Auto detailing adds shine, value to the life of cars.
It's like a day-spa for automobiles.
But for cars that enter a detail shop, the results are often worth than the money the client paid.
"You can usually put $1,000 or more (value) on your car and the appearance is three times better," Andy Giles, manager for the Jim Clark detailing department, said.
Giles and his crew don't charge for their services; the cars they work on end up in the Jim Clark used car lot for resale.
Giles wants his customers to get the most for their money, and the car to look as good as possible.
"It's amazing what you can do," he said.
Coffee stains, paint scratches, dust in vents and stale food odors are just a few of the things Giles finds in used vehicles.
"We try to make the car look brand new," he said. "We de-grease the motor and door jambs, shampoo the carpet, and wet-sand if we have to."
Wet-sanding involves smoothing out the paint. Detailers even can add luster to a dull paint job.
"We can use a compound and it leaves a nice glossy finish," he said.
Matt Wells, detailing manager for Laird Noller, offers car owners some advice for keeping their vehicles looking good.
"Make sure you get the bugs off the front (of the car)," he said. "When you're going down the highway at 80 miles an hour, what you're basically doing is melting bugs into your paint."
Tree sap also will damage cars, Wells said.
"It will eat into the paint," he said. "So will bird droppings."
The best defense against unsightly damage or costly repairs is to keep up with maintenance, Wells said.
"Wash your car when it's dirty," he said.
Not all car washes are the same. Wells recommends brushless car washes, unless a car owner is using a horse hair brush. Both Giles and Wells recommend waxing the car after each washing.
Automatic car washes with the brushes can damage paint finishes and leave an appearance that the car has just been brushed with steel wool, they said.
For Giles and Wells, the satisfaction is seeing a car brought back to life and ready for resale after they've spent four to eight hours cleaning it.
"It's the awesomest feeling to take an old beat-up trade-in and really make it stand tall," Wells said.
--JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.