Professional Valet or a £* Hand car wash?

In this article, we will explain the reason why we believe our professional valeting service is “1,000,000%” more effective than an established hand car wash in Northampton.

As a professional valeter and detailer, I often get asked by the public “what’s the benefit of using a professional mobile valet service over an established £5* hand car wash?” …

Well, there could be a billion and one answers to that question but it really depends on the hand car wash or professional valeting company that you’re using.

So just for you, the ones that have asked me and the people that have ever wondered, we will assume it’s one of the typical established hand car washes versus us, Archway Valeting as the valet for comparison.

The established hand car wash

The business model for a hand car wash is a simple numbers game, 150* cars a day at £5* for a standard wash. Their focus is on volume and turn over and nothing else. The typical hand car wash will generally have one cleaning chemical normally TFR (traffic film remover) which in most cases is very cheap to buy especially in bulk.

Because TFR is highly alkaline, care should be taken when using it. Using TFR is completely fine, but what you’ll often find is the typical hand car wash will mix it “a hell of a lot stronger”, because they feel it will clean quicker and make their job easier and what you’ll also find it can (and often does in a lot of cases) leave acid etching on alloy wheels, paint, plastic and chrome trim.

As you can see from the picture you’ll notice they often have large barrels of water sat there ready, these barrels are used all day for all the cars, without the water being changed.

Why don’t they change the water? Because that would involve additional water costs and also cost time.

Why, Is this a problem?

The problem we have is that they’re rubbing dirt and grit from other vehicles across that nice paintwork (you did have) before you entered the hand car wash.

The truth: If you use the typical hand car wash regularly very quickly you’ll find that the paintwork on your car is going to go dull and generally have billions of micro scratches.

Lesson learnt: Using the typical hand car wash over a number of times will massively decrease the value of your car. Why? Your cars paintwork, plastic and chrome trim will start to suffer and will dull and change colour over time. The lacquer on your car will look horrendous with an uncountable number of swirl marks and light scratches as we mentioned above.

The Professional service

The professional valeter like myself will use two (sometimes three) buckets full of freshwater on each car, the first bucket will be the shampoo, the second bucket contains pure water and the third will be for the wheels. But before we “lay a finger on the paintwork” we have to use a pre-wash, this pre-wash can be APC or a citrus (snow foam) solution at the correct dilution rates.

The pre-wash is generally left on the car for a few minutes to allow the solution to break down the dirt, grease and grime.

Only once the pre-wash has done its job, do we rinse the car and use the buckets.

Only washing one panel at one time then we rinse the mitt in the plain water bucket to remove the dirt, before putting the mitt back into the shampoo and continue onto the next panel.

We call this, the safe wash method, it helps to stop those micro swirls occurring on the paintwork that I mentioned previously.

When we valet any car, it could take anywhere between 1 to 3 hours as the “hand car wash” will take less than 5 minutes. Care and attention is taken when we valet our client’s vehicles, making sure that we don’t damage the paintwork and the protection it already has. Our Maintenance Valet will make sure your car will look as good as it did when it rolled out the showroom (if not better) and retain the resale value.

The hand car wash will wax your car for an extra few quid – Great what a bargain! Or is it? They often use silicone wax or liquid wax, which is quicker and easier to apply, and usually cheap and cheerful. But these waxes don’t last with some leaving a mirroring effect which can look dreadful.

What we use are different types of high-quality carnauba waxes which can cost anywhere between £50 to £200. (Some waxes can cost up to £10,000.)

When it comes to drying the car, we have a large selection of drying towels which are made of polyesters and polyamides which we know as microfibers. It can take up to 2 large microfibers when we dry a car. These “hand car washes” will generally have one or two that will be used on every single vehicle on that day.

So having your car valeted by a pro can benefit the sale value of your it.