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15 Year Old Detailer Here. Need Some Serious Help.

2558 Views 28 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  8legs
Okay. First off, my name is Justin, I'm 15, and I detail cars. I'm planning on starting a small business detailing cars for people for the cheap and affordable price of $50. Remember, don't most detailers charge $100-200/car? Well I'm not sure if people would pay me that high, so I'll start at $50. I work by hand, and I don't have a buffer, so I don't think I can do extreme makeovers...hehe.

This is my detailing process. Please tell me how much people should pay for doing this to their car. I did this process to my aunt's Camry and she payed me $18. I don't want to be mean and charge her $50...=[

Okay, this is how I clean my car and my parent's cars.

Step 1: I clean the wheels and tires first with this cheapo microfiber wash mitt from the dollar store using Gold Class Car Wash. Then I take the Meguiar's Super Plush Wash Mitt and dip that into a bucket of Gold Class Car Wash and work my way throughout the vehicle, making sure I don't miss a spot.

Step 2: I then dry the car with the Absorber. If there is any water left, I use microfiber towels to get them.

Step 3: I clay the car with Meguiar's Smooth Surface Clay Kit to remove overspray and any other contaminents. I clay every surface, without missing a spot. And I make sure that everything is smooth when I dry it. Then I use Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfiber to remove everything. After that I check around for any scratches or swirls, and if I see any, I apply ScratchX until the scratch or swirl is completely gone.

Step 4: I then take a Meguiar's foam applicator pad and apply Gold Class Liquid Wax throughout the whole car, let it haze, and then I remove the wax with microfiber towels.. And I use another microfiber towel to remove any wax leftover.

Step 5: I look over the vehicle throughly making sure there isn't any leftover wax, if there isn't, I clean the windows with Stoner's Invisible Glass, wipe it with a clean, old tee shirt, and then I use a microfiber towel for the final wipedown.

Step 6: I then use Meguiar's Hot Shine Tire Spray to dress up the tires.

Here are some results:

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that's fine but you should really wash the rims last cause they're the dirtiest. when washing the car, start from the top, and work down since the lowers the car is, the dirtiest. use 2 buckets when washing, 1 w/ soap and 1 for rinsing ur mitt.

isn't this in the wrong section btw?
:preach: ^No he was right. You Always wash the wheels first.^
i don't think so. you should wash the car top down because the lower the car, the dirtiest. you want to keep your wash water as clean as possible to prevent swirl marks.
lininator515 said:
i don't think so. you should wash the car top down because the lower the car, the dirtiest. you want to keep your wash water as clean as possible to prevent swirl marks.
i agree with u the more dirt that gets caught onto the mitts the more swirls you'll get.. btw i remember there is a site dedicated to detailing...let me digg u up some info kiddo... brb.


hope that site helps... i remembered i saw it on another forum that i was on.
You need to take into account how much supplies cost you for each job and how long it takes you to finish. If you divide, say the price of the polish, by the weight in ounces you can get the price per ounce. Now after one use check the weight again and figure out how many ounces you used, and therefore how many uses you can get out of one bottle. Now after supplies how much you get paid should be dependent on how long it took you. Then decide on your own whether the compensation is worth the time.
Just a word of advice on the business end of things. The pros charge $100-$200 a car to help cover overhead. Included in that overhead is insurance to cover the vehicle 1) if you do any harm to it while detialing it and 2) if anything should happen to it while it's in your possession. Not everyone has full coverage on their cars and even if they do, they aren't always willing to use there own because of deductables and so forth.

A friend of mine used to be a detailer and still does it on the side occasionally. Be careful who you do it for, at least while starting out. Some people are just looking for a reason to complain and blame things on that may have already been there. My buddy inspects the car 1st and takes pictures of any damage that may be there so he doesn't get blamed for anything he didn't do.

Also, some colors are a lot easier to "bring back" than others too. You may want to stay away from black for the time being until you gain some experience. I've seen pros screw up black.

I'm not trying to scare you or talk you out of it, just be cautious and do what you can to protect yourself.
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perhaps offer two levels of washes: one w/ the clay bar and one w/o. if the car is only a few years old, there may not be a huge benefit to the clay bar treatment -- a simple wash & wax would suffice and make the owner happy. Maybe offer the "basic" service for $50 and the "premium" for $75 or something like that.
Gridlyne said:
:preach: ^No he was right. You Always wash the wheels first.^
Correct because in cleaning them last you may end up spraying that dirty water back on the rest of the clean vehicle.
if you got paid $18 to do all of that, you got jibbed. Probably took you a few hours + cost of supplies.

$50 should be enough to cover it, and make you a nice profit for the time.

Since you're 15, I wouldnt recommend trying to do it on a commercial basis. Take photos of all the cars you do, print up a nice flier, distribute it to your neighbors, parents friends and coworkers. Also think about offering just a basic wash for people who would like to help you out, but dont want to spend $50. charge $10-$20 for a wash/vacuum and push that. take less time, and more likely to find someone who will be willing to pay a 15 year old.

That camry does look good though, silver's always an easy one to make clean. Reds are fun too, expecially when you get to do one thats really bad oxidated. turning a pink/orange car red again and the owner will praise heavens for you.

Oh, and invest in a buffer....$70-80 and you can get a really nice random orbit one. but be sure to practice first, easy to screw something up with one. is a really good site for tips and products. and the meqguires website has a good forum too.
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Sounds like a great start. $50 for claying, some light polishing, and even a layer of wax is a decent deal. Remember to mention that you dressed the tires as well. You can also just buy some cheap dressing for the wheel wells too.

I'd definitely consider investing into a PC, so you can do some light-medium polishing for a bit more. I'd also say put claying as a seperate package, do wash+wax and toss in some basic interior wipe downs and vaccum. For $75, do some actual carpet cleaning and claying.
I'd get u to do my car if u didn't live in Vallejo, maybe consiter a quick interior cleaning for $25 more??? Vacuum and a wipe down of the dash some spray some air freshener and ur good.
What you should do is start out by working at a car cleaners or dealer for a year and work on neighbours cars before you go out on your own. I was cars at a toyota dealership and you learn little tricks all the time. Also as being said before different colours are a pain in the ass.
you dont clay every time right? you'll have no clear coat left over after 6 washes if you

very clean and very nice though.
I wouldnt use spray on tires.. You get over spray on the fenders and have to go over the fenders with your microfiber. I get 5 Gallon buckets of Tire shine, and i use a paint brush to brush on tires.

And do you not clean engines?

Engines are easy make sure the car has cooled off though, just spray the whole engine bay and hood with degreaser, then go over it with a pressure washer, should look squeaky clean. Then i use the same stuff i use for tires and spray the whole engine with it. It looks awesome afterward and customers love it!
Tommy said:
Oh, and invest in a buffer....$70-80 and you can get a really nice random orbit one. but be sure to practice first, easy to screw something up with one. is a really good site for tips and products. and the meqguires website has a good forum too.

Clay bar does not remove clear coat unless your stupid and dont use lube. All that for $50? How long will it take you? Are you sure your ready to tackle some of the cars out there? Trust me Ive seen some pretty bad swirls all over even on white cars. Your arm will be done after a 1 square foot. Will you be ready to take the customers complaints because you couldnt remove all the swirls? Even if you used scratch x to remove all the swirls, you'd probably need two tubes per car and that would cost like $16. Clay bar kit is $20-$25. You can probably use one clay bar per car. Plus all other misc supplies your running a sweat shop. Hell you might be losing money if you include water bill.
I don't clay everytime...I just caly the first time. I don't do detail it safe? Can I use greased lightning degreaser? Just spray it on there and then pressure wash? Nothing will be damaged?
just put a plastic bag over some engine parts. example: battery, intake, sensors, distributor, spark plugs. cover basically anything electrical. it doesn't have to be water tight, just so it doesn't get totally drenched. just spray some degreaser, scrub it in w/ a toothbrush or a brush and spray it off w/ warm water.
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