Most of my case studies up until now have involved the higher specification Detailing service packages, so I thought I'd break it up a bit with a Service Clean variant carried out on this 2015 Range Rover Sport. This was booked in by the owner about a month ago and carried out last week - back in June and July I had a waiting time of around 4 weeks because of the great weather we had creating an influx of customers searching the internet for this kind of work. Recently though, the weather has been absolutely dismal. Perhaps we should rename the kids' "Six Weeks Summer Holidays" to "Six Weeks of TV and Sega Megadrive"?
On arrival, it was clear to see that the car, whilst kept clean, suffered from incorrect wash technique. Sure, it is naive to think that a vehicle will stay swirl free forever (we do not live in an idealistic world, sediment and debris as well as the fact that any form of contact with paint has the potential to mark it), but this doesn't change the fact that a proper wash regimen would have prevented the eyesore in front of me to a large degree. I mean, the car looks great, it's just the finish!
What I like to call the "meet and greet" is essential when visiting a new customer. You can gauge what they are going to be like to deal with (99% of my customers are lovely, as I can 'vet' them on the phone, the customer here being no exception), what they expect, and also gain valuable clues about the vehicle's history and what you may expect to uncover.
So off I start getting set up, filling up the buckets and starting with the wheels. Instantly I clock that they are a matte finish, so a good bit of product knowledge had me reaching into the van for Krystal Kleen Detail Matte Wash. When working on any kind of matte finish, you need products that do not have gloss enhancers, and also contain very gentle surfactants.
The wash technique I use for wheels is pretty simple to grasp. Pre-rinse, bog brush in the barrels, paint brushes in the bolt holes, and loofah to clean the face and backs of the spokes. Making an attempt to clean the backs helps keep the faces cleaner for longer, as there is less mess to trickle outwards when the car is driven in the rain. "I like what I'm seeing", the customer declared, "I didn't know you did the inside of the wheels." It's nice to get little words of positive reinforcement when starting a job, 'we're in for a good innings'.
After the wheels were cleaned, the bodywork was soaked with pre-wash and then pressure rinsed of any loose sediment and grit that is obviously not wanted when contact washing. This is the first step of ensuring that the paintwork is put to as little risk of marring as possible.
Not all professionals subscribe to this particular wash method, but I like to use snow foam as a lubricant when contact washing, re-applying to any dry areas. Beginning with the top and the glass, moving on to the front end, sides, rear, door shuts and then the yucky bits underneath. I clean the 'cleanest' bits first, leaving the worst until last. It's a bit like when bath water was shared in World War 2, you didn't exactly let the one who had the dirtiest job and had eaten curry the night before in there first. In the picture above, you can see the "two bucket wash method" in action - one bucket designated to clean the wash mitt off, and the second with fresh clean shampoo water. This process of cleaning the wash mitt off before dunking back into the shampoo bucket should be carried out as frequently as possible to reduce the risk of, yep, you guessed it, marring. If the 'rinse' bucket becomes too dirty, I dispose of the water and fill it up fresh.
The bodywork was cleaned in this fashion before being rinsed down and dried with mega plushy towels using a polymer detailing spray as a drying aid. Once dry, Krystal Kleen Detail SiCoat was applied. This is a silane wax blend which is my go-to protectant as standard. I'll do a blog post on different forms of last step protection in detail one day, but in short I like this because it is easy to use, isn't fussy on climate, adds gloss and has accountable water repellent behaviour. Working out at around £55 per litre, it isn't exactly a thrift store special. But I don't deal in cheap stuff. I deal in good stuff.
Whilst these products are from America and I anticipate for them to be named accordingly, I just refuse to refer to them in their manufacturer's spelling. It's ALUMINIUM, dude! Even though these exhaust tips are stainless steel, it is intended for all bright work and does a great job.
It's impossible to clean around badges perfectly on a nano-scale, but getting a good cotton swab laced in quick detailer spray in there helps presentation. Clean paintwork, and dullness around the badges? Not a good look. If you're new to reading my blog, I sure hope I'm giving an insight as to why the £5 car wash is a little different by now...
So we're all finished up with the exterior looking pretty snazzy, and the interior given a thorough vacuum through, with tiny paint brushes used to get deep into the vents. The seats were cleaned and conditioned with Krystal Kleen Detail Lush Leather, with the interior plastics treated to Meguiar's Inner Clean dressing and UV protectant. The glass was cleaned including the top bits, and one of my many choices of smellies was applied. I went for Autoglym Golden Sunset on this one. The owner seemed quite happy with the work, and we discussed the possibility of a future visit to get machine polishing mad on his paintwork. Then, we may have one seriously slick looking car on our hands.
Out of interest I'd love to find out how long you may guess this service to have taken to carry out, and how much you personally would be prepared to pay for such a service - all part of R&D! Leave your answers in the comments below!