Detailing your car is one of the most exciting parts of owning one. After all, it’s a way to change up your car’s look and make it different from its mass-produced brothers and sisters. However, many question whether or not it’s worth it to detail a brand new car or if you should wait until you’ve had it for a while.
You should detail a new car because although new cars have never been owned before, they can still have quite a bit of damage that a detailer will need to correct. The detailer will also apply a protective coating to protect your car from future damages.
Now I’ll get into all the reasons you should detail your new car, all the steps of the detailing process, and your options for protective coatings that you can apply after it has been detailed.
Do You Need To Detail a Brand New Car?
Detailing a brand new car is necessary if you want it to be in perfect condition with a clean slate. New cars can go through a surprising amount of abuse, from sloppy transport to inexperienced dealers, before they reach your hands.
When you purchase a new car, you expect that it’s in perfect condition. After all, you don’t want to be showing your new convertible off to your buddies just to have them point out a scratch or chip in the paint. However, that’s simply not the case, as it will have gone through some wear and tear to get to you.
Maybe when your car initially came out of the factory, it was perfect, but after going through transport and all the handling, it may have acquired some damage. Car transporters are notoriously rough with cars and during the loading and unloading process, it’s likely that some minor damage will be found in the clear coat and paint of the car.
The most common things you’ll notice in new cars are small chips or scratches in the paint that are typically acquired during transport. Oftentimes, the dealership will try to correct these issues but will only make them worse or result in a different issue like thick or rippled paint.
A common practice in most dealerships is to give your car one final polish before putting it out on the floor. This is supposed to help even out any scratches or chips that may have happened during the transportation process and during the car’s time on the sale floor. While this may help make the car look a bit better, it’s unlikely to correct the actual issue.
Unfortunately, a regular employee with little experience in detailing cars will usually do this, so it often leaves your car’s clear coat with swirls. While you may not be able to see these marks in the light of the dealership, they will become apparent in the sunlight.
When your car comes out of the dealership, contrary to common belief, it won’t have a protective coating. The factory doesn’t automatically do this, and while the dealership may try to sell you on a quick wax protective coating, this simply isn’t enough.
Take your car to a professional detailer to place a protective coating over the clear coat. It will keep your clear coat from being damaged, which protects your paint and saves you money.
Should You Polish a Brand New Car?
You should polish your brand new car to correct any scratches that may have occurred during the transport of your car. Polishing will smooth out the top layer of clear coat that may have been damaged and create a sleek, shiny surface that you can apply a protective wax to.
When your car comes out of the factory, it should have already been polished. However, after being transported and moved around a dealership, the clear coat may not be in the condition it once was.
The clear coat is a transparent layer applied on top of the paint to provide an additional layer of protection and shine. It should be fully transparent and without blemishes. If not, the blemishes will catch the light and be obvious to passersby.
I’ve already stated how important it is to apply a protective coat on top of your clear coat. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to redo your clear coat every year to maintain its appearance. However, before you do this, you’ll want to re-polish your clear coat. It will make your clear coat fresh and smooth so the protective wax can go on evenly and won’t emphasize any imperfections.
Some dealerships try to do the presale polish themselves, but they rarely use the appropriate equipment, and they don’t follow it up with a wax which simply leaves the clear coat open to being damaged again.
Polishing your car is a precise process that should only be done by professionals. You want to take off enough of the clear coat that any scratches or chips are smoothed out without cutting all the way through to the layer of paint.
To polish your car, your detailer will use a machine or hand polisher to gently grind away the clear coat’s top layer. This process helps smooth out any ridges or scratches in the clear coat. Once it’s smooth, your detailer can immediately apply a protective wax coating which will prevent any additional damage to your clear coat.
How Do You Detail a Brand New Car?
When you go to have your car detailed, it’s important to know how you should detail a brand new car so you can let your detailer know exactly what you want to be done and what you can skip over.
Here are the main steps to detailing a new car:
The first step in the detailing process is to pre-cleanse your new car using a foam wash and a pressure washer. The foam will help lift dirt and impurities away from the car’s clear coat so you can get a cleaner surface to work on for the actual contact cleanse. The last thing you want to do is make any damage to the clear coat worse by scrubbing any grit further into the clear coat.
Next, you’ll do your contact wash. Use a microfiber cloth or wash mitt for this part to avoid creating any additional scratches. Make sure you start on your tires first just in case the scrubbing flings any debris onto other parts of the car.
Then you can move on to the paint. You’ll want to have two buckets available, one with soapy water and one bucket for rinsing your sponges and clothes before placing them back onto your car.
Once you’re done cleansing your car of any physical debris, move on to the decontamination stage. The decontamination stage will help remove any chemical impurities from your clear coat and paint such as iron, tar, and any other environmental toxins.
This step is typically done chemically using two different chemicals, an iron remover, and a tar remover. To use these products, simply follow the instructions on the bottles. However, most of them involve letting the chemicals sit for some time then rinsing them off.
After the chemical decontamination, you can also do physical decontamination using a clay towel and clay lube. You’ll use the clay lube to lubricate the surface to help the clay cloth or mitt glide freely. The clay media will pull any remaining contaminants out of the clear coat and paint that the chemical decontaminants missed.
After the decontamination step has been completed, it’s time for polishing. There are two ways to polish your car, machine polishing or hand polishing. To make your polishing job as easy as possible, I recommend machine polishing. If it’s done by hand, then you’re more likely to run into issues with uneven pressure because your strength won’t be the same from every angle.
Make sure the surface is thoroughly lubricated before you begin polishing, or you could risk the polisher getting caught on the surface and creating deeper gauges. Before you begin polishing, take a flashlight or other small light and look at the surface from different angles to determine where the worst scratches are so you can focus on those areas.
Always keep the polisher moving, or you’ll risk going all the way through the clear coat and damaging the paint.
Once the polishing step has been completed, you’ll want to use a specialized paint prep solution to cleanse the surface yet again. You can also make your own solution; there are plenty of recipes online, and you’ll end up saving quite a bit of money by not purchasing a brand-name solution.
This solution will remove any debris brought up in the polishing stage and any oils that may be left over from the lubricant you used. It will also prep the surface to make the clear coat bond with it as strongly as possible. If any oils are left on the surface, it could impede the bonding of the protective coat.
This step also helps remove any previously applied protectants that the factory or dealership may have applied. If you want to get the full protection that your protective layer promises, it must be applied on a completely clean surface where any previous waxes or coating won’t interfere with the bonding. If the clear coat doesn’t bond well you’ll need to sand everything down and start again or your finish will be lumpy.
Now it’s time for the most important step to detail a car, paint protection. There are three main types of protection available for car detailing: carnauba waxes, synthetic paint sealants, and ceramic coatings.
Carnauba waxes typically last around two to three months before waxing off and are known for giving a great warm, glossy shine to the car. They’re also plant-based products and rarely contain harmful chemicals, so that’s another benefit. However, they don’t last that long and will need to be reapplied frequently.
Synthetic paint sealants last quite a bit longer than the waxes at five to six months, but they don’t give the same glossy shine. However, their durability is so good that many choose to use it anyway and apply gloss to their car using some other product, like wax.
Finally, the most popular and most high-end option is a ceramic coating. These multi-year coatings are the best possible protectant you can apply to your vehicle.
They’re also hydrophobic, meaning that water will run off them, making spot cleanings even more effective and making them more resistant to debris and other contaminants. They’re the most expensive option on this list, but their high damage resistance makes them worth the price.
The application method for each of these varies, both by type and product, so it’s important to follow the instructions that come with your selection of protectant. The most crucial step is to make sure that the protectant is being applied to a completely clean surface or you’ll have issues with bonding and won’t get the maximum effectiveness out of the product.
How Do You Protect Your New Car After It Has Been Detailed?
To protect your new car after it has been detailed, you’ll want to apply some form of protection. This can be a wax, paint sealant, or ceramic coating. Any protectant will work but will provide different levels of protection and shine. Your detailer should do this for you.
If you want to make sure your new car is in optimal condition, you’ll want to get it to a detailer as soon as possible after you purchase it. Frequently, your new vehicle will be damaged in the shipping process and when being cared for at the dealership.
By taking your car to be detailed, you can correct any small issues that have been created. This can mean getting any small chips filled in as well as applying a protectant that will protect it from any small issues in the future.