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August 9, 2017

Why Am I Seeing Swirl Marks in My Car Paint?

Why Am I Seeing Swirl Marks in My Car Paint?Have you ever wondered, why am I seeing swirl marks in my car paint? Today, Steve's Detailing is here to give you the answer and how to deal with the situation. Better yet, if you want your car to gleam, simply bring it to the professionals at Steve's Detailing. Our team is highly trained and experienced in the detailing business and can take care of everything for you with no swirl marks in sight. 

What causes swirl marks?

Swirl marks are fine scratches on your car's paint job can be produced by using a dry towel on a dusty or dirty car or otherwise improperly washing and drying your vehicle. Your washing implements are usually the biggest culprits, and of course, darker vehicle colors will show more swirl marks than lighter vehicle colors. Swirl marks, unfortunately, are pretty hard to avoid forever. At some point, you will more than likely encounter them, and the older your car gets, the more it will happen. Your best defense is to use proper washing and drying practices as often as possible and use a professional detailing service. 

The facts:

The degree to which you can correct swirl marks depends on how picky you are, and the amount of time you are willing to spend getting them out. You will literally have to remove the layer of paint containing the swirls and re-level the surface, which is in microscopic layers. Modern clear-coat paints are harder than the older lacquer paints and enamel used until the 1980s. Manufacturers began using a base-coat and clear-coat system with a protective, hard, glossy clear coat on top of the color coat. These paints are more resistant to fading. Also, they last a lot longer because they are harder. 

Here are some reasons that swirl marks form:

  1. Polishers and buffers used with the wrong pad and uninformed application
  2. Harsh polishing compounds or paint cleaners
  3. Towels and applicators containing polyester threads
  4. A dirty chamois or cloth that has not been adequately cleaned and maintained
  5. Wiping down a dusty or dirty car with a dry towel
  6. Not keeping your wash mitt or sponge properly rinsed
  7. Automated car washes with brushes and other apparatuses that are not clean enough
  8. Not rinsing the car completely off before washing, or not washing your car thoroughly before drying
  9. Using a car cover when the vehicle or the cover is not completely clean 

How do I get rid of these unsightly swirl marks?

The best thing to do is head on down to the professional detailers, like Steve's Detailing, where they can polish out the swirl marks using the best products and personnel trained in doing so. Some products on the market will only mask or hide swirl marks temporarily, Steve's Detailing has the products and tools that will lift and erase the swirl marks using a polish compound to do the job correctly, and sometimes even a cutting polish, depending on the severity of the swirl marks. 

Here is a quick reference guide on eliminating swirl marks:

  • The car must be thoroughly cleaned with a de-waxer and non-abrasive microfiber cloth, to remove all contaminants, dirt, and dust
  • If the surface is rough, a liquid clay or clay bar should be used together with a water based sealer
  • A follow up with a swirl remover is recommended using buffing pads/cloth and an orbital polisher
  • Sealing is the finishing touch with an all-weather paint sealant to give you the perfect, professional, glass like look 

A quick word on Snow Foam:

Snow foam is a unique pre-wash cleaner or treatment that can help lubricate your vehicle before you start washing. It is like an added security system to help ensure you don't get swirl marks from left behind dirt and debris. A thick layer of snow foam left to sit on your car will soften the surface dirt, and when rinsed off, before hand washing, it will make a big difference in the quality of your car wash. A pressure washer with a snow foam lance will give you the best results. 

Why are buckets important?

There is a lot of evidence and reason behind using multiple buckets for washing your vehicle. Avoiding cross-contamination is the main idea. Here’s your bucket list: 1 bucket for your shampoo solution (wash) and 1 full of plain fresh water for rinsing. Simply, wash a portion with the shampoo solution then, before cleaning the next part, dip the mitt into the rinse bucket. Scrub it by hand to remove any and all dirt, then dip it back in the shampoo from the wash bucket, continue with the wash. This ensures that the dirt removed from the paint is then removed from the wash mitt, and isn’t dragged back across the car during washing.

Remember, if your vehicle is already riddled with swirl marks, you will need to first and foremost get rid of them by polishing, either by hand or machine, or by bringing it to our professional detailers. Also remember, that if not done correctly, you can add to the problem, causing MORE swirl marks than you already had. Polishing, waxing and protecting is a big job that requires a lot of elbow grease, so unless you are up for it, and willing to spend the day getting it right, it is always a good idea to check in with the professionals and let them attend to the problem.

If you head on down to Steve’s Detailing today, you won't be saying, "why am I seeing swirl marks in my car paint?" because we get it right every time and know the detailing business inside and out. Let us bring your paint color back to its original glory, free of unsightly swirl marks and lack luster shine. You'll be surprised and happy with the results, and able to maintain the longevity of your vehicle's paint job for an extended period of time.

July 26, 2017

Tips for Washing Your Car Between Details

Steve's DetailingTips for Washing Your Car Between Details offers fast, thorough and complete car detailing that will keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Here are some tips for washing your car between details so that you can get the most for your dollar, and the best treatment for your car or truck to keep it looking shiny and new.

First off, it is always wise to stay clear of the drive-thru car washes. These poorly maintained machines can damage not only paint jobs, but antennas, and a whole lot more. For example, if the previous car just came back from a muddy or dirty camping trip, guess what is left behind on those brushes? Yup, you guessed it, dirt and debris that could dig into your paint. DIY hand washes are typically the best option.

If your car is new, a wash and wax will suffice, but if it has been neglected at all, then wash, wax and polish are probably in order. Be sure to use premium microfiber cloths that are clean, and products specifically formulated for the task at hand. Some cleaners can do more damage than good.

Rinse your vehicle first to get the majority of dirt and debris off, using a pressure washer (with the proper tip) on hard to reach places and areas with caked on dirt. Use a good quality car wash soap, not just any type of dishwashing liquid or other, as this can damage the paint and strip away wax. Be sure to do sections of your vehicle and rinse promptly to avoid spots and soapy water from drying, especially on hot days. Finally, use dry clean cloths and wipe down the car from top to bottom.

You can go even further if you have the time and energy by applying wax or polish at this final stage, but you can also leave it to Steve's Detailing for the tough stuff.

How often should you detail?

Well, again, this will depend on how often the car is driven, if it has gone through some nasty driving conditions such as rain or snow, and if it spends a lot of time in the sun. It is most common to give your car a weekly wash to keep up with pollen and dirt build up from embedding in the paint, and a monthly wash and wax detailing to keep a protective barrier on the paint.

Is detailing and washing your car that important?

Of course, it is! The fine finish on your vehicle's exterior can wear down fast against the elements of weather, wear and tear, which will eventually lead to your car being nothing but a rust bucket with wheels. Most people trade in their vehicles every few years for better technology and performance. So, if you want to get the most out of your older vehicles, it is imperative that you take care of it inside and out, because no one is going to pay top dollar for a worn out car.

Steve's Detailing loves to provide tips for washing your car between details. It makes your car's value higher, and it makes our job more successful. We use only the top-quality brands and products to ensure your car detailing in perfect both inside and out.

July 13, 2017

Difference Between Car Washing and Detailing

Difference Between Car Washing and DetailingEver wondered what's the difference between car washing and detailing? Ay Steve's Detailing, we’re here to tell you that there is a huge difference between the two, yet both services are important for the longevity of your vehicle inside and out.

Today, let’s discuss a few of the key differences between car washing and car detailing. 

Car Washing

This involves removing dirt, debris, tar, and salt from your vehicles clear coat with a big bucket of soapy water. You can obtain a car wash from a detailing company, a drive through automatic wash, a pay stall DIY wash, or you can even wash your vehicle at home. Each one of these suggestions will get the surface dirt and grime off, but it will not give you the complete and perfect shine like professional detailing.

Another issue to note is that some automatic drive-through washes can do more damage than good to your car by breaking off antennas or scratching surfaces. If the vehicle before you was extremely dirty, chances are, some of that dirt will remain on the brushes for the next vehicle going through. Not only could it end up limiting your cleaning results, but large bits of dirt, rocks or debris could scratch your paint. The main point of a drive-through car-wash speed, which is not always best for your vehicle.

Car Detail

A professional vehicle detail will get into every nook and cranny of your car or truck, using the most up to date, tried and true, professional products to achieve the most stunning and shiniest of results. It may cost a little more than doing it yourself, but the end results will be well worth it and resale value of your vehicle increases because it will maintain that new car look.

Auto care experts are trained with the latest techniques and know-how for achieving the best results for your car, from engine compartment cleaning, removing stubborn carpet stains, bringing your tires and chrome back to life, headlight restoration, leather treatments, and more. You just can't get the same results as the professionals can, and let's face it, most of us do not have the time in our busy lives.

A professional detail can take anywhere from 1-6 hours depending on the size of your vehicle, package you choose, or options you wish to add. Some places have a place to sit and watch TV, others have a pickup and drop-off service. At Steve’s Detailing, we’re conveniently located in the heart of DTC, so you’re welcome to drop off your car for a “spa day” before work. For the time, effort and price it takes to keep your vehicle looking and smelling good every week or month, you’ll see that it is well worth it.

Now that you know the difference between car washing and detailing is, head on over to Steve's Detailing for information on what offer. Let the experts in making your vehicles look like new again, whether you have an antique hot rod, motorcycle, or work truck. Leave the detailing to us!

June 12, 2017

How to Clean Your Foggy Headlights

How to Clean Your Foggy HeadlightsAt Steve's Detailing, we know how to clean your foggy headlights the proper way so that you can see clearly in all weather conditions and on any terrain. We are also superb detailers for every type of vehicle, be it a motorcycle, RV, antique car, hobby car, or just your everyday to and from work vehicle.

If you don’t mind spending a good chunk of your weekend tending to your vehicle’s needs, there are a few methods for cleaning hazy, oxidized headlights. The first step is to do a thorough inspection of your headlights and look for the best solution to cleaning them. If you are unsure, always get a professional’s help. If there are extensive chips and cracks, it may be a good idea to replace them all together.

Now, let's look at the procedures for how to clean your foggy headlights.

STEP 1, CLEAN WITH SOAP AND WATER: Use a good quality car soap to get off the road grime and debris. From here you will get a much better idea of the damage.

Look for signs of hazing. This will happen when the hard coating has worn off the headlights, and the soft polycarbonate is exposed; the light will start to absorb scratches that create hazing. The lens will also be covered, if it isn't already, in a rough dark yellow crusted surface.

Yellowing is a sure sign that the all of the hard coatings is beginning to thin out and lose its adhesion to the polycarbonate lens. Peeling and cracks will need to be dealt with by a professional detailer or replaced. You may see flaking, peeling, and spotting. These may just need a resurfacing. Once you have concluded the level of damage, here are the options you can choose from to help repair the issue.

STEP 2, SANDPAPER: You will need a few different grades of wet/dry sandpaper. 3M is a good starting point and a courser grade such as 1500 or 2000. Tape off the areas of paint around the headlights to avoid damaging the paint and clean the lights once more with rubbing alcohol. Wet your sandpaper using the course grit first and start to sand in a circular motion, paying attention to areas where the coating may be lifting and flaking off. Use a good amount of pressure until you have an even, dull finish. Now you will change to a finer grit and continue sanding until you get a satin-like finish.

STEP 3, CHOOSE A POLISHING COMPOUND: Now you will determine the buffing compound that will best suit your needs. You can run to the auto parts store and pick up McGuire's, M105, or others. Aluminum compounds are the best for headlights, or you can use a more natural and cheaper approach by opting for bath and sink cleaners or even blue toothpaste without whitening additives or peroxides.

When it comes to how to clean your foggy headlights, here are some other natural options to choose from for you DIY-types:

  • Baking Soda: Yup, just like your mom told you.... this stuff works for almost everything. Just rub it on and rinse off.
  • Vinegar: Besides its great cleaning qualities, it works like a charm on headlight covers. Just take them off and soak for a few minutes and watch the crud crumble off.
  • Bug Spray: Good old "OFF" brand will work wonders in taking off bug grime and the UV plastic that is yellowing on your headlights. The chemicals in the spray do a great job.
  • Joy Dish Soap and Salt: Mix the two together for double duty cleaning and removing power.
  • Denatured Alcohol: Be sure to clean your headlights well with soap and water first, then dab some denatured alcohol on a rag and rub in a circular motion. Rinse and dry, and add some car wax for added protection to finalize.

STEP 4, POLISH: Get a nice clean microfiber cloth and add your choice of cleaning compound to it, about the size of a quarter to start. Use small circular motions and a small patch to start. Then you will repeat this cycle until the whole light is done. You can also use an automatic buffer for faster results. Keep buffing and polishing until you get the clear results you are looking for!

STEP 5, PROTECT: To prolong the life of the hard work you have just accomplished, there is a product called Bulldog, which is a plastic adhesion protector that will aid in keeping your lights protected. It is kind of like applying a top coat on your nail polish to add long-wearing shine and coverage. This procedure is something Steve's Detailing can most definitely help with.

The environment is the major issue in the deterioration of your headlights. The UV light exposure from the sun is probably the worst culprit, followed by road grime and chemicals. Road debris causes pits and marks in the lenses, water vapor trapped inside the lens also causes damage over time. So, what can you do to protect these precious and delicate lights? Well, it is wise to try and park your vehicle in the shade or a garage to avoid as much sun exposure as possible, and the second-best option is to have a professional tend to your lights quarterly to clean and protect them.

There are also several products on the market that can help prevent the damage that UV rays cause to your light system. These products have created a unique co-polymer & acrylic resin shell over headlight lenses to prevent their oxidation and fading. Your headlights remain clear and sharp and improve your nighttime visibility and your vehicle's aesthetic appearance. Of course, this is a maintenance task that you will need to adhere to for best results. But one popular brand on the market is called Optimum Opti-Lens Headlight Coating.

A word on headlight covers: These are a great way to not only protect your lights from harmful UV light, but also from chips and grime that wear down the hard plastic coating. Of course, you can't use them at night, but most definitely during the day is a great idea.

Knowing how to clean your foggy headlights is just one of the steps in a long list involved in keeping your vehicles looking good and running like new. Count on Steve's Detailing for all the latest technologies, quality products, and experienced detailers to make your car feel as good as the day you bought it! Stop in today and adhere to a regularly scheduled maintenance plan for optimum results.

May 10, 2017

What's Better, Cloth or Leather Interiors

what's better, cloth or leather interiorsIt’s a timeless debate, what's better, cloth or leather interiors? At Steve’s Detailing, we know that when it comes to the vehicles we drive, comfort and style are rather important to most of us. We want to feel good slipping into the driver's seat. Of course, no matter what side of the fence you fall on, you can rest assured that we’ll take great care of your cloth or leather interior, as well as your vehicle’s exterior. Our detailing and hand car wash services provide long-lasting beauty and value.

So, leather or cloth, let’s look at some of the comparisons below.

LEATHER PROS

  • Looks and feels luxurious
  • Smells rich
  • Soft and supple to sit on
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Durable
  • Great resale value
  • May upgrade the status quo among friends and family
  • Choices between faux, brushed, top grain and Nappa leather

 

LEATHER CONS

  • Can be expensive, depending on the grade
  • Not very "green" or "animal-friendly" after all, it is made from a cow's hide
  • Hot, sweaty and sticky in the summer, and cold to the bone frigid in winter, unless you have a heated seat option
  • Will show wear quickly if not regularly maintained; sweat is a big problem for staining and odors
  • Can crack, dry and split if left to the elements, leather needs to be cleaned and detailed properly
  • Absorbs heat; with windows closed, temperatures can reach incredible heights
  • Worn out leather seats don’t look very attractive
  • Some manufacturers only use real leather on the top part of the seat; the sides are usually vinyl or cheaper materials
  • Limited color options

 

CLOTH PROS

  • More affordable
  • Comfortable, no sticking to your seat, sliding, freezing backside or hot thighs
  • More breathable material
  • Eco-friendly material available
  • Velour, Suede/tricot blend of materials provides more comfort and cushioning and is stain-proof
  • Low-maintenance; usually only requires a monthly vacuum or steam clean to maintain
  • Lots of color choices whether solid or patterned
  • Holds less heat on hot days

 

CLOTH CONS

  • Stains are hard to remove; wiping with a rag will usually not do the job, so stain guard is a must
  • Holds odors including foods, body sweat, pet odors, damp or wet carpet odors
  • Not much for status quo; can look cheap
  • Low resale value
  • New car smell fades fast
  • Allergies-galore! Pet dander and odors stay put in cloth seats

 

PERSONAL PREFERENCE

What it all boils down to, is what suits your tastes. Most of us have our favorite picked out from the first car we ever owned; so, the choice is easy. Fortunately, with today's technologies, the options are getting better and better. Auto upholstery fabrics and materials are more allergy-friendly and less toxic to our bodies. Even if you have your mind set, weigh out the options. You may be pleasantly surprised with the savings and new technologies.

A WORD ON VINYL SEATS

Vinyl is a newcomer in the world of seat material, the in-between option for those who can't decide what's better, cloth or leather interiors. During the 1950s, vinyl became a leading material in car upholstery. Since then, the quality of vinyl has vastly improved, looking and feeling so leather-like, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference! Vinyl has advantages over leather, too. It can be as much as 25% less expensive and comes in a wider range of colors and patterns. The cleaning of vinyl fabric is super easy, and over time it holds up well, maintaining both its structure and color. It's more forgiving than cloth and leather when wet; stains are much easier to resolve as well.

New manufacturing technologies include leather-like patterns and special coatings, making modern vinyl almost indistinguishable from real leather options. Vinyl will not stretch like leather but you will still get the same hot and cold weather issues that leather has. Poor resale values, lack of prestige, and not being very "green" all follow vinyl around.

COST

Obviously, this is largely based on the type and size of vehicle you buy. In general, you will most definitely pay more for leather seats across the board. Cloth seats are considered standard equipment and cost the consumer less money than opting for the upgraded leather seats. Most non-leather materials made of fabrics are easy to create in factory and cost less to install.

Leather seats, take a long time to create because the hide has to be cleaned of hair, salted, tanned, dyed, and dried, all of which can take weeks. Higher quality leathers will take longer to prepare but will offer a softer feel and have more leather grain in the material. Some of the top-quality leathers can take nearly a year to cure, depending on the tanning method. Leather seats are most often upgrades and expensive.

KATZKINS SEATS: WHAT ARE THEY?

Well, they are yet another alternative to consider. This is an aftermarket upholsterer that could help you get leather seats more affordably than the absurdly priced upgrades charged at dealerships. A California company called Katzkin is one of the best-known names, and they offer leather upholstery kits as an alternative to your dilemma. According to Katzkin, their kit costs a lot less, for results comparable to, or even better than original leather seats. Katzkin's kits are not seat covers, but rather, certified installers that will remove the original upholstery, and some of the hardware, and replace it with leather that has a very precise, secure fit, just like the factory. They meet original safety specs for airbag testing, include a three-year warranty, and in most cases, are even better than the original factory seats purchased. These seats will significantly increase your resale value, much like a leather interior.

At Steve's Detailing, it doesn't matter what's better, cloth or leather interiors. We will get any stains, odors, and grime off regardless of your choice of interior material. Our professional team and a host of professional products will ensure you leave our shop with your like-new vehicle. Professional car detailing will significantly improve the longevity of your vehicle's interior, and provide you with years of enjoyment too!

 

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