Auto Detailing | Frequently Asked Questions at Auto Salon at Leschi

 

How long does the detail take ?
Our Full detailing services can take between 6 – 10 hours depending on the type, size & condition of your car. Our Premium detail or a vehicle that requires extra attention on the interior or multiple stages of polishing on the exterior may take up to a few days. A specific estimate can be provided the day of your appointment. Auto Salon at Leschi is a high quality, low volume service company. That means that we schedule only a few cars a day in order to give your vehicle the extra attention it needs to ensure our quality level of work.  In order to best accommodate all of our customers, we recommend scheduling at least a few days to one week in advance.  For more info, please click on our detail services page.

May I drop off my car the night before my scheduled appointment ?
Yes, your car is safely locked in our secure garage overnight. We prefer to wash & prep your car the night before which allows our technicians to start work on your car early the next morning and have it ready by end of day depending on condition. Drop off times are preferred anytime before 3:00 pm if possible. If not you can always schedule for a morning drop off. We open at 8:00 am.

Do you provide shuttle service?
Yes, we provide a free shuttle service within 5 miles.

Is there an extra charge for SUVs , Vans, Exotic and Classic cars?
Prices are higher due to the extra work and attention required for these vehicles. A specific estimate will be provided upon inspection of your car the day of your appointment.

Gift Certificates ?
Gift certificates may be purchased for any service or dollar amount of your choice.

What is the difference between paint correction, polishing and buffing?
Paint Correction is a professional term for polishing. They both are similar except for paint correction covers all areas above and beyond general degradation. This includes removal of all imperfections including deep scratches, swirl marks, oxidation, hologramming, etching, paint overspray, run lines, orange peel, and most surface damage. Many of these issues can be resolved using advanced wet sanding and polishing techniques.

Buffing is a generic term often confused with paint correction or polishing. When we as professionals hear the term buffing, to us it means just a quick shine by hand or any average machine with usually an abrasive wool pad, high grit compound, fill in glaze, silicone or wax. Not a good combination. This highly unskilled approach to try and improve a vehicles finish is usually performed in a home garage or low quality establishment and the results are always worse than before they began.

Unlike buffing, not just anyone can execute paint correction. This technique is a labor intensive process and must be performed by a master technician that has several years of experience. There are also certain products that must be used to achieve paint correction. These high quality polishing products are developed using Nanotechnology and contain super micro abrasives. They are carefully selected and imported from around the world. Each of these fine products are used for different levels of paint correction and the technician must be familiar with how to use each product individually. The art of safe, modern and proper polishing techniques is what separates the true professional detailer from all the rest and is a skill set that is mastered by very few.

What is the difference between removing and filling scratches and swirls in your paintwork?

The difference between removing and filling defects in your paintwork is the difference between eliminating a problem and hiding it. Filling defects is a temporary solution that hides the scratches and must be repeated often to maintain the appearance of corrected paint. Scratches and swirls are filled by using low quality products like glazes and filler waxes. These products contain oils in them which fill the scratches and hide them for a short period of time.

When the glaze of filler wax is washed away the scratches and swirls will re-appear. Unfortunately glazes and filler waxes are often used unscrupulously to make a vehicles paint appear in better condition than it is. Most of these products are still used for cost efficiency at your local car dealerships or high volume auto detailing facilities. Before you choose a detail shop make sure they use quality products like Menzerna, Meguiars or 3m and provide permanent paint correction services.

What is the difference between hard and soft paint?

There are three primary factors that affect how difficult it will be to remove defects in your vehicles paintwork.

Paint workability – The hardness or softness of the paint. The only way to know if your paint is hard or soft or how workable is to try a spot on your vehicles paintwork. Some may also know from experience. For example a professional auto detailing facility or one who is an expert in paint correction.

Hard paint can be very difficult to polish and very time consuming. It can take up to 8 hours to a few days to correct hard paint depending on the size and condition of your vehicle. This includes prepping, decontamination, masking, paint correction and applying wax or sealant. Any reputable auto detailing facility should offer several stages of polishing. Be prepared to pay extra if your paint is hard and has many imperfections (scratches and swirl marks) as it can take up to a few hours just to polish your vehicle one time.

Soft paint typically is a bit easier to polish but can still require extra stages of polishing time depending on the severity of the imperfections. Hard or soft once your paint has been corrected it must be washed and maintained properly in order to minimize scratching and swirling the clear coat.

One who has personally polished thousands of vehicles would know from experience that manufacturers like Audi, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes typically have hard  paint and Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus (most Japanese manufactures) have soft paints. Porsche tends to be sort of in the middle of the two categories.  As for American manufacturers they’re all across the board from hard to soft and can vary from factory to factory even when dealing with the same vehicle.

There are many variables when it comes to hard and soft paint. The manufacturers can change their paint from year to year, so just because a certain paint code from one manufacturer is really soft for several years, it doesn’t mean that ALL years of that exact paint code will be that way. These are merely guidelines and there are many exceptions which is why a thorough test section on each vehicle needs to be performed to determine just how hard or soft a paint is and to establish your proper combination or process for paint correction.

If you first try a light polish/pad combination and it barely makes a difference at all, then you know it’s a hard paint and you need to work your way up in terms of aggressive combinations to find out what’s going to give you the best cut and finish. Once again there are many variables and it becomes a scientific testing procedure to determine what combination of machine, backing plate, pad, polish and technique is going to work best.

Depth of the defects you’re trying to remove – The deeper the defects the more clear coat  you’ll need to remove in order to remove the defects. If to much clear coat is removed the paint can be damaged. Most professional auto detailers know how much clear coat is safe to remove. Some use a paint thickness gauge, which provides vital information about the overall thickness of the paint and provides clues about how much clear is left.

Before the 1980’s when there was only single stage paint available, one would have to remove a certain amount of the existing paint to remove defects. Older single stage paints tended to be very easy to work on, that’s why for decades just about anyone at any skill level could grab some rubbing compound and apply it to a scratch in the paint, work the product, wipe the residue off, apply some wax and the paint would look pretty good. Try that today on a modern clear coat or two stage paint and all you’ll do is scratch and scour the surface.

Single stage paint also required much more maintenance and eventually the paint would wear off and the vehicle would need a new paint job. Today two stage paint can last the lifetime of the vehicle but in order to keep it looking nice it must be polished and protected (waxed or sealant applied). If not maintained properly the clear coat will over time deteriorate and start to peel off and will then also require a new paint job.

Your skill level – Each and every vehicles paintwork is different. Good or poor condition, hard or soft paint, oxidized, imperfections, severely scratched clear coat. The list goes on and on.  One must know that there are many variables and guidelines one must learn before attempting to perform paint correction on hard or soft paint otherwise your paintwork could end up far worse than before you began. Paint correction is a labor intensive process that requires extensive knowledge and experience and must be performed by a master auto detailing technician.

Why have my vehicle detailed during the winter or when its raining? It’s just going to get dirty.

Contrary to some belief, winter is a very important time to have your vehicle detailed. We all know it’s nice to enjoy your shiny paint, wheels, and glass when the sun is out without contaminants on their surfaces. Some of these contaminants include but are not limited to mud, road tar, grit, grim, salt, acid rain and industrial fallout. When these surfaces are protected with wax or sealant most of the contaminants are repelled away from these surfaces. Any contaminants that are not repelled away are actually sticking to the wax or sealant, not the paint surface therefore can be removed much easier than if your vehicle is not protected.

A vehicle without a fresh coat of wax or sealant is exposed to the brutality of the elements. Exposure to adverse conditions can doom your precious paint to oxidation, scratches, swirl marks and corrosion.

By the time summer rolls around your vehicle’s paintwork is in bad shape. Your detailer will have to spend more time cleaning and polishing your vehicle. Its definitely more cost effective to maintain your exterior throughout the year plus you get the luxury of always having a clean car.

In order to maintain your vehicle’s finish properly we recommend having your paintwork polished and protected with wax or sealant at least once a year with regular maintenance.

It’s also very important to keep the interior of your vehicle clean all year.  The contaminants from the road can easily get inside and stain your carpets, seats and upholstery. The interior of your vehicle can also create health issues from microorganisms and surface contamination. Over time food particles, dust mites, fungus and bacteria will grow inside your vehicle causing you and your family to get sick. We have had some mini vans in our shop that actually contained the bacteria level of an entire daycare center. Just like your vehicle’s exterior. It’s all about cleaning, anti-bacterial protection and maintenance. Check out our Drivepur video on our Drivepur Odor Removal page.

Our vehicle has never been professionally detailed and we are selling it. Can you make it look new again?

We hear this quite often. While having your vehicle detailed just once in its life time right before you sell it will help its first impression on a potential buyer, most likely by this time your vehicle has deteriorated, interior soiled, exterior paint oxidized, and the clear coat damaged.

We can however remove some of the stains inside and polish out most of the oxidation on the exterior paint, but unfortunately your vehicle will never look as nice as if it had received detailing and maintenance in the past. This means you’ll probably get much less than you’re asking for. If the clear coat is damaged or peeling off then the vehicle would have to be repainted. A high quality paint job can cost several thousand dollars as oppose to a few hundred a year to properly maintain your vehicles factory finish.

Not only does having your vehicle detailed hold its value throughout its lifetime, but it also provides a more enjoyable driving experience. A clean vehicle can portray self confidence and a high level of professionalism. It is simply one of the most important maintenance services for your vehicle.

What is the difference between our ultra high quality detailing services and a $200.00 detail other shops offer?

Auto Salon at Leschi spends an extraordinary amount of time on each vehicle that comes through our shop, training our technicians and pursuing the most top of the line products from around the world.

The rates at which Auto Salon at Leschi and other high quality shops charge are comparable, but the lower price tag found elsewhere translates to less time concentrated on your vehicle and generic, cost effective products being used. The end result is a non-professional, low quality detail most people could do themselves at home.

If a shop only charges a couple hundred dollars to detail a car they are most likely taking a few short cuts and are not cleaning every square inch of the vehicle. In a business that literally focuses on the details, this is unacceptable and certainly not up to the Auto Salon at Leschi standard and as they say you get what you pay for.

Here at ASL we do not just clean on the top of surfaces, but underneath them removing (front and rear seats if needed), center consoles, cup holders, carpets, license plates, spare tires, plastic engine covers & cowlings.  We clean places in your vehicle that you would never think to clean and that your average detailer’s tend to overlook. Our interior reconditioning services go far beyond clean with our Drivepur anti-bacterial system coating for contact surfaces such as door handles, steering wheels, gear knobs, radio knobs, etc.

We are unique in that we cater to those who use their vehicle for transportation and those who are avid auto enthusiasts. No matter what you drive when you pick up your vehicle from our shop you will feel like you just left the showroom floor. Guaranteed!

We offer a full array of interior, exterior and restorative services for all budgets. We will be happy to look at your vehicle and suggest one of our services that will work for you. You can be assured that you will always get what you pay for when you bring your car here to ASL.

My vehicle is new. Does it need to be detailed?

We frequently receive phone calls from customers who have recently purchased a new vehicle. When asked what detail service they would like, they often reply “well, it’s a brand new car so it doesn’t need much”. Unfortunately that statement often proves to be a bit off base.

Just because your vehicle is new doesn’t necessarily mean the paint finish is flawless. Often times when a vehicle leaves the factory there are many paint imperfections that are missed by quality control personnel. Some of these imperfections are dirt specks, run lines, wet sanding marks, pig tails from a D/A sander, and hologramming from improper polishing techniques.

If the vehicle is shipped from out of state or travels by train it can be subject to many contaminants along the way with no protection. Then when it arrives at the car dealership many times the vehicle is washed improperly by inexperienced lot attendants causing scratches and swirl marks. Ideally before you take delivery ask them not to wash your vehicle.

Here is how our New Car Detailing service works. Just schedule an appointment for an exterior wash. First we will gently wash your vehicle, then we will put it under our lights and start our quality control inspection.

If we find any paint imperfections we will give you an onsite estimate for our paint correction service. If not then you will be on your way with our maintenance recommendation for your vehicle.

We also offer new car protection services at a fraction of what the dealers charge and the protection products we offer are much higher quality compared to the products used by the dealer. Often times dealerships will offer a “lifetime paint sealant” and say if you purchase this you will never have to wax your car again.

These so called lifetime sealant packages are usually accompanied by warranties, unfortunately most consumers don’t realize that these warranties require you to have the sealant re-applied every six months to a year along with gentle maintenance washes by hand and prohibit you from polishing or waxing your vehicle.

Because customers rarely, if ever, return to have the sealant re-applied or their vehicle washed by hand this is easy money for the dealers. We have customers come in our establishment frequently and say “but I purchased a lifetime sealant from the car dealership, why does my paint look so bad?”

This is because they are often left with the false expectation that a “paint protection program” will mitigate paint damage from (scratches, swirls, bird droppings, tree sap, acid rain and washing your car abrasively using a (brush or automatic car wash tunnels) in some way and this is simply not true.

This idea of a paint sealant or coating that will protect your vehicles paintwork forever is a great one and we wish it were true, but unfortunately there is no such product on the market.

However there are some paint sealants and coatings available that will last well over one year with our regular maintenance washes. We import our paint sealants and coatings from the U.K. and most are German made. These are the finest paint protection products available.

We know your proud of your new car. Protect your investment with our sealants for exterior paint, wheels, leather, fabric guard, and rain repellant coatings.

What is the difference between carnauba waxes, synthetic polymer paint sealants and ceramic glass coatings?

Carnauba wax is produced by the brazilian tree of life. This wax is preferred by car collectors and concours enthusiasts because of its rich, warm glow. It transforms the paint into a deep, liquid pool that shimmers under changing light conditions.

A carnauba based wax will protect your vehicle from UV rays, heat, moisture, oxidation and environmental contamination. An application of carnauba wax usually lasts from 6 to 8 weeks. If your paintwork is corrected first expect even more durability.

Synthetic paint sealants are kind of the anti-carnauba. They are more durable, easy to apply and there is nothing natural about them. Synthetic paint sealants are made of polymers, which are composed of tens thousands of synthetic particles that are linked together. When a synthetic polymer sealant bonds to your vehicle’s paint, it forms a rigid shell. They are glossy and slick, but do not have the warmth and depth of a carnauba wax. Synthetic polymer paint sealants will last from 4 to 6 months.

However, a growing number of enthusiasts simply refuse to choose. Instead they coat their vehicles with a layer of synthetic polymer sealant for long lasting protection and then top it off with a layer of carnauba for a dazzling shine, commonly referred to as “stacking”.

Ceramic Glass Coatings were developed using Nanotechnology. These advanced coatings are technically man made ceramic and glass nanoparticles.  They do not just adhere to the vehicles surface, but rather become a part of the surface themselves. These coatings also enhance the appearance of automotive paint on a timescale of years rather than months. The process involves using a wet sol-gel to lay down a self organising microfilm of Silcia and other nano-scale components that chemically bond to painted sufaces on a molecular level.

This invisible glass-like coating not only provides excellent protection against all invironmental contaminants but will make washing and drying your vehicle much easier. Your wash mitt will glide across your paint surface like never before and drying is near effort-less due to the Hydrophobic properties of these coatings.

Please note that both carnauba waxes and paint sealants are meant for protection only. In order for these products to be effective your paintwork must be corrected first.

Remember only when your paintwork is polished will it achieve a true shine. Carnauba waxes and paint sealants will then enhance that shine and protect your corrected paintwork.

 

What is a clay bar and how can I tell if my vehicle needs clay bar treatment?

As you drive your vehicle down the road there are many contaminants that attach to your paint surface. You can tell by running your hand across your hood or the lower part of the vehicle behind the front tire. If it feels gritty like sand paper then your vehicle is in need of clay bar treatment.

A clay bar is a flexible putty like substance used along with a lubricant like soap and water or detail spray to remove microscopic contaminants from your paintwork making it extremely smooth in preparation for polishing and waxing.

Because these contaminants cannot be removed by just washing your vehicle it will never technically be clean until it receives clay bar treatment.

Clay bar treatment is the first step in our paint correction process and is the most effective way to remove road contaminants. Using a clay bar can be somewhat abrasive therefore we always recommend having us correct your paintwork afterwords.

Are automatic car washes detrimental to my vehicles paint finish?

All automatic car washes are abrasive and will eventually scratch and swirl your vehicles paint finish. Automatic car wash facilities spray harsh chemicals on your vehicle removing wax or any protection you may have on your vehicles paint surface. They are also known for scratching, etching and swirling your paintwork or clear coat, damaging exterior parts along with rubber moldings, license plates and antennas. We would never recommend taking your vehicle through an automatic wash tunnel.

Unlike an automatic car wash, at Auto Salon at Leschi each and every hand wash or detail service we provide is tailored to suit your vehicles make and model. After our paint correction process we can maintain your vehicle’s paint finish all year round with our unique scratch and swirl free wash process.  This is the only way to keep a perfect finish.

After we are finished correcting our customers paintwork some decide to go through the automatic car wash out of convenience and come back here once or twice per year to have it corrected again. Some have their vehicle washed here exclusively.

What is a cabin air filter and when should you replace it?

The cabin air filter, a feature found on most late – model vehicles, cleans the air that comes into the interior through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It catches dust, pollen and other airborn material that can make your breathing unpleasant, particularly if you have allergies or other respiratory problems.

Recommendations on when it should be replaced vary by manufacturer – some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, other longer – and how often can depend on how much you drive and where. Check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. If you drive in heavy traffic in an urban area that has poor air quality, you may need to replace the filter annually or even more often. However, that also could be true in a desert climate where there is a lot of dust.

Some signs that you need a new cabin air filter are reduced air flow through your HVAC system, such as when you crank up the fan too high you get more noise than results. Another is persistent bad odors. Even if you don’t have these warnings, you should have the filter replaced at least once a year. We offer cabin air filter replacement here and usually replace them during our interior detailing and Drivepur bacteria and odor removal services.

What should I do to prepare my vehicle before I bring it in for service?

Please make sure you have plenty of gas. If you car is electric please charge it fully before you drop it off. We use the heater and air conditioning system of your vehicle to dry the carpets after shampooing them and the engine must be running.

We also use this method to run our Drivepur bacteria and odor removal system. This product cleanses your ventilation system from bacteria and the engine must be running as well to be effective.

It is recommended to remove your personal items from inside your vehicle. This will save us time and it is less unlikely that your items will be lost during our cleaning process. If you need your toddlers car seats cleaned just leave them in the car. We can remove them but do not re-install because of liability reasons.

Don’t worry so much about removing items from your glove box or center console. We remove those items for you to clean inside compartments then put everything back in immediately.

If you do not have time to remove all personal items we understand. In that case we put everything in a storage bin while cleaning your interior then put items back inside your car. However we typically charge more for this as it does take extra time.

Why should I have my engine compartment and door jambs cleaned? 

There are a few reasons why cleaning your engine compartment and door jambs are important. One is for preventative maintenance. Often times your engine compartment, cowling, sunroof and all other door jambs accumulate debris like leaves, pine needles and dirt causing the drain holes to clog. This makes it more likely that your vehicle may develop a water leak over time.

Another very important reason to have your engine compartment cleaned and maintained regularly is the fact that rodents like to live inside your vehicle especially during the cold winter season. Rats and mice have been known to crawl inside your engine compartment from underneath the car and build nests, chew on wire bundles, fan belts, insulation and defecate inside. This may cause a really bad smell coming through your vents when heater or air is turned on.

If you notice any of this happening to your car we recommend calling us to schedule an engine bay cleaning and rodent removal immediately before they do more damage to your car.

We will first remove your engine compartment cowling to clean debris and remove any rodents or rodent remnants we may find. Then clean entire engine compartment. Then we can recondition your interior and run our Drivepur bacteria and odor removal system which will cleanse your ventilation system and interior killing any viruses left behind by said rodent.  Changing your cabin air filter is also highly recommended during this process.

You may also have an oil leak and if your engine is cleaned it will make it easier for your mechanic to find and repair the first time. Engine oil attracts dust that will clog your air filter over time making it hard for your engine to breath. A clean engine is a better running engine.

Engine and door jamb cleaning is just one part of a professional detailer’s process of what we call prepping a car.  We know the proper steps to take to make sure your engine is safe while in this cleaning process.  If we were to just wash or detail your car without cleaning the engine compartment or door jambs to us it would defeat the purpose. We consider auto detailing an art form and to us it has a lot to do with aesthetics.

After you have your car detailed by us your engine compartment and door jambs will last for about one year so there is no need to go through this process every time you visit us as our maintenance services include moderate touch up cleaning of these areas.

We just purchased a used car. Should we get it professionally detailed? How will it benefit us? 

Buying a used car can be quite a task. First you need to do a lot of research to find out which car is best for you and your family. Then you need to decide if your going to buy from a dealer or private party.

Once you have found the car you like then you must get it inspected by a certified mechanic. Then if every thing checks out you finally make the purchase.

But wait a minute you were so exited about getting a used car (new to you) that you may have not realized it doesn’t really look or smell that great.  It may be that the car has been taking care of mechanically but not aesthetically.

When you buy a used car the germ package comes free. No charge. The remnants of other people using it stay inside the vehicles interior. We know this is quite disturbing but the fact is that the bacteria levels found inside used cars can contain 10 times more germs than a public toilet seat or an entire daycare center.

No worries. We can help. We offer amazing interior reconditioning services that include deep cleaning underneath surfaces with the option of adding our Drivepur Bacteria and Odor Removal System. Your cabin air filter should also be changed at this time.

When you arrive to pick your car up from us the interior will feel like a newer car. Not so used anymore. More importantly it will be safe for you and your family to enjoy.  Think of it as a new beginning. Almost like your interior has been baptized, purified or cleansed spiritually.

As far as the exterior goes we offer Paint Correction service which basically means removing light scratches and swirl marks in your clear coat (paint) and then protecting with carnuaba wax or paint sealant. This process with make the outside of your car look new as well. Just give us a call or stop by to make an appointment. We will take care of the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location and Hours
We’re Located at:
Auto Salon at Leschi
1922 – 23rd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144

Our hours are:
Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm
Saturday by appt only
Sunday closed

Comments are closed.