Exterior Detail

At Next Level Auto Detail, I offer many services when it comes to cleaning, correcting, and protecting your car’s exterior. This page is meant to inform my customers exactly what each service is and how it’s done so we are on the same page.

All my exterior washes start with a gentle hand wash to remove all dirt and debris. This is important because any left over dirt/grime left on the paint can scratch or damage the finish during the waxing/sealing process. For those stubborn contaminants, I offer IronX and clay bar treatments. IronX is a specialized product that removes iron particles from the paint. These particles come from the brakes and other metal sources and embed into the clear coat. IronX reacts with those particles, dissolving them out of the clear coat. The next step would be to clay bar the paint to remove any remaining dirt, bug residue, tar, etc from the paint. At this point, the paint is a clean canvas ready for a fresh coat of wax or sealant. For some customers that want a perfect finish, I also offer compounding and polishing.

Compounding and Polishing are two interchangeable terms in the detail industry. There are some slight differences however and I will provide my definition of what they are:

Compoundingis the process of removing imperfections, swirl marks, and light scratches from the paint surface. Think of heavy grit sandpaper grinding down splinters, knots, and bumps in a piece of wood. This is done with a specialized pad on a dual action polisher. Combined with the right compounding liquid, these pads can remove most minor imperfections in the paint.

Polishingis the refining process. This is the fine sandpaper that finishes that piece of wood to make it perfectly smooth. Like compounding, it is done with a dual action polisher and a specialized pad, utilizing a polishing liquid. This creates the glossy wet look that so many car owners covet.

Based on these two definitions, one can see that they both go hand in hand. Due to the harsh nature of compounding, polishing has to follow to finish the job. For some very minimal imperfections, simply polishing can remove them skipping compounding altogether. It is important to realize that every time compounding is performed on paint, PAINT IS BEING REMOVED. This is why good detailers will always tackle a job with the least invasive method first. If the defect is not removed, a more direct method can be used until the defect is removed. When compounding and polishing is done the right way, the results will speak for themselves.

For a final coat, there are many different products and methods I use. For a simple application on my basic wash package, I use spray wax. This synthetic polymer will give a great shine and last for a couple weeks. For a better protection and deeper, longer lasting shine, I use an All In One sealant. This product is applied with a dual action polisher and will clean and minimally correct the paint as it is applied. This is a great option for most cars that don’t quite need compounding but could use a little extra love. For long lasting protection and shine, paint sealants can be applied.

Some additional services I offer are chrome polishing, black trim protection and restoration, wheel wax/protectant, engine bay cleaning and glass polishing.

Compound and Polishing

Removing Paint Defects

Compounding and Polishing are two terms many people confuse in detailing. Many people use the two terms interchangeably and there are many different ways to describe these two terms. For clarification purposes, these are the definitions of these two terms that Next Level uses.

Compounding is the process of removing paint defects. These include swirl marks and fine scratches. Many of these imperfections in the paint are caused by improper washing techniques or using automatic car washes (referred to as sand paper mills in detailing circles). Once these imperfections are made, there is no way to remove them except to grind down the paint around it till the scratch is smoothed out. This is done by using compound product and a dual action polisher.

Polishing is the process of refining a paint surface. Once compounding has removed major imperfections, the polishing process then brings out the shine of the paint. Most polishes out in the market today also seal the paint giving a durable layer of protection. This process is also done with a dual action polisher but instead of a rough compounding pad, a smooth, soft pad is used to buff the paint finish.

To properly compound and polish paint, a proper paint prep is needed. This involves washing and clay barring the paint to remove any contaminants that may hinder the compounding process. With the right process, tools, products, and patience, your paint can be revitalized to look as amazing as the day it was made.

Because of the variables involved in compounding and polishing, I cannot provide a quote until I have seen the vehicle and inspected it along with the owner. I like to go over the paint and have a dialogue with the owner to manage expectations and figure out exactly what he/she wants. Once I know what the owner wants and expects, I can give a quote based on the time and work needed to achieve it.

Paint Decontamination

Clay Bar and Iron Removal

The Clay Bar and Iron Removal process is standard whenever I polish and seal paint. This ensures a buttery smooth finish and a deeper more vibrant shine. As you drive your car, dust, dirt, bugs, brake dust, acidic rain, UV rays are just some of the many ways your paint is getting contaminated and damaged. Just like your skin, paint can absorb and hold many of these contaminants. Clay Barring and Iron decontamination will remove these defects and foreign materials from your paint leaving a clean canvas to then polish and seal. Depending on how often you wash your car and how much you drive, your car’s paint will benefit from at least a yearly clay and iron decontamination.

Sealants and Waxes

What Product is the Best?

The options available to consumers in regards to how to protect their paint has changed dramatically in the past decade or so. Years ago, when you were finished washing your car, you waxed it to protect it. That was about the extent of your options to protect your paint and deepen your shine. With improvements in technology and product development, there are now many more options which is good for the consumer but can be confusing.

Wax is the original paint sealant. It was primarily carnauba wax which is naturally occurring. This product gives a great finish and a deep glossy, almost wet look. Some drawbacks of this product is that it can stain black plastic and rubber trim and it doesn’t last very long. Especially in the suncoast area of Sarasota/Bradenton where we get many rain showers during the summer. Synthetic waxes are another subcategory of waxes. These are polymer based and come in liquid and spray form. The great thing about the spray wax is the ease of application and removal. They are great for “boosting” your car shine between complete details. Just be sure to make sure the paint is clean and you are using a clean microfiber to apply. Many of these products can be used on windows and trim making it relatively foolproof. During Lovebug Season in Florida, especially for those that live in east Lakewood Ranch, applying spray wax on the front of your car after the bugs are cleaned off will help to remove the bugs the next time. It will also give an extra level of protection against those annoying pests. The liquid waxes bring us to another type of paint protection: sealants.

Sealants and liquid wax are somewhat synonymous terms. What separates these products are the technology and science behind the products. These products, when applied correctly, will give the paint a harder, more durable layer of protection. Some of these products can last 6 months to a year even for daily drivers in hot, rainy climates such as ours. What makes these products last longer is how clean and receptive the paint is before applying the product. If there is dirt, oils, grease, or old “carwash spray wax” left on the paint, the sealant will not bond properly to the paint. For some customers, especially those with darker colored cars, for a deeper shine, they ask for an application of carnauba wax after the sealant to give it the deep shine in addition to the protection from the sealant. For most people however, the sealant will provide plenty of shine.

Some people ask me about ceramic coatings. This seems to be the new craze in car detailing. Although it does provide tremendous results, they simply are not a “do once and forget for 1-6 years” as they are advertised. They certainly help, but for the everyday driver they are not cost effective. They are also very difficult to apply properly. The paint must be perfect before applying or any imperfection in the paint will be “locked in”. I had a customer that bought a brand new truck and got a ceramic coating from the dealership. The dealership simply washed the truck, dried it, then applied the coating. When they brought it to me to remove some stubborn water spots in the paint, I found after spending some time trying to compound the stains that they were under the coating. Long story short, if you are going to ceramic coat your car, make sure they are properly prepping and decontaminating the paint before application. If you are interesting in ceramic coating, please ask me about it and I’ll be happy to talk about your options with you.

Engine Cleaning and Detail

Nothing is worse than showing off your freshly detailed car and having to pop your hood for something and displaying a dusty, dirty engine. Many of the modern engines come with plastic coverings all over the engine. These pieces of plastic are easily shined and protected giving your engine that new look. To wash the engine, a quick light rinse with water is followed with a degreaser to remove any residues. I then go over everything in the engine bay with the applicable product to shine and protect the various surfaces.

Wheel and Tire Cleaning

Clean then Protect

Your wheels and tires understandably get the most dirt and abuse than any other part of your car. To keep them looking good, they need to be cleaned and protected on a regular basis. At Next Level, I offer many different levels of cleaning and protecting for your rims and tires. The finish and material of your rims will dictate how I go about this process.

All of my details include a standard wash and wipe down of the rims and tires. Using a brush and wash mitt, all surface level dust and grime is removed. For some rims that have years of build up on them, some additional work and products may need to be applied to remove that grime to restore the wheel. At the initial inspection, I will go over the rims to determine what needs to be done based on the customer’s expectations. Finishes range from wet looking shine to a matte, natural finish. Just let me know which look you prefer.