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Useful Detailing Tips and Information

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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's



What is automotive detailing?


     There are 3 main components to auto detailing.  They are cleaning, restoring and protecting.  Auto detailing is more than just running your vehicle through a neighborhood car wash or putting on a fresh coat of wax.  Detailing a vehicle is thoroughly cleaning the interior to remove dirt, stains, odors and most importantly, allergens and bacteria. Exterior detailing removes dirt, stains, contaminates, swirls, scratches, oxidation and other imperfections from your paint to produce a show quality level of detail and add protection to your cars “skin”.


What does it mean to  “Clay” the paint?


     An automotive clay bar is used to remove contaminates such as industrial fallout, tar, over-spray and brake dust from the paint on your vehicle.  After claying a vehicle it will be silky smooth.  Clay works by gliding it across the wet surface of your paint in a back and forth motion.  This will pick up and remove anything that protrudes from the paint. The best way to feel this is to place your hand inside a plastic baggie and move it across your paint.


What is polishing or buffing?


     Polishing or Paint Correction is often misunderstood and intimidating step in the detailing process.  When applying wax, sealant or a coating you are placing a layer of protection on top of the paint. When correcting paint (aka cut & buff or polishing) you are removing microscopic amounts of paint or clear coat to reduce or remove the appearance of fine scratches, “swirl” marks and marring in the surface. The amount of paint that is removed depends on the aggressiveness of the polish, pads and machine used.


Will my paint look brand new again?


      Yes it can look like new. What I mean by can, is there are several factor to be taken into consideration, such as: age of paint, type of paint, previous care, current damage and your desired outcome. Almost all paint can be corrected back into a show-quality shine. There are some severe cases that will require wet-sanding to remove deep scratches and to level the paint surface. There needs to be enough material, be it paint or clear to remove safely.  If the paint or clear is too thin, it can’t be sanded.  Most people are not looking for this high-end shine. The vast majority of customers want their paint to be glossy and just nice looking. All of my packages incorporate an All-In-One type paint polish. This uses new technology in compounds to start out fairly aggressive to remove swirls, light scratches and marring then breaks down into finer and finer particles to become a finishing polish then diminishes all together.  You will see up to a 80% improvement in the paint’s appearance with this. There is also a protective quality that is left  behind on your paint. I also top this with a synthetic sealant for added protection.  



What is the difference between Paint Sealant and Wax?


     A paint sealant is made of polymers, which are composed of thousands of synthetic particles that are linked together.  When a sealant bonds to your vehicles paint, it forms a rigid shell.  The real selling point of a paint sealant is its durability.  A premium grade sealant can last 6-12 months.  For people that spend more time driving than detailing, a paint sealant is the way to go.  Carnauba wax is the preferred vehicle wax of collectors and enthusiast because it creates a rich, warm glow.  Although an application of carnauba-based vehicle wax will protect your vehicle from UV rays, heat, moisture, oxidation, and environmental fallout just like a paint sealant it lacks in durability.  A coat of wax will wear off in 6-8 weeks; it depends heavily on the climate in which you live, the frequecy of washes and the type of soap you use. See proper wash methods link above.


Can you customize a package to fit my budget?


     Yes, if you have a certain budget that you do not want to exceed, we will go over it and come up with a package designed just for your budget and needs.


What areas do you cover?


I cover all of Thurston, Pierce, Lewis and Mason Counties.  I do travel farther if needed for a nominal fuel / trip charge.


I don’t like surprises! Are there any extra charges?


I understand that your vehicle is going to be dirty.  In some situations an extra charge is necessary due to the time and effort it takes for extra dirty vehicles.  Some examples of extra charges: heavily stained carpets, heavily stained leather, excessive pet hair, severe mold growth, excessive tar, etc...  Before any services are performed on your vehicle, a thorough walk around will be performed.  You will be informed about any extra fees before ANY work is started.


Do I need to remove my belongings out of my vehicle before I get it serviced?


Please do!  Firehouse Mobile Detail is not responsible for articles left in vehicle.  Please remove all items from compartments that you would like to have cleaned such as glove box and center console storage.  Any items left in vehicle will be placed in a bag for you to go through at your convenience.



Do you give a military discount?

OF COURSE!  We give 10% discount to all Military, Fire / EMS and Law Enforcement members.



I lease my vehicle. Why should I worry about how it looks?


Chances are you’ll care when your lease is up!  Check your contract.  You’ll find that you’re responsible for the appearance of your vehicle when it is returned.  If it was never washed, polished or waxed properly, you could be hit with a reconditioning fee ranging from $500-$2000!  Take care of your investment.



Why should I have my vehicle detailed?


Increased Value: By properly maintaining both the exterior and interior of a vehicle, the value can be significantly increased.  Over time, the finish of your vehicle will experience oxidation, swirls, light scratching, fading, as well as a build up of contaminants that are harmful to the various surface.  By having your car professionally detailed, we will restore the original beauty, and preserve and protect it into the future.  If you compare two identical vehicles, one that has been professionally detailed, while the other has not, the difference in resale value is typically in the thousands of dollars for most vehicles.  When comparing very expensive luxury cars and exotics, the difference in value comes from professional detailing can be staggering! 

Protect Your Investment:  This directly involves increased value.  Let’s face it; most vehicles depreciate rapidly, especially when they’re neglected.  Protect your investment by having it properly maintained by a premium service offered by Firehouse Detail.  When you drive that new expensive vehicle off of the lot, you know that it will immediately lose value.  In order to get the most return on your investment, it is wise to have the appearance professionally maintained in order to retain as much value as possible.

Professional Image:  The condition of the vehicles we drive says a lot about the type of person we are.  It’s no different than how we care for our homes, our landscaping, or our personal appearances.  Beautifully prepared cars project confidence, professionalism, and just makes us feel good when driving or admiring them!



What types of payments do you accept?


We accept cash, check, debit, PayPal and all major credit cards. I may not have change available for cash, but can make adjustments to work with you. We typically invoice once the service is complete and payment is accepted upon completion of the vehicle. For business, corporate and approved personal accounts, an invoice can be e-mailed and paid via PayPal.



I would like to have my vehicle detailed at my place of work. Is that possible?


We are able to detail your vehicle in parking lots as long as we have enough space and are not affecting traffic or neighboring businesses. Permission from the owner or manager is your responsibility and is required before any services are performed.



Do you need water and a power outlet?


Yes, a hose spigot and standard 120v outlet is much appreciated! I can be self-contained if needed with a water tank / pump and quiet Honda Inverter generator if needed. Please let me know!



How long does a detail take?


Depending on the current state of the vehicle and package chosen, a detail can take anywhere from 1 hour (Basic wash) to 2 full days for the Premium Detail.  The typical vehicle getting the Basic or Full detail will take from 4-6 hours. Interior and Exterior Only will take from 2-4 hours.



What are your hours?


I am available by appointment only 7 days a week! Please contact me for availability.



My local carwash offers detailing at half the prices of most professional detailer services, what is the difference?


The term “you get what you pay for!” goes hand in hand with this question.  The term “detailing” has been widely misused in the auto industry.  A true detail consist of meticulous cleaning, professional swirl free polishing and protection of all surfaces.  Many carwashes and inexperienced detail shops simply cover dirt with shiny and  greasy solvent-based dressings.  This not only traps the dirt, but the solvents in many of these dressings can harm/damage the surface.  Also many inexperienced detailers will run a high speed buffer over your paint causing damage and those ugly swirl marks (holograms) or waxing over deep imbedded dirt.  Make sure you ask many questions before hiring or allowing anyone to “detail” your vehicle.



 So what sets you apart from the other guys?


Always a tough question! I do not know what products and processes my competition uses, so I can only speak to mine, and I’m not going to bad mouth anyone else’s work.

I have been detailing for well over 20 years and there have been huge improvements in the quality and in the technology of detailing tools and products over the last 5 or so years.  I use primarily Meguiar’s Professional products. They are all well proven by professional detailers around the world and are designed to be used as such.  I have seen some detailers using household products to clean car surfaces – NOT RECOMMENDED! - 

There are more expensive “boutique” brands out there that do a great job, at 3-4x the price. I don’t use them, keeping my prices reasonable.

I believe in giving you the best value for your money. You are not looking to enter the mini-van into a car show! You want a clean, comfortable and cared for vehicle for your family to be in.  I focus a bit more on the areas that are more important to you and your vehicle not the generalization that a detailed vehicle has to be show car perfect in every way. Can I do that? Sure! Do you need it and want the costs associated? Not likely.



So what can I expect?


  • There are some limitations in detailing. Paint was discussed above and there are some scratches that are just too deep to be removed and will require filling or a panel repaint.

  • Interior stains are just that – stained. Every attempt will be made to remove them, but a dye may be needed (if you wish).

  • Seats and trim pieces are not removed. Exceptions are seats in SUV’s and vans that are designed to be easily removed without tools.

  • You may find some debris that was unable to be removed by hand, vacuum or compressed air. There may be pet hair that was not fully removed as well.  In keeping your value in mind, you likely would not want me to spend hours just vacuuming, as some types of pet hair in different carpet types can be almost impossible to fully remove with out using tweezers on every individual strand!

  • Wheels are not removed to clean the backside of them. There is an additional charge for this if desired – let me know during the scheduling of your detail.





Safe Car Washing Methods

Information about mold
in your vehicles
wet freeway.jpg

Road Film Buildup

on Your Car