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Detail Academy

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Understanding Timeframes: How Long Does It Take to Detail a Car?

When it comes to auto detailing, one of the most common questions customers ask is, "How long will it take?" Understanding the intricacies of the process and the variables involved can shed light on this query.

Interior Detailing Time Estimates: Detailing a car's interior involves several crucial steps:

  1. Vacuuming: On average, this takes around 45 minutes, but heavy dirt or pet hair might extend this to 60-90 minutes. 
    • Our vacuuming step typically includes using a drill brush and/or air compressor tools to help loosen embedded dirt in the carpet, upholstery, and seats. 
  2. Stain Removal: Addressing specific stains may add another 30-45 minutes, depending on the severity. 
    • Stains can be as simple as a spot treatment with the appropriate chemical and a microfiber towel, or require a steam/extraction to remove properly. 
  3. Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning: A standard cleaning might take 30-45 minutes, more for deeply soiled areas. 
    • The goal with upholstery is to remove embedded spills that have worked below the carpet surface so that after the cleaning is complete they don't work themselves back out. Often if extraction is not done properly you will only get the top level out but the odor remains and will only temporarily be masked. We ensure that we penetrate to the base and remove and remnants.
  4. Dashboard and Interior Surfaces: Expect around 15-20 minutes for cleaning and conditioning. 
    • This time table is for a maintenance style interior clean where the goal is to remove light oil and dust and add protection. 
    • Most often our customers have not had a chance to even maintain their own vehicles interior and that is why they call us. Our interior surface cleaning is comprehensive and includes multiple steps.
      • Blow out
      • Steam or Deep Chemical Cleaning
      • Final Blow Out
      • Surface Protection Application
  5. Additional Factors 
    • Pet Hair-Not all pet hair is the same, and depending on the type of carpet in your vehicle this can take quite awhile to remove properly. Pet hair can get threaded between the carpet fibers especially if your pet has shorter hair (less then 2" inches").
    • Unidentified Spills and Stains-These don't always come out with our first chemical application and can require some further investigation and work to remove. Remember, we use the least aggressive method so we are careful to not just blast areas of concern with chemicals that may damage or discolor the area. 

Exterior Detailing Time Estimates: The exterior detailing process entails various essential stages:

  1. Pre-Wash and Rinse: Approximately 45-60 minutes.
  2. Wash and Decontamination: Plan for 30-45 minutes, longer for heavily contaminated vehicles.
  3. Bug Removal: Around 10-15 minutes if required.
  4. Wheel and Tire Cleaning: Allow 15-30 minutes.
  5. Polishing and Waxing: Depending on the vehicle's condition, estimate 1-2 hours for moderate work. When we get into "Paint Correction" the time can vary considerably depending on the paints condition and the desired results. 
  6. Final Touch-ups: Allocate 15-30 minutes for trim, glass, and additional detailing.

Variable Consideration: Extensive paint correction or dealing with severe scratches may significantly increase the time needed for exterior detailing.

Conclusion: Understanding the timeframes for car detailing involves considering the intricacies of each step and the variables that impact the overall duration. Customers should factor in the condition of their vehicle when estimating the time required for a thorough detailing service.

Our goal with sharing this information is to help customers better understand the difference between a "Auto Detail" price structure and a basic wash and wax and why we don't offer these types of services. 

What we do offer however, is customer education! We want you to be able to maintain results for weeks and months after we have completed our detailing services on your vehicle. This can be through at home methods, or ways you can utilize self serve detailing locations to get your vehicle back on track in 30-60 minutes. 

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