15 Nov Carwash and Auto Detailing – What’s the Difference?

The Difference Between a Carwash and an Auto Detail

A call comes into the KC Detailing shop. “Thank you for calling KC Detailing. This is Tim, how may I help you?”

The caller, with an excited voice quickly responds, “I live in Overland Park, KS and I’m interested in a auto detail.”

Tim replies, “Sounds great! What kind of car do you have and what package are you interested in?” “Well, I have a 3-series BMW and I want the full deal. Inside, outside, wax, shampoo… the whole 9-yards!” “Great! If you want the six month wax you will be looking at $325 and we will throw a free leather conditioning in for you.”

“WHAT!!! YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS! I used to have a guy come by and detail my car for $90 and he did a great job. He went out of business though. Shoot, the local car wash will clean the inside, outside and wax the car for $50. How complicated can an auto detail be? Wash the car, wipe down the dash, vacuum, and put some tire shine on the wheels!”

“Well sir, there is a reason why a BMW costs more than a Kia.”

Without letting Tim finish his sentence, the man hangs up.

Melody asks Tim, “Who was that?” With a discontented face, Tim replies “Another person who will be calling us in a month to have us take all of the swirls out of his car.”

Melody laughs a little bit and says “Another guy who wants a $90 dollar auto Detail for his $50,000 car?” “Yep.”

As odd as it may seem that someone would take their $50,000 BMW to a $90 auto detailer or to the local automatic car wash, this kind of call is part of the daily routine for the crew at KC Detailing. Most people think “What is the big deal? Everyone in the neighborhood brings their car to the local car wash.”

Tim Dodd, the owner of KC Detailing, explains the difference between car detailing and car washing.

Recently, we had a customer who brought us his 2008 5-series BMW. It was a beautiful blueish black color. Amazing car. He had just purchased it but was pained because it was covered in automatic car wash scratches. The gentleman quickly called a local auto detailer in Overland Park, KS. The detailer charged him $150 and was done in three hours. The car looked great but within a few weeks, the wax wore off and the damage reappeared.

Not only did the previous scratches reappear but now there was new damage caused by the previous auto detailer’s buffer. Shortly after that, the BMW owner found us on the internet and called us. He thoroughly looked through the website and was impressed but still a little hesitant because of his recent experience with the local car detailing shop.

Desperate, he called us and we were able to stop by his location within a few hours of the call to inspect the damage. It was bad. The former auto detailer might as well have written his name on the hood with his buffer. After inspection, we quoted him $900 to remove 90% of the damage or $1200 to remove 100%. We explained that bringing the car’s paint to 90% will make the car look a whole lot better than when the car first rolled out of the dealership. Our customer quickly had us out to fix his paint. After a twelve hour day of work, the car looked better then new. With a smile on his face, the client said “Now that is the way a black car should look. I don’t even want to drive it now. LOL” The sad thing is, a lot of the prior damage was probably caused by the auto dealership’s car wash and detailers. Even Ferraris come out of the dealerships needing a significant amount of buffing and polishing.

With the vast number of car washes and car detailers in the Kansas City area, there are probably under ten people who could actually be called professional detailers. That is ten people not ten shops. Tim explains “We have connected with a lot of automotive paint shops and auto detailing shops in the Kansas City area. Without exaggeration, there has not been one shop that knew how detail on a truly professional level. Not one. Though we do know of a few individuals who do”

Luckily, there are guys out there like Paul Dalton in the UK, DJ Mayo, Todd Cooperider in Ohio, and KC Detailing in Overland Park, KS who really know what they are doing. Though few and far between, there is a network of top-notch detailers that are working together to change peoples understanding of a car detail. In conversation with Tim, Todd Cooperider said, “I just had a guy out to inspect my A/C and swap out the filter at my house. The guy charged a competitive $130 for the work. It took him twenty minutes Tim. People want us to spend twenty hours on their $100,000 cars for $130. Where is the disconnect? We need to show people that $1000 plus details should be a normal thing to do if you have a nice car.” After spending time with the crew at KC Detailing, I know understand that most auto detailers are nothing more than glorified car washers. Though formally in ignorance, I now realize that todays $20 car wash and $150 buffing job becomes tomorrows $1200 repair. Recently I spotted a Bentley at the local gas station car wash. As one of the kid was drying off the car, he dropped the drying towel on the ground, quickly picked it up and continued drying the car. It was now clear to me that there is a major difference between a car wash, a $90 detailer, and a truly professional detailer. Though I only have a $15,000 Acura, never again will I trust my car in the hands of amateurs. KC Detailing’s slogan is “Delivering The Details” and the do just that.