The term “Detailed” is one of the most misused terms surrounding cars. Almost anyone who has washed and waxed a car claims to know how to “detail” a car. It’s the equivalent to someone who has changed a headlight bulb and the oil in their car claiming to now be a mechanic.
To truly detail a car requires the use of the proper equipment and techniques to thoroughly clean and then protect the vehicle. The goal of a car detailer is quality of the work, not quantity of work. Car washers are more interested in how fast and cheap they can do a satisfactory job and still get paid.
A first good indicator is finding out if they are certified with the IDA. The International Detailing Association is the leading industry association for professional detailing operators, suppliers, and consultants to the industry.
Other than the IDA certifications, usually the first thing that’s a good indication is the price. Car washers are typically very cheap on the price or they are very willing to price match others. This goes back to the quantity vs quality that I mentioned above. The car washer has to be low on price because they aren’t going to use the best equipment or the best techniques. As a result you wont get the best results. In most cases they will also cause damage to the vehicle. The type of damage that can be caused by these inexperienced car washers isn’t always obvious or something everyone knows how to spot so these car washers can keep getting by with it.
Another perfect way to tell the difference is the equipment used. If someone shows up to “detail ” your vehicle and only has a vacuum, a bucket, some chemicals and a few rags, chances are they aren’t a detailer.
The best thing you can do for your vehicle aside from regular maintenance is to have it professionally detailed. One of the worst things you can do to your vehicle is to have it detailed by a car washer claiming to be a detailer. Be careful and don’t fall for the cheapest price. It may just cost more in the long run.