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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!

April 14, 2017

How to Clean Your Car’s Engine Compartment

How to Clean Your Car’s Engine CompartmentKnowing how to clean your car's engine compartment thoroughly is another of the many ways Steve’s Detailing in Denver really shines. If you are a customer, you know how meticulous we are at cleaning your vehicle and paying special attention to all the little crooks and crevices that hide dirt. A car's engine compartment is an important part of the detail, deserving particular attention that will help the engine run stronger for longer. Steve's Detailing is more than happy to provide this exceptional service for your car every time.

When an engine compartment is clean, it not only looks good under the hood, but it helps cool more efficiently, provides less wear on systems such as pulleys and bearings, prevents rust, and offers early belt wear detection. You can also detect leaks quicker, filters stand a chance at staying cleaner for longer, and let's not forget resale value. The minute a potential customer pops the hood to get a look, your chances of a better sale will increase with a clean engine compartment, and that is a fact!

One interesting note, the cars of today are boasting smaller and smaller engine compartments under the hood, and that means a lot more places for dirt and grime to hide, which in turn means a greater need to maintain this area and keep it spotless. So, let’s get to how to clean your car’s engine compartment.

Remember the importance of COVERING the following first to protect from water issues:

  • All sensors
  • Distributor
  • Alternator
  • Spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Electrical connections
  • Air intake

Here is the simple procedure and some tips:

  • CLEAN IN THE MORNING: It is always best to clean your engine compartment after it has sat all night and has not been driven. Of course, you would NEVER attempt to clean a HOT engine for fear of ruining components when you spray with water, not to mention potential burns to your skin. If you wish to loosen debris slightly, you can start the engine and warm it up for a few minutes to help get some of the dirt loosened up.
  • COVER ALTERNATOR, FILTERS, and AIR INTAKE: Getting water or degreaser in these areas will not be a pretty sight. Cover your air filter with a bag, but be sure to take the bag off when starting your engine up. Also, if you have any custom electric components, take the time to cover or hand clean to be safe.
  • FIRST STEP DEGREASER: Start with the perimeter of the engine bay. Make sure you get the fluid containers and hoses de-greased because they are usually extra dirty. Spray the back of the engine bay and be sure to get as far down as possible. To get the degreaser off, you just need to rinse it with a slow stream of water. Anything that doesn’t come clean can just be wiped down by hand later.
  • HAND WASH: Now the trickier part. Grab yourself a wash mitt specially designed for cleaning engines. You can also use a flexible detailing brush to get into the more difficult areas. It is also a good idea to pick up a lot of microfiber cloths and never use anything with steel bristles or rough surfaces to avoid damaging paint or plastic components. A spray bottle with soapy water in it can make your job easier too.
  • DRY: If you have a good blower around to get the water out of those hard to reach areas, all the better, if not, it will be a long haul getting everything dried by hand. A compressor will also do the job if you have one. This step is imperative before you begin with the wax and polish stage.
  • START YOUR ENGINE: Allow the engine to raise to normal operating temperature for complete and thorough drying of all engine components; You can also put the AC on so the compressor engages. Approximately 5 minutes will do the trick.
  • SHINE: Now the rewarding part...use a wax or sealant for the paint, and an insulator wax made especially for hot areas under the hood. Vinyl and rubber protectants work great for the plastics and hoses under the hood.
  • FINALIZE: Check all fluid levels, check the battery terminals to ensure that they are clean. If they are not, disconnect the cables. Clean both the cable terminals and battery posts with a wire brush. Reconnect the terminals and retighten.

Here are some of the top ten engine compartment cleaners for 2017, in no particular order:

  1. GUNK FOAMY ENGINE BRIGHT DEGREASER – removes dirt, grime, and grease safely
  2. GRIOTS GARAGE ENGINE CLEANER – environmentally friendly degreaser
  3. SIMPLE GREEN FOAMING CRYSTAL INDUSTRIAL DEGREASER – environmentally friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable degreaser
  4. AUTO-CHEM HD CLEAN – water based degreaser, biodegradable
  5. OIL EATER CLEANER DEGREASER – best used on a cool engine, spray off
  6. PURPLE POWER INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH DEGREASER – biodegradable, non-flammable, non-abrasive, phosphate free
  7. MAX PROFESSIONAL ENGINE CLEANER – removes grease and grime but extremely flammable
  8. PENRAY ENGINE CLEANER – removes oil, grease, and tar, extremely flammable
  9. HD TOTAL CLEANER AND DEGREASER – provides a full range of cleaning activity
  10. CHEMICAL GUYS GRIME REAPER – extremely concentrated degreaser

The cost of a professional engine compartment clean is well worth the money it takes, and most places offer some great incentives and packages to help you maintain your vehicles monthly. Shop around and be sure to ask for discounts that will suit your needs AND your budget! Of course, you can always do it yourself, but by the time you buy all the products needed, not to mention the professional equipment necessary, and a large area for washing, you may realize that the cost outweighs the effort required to put into this task. Go with the professionals, likes Steve’s Detailing!

A clean engine compartment is a beautiful thing, and you can make your life much easier once you get it spotless, by maintaining it with a quick rub down every once in a while. Now that you know the details of how to clean your car's engine compartment, feel free to visit Steve's Detailing in the Denver Tech Center area. We can save you a lot of time and energy by providing a spotless car detail inside and out, including an engine compartment clean that will make both you and your car happy.

March 14, 2017

What Exactly is Car Detailing?

What Exactly is Car Detailing?What exactly is car detailing? And how will it extend the life of your car or truck? At Steve's Detailing, we know that a clean car inside and out is paramount if you want to get the most out of your ride. Like most things in life, the need to be maintained and cleaned is inevitable. Whether it is our bodies, our homes or our cars, we all know that longevity will extend if we stick to these simple daily or weekly tasks.

Here’s why car detailing should be a big part of your routine.

INCREASES THE RESALE VALUE if you should decide to sell one day. A potential buyer is always looking for a nice, shiny looking car that smells good inside and has been given plenty of love and attention throughout the years. This reassures them that it was well maintained and cared for since the general appearance is often a reflection of how the rest of the vehicle was maintained.

SAFETY is a big concern if you want to get where you are going. Dirty windows, bald tires, muddy headlights and more will interfere with people being able to see you on the road, and for you to see them! This is dangerous for you and everyone else on the road.

TIME AND ENERGY SAVER. By hiring a professional detailing company such as Steve's Detailing, you know that your vehicle will be clean and tidy from top to bottom. This saves you time and energy to do other things that are more important, and by getting on a routine detailing schedule, you and your car will be happier in the long run.

STAY HEALTHIER by ridding your interior of harmful bacteria. Food and drinks spilled and left to spoil can be extremely unsanitary for your health and the condition of the materials inside your vehicles.

SAVE YOUR PAINT JOB. By obtaining a clean vehicle and washing off salt, dirt, and grime from sappy trees, you will extend the life of your paint color and avoid getting a rust bucket of a car. Even the sun can wreak havoc on our rides. We know how expensive a new paint job is, so don't ignore the importance of cleaning off the grunge on the exterior of your vehicles.

What can you expect from a professional detailing service? Here are a few services provided.

3 STEP EXTERIOR PAINT CLEANING to protect and maintain your paint job. This usually includes washing and drying to rid the vehicle of dirt and grime, then comes a clay bar application to remove sticky substances such as tar and metals and road grime in the clear coat, next will come the polish process and finally it’s sealed with wax for a shiny like-new finish.

WHEELS AND CHASSIS are imperative to keep clean. The chassis is the underside of your car which can rust if not properly maintained. Wheel wells and suspension components are cleaned, and plastic fender protectors can be sealed with a protectant to help with cracking, promoting luster.

LIGHTS AND TRIM can oxidize with the weather extremes, so by polishing and sealing these areas, you are extending the life of your lights. Any chrome and vinyl are usually finished up with a protective sealant as well to deter cracking and fading.

INTERIOR is just as important as the outside, and the place you spend all of your time driving. Carpets and seats should be shampooed, vacuumed, and even steam cleaned. The plastics and leather inside need to be cleaned and conditioned. This process will include the entire vehicle, front/back, passenger areas, trunk, or and areas.

ENGINE areas are an important aspect of a good auto detailing, be sure to ask if your company includes this service, as some do not. This process entails spritzing the engine with water and a degreaser, followed by a rinse, dry, and a sealer to rubber and plastic components to prevent cracking.

How much can you expect to spend on a car detailing service?

Depending on where you live, the price will vary significantly, but for the most part, you can expect to spend anywhere between $150-$350 on a good service. Most detailing shops will give you a discount if you adhere to a regular detailing schedule, and keep in mind that larger vehicles such as SUVs and vans will cost more, as well as the use of some special equipment that may need to be utilized.

How often you detail your car is entirely up to you, but depending on your lifestyle and the amount of wear and tear put on your vehicle should be a very big deciding factor in how often you detail it. A weekly wash is always recommended to keep pollen and dirt from embedding itself in the clear coat. A monthly wash and wax will help keep the exterior of the car covered with a shiny shield of protectant. Sealants and coatings, however, are a procedure that is best left to the professionals and should be attended to about every one to two years depending on the driving and area that you live in.

Why does a clean car feel so good? Well, just like our own bodies, when we look and feel good, that presence emits to the world around us. So, whether you are going for a job interview or picking up a hot date, you want to look good and impress those around you. Not only that, you want to feel good getting behind the wheel and enjoying a clean, fresh ride wherever the road takes you.

To enjoy the benefits of what the professionals have accomplished on your detailing services a little longer, be sure to keep up with the 4-month rule, that means that usually products such as waxes and polishes will eventually break down on your car due to the extremes, and will need replenishing. By washing your vehicle, yourself weekly, you can extend the amount of time needed to take it in. The average car detailing service will last a minimum of 30 minutes, to as much as a full day in the shop. Time well spent!

Now that you are more familiar with what exactly is car detailing, you can head on over to Steve's Detailing for one of the most professional, thorough, and exceptional car detailing services you will ever experience. With a knowledgeable background in custom services such as antique, hobby, luxury and hot rod detailing, as well as every day detailing services, we know what our customers expect from us and you will see the proof in the way your vehicle looks.

January 15, 2017

What is Paintless Dent Repair?

What is Paintless Dent Repair? If you’ve ever experienced a minor ding or dent in your car, you may have researched what is paintless dent repair and what is involved in the process? At Steve’s Detailing, we provide the finishing touch for this type of repair, which we can attest to being incredibly effective at restoring a vehicle to like new shape. Looking into the service ourselves, it seems that it will save you a lot of time and money, too. So, let’s talk more about what is paintless dent repair.

It has most likely happened to us all, at some point. You walk out of the grocery store, only to find that someone has dinged your car by hitting it with their door or bumper. Also, there are those little fender benders, when we should have given a little extra space between our car and the one next to us. The good news is that paintless dent repair can be just the remedy you need.

Paintless dent repair can rectify a broad range of damage as long as the paint surface is intact. It may be used on both aluminum and steel panels. Door dings, creases, dents, bodyline damage and hail damage, are just some of the more popular issues utilizing paintless dent repair, but not limited to those. It can also minimize the use of body filler when repainting. Usually the shallower the dent, the greater the chances of paintless dent repair being a suitable option. Experienced technicians can fix a large, shallow dent or a crease, to a satisfactory level, but paintless dent repair may not be the proper method for extremely sharp dents or creases. Ask your service shop what they can achieve for best results.

Techniques involved in paintless dent repair utilize metal rods and body picks to push out the dents from the underside of the vehicle body panel. Glue and specially-designed tabs may be used to pull out the dents from the outside of the panel. Finishing touches of the repair involve tapping down the repair to remove small high spots. Experienced technicians can blend high spots to match the texture of the paint, sometimes called orange peel. But if they push too hard, it may create high spots that cause the clear coat to split or crack, which of course is not a good thing. Avoiding cracking or chipping is the ultimate goal. When the damage is so high that body filler is necessary, a paintless dent technician can "push to paint," fixing most of the damage before minor filling, sanding, and painting. This will save you time and money in the long run if the dent is large.

Technicians also use fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, or in some cases a reflection board to help them visualize the deformation of the dent and aid in locating the tip of the tool used to push out the metal, reforming it to the proper height. Without a reflection from a light source or board to read the dent, the fine detail of the process may not be suitable, and the results will be less than satisfactory. Paintless dent repair requires skill and a good eye, so be sure to find a company that knows their stuff and has the experience in this technique.

Since around the 1940s, "dingmen" have been "pushing" or "massaging" dents out of vehicles. An issue arose as the tools they used could not prevent cracking or creasing of the paint, and it looked like the art may be dying. However, in the early 70s and 80s, the auto industry started making thinner, more flexible metals for panels and roofs. This was ideal for the dent repairmen of that time. Cracking paint issues resolved and the quality of paint and clear coat improved. Now, tools have also improved, and dingmen can take out larger and larger dents. You can sometimes even find mobile paintless dent repair.

The pros of paintless dent repair:

  • Same day turnaround, versus days in the body shop
  • No deductibles or insurance claims
  • Restores an original factory finish
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Repairs are gentle on your vehicle
  • Cheaper than body shop repairs
  • Repaired dents do not reappear

The cost of paintless dent repair will vary, but in general, you can estimate with these guidelines (without comprehensive insurance). Depending on the cause of the damage, such as hail, your costs will go down considerably if you are insured.

  • Dent size and depth location will determine the cost
  • Smaller, easier to reach dents will run between $35 to $45 per dent
  • Medium sized dents will go up slightly to $45- $55 per dent
  • Hard to access areas, such as roofs, jump to $60 to $65 per small dent and $75-$80 for large

Now, you could try to repair your car yourself, but the tools alone can be somewhat costly. Dentcraft Tools are probably the highest quality tools found online, but the 72-piece set alone will run you about $2000. That is much more than the cost to take it to someone who truly knows what they are doing. But if you would like to know how it is done and what type of specialized repair tools are often used to achieve the look, it may be worthwhile investigating the inside steps to how they pop out those little dents and get your car back to new again. The tools look somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle in some respect, so referring the job to a paintless dent repair shop is a good idea!

Now that you know what is paintless dent repair, the frustration of seeing the initial damage to your vehicle will certainly be an easier pill to swallow. There’s no need for a full, heavy-duty body repair at an expensive dealership or auto body repair shop. And there’s no need to go without your car for days on end. Of course, once your paintless dent repair specialist has finished bringing your car back to life, come to Steve's Detailing for a buff, polish, and wax to make your vehicle feel brand new.

 

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