It takes more than a bucket and sponge to be an auto detailer. Auto detailing
requires professional know-how and equipment. Expert auto detailers can keep
a car looking new by cleaning the engine, tires, chrome and aluminum parts,
upholstery, vinyl and leather.
"A shiny car is the ultimate," says Desire Bedor, an auto detailer in Amherst,
Massachusetts. "It's awesome. People love cars. Even people who aren't into
cars see a shiny one and they look."
To make cars shiny, auto detailers have to know what solvents and cleaners
work best on what surfaces. For example, auto detailer Donald Currie says
you don't want to use dish soap to wash a car because the detergent fades
Auto detailers may work by hand or use specialized equipment like power
washers and buffers to clean the interiors and exteriors of automobiles and
trucks. "It's very dangerous to take a buffer to a car unless you know what
you're doing," says Currie. "You have to take a course."
On a volume basis, detailers "prep" new and used cars for auto dealers.
Dealers either contract out the work or have a detailer on staff. Some also
work on private vehicles with proud owners -- everything from Pacers to Porches.
"You get to meet with a lot of people who are really excited about their cars,"
The Currie family has recently opened three new auto-detailing shops. Like
many detailing shops, Currie's features a service center much like a garage.
Some auto detailers specialize in door-to-door service. Where you work
depends on the size of the market and the niche you're trying to fill. Many
people who enter the field work part time.
Auto detailers like Matt Rabbit in East Windsor, Connecticut, start small
and build up their own successful detailing business. Rabbit started cleaning
friends' cars to make money six years ago. "It just took off," he says.
The winter months can be very slow. Rabbit advises would-be entrepreneurs
to put money aside during the busy summer months to keep the lights on over
Auto detailing sometimes requires repetitive, physically demanding work.
You may have to lift and carry heavy objects -- polishers and buffers -- and
stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl in awkward positions to get those hard-to-reach
places. Bedor says it helps to be small. "I have small hands. I can get my
fingers right in the vents!"
Keep vehicles looking new by cleaning all the parts, from the
engine to upholstery
Watch a one-minute video showing what it's like to work in this career or related careers
Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment
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