Car valeting a step by step guide

Prepping the car for resale is really important, if done correctly it gives you the edge over your competition and adds thousands to the value. Either way if the car looks great it’s doing half the job for you.

Valeting vs detailing 

Your aim here should be to get the car in a presentable condition as quickly and efficiently as possible. But valeting a car for resale is very different from detailing. The car needs to be clean, but if you are spending all day cleaning, you are doing it wrong.

Cleaning the exterior

Starting with the outside. Give the bodywork a good wash down with a sponge and a clean soapy bucket of water, pressure clean the arches removing any mud or road grime. Alloy wheel should also be cleaned with wheel cleaner at this point. I alway view this as doing half the job.

​The car should then be dried and the door shuts cleaned. I still favour an old fashioned chamois, but lots of other products work equally well.

The interior

With the car now washed and dried it time to turn your attention to the interior. I like to start by opening all the doors and boot. I then take a micro fibre cloth and dust down all the interior surfaces and rub off any stubborn mark. After that stage is completed I then use a small 2” paint brush, to remove any dirt in any hard to reach areas. Working it in to the air vents and tight gaps between trim.

Then I recommend cleaning the windows. I start by cleaning the outside of the drivers window then move to the inside. Then drop the window slightly and cleaning the top third of the glass, before raising it again. Then simply mover around the car repeating the process.

​There are lots of products available. It the glass isn’t very dirty I normally use a liquid spray cleaner. You simply spray a mist across the window and remove it with a clean paper towel. But for dirty glass and particular for the front screen I prefer a window polish. This is simply applied with a micro fibre cloth and removed with a separate clean cloth.

You should also inspect the interior mirrors at this point. Now for often the most time consuming part, cleaning the carpets and seats. Again I start in the drivers area. Its normally the dirtiest area and I like to get it out of the way. The carpets and seats need to be hoovered thoroughly, you may need a firm brush to remove the most stubborn particles.

​This is a good time inspect the spare wheel area under the carpets, making sure the spare and tools etc are clean and secured. If the car has leather it’s at this point that a leather should be cleaned. Once the carpets and seats are cleaned, the only thing left is to apply a quality dash dressing. 

Exterior paintwork and trim

With the interior now clean its time to inspect the exterior. The first step is to look for any obvious marks on the paintwork. These should be removed with some polish, or compound for more stubborn marks or scratches. Once done the rest of the paintwork should be polished following the manufactures instructions.

​Once you have polished the car, I like to touch in any deeper scratches if need be using touchup paint. A small touch-up pen or pot of paint can be purchased from a quality motor factors or often on Amazon.

​All thats left is the exterior plastics, the vinyl and rubber should be finished with a quality plastic & vinyl restorer. 

The engine bay

Personally and with all the modern electronics I largely leave the engine compartment alone. If anything I just wipe the plastics and covers over with a damp cloth.

Conclusion

That’s the basics of valeting a car for retail. But with so many skills, techniques and products available. I really is just the tip of the iceberg. Some car flippers also run a valeting business as a second income source. This can also be highly profitable, you can also build a customer base and bring in a steady income. I have seen car flippers build big valeting and detailing business this way.

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