Top 5 Common Mistakes in Car Detailing

Car detailing is more than a wash and vacuum.

It’s an art form that requires precision, the proper techniques, and high-quality products. At Könings Detailing, we’re dedicated to achieving exceptional results with every project.

What this means, exactly, can vary from one person to another. It might be bringing cars back to their glory days, intensive short-term services or more. Done correctly, it can transform your vehicle, enhancing its appearance and preserving its value. However, the process is rife with pitfalls.

From using improper techniques to choosing the wrong products, common mistakes can lead to disappointing results or even damage your prized possession. In this article, we delve into the common mistakes to avoid when car detailing, helping you navigate through the detailing process like a pro.

1.    Washing Your Car in the Sun

One of the top 5 frequent car detailing mistakes is washing your car under the blazing sun. It may seem like the perfect weather for a car wash – a warm sunny day. However, this can be detrimental to your vehicle’s finish. When you wash your car in direct sunlight, the heat causes water and soap to evaporate quickly, leading to water spots and streaks. These are not only unsightly but can also cause lasting damage to your car’s paintwork.

So, what’s the solution? Always aim to wash your vehicle in a shaded area or during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. This will allow you enough time to rinse off the soap thoroughly before it dries out. Furthermore, consider using a high-quality car wash soap designed specifically for automotive finishes. These soaps have balanced pH levels that are gentle on paint and offer superior cleaning performance.

a recently detailed car

2.    Using the Wrong Cleaning Products

Another common mistake to avoid when car detailing is reaching for household cleaning products. It’s understandable that you might think ‘soap is soap’, but using dish detergent or other harsh cleaners can strip off your car’s protective wax and degrade its paint over time.

These products are designed to remove grease and food particles, not to gently cleanse the delicate surface of your vehicle. They are too abrasive and can cause micro-scratches on the clear coat, dulling your car’s shine.

Instead, always opt for automotive-specific cleaning products. These are pH balanced and formulated to safely lift dirt and grime without damaging the paintwork. Remember to read the labels and follow the instructions carefully, as some products may need to be diluted before use.

If your car has a professional-grade ceramic coating such as NasiolNL272, it would technically be safe to use any washing liquid on your car. That’s because these coatings are designed to withstand contact with any chemicals from Ph2-12. However, we still recommend using any automotive shampoo above household cleaning products!

Furthermore, invest in a good quality microfiber wash mitt. Unlike sponges or rags, these mitts have a plush texture that traps dirt particles and prevents them from scratching the surface.

Avoiding the mistake of using inappropriate cleaning products is crucial to maintaining your car’s aesthetic appeal. After all, detailing is not just about cleanliness; it’s about preserving your vehicle’s pristine condition and longevity.

3.    Incorrect Car Washing Practises

Even with the right products, incorrect car washing practices can lead to unsatisfactory results. One of these common mistakes is using the same bucket for soap and rinsing. This practice simply redistributes dirt onto your vehicle, potentially causing scratches.

The solution? Use the two-bucket method. One bucket should contain your soapy water, while the other should be filled with clean water for rinsing your wash mitt. This way, you’re not wiping your car with dirty water, and you significantly reduce the risk of scratching.

Another frequently overlooked mistake is washing the wheels last. Brake dust and road grime from the wheels can contaminate your wash mitt and scratch your car’s paintwork. Therefore, always start with the wheels when detailing your vehicle. Use a separate bucket with a designated washing mitt and towel just for the wheels; never use the same mitt to clean the wheels and the body.

Also, remember to rinse your car thoroughly after washing. Leftover soap can leave a hazy residue on your car’s surface, diminishing its shine.

4.    Overusing Abrasives

Detailing your car isn’t just about cleaning; it’s also about maintaining its shine and gloss. However, one common car detailing mistake to avoid is the overuse of abrasive products like clay bars or polishing compounds. Clay bars should only be used for deep decontamination, something best left to the professionals and only done before machine polishing.

Polishing compounds should only ever be used in conjunction with machine polishing and aren’t designed to be used by hand. Sometimes, they can be used locally to polish blemishes, and for that, we’d recommend a polishing pad or sponge and not cloths or towels. All in all, this is better left to the professionals.

While these products are effective in removing embedded contaminants and minor scratches, they can also strip away layers of clear coat if not used correctly. Over time, this can lead to a dull and lifeless paint finish.

The key lies in using these products sparingly and only when necessary. If you’re using a clay bar, remember to keep it well-lubricated to prevent it from sticking and causing marring. For polishing compounds, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid applying too much pressure.

Also, consider using a dual-action polisher instead of hand buffing. This tool provides a safer and more consistent finish, reducing the risk of burning through the paint. Using dual-action polishing can seem tempting, but improper use without training can cause damage and more swirls and dull finishes on your paint. If in doubt, always contact a professional.

5.    Letting the Car Dry on Its Own

Once you’ve washed and polished your car to perfection, it might seem logical to let nature take its course and allow your vehicle to air dry. However, this is one of the common car detailing mistakes to avoid.

Letting water evaporate on your car’s surface can lead to water spots, which are caused by minerals left behind. These spots can be hard to remove and can spoil your car’s otherwise flawless finish.

Instead, take the time to dry your vehicle correctly after washing. Use a high-quality drying towel or a car dryer to prevent water spots and streaks. Remember to blot the water instead of wiping it to avoid scratches.

For the best results, consider using a drying aid or spray wax. These products provide additional lubrication, making the drying process more straightforward and enhancing the gloss and protection of your vehicle’s paint. We also recommend using some compressed air. There are a number of air dryers available to purchase. These are excellent to use before proceeding with final towel drying.

By avoiding the mistake of letting your car dry on its own, you’ll be rewarded with a spot-free shine that genuinely enhances your vehicle’s aesthetic appeal. After all, every step in the detailing process plays a crucial role in achieving that showroom shine.

a recently detailed bentley

Exceptional Results with Könings Detailing

Ready to avoid these common car detailing mistakes and achieve that impressive showroom shine? Start by arming yourself with the right products and techniques.

Don’t have the time or feeling overwhelmed? Consider reaching out to professional car detailers who have the expertise to give your vehicle the care it deserves.

If you use our services, we make sure to enhance the paintwork and apply durable, long-lasting paint, sealant or coating. The washing process will be effortless. Cars treated at Könings will require a straightforward washing regime as follows:

  • A good rinse with water
  • Shampoo using a single bucket (keep a separate one for the wheels)
  • Rinse again
  • Use compressed air and a quick dry towel

Thanks to our work, we guarantee you can wash the car in 15-30 minutes with minimised risk of scratches and perfect shine every time!

You’ll receive all cleaning products required for your weekly or bi-weekly cleaning. Our Könings cleaning pack includes shampoo, wheel cleaner, detailing spray, washing mitts and a drying towel.

Don’t overcomplicate your washing routine; let us do the work and just maintain the finish!

book your car in today

utilise the experience and knowledge of Könings for your vehicle detailing