You'd think cleaning cars was simple wouldn't you?
There's a very good reason why detailing costs more than a car wash, not least because it generally takes a full day, but also because it requires the purchase and use of a plethora of varied tools and equipment, somewhere in the region of 60 of them!!! Polishers, polish, pads, wax, sealants, shampoo, water extractor, hoover, steamer, cordless drill, carpet attachments, upholstery fabric cleaner, window cleaner, APC, plus inumerable microfibre cloths, wash mitts, drying towels, brushes etc etc. (see blog post "It's all in the details" for a full breakdown)
Some cars are more challenging than others for a variety of reasons, here a few of them:
Brake dust- Renault Scenics seem to have brake dust which embeds itself to the wheels and refuses to be cleaned off. One vehicle I worked on took an hour to remove it all.
Door jambs and hatch surrounds- These can take an inordinately large amount of time, and I've even found mini wasps nests in hatch surrounds!
Tar spots- Silver cars, especially Peugeots seem to attract tar spots, and lots of them.
Animal hair- A Range Rover Vogue took an hour to hoover the boot space as the owner had carried a dog in it. After spending a further 20 minutes on the rear parcel shelf my hoover died from overheating!
Dirt and oil- It took 3 1/2 hours to clean 44 years of mud and oil from an MGB engine bay, eventually revealing the paint colour beneath it which previously couldn't be seen.
Size- Motorhomes, camper vans and LWB vans are difficult because of their height. The longest time I've ever spent on any detail was 19 hours on a motorhome!
Water spots-a friend of mine decided to take his car to the local car wash on a very hot day. It was 30C, and after using the jet wash wand on it and making it look nice and clean again, he drove it home. Nothing out of the ordinary there you'd think?, but as it was so hot, and the car wasn't dried after (as it would be in an automated wash), he had driven it home with water still on the paintwork, which had then dried into a myriad of water spots. The next day he called me asking if I could help remove them, as washing at home with a bucket of water and sponge wasn't working. It took me 4 hours of polishing to get those spots off, so be warned, don't jet wash a car if you're not going to dry it immediately afterwards.
Kitchen scourers damage paintwork!!- I had a call from a lady who used a kitchen scourer to try and clean her husbands Jaguar. The bonnet was badly scratched, her husband wasn't talking to her, and an urgent intervention was required. She's not the only one though, another lady I know has similar damage on her car.
Interior condition-These are the reallly troublesome areas, not the paint! Trying to remove spilt paint, trodden in chewing gum, mud from carpets ,and dirt and grime from uphostery and trim, can be a nightmare. Strangely every one of the 4 VW Golfs I've worked on have proven to be real challenges. The worst one took me a record 5 1/2 hours just to do its interior.
I'm not complaining, these are just observations, the more cars I work on, the more prepared I am for the worst. I'm waiting for the next thing to shock me, but there's not a lot that phases me these days!