A full or deluxe valet is the ultimate pampering for your motorcar. Almost all our members offer this service, though there will be a dramatic variation in terms of time, cost, and what specifically is included. You will often find Professionals offering a base service, but with the option of additional top up services such as dog hair removal (a bug bear of all Valeters) or hydrophobic glass coatings. Whether you are spending £60 or over £200 for all the bells and whistles, you can be assured that a Full Valet from a PVD member will leave your car gleaming!
The basic wash procedures have already been covered in our guide to entry level valets, so this guide will focus on exterior top-up services and the art of interior valeting.
While a basic valet may incorporate a quick wax or glaze, every full valet will include a more substantial wax or equivalent. For this topic it is important to get the terminology correct – waxes, glazes, and polishes are, for professionals at least, different product genres despite the fact that they are used interchangeably outside of the trade. This is not helped by manufacturers using the terms liberally as well – for example Auto-Glym produce a very well known and liked product called ‘Super Resin Polish’ known as ‘SRP’ in the trade, which is most akin to glaze despite the ‘polish’ name.
A wax can be a solid block, a soft paste, or indeed a liquid. The primary roles of a wax are to add gloss and protection to your paint. Entry level waxes can cost less than £10 and last for a fortnight, whereas top end waxes can cost thousands of pounds and last considerably longer. There are three categories of wax in terms of their chemistry: an organic wax that uses anything from traditional beeswax to trendy carnauba, polymer wax that relies on synthetic gloss and sealing agents, and finally hybrid waxes that combine the best of both. Below shows application of Dodo Juice’s Supernatural Hybrid wax by Gareth at Calverts Car Clean.
A glaze is similar to a wax, though more often than not it is in liquid form. However, a glaze is full of specially designed fillers which essentially fill-in fine swirl marks. If you are not having your car polished, yet you want to hide the swirl marks, a glaze is a good option. Do remember that it will be temporary – and no substitute for a proper paint correction. Below is a picture of Mark’s work from Revolution Rides near Sheffield, the right hand side has been treated with a glaze, the left has been left.
A polish is a different approach; instead of filling the swirls it removes them. Polishing will be covered in more depth in the detailing guides on this site.
In terms of which wax to use, as there are so many available, each member will have his or her preferred product. Generally speaking, organic waxes give the best gloss, polymer waxes last longer, and hybrid waxes last a long time and give a great finish – but that is a very general rule of thumb with plenty of exceptions.
When it comes to selecting a wax, we would recommend taking the advice of your local PVD member, as there are many things to consider – such as the colour and hardness of your cars paint. The costs will vary, not only with the cost of the product used, but also with the time it takes to apply. A high-carnauba solid wax can take three times as long to apply than a liquid polymer wax.
Though many waxes will dramatically improve the gloss and protection on a car, the ultimate limitation to the finish is down to the condition of the paint. Many cars have gone through automatic car washes, or supermarket hand washes, which invariably create swirls and hologramming effects. These are compounded by the normal day-to-day marks paint picks up squeezing past country hedge rows or from people brushing past in the street. To remove or reduce these marks permanently, the paint will need to be machine polished, which is where detailing comes in. There are three guides on the different levels of detailing on this website, ranging from the standard ‘Protection Detailing’ (that helps to stop the swirls appearing in the first place) through to ‘Enhancement Detailing’ (reducing the swirl marks), and finally to the ultimate ‘Correction Detail’ that aims to restore a vehicle to a better-than-new condition.
Tar removal is often added as an extra, as it requires different products and more time to do properly than simple washing. Tar is essentially bitumen, a stubborn, sticky hydro-carbon that leaves black spots on the body work. Tar stands out most on light coloured cars and is often found back from the wheel arches. Removing it safely involves solvent solutions which need to be applied carefully to ensure there is no paint damage. Below Jordan of Shropshire Car Care is removing Tar using a specialist cleaner – note how the tar is literally bleeding away.
Clay Bars are often used as a deep cleanse option. It involves rubbing the paint with a fine clay bar with the addition of lubricant and removes contaminants such as industrial fallout and tree sap. It is a lengthy process that has to be done carefully to avoid marring the paint. However, when done correctly the paint is much smoother to the touch with fewer blemishes. This video by John at the Gleaming Car Company near Lincoln perfectly demonstrates how a clay bar works.
Detail work is often a benefit of upgrading from a basic to a full valet. While a basic valet will often involve a tyre dressing, the full valet services will often include such niceties as exhaust pipe polishing and wheel waxing. The image below shows Basingstoke Valeting Centre sorting out stainless exhaust tips on a BMW.
Full valets will also include more attention on areas like door, bonnet, and boot shuts, as well as wheel arches and plastic trim – Ben at Aspect Valeting is pictured here closely assessing the paint work, typical of the sort of meticulous approach of PVD Members.
Wheel, glass, and paint protection services are sometimes offered as top-ups to a full valet, but we will cover these in more detail in the ‘Protection Detailing Guide’.
For those with convertible cars there are also a range of cleaning and protection services available, Dave from Ideal Valeting in Sussex is pictured here working on a Porsche soft top.
Many of us have vacuumed out our own cars in the past, but a professional Valeter has specialised equipment, products, and skills to do a thorough job. For example, using wet vacs they can shampoo your carpet and fabric seats. Using a steam cleaner they can remove stains and marks, below is an example process carried out by Steve of 3C Valeting in Perth on a set of floor mats, which have been removed from the car for proper cleaning.
Stains easily appear on vehicle upholstery, be it a repmobile that we more or less live out of, or family wagons full of muddy dogs and children. These stains can be a challenge to remove and can reduce the value of the car. Thankfully, PVD members have all the kit and know-how to remove almost all marks, from flood damage mould to a split fizzy drink stain. Below Dan of DS Auto Detailing & Valeting in Ashbourne shows us a ‘before and after’ of a seat bolster he has worked on.
Equally, the vacuum cleaners used are more powerful than domestic versions, removing more ingrained much from hard to reach areas such as between the seat squabs. They can also deep clean the roof lining, which is often a hidden source of bad odours such as stale tobacco. The image shows Kevin Ford from Goldcrest Valeting in Croydon getting right into the crevices with his vacuum and using a detailing brush to agitate the dirt out.
Leather interiors are another area where a professional will exceed expectations. Using specialist leather cleaners and tools, you will be surprised at the difference that can be achieved. In the image below you can see a Jaguar seat, half of which has been professionally cleaned by Matt at the Matt Finish in Kent, the other half has been left (purely for demonstration purposes) – the difference between them is clear to see.
Our members have plenty of experience getting interiors looking tip top – they know what products work best on what finishes and how to get the best results. Here Tom at TK Detailing is using a cotton bud soaked with some cleaning fluid to get the dust out of the ash tray.
Specialist odour treatments are also offered by many members to return the aroma of the car back to an as-new state. Do bare in mind that some of the specialist equipment used to dehumidify and deodorise cars need a certain amount of time to work, so the job as a whole will take longer. The picture shows Ben of Aspect Valeting in Gosport using a specialist interior treatment – note the mask, a professional always follows health and safety guidelines.