The A-Z guide to detailing jargon - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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The A-Z guide to detailing jargon

Help your customers understand what you are telling them.


A simple and direct message is the most powerful way of attracting and retaining customers.

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Today, auto detailers with substandard services are busy wrapping themselves up in layers and layers of jargon. So, what you need now is clear and uninterrupted communication channels between you and your customers, since nothing blocks them up faster than that pesky jargon.

A simple yet powerful solution

You need to make absolutely sure that every single piece of communication with your current and prospective customers is presented to them in a simple and direct manner.

It should be so easily comprehensible that they can act upon it even when they are dog-tired or just plain hammered. Below is a list of the most commonly used jargon that often stumps your customers and renders your efforts useless.


These definitions will help your customers better understand your business.

 Start small: A-E jargon

Let us warm up with a few key everyday words first.

  • AIO: The AIO stands for “all in one.” This kind of product cleans, adds protection and glosses the surface in one simple sweep.
  • AMPs: This term stands for amperage. This unit is used to measure the total amount of electricity being consumed.
  • Baked dry: The use of heat to quicken the drying/curing process. This step is extensively used with films, clear coats, paints and various chemicals.
  • Body shop safe: This is the property of a chemical. This term means that the said chemical will not interfere with the painting process by causing adhesion problems, fish eyes and other undesirable effects.
  • Carnauba: This is one of the premium quality waxes sourced mainly from Brazil. Mixed together with a string of chemicals, it is used to form automotive paste in liquid or paste form.
  • Cutting pad: You remove the noticeable surface imperfection with the help of an aggressive pad called the cutting pad attached to a buffer. It is commonly used to even out the paint and clear coat surfaces.
  • Degreaser: A solvent that removes the unwanted oil and grease from the required surface by emulsifying and flushing it away.
  • Dwell time: Basically, the total time a product/chemical is allowed to sit on a specific automotive surface.
  • Enamel paint: It comes in both pigmented and clear-coat form. The paint has a resin-type finish, which dries up to give a hard, glossy look.
  • EPA: The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), a U.S. government agency, regulates the emission limit of the allowable pollutants into the environment. This limit is applicable to the pollutants emitted from vehicles and car care products.

Keep going: F-J jargon

Since our basics are clear, let’s maintain the momentum and keep exploring.

  • Fish Eye: An irregularity caused during the painting process around the dirt/contamination present when the surface is not cleaned properly beforehand.
  • Foam lance: This is an apparatus, which provides suds from the detergent or soap to clean the exterior of the vehicle. It is attached to a pressure washer for the suds formation.
  • Gel coat: An epoxy coating that helps in achieving that desirable smooth finish over the surface of carbon fiber, fiber glass and other composite materials.
  • Ghosting: The most common example of ghosting is the invisible mark that appears on the surface of a vehicle when decals, batches or other kinds of seals are peeled off from its surface. The area underneath the covering is usually very well preserved and hence demonstrates a contrasting presence.
  • Glaze: This product offers a high-gloss finish by temporarily covering the surface defects or/and feeding the single-stage finishes that are porous in nature. It is a mix of solids and oils specially designed for this purpose.
  • Grit guard: Designed for the main purpose of settling the dirt and particulate matter at the bottom of the wash bucket, thus preventing the washing sponge or mitt from getting sullied over and over.
  • Headliner: You will notice that the interior of every vehicle’s roof is covered with a protective covering made out of vinyl or another suitable material. This is known as the headliner.
  • Hook and loop: This is a kind of fabric that can temporarily connect with another one of its kind with the help of hook or loop present on its surface.
  • Industrial fallout: Iron particles embedded within the paint surface are known collectively as industrial fallout, also known as rail dust.
  • Iron remover: Ferrous materials attached to the outer surface of a vehicle can easily be removed with the help of a quality iron remover.

Do some heavy lifting: K-O jargon

Keep reading to explore the simplified definitions for the next level of jargon.

  • Kevin Brown Method: This is a set of instructions that are aimed at maximizing the performance of a typical random orbital polisher. It improves the final cutting and polishing quality by taking care of the main factors and constantly calibrating them. These factors include the wetting agent usage, regular applicator pad cleaning, maintaining optimum application pressure and the use of low polishing pressure, among others.
  • kWh: Short for kilowatt hour, this is the unit of measuring energy consumption.
  • Layering: Applying multiple layers of a wax, sealant, paint or clear-coat over a surface to obtain the “film build” is known as layering. It can be done in the form of painting over a substrate or in the multiple application of wax/protective agent over the painted surface.
  • LSP: Short for “last step protection,” it refers to the final step taken for the painted surface protection.
  • Micro-suede: Appearing drastically similar to natural suede, micro-suede is a synthetic fabric comprising of fine fibers woven together tightly.
  • OPMs: Short for “orbits per minute,” it measures the total number of times the center of the backing plate will rotate around the center of the machine per minute.
  • Orange peel: The marginally bumpy exterior of a painted surface that resembles the unevenness of an orange’s outer surface is known as an orange peel.
  • Original finish: Not the body shop finish but the one performed first and foremost at the factory is known as the original finish.
  • ORM-D: This postal designation stands for “Other Regulated Materials for Domestic Transport Only.” It denotes a transportation caution due to their harmful nature or pressure from an aerosol container.

Closer to the goal: P-T jargon

Keep reading, because you are just two steps away from mastering the craft of effective client communication.

  • Paint gauges: The paint film’s thickness over a substrate is known correctly with the help of precision instruments known as paint gauges via mechanical or electronic means.
  • PSI: This unit of pressure measurement is applicable to only liquids and gases and is known as PSI (per square inch).
  • Quick detailer: A liquid that improves the lubricity between the surface and the towel during the cleaning process. This helps in removing dust and oil without affecting the painted surface in any negative manner.
  • Random orbital buffer: Attached to the buffing pad and a backing plate, this power tool spreads a product evenly over the desired surface using random oscillations.
  • RIDS: This stands for “random isolated deep scratches.” The absence of any visible pattern among the visible scratches is the reason behind its name.
  • SDS: Important information about the purchased product is present in the SDS (safety data sheet). It may or may not contain information about the potential hazards to it and its proper usage.
  • Sheeting method: This technique uses water to quickly dry the car. Basically, the cascading effect generated by flowing water from a higher surface with an open-ended hose at a low pressure can swiftly remove more than 80 percent of water from the surface.
  • Short cycle: The fast arm movement used to decelerate the polish action for correcting or finishing the paint is known as the short cycle.
  • Three steps: This technique is used to correct paint defects by using a sequence of three steps that include the processes of sanding, compounding and polishing in the desired order.
  • Trim: the variety of fabric attached to the exterior or interior of the main body for the purpose of visual appeal or protection is known as a trim. It can be made of vinyl, leather, plastic or metal components.
  • Two steps: A two-step paint correction process that involves the compounding and polishing steps in the desired sequence for required defect removal.

This leads us to the last step of this results-oriented conversation exercise.


Now you know it all: U-Z jargon

Here is the final milestone to remove all jargon from your customer care dictionary.

  • Vacuum: Easy and complete removal of both wet and dry kinds of grime is done with the help of this tool. It uses suction generated by an electric motor for the dirt removal process.
  • Vinyl: This affordable and strong plastic polymer is used to create a variety of car accessories, including the seat covering, dashboard etc.
  • Waffle weave: This refers to the waffle-like pattern on a microfiber towel that is best used to dry a surface after washing or for the purpose of streak-free glass cleaning.
  • Wash media: The tool you use to wash the exterior of the car.
  • Water spot remover: You use this product to remove the minerals sitting on the surface when the water has totally dried over it.
  • Waterless wash: It is not the name of process but a product made up of suitable polymers. This water-saving product uses minimal required water and uses the help of its polymer action to quickly emulsify and encapsulate grime for easy removal.
  • Wax: Derived from natural sources, this natural substance is used to protect glossy and painted surfaces from all kinds of detrimental effects.
  • Weathering: Deterioration and its effects caused to a vehicle due to environmental factors.
  • Wet sanding: The process of using water during the sanding process is called wet sanding. This helps in constantly removing the gunk generated from cleaning and keeps the work area clean. It also prevents loading sandpaper with dirt and grime.
  • Wool: Aggressive defect removal is done with the help of a polishing pad made out of wool. This wool can either be natural or synthetic in nature.

Pat yourself on the back, because you have made it to the destination. And, use these simplifications as much as possible to drive your point home while communicating with your clients either online or in person.


Know better to grow faster

It might be a simple promotional SMS, email or giant banner on a billboard. Unless you communicate your message clearly, your target customers will always find themselves too busy or tired to give it a second glance.

Make it simpler for them to understand you and your current and upcoming offerings easily by getting rid of all the jargon once and for all from your marketing lingo.

Daniel Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and has been working in the automobile industry for the last five years. He has worked with a couple of automobile giants in various capacities over the years. His passion for automobiles led him to start his own blog, Automobile Experts HQ, where he now works full-time.

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