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Detailing 101 with Supreme Detailing

Insider Information To Know When Having Your Eight-Lug Truck Detailed

Dr Whaba
Aug 1, 2009
Photographers: Dr Whaba
So your truck is looking a little rough around the edges, and you want it to look better. What to do? You could wash it, and maybe wax it, but really that truck needs lots more to look great. Maybe now is the time to have your truck professionally detailed. But what does having your truck "detailed" really mean? How will you know the detailer knows their stuff and the job will be the best it can be? To get some answers on detailing, we followed along as a truck and enclosed trailer were detailed by Supreme Detailing, a Michigan-based detailing shop with more than 35 years of experience.
Photo 2/36   |   detailing On A Ford F250 gas Pump
The Details
The first thing we learned was what a detailer can do and not do. When you first meet with a prospective detailer, they should walk around your vehicle and identify areas they can improve, and other areas they can't improve. Some examples of what they can improve include painted surfaces with rubber or other gunk stuck to it, dulled paint, or aluminum that is dull. In general, the goal of detailing is to make the vehicle look as good as it can and improve the longevity of the vehicle.
Areas a detailer can't improve on a vehicle include dented surfaces, rusted metal, broken plastic or fiberglass components, and chips in the paint. Some detailers will apply touch-up paint to small chips in the paint if it is provided by the customer, but most will not.
What a Detailer Does
A common process followed when detailing a vehicle is to start with the exterior, then move to the interior of the vehicle once the wet work is done. To do that, the heavily soiled areas of a vehicle are first sprayed with a pre-soak cleaner-then these areas are lightly scrubbed before being rinsed off. The vehicle is then washed with a soapy water-soaked wool mitten-starting from the roof and working down to the rocker panels and wheels/tires. While still sud-soaked, most detailers will start the paint rejuvenating work at this point by rubbing the painted surfaces with a light abrasive to remove any material embedded in the paint (often done with an abrasive sponge and/or a clay bar). This step is to remove any foreign material stuck in the surface of the paint.
Photo 3/36   |   A detailed truck has a level of sparkle to it that really makes it look great. This truck gets a lot of hard use but needs to look good while doing it-which is why once a year it goes in for a thorough detailing at Supreme Detailing in Canton, Michigan, as part of its regular maintenance schedule.
The vehicle is then rinsed off, dried, and any remaining goo or other foreign material removed by rubbing it off with a rag soaked in bug remover or lacquer thinner. The entire surface is then brought to a shine by the careful use of a buffing wheel spinning on a coat of mild liquid abrasive. The painted surfaces are then sealed with a quality liquid wax to protect the newfound luster and shine.
A detailing job often includes cleaning the interior and then covering many of the interior and exterior surfaces with the appropriate protectant (as a rule, interior products are meant to be used inside the vehicle and tire shine products are intended for use on the outside of the vehicle).
In general, as the Supreme Detailing team often reinforced to us, a good detailer always performs the same process on every vehicle. This way, they can refine their process and the chemicals and tools they use in that process-and each job makes them better at their craft. So if you ask your detailer what they are going to do and they are not sure, then they probably aren't as good as they could be at their craft.
Another aspect to consider is which chemicals are being used by the detailer to clean and protect the vehicle. There are many levels of these chemicals: from brand-name to lowest cost. Some customers judge the detailer by which chemicals they use. For instance, the 3M or Meguiar's brands are considered bellwether companies in the detailing world. They are known as premium product that consistently performs. Often, a high-end detailing shop will prominently display that it exclusively uses 3M or Meguiar's products. In asking the Supreme Detailing crew about their product mix, they said they use these premium materials where no other substitute has been found to work as well. They use other, lower-priced products when they find other products that have produced just as good (or better) results-savings they pass on to their customers. Maybe the best way to look at this decision point is to check out other vehicles when they come out of the detailer you are considering, because that is really what you are going to pay for.
After the Detailing
Once you get your vehicle detailed, there are a few tips to follow to keep that like-new shine going for as long as possible. While getting the vehicle washed on a regular basis is a good idea, even more important is applying wax on a regular basis. While the Supreme Detailing team recommends customers apply a high-quality wax to their detailed vehicle every few months, they also tell them if there isn't time to do this wax in the driveway, getting the spray-on wax at the drive-thru car wash is better than no waxing at all.
Why does my paint look rusty?
All automotive paint today is affected by small, hot, metal particles that come off brake pads while a vehicle is being used. These little bits of metal actually imbed themselves in the clearcoat of the paint on your vehicle! The truck shown here looked good when washed, but if you rubbed your hand across the paint, it felt crunchy. This is where a good detailer comes in: once Supreme Detailing had used a clay bar on the painted surfaces, the paint was silky smooth-and looked a ton better, too. It's best to get these particles professionally removed from your paint on a regular basis or they will start to rust and make your paint look and feel terrible. Professional detailers, like Supreme Detailing, are very familiar with this problem and do their best every day to educate their customers about why a "wash and wax" will not maximize the life of their paint job.
The paint needs to be thoroughly washed, then every inch rubbed with the abrasive clay bar to remove these metal particles. The shine of the paint is then refreshed with a thorough buffing and waxing. And yes, this sounds like a lot of physical, time-consuming work, because it is. The $200 Supreme Detailing charges for detailing (add more for a black or white vehicle, as they require even more buffing and polishing to look good) is a downright deal once you have seen how hard these folks work for it.
Trailer Detailing
We have all seen it: an enclosed trailer with a grayish goo leaching down its sides. Soap and a scrub brush won't dent the scourge, and it just continues to look worse and worse over time. Well, you are about to learn how to get that yucky enclosed trailer looking good again, and how to keep it that way.
Product Profile: Supreme Detailing


Supreme Detailing
Canton, MI 48187