MBR Marketing at

Here are all the supplies and tools you need:

  • Bright lights and an LED flashlight
  • Liquid car wax
  • Liquid paint compound
  • Bug or tar remover
  • Paint clay
  • Paint depth gauge
  • Orbital buffer
  • Polishing and wax pads
  • Microfiber towels
  • Microfiber rag

When purchasing these supplies and tools, make sure you find brands that are designed for cleaning cars. You should be able to find most of these at your local auto parts or home improvement stores.

Step 1: Wash Your Car Thoroughly and Find a Location

Before you start detailing, you need to give your car a clean wash. You can either go to a car wash or do it yourself. If you’re cleaning by hand, ensure your car is in the right location. You should be able to use the same location to detail your car as well.

Find a place that’s out of direct sunlight and heat, and make sure nothing will touch or fall on your vehicle when cleaning. When you detail your car, the best place is to be indoors, such as in a garage. If your garage is dark, you’ll need some bright lights to help you see. Be sure to remove all dirt, grime, rain spots, and other debris. You want your car to be spotless.

Once you’re done giving your car a clean wash, use a chamois or soft-terry cloth to dry it. Avoid letting your car air dry as it can cause water and streak marks, which you’ll need to remove before detailing. The best way to dry your car is by blotting the water with slight pressure instead of wiping. While you’re at it, don’t forget to clean your wheels and the interior of your car, too.

Step 2: Claying

Once your vehicle is nice and dry from the car wash, you can begin cleaning the clear coat with paint clay. Although this is the first real step of detailing, you need to remember to clean panel to panel and section to section. Start from the top of your vehicle to the bottom and front to back. Leave the lower and rear bumpers, doors, and mouldings for last.

Use a large clay bar (100+ grams) to give yourself enough to work with. A great tip is to use soft and sticky clay bars as they’re easy to handle. Use your liquid detailer to spray sections of your hood, and rub the clay bar side to side. Then, dry the hood with a microfiber towel. Feel the area to ensure everything’s smooth. If not, go over the bumpy area again with the clay. Continue claying your entire vehicle. Make sure to fold your clay a half dozen times after you’ve finished a panel to push the collect dirt into the center. Examine your car and look for tar or baked-on bug guts. Use your bug or tar remover to get rid of it using a microfiber rag.

Step 3: Correcting the Paint

Before correcting your car’s paint, you need to decide on the level of correction you wish to do. You may want a deep correction to restore the entire vehicle or a lighter one to simply remove scratches. You also need to know how much clear coat remains on the surface. Use a paint depth gauge to figure that out. Use the gauge to measure various spots on each panel of your car and mark down the coating depth. You’ll need to be careful working on areas with thinner coats, as you don’t have much left to correct.

To start correcting:

  1. Choose the correct grit for your pad.
  2. Attach the pad to your orbital buffer.
  3. Add 3-4 fingernail-sized dots of rubbing compound on the pad.
  4. Set the buffer’s speed to 3 or 4. Do not turn the buffer on yet–place it on the panel you plan on correcting first.
  5. Turn the buffer on and apply mild pressure while moving the buffer across the panel. Move in vertical lines first, followed by horizontal, and then diagonal.
  6. Continue correcting the panel until all imperfections are gone.
  7. Use a microfiber rag to wipe down the panel and remove the compound.
  8. Using an LED flashlight, check the panel from different angles to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
  9. Repeat the previous steps panel to panel and section to section until you’ve corrected your entire vehicle.

Step 4: Polishing and Waxing

The finishing touches include polishing your vehicle to remove light scratches and then adding protection to the finish. Grab your orbital buffer, set it to a medium to low speed, and attach your polishing pad. With mild pressure, move the buffer side-to-side until you’ve polished the entire vehicle. Now, apply liquid car wax to a wax pad and begin waxing your vehicle in circles, one panel at a time. Once you’ve waxed the entire vehicle, let it dry for at least five minutes and then wipe the visible dried wax from the surface.

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