No Detail is Too Small When Keeping Vehicles Beautiful All Year Long - Ops Share Their Detailing Dos and Don'ts

Posted on August 1, 2007

1. What are your favorite detailing and cleaning products for your fleet vehicles?


Meguiars polish and leather conditioner.” – MARK ROBERTS, FLEET MANAGER, THE LIMOUSINE CONNECTION


“We buy exclusively from FinishMaster Automotive and Industrial Paint. My favorite products from the company are Rubber & Vinyl Shine, Hot Shot Degreaser for wheels, and Blast Super Cleaner car wash soap with built-in wax.” – RODNEY FRAME, FLEET MANAGER, LIMOUSINE SCENE


“You need to have a very good chamois that picks up all of the water and does not streak the finish of the vehicle.” – NICK VAVINIS, MAINTENANCE MANAGER, MONTREAL LIMOUSINE WORLDWIDE


“It all starts with the cleaning cloths you use. I use a thick micro fiber cloth because it works on everything, including fiber optic ceiling panels. For all interior wipe-downs, I use Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner. It works on everything, including windows. On the carpets I use Turtle Wax Carpet Cleaner with Oxy-Clean.” – DAVE ALLEN, OWNER, SPOKANE RACING LIMOS


“We use Stoner for exterior surface cleaning products and MALCO for polishing, compounding, and tire shine products. We use vinegar and water for an all-purpose cleaning product and Febreze for freshening up the interiors and covering any possible odors.” – RON ROSKE, FLEET MANAGER, MAJESTIC LIMOUSINES


“We use a vendor from Production Car Care products.” – CHRIS QUINN, PRESIDENT/CEO, CORPORATE TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS, INC.


“Our detail department stocks a full line of ‘PRO’ car care products from BAF Industries to help keep our fleet of vehicles looking sharp. These include Auto Gloss Wash, Clay Bar, #1 Polish, Swirl Eliminator, and Cherry Finishing Wax. For scuffs and scratches our detailers rely on ‘Perfect-It II’ by 3M.” – PAUL NICHOLAS, FLEET MANAGER, DIVA LIMOUSINE



2. What advice would you offer on ways to quickly refresh and clean vehicles between clients?


“When a runner is soiled, roll it up and throw it in the trunk. Use a small whisk broom for sweeping small piles of dirt, and then use a lint roller to pick up the pile. Keep a second set of glassware in the trunk with napkins already folded and ready to go for quick change out. Use a Rubbermaid tub to carry enough ice from the ice chest into the car at one single time with a stainless steel ice scoop.” – RODNEY FRAME


“Use a non-offensive deodorizer and glass cleaner with paper towels. Keep a portable vacuum and tire shine in the vehicles. If there is no vacuum, make sure all of the dirt is off of the floor in the back. One way to accomplish this is to shake out the mats and brush all the other dirt under the floor mat until you are able to vacuum the interior.” – JON EPSTEIN, PRESIDENT, ROYAL COACHMAN WORLDWIDE


“Each of our vehicles has a ‘California Duster’ in it with glass cleaner and towels. We have chauffeurs dump and shake mats to keep them fresh. A bit of tire black carried with a chauffeur is a plus.” – CHRIS QUINN


“The fastest way to refresh is to use Ozium and Turtle Wax Carpet Cleaner with Oxy-Clean. The Ozium removes all odors within seconds and the Turtle Wax makes the interior smell fresh.” – DAVE ALLEN


“We keep a whisk broom (for cleaning the carpets), micro-weave towel (for wiping down interior and glass surfaces), a couple of paper shop cloths (for wiping down wheels), and a California brush (for dusting the exterior) in each vehicle. Our chauffeurs are expected to use these items as needed, between each client, to assure that each has the experience that we promise them.


“In our limos, we keep a spray can of tire shine that is used to put that bit of extra shine back on the tires and Febreze to eliminate any hint of the vehicle having been used since it was last detailed.


“In the mini coaches we keep a roll of paper towels, extra trash bags, and Febreze. The paper towels are used for any big spills, and the trash container is emptied and a new liner put in so that each set of clients start their experience with a clean container.


“We also highly recommend that these actions be taken at a convenience store or similar location so that the chauffeur has access to water for cleanup, if needed.” – RON ROSKE


“For a quick touch-up between clients, we advise our chauffeurs to use a high quality duster on the exterior and a small hand vacuum to remove dust and dirt from the interior. If necessary, dirt, spots, smudges, etc. should be removed from the windshield and windows with a non-streaking glass cleaner and a damp cloth.” – PAUL NICHOLAS


3. What are some dos and don’ts you would recommend for detailing vehicles?


“It is important to remember not to detail a car too frequently. The repeated use of high speed buffing machines on the exterior could cause premature paint wear and a dulled sheen.


“When cleaning interiors, do the windshield and windows last to avoid smudging them while cleaning dash boards, door panels, headliners, etc. Also, keep interior cleaners from coming in contact with clear plastic instrument panel coverings, as these cleaners have a tendency to spot and/or fog the plastic.


“And after cleaning upholstery, mats, and carpeting, don’t forget to rinse these items to remove all traces of cleaner residue, which if left in the material, will act as a magnet for dirt and dust.” – PAUL NICHOLAS


• double check glass cleanliness even if they look unused (they may have fingerprints).

• wipe down car with a damp chamois.


• use a dirty car duster. It will scratch the paint.

• tape the signs inside the vehicle as they will leave a glue ring on the car.

• drag handbags over the back bumper; completely lift to avoid scratching it.” – GREG GARLICH, FLEET MANAGER, BEST WORLDWIDE CHAUFFEURED TRANSPORTATION



• invest and use the proper tools and supplies for the job.

• allow adequate time to do the job right.

• use a horse hair brush to get into those cracks and crevices.

• make sure that your wool mitts and/or washing cloths are clean and free from grit and dirt.

• add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to each 2-1/2 gallons of water if you have a hard water problem in your area.


• wash, wax, or polish vehicles in full sunlight.

• use a tooth brush to get into those cracks and crevices. This scratches the paint.” – RON ROSKE



• wax once per week with a wipe on/wipe off wax.

• take out the trash after each run.

• keep up with all maintenance as prescribed in the owner’s manual of the car.

• fix items as they break.


• get caught with dirty vehicles. How your clients view your vehicles is how they view your company.” – DAVE ALLEN


“Power car washes are very hard on vehicle finishes and pressure washing forces water into places you do not want it. Keeping vehicles dusted and dressed reduces the need for washings. Paint thinner works great on white walls of tires.” – CHRIS QUINN


“Some dos that I recommend are to always maintain your vehicles and give that extra time to make sure they look amazing inside and out. Take the extra time to dress the tires, clean the windows, shine the body, clean around the doors and trunks, and most importantly, buff and wax twice a year.  The don’ts are very simple — DO NOT NEGLECT your vehicles.” – NICK VAVINIS


“Do concentrate on the interior and the windows. Exterior cleanliness is important but the customer is in the vehicle far longer than he/she is looking at the outside of the vehicle. Do not use Armor All (or similar product) on the seats as they become very slippery. Keep the trunk clean and the door jams clean. Use lint-free towels or paper towels when cleaning the windows.” – JON EPSTEIN


“Detail vehicles inside and out every six weeks (based on a car that does 50,000 to 70,000 miles per year).” – MARK ROBERTS


“Daily hand washing only. Wax every six months by hand. Scrub wheels every day with a stiff brush. Clean leather tops with scrub brush every three months and Armor All in between scrubs.” – RODNEY FRAME


“Always take the extra time for the little things like wiping down doors, cleaning windows, and Armor All the tires. Twice a year, I would recommend a good wax and buff to add that extra shine to the vehicle, because in our business as we all know, the cars are washed very frequently.” – NICK VAVINIS


4. What advice would you offer on how to maintain the appearance of your vehicles between clients?


“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an ‘in-house’ detail staff. It is well worth the investment and we have clients calling to book cars weekly due to the appearance of our fleet. We always dress our tires and the sharp black look is a head turner.” – CHRIS QUINN


“Our detail staff gives each of our vehicles a full detail approximately every three months. Additionally, our vehicles are washed and polished on an as-needed basis, with special attention given to the chrome trim, tires, rims, and wheel wells.” PAUL NICHOLAS


“The best cleaning solution to the long term is preventative maintenance. Cleaning after each run is a must.” DAVE ALLEN


“Regular cleaning and scheduled full detailing with wax. Which part of the country you are in mandates how frequently the full details need to be performed. Also, proper interior and exterior maintenance will enhance the appearance of your vehicle in the long run." – JON EPSTEIN 




“Basically, we do not let a vehicle out of this plant if the wheels AND tires are not rated for more than the loaded vehicle weight specified or GVWR for each car-bus-SUV. With the QVM program, the manufacturer dictates the GVWR and we make sure the tires and rims will support that weight. In Lincoln’s case, the vehicle comes to us with the proper wheel and tire ratings that come standard on a 418 package. For non-QVM vehicles like the Chrysler, our engineers re-rate the vehicle GVWR based on our modifications and upgrades, then the vehicles are sent for independent testing (Karco) to verify our ratings. Driving around on under-rated tires and wheels opens operators up for huge liability in the event of a blow out or a wheel collapse.” – DOW BROOKS, KRYSTAL ENTERPRISES, INC.



“We learned from one of the coach builders that the secondary alternator was failing on their coaches due to an overload. Their solution was to move the auxiliary air conditioner fan that they install from being on the additional alternator over to the factory alternator/electrical system to reduce the load and stop secondary alternator failure. A simple check for secondary alternator failure overload is to test the amp load with all the limousine accessories in comparison to the alternators maximum and idle output. We also recommend that added grounding of the body to the chassis is present, and that charging wire and battery wire gage sizes are adequate.” – JOHN MATLACK, INFINITE INNOVATIONS






Related Topics: carpet and upholstery, Chrysler, detailing your limo, electronics, exterior vehicle care, interior vehicle care, waxing

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