More Clean Means More Green

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An often overlooked maintenance routine may cost your customers hundreds to thousands of dollars. While most customers appreciate the critical value of regular oil and air filter changes, few are probably aware of how much their vehicle’s value is impacted by its appearance.

By adding-on a referral service for nearby auto detail shops, such as those commonly found at auto auction businesses, you can help your customers further protect, enhance and increase the value of their vehicles.

“The detailing of a vehicle can completely change the appearance of a vehicle which in turn will bring its value up tremendously,” said Travis Hair, detail shop manager at Lone Star Auto Auction in Lubbock, Texas.

CNN Money and Kelley Blue Book note auto detailing and minor body repairs can increase a car’s value from $300 to $2,000. Hair usually charges $100 for the typical detail job — that’s a big return on the investment.

“Unless your car is a rusty bucket of bolts, a professional detailing job is always worth the money,” Richard Homan, senior vehicle evaluation editor said in an article posted on

At Lone Star Auto Auction, Hair notices car owners frequently neglect to clean and protect their vehicles.

“Many people overlook the importance of having their cars detailed. We detail a lot of cars, and it is very evident as each and every car comes through that the importance of a good detail is [often] overlooked,” Hair said. “You can clearly see the minor issues could have been dealt with that have slowly turned a nice car into one that people really wouldn’t want anymore. Simple issues and simple fixes that, over time, have compounded, making it even harder to make the car nice again.”

Several steps are taken to help restore a car’s appearance and protect it against further wear and tear. At Lone Star Auto Auction, a typical detail job starts with washing the vehicle’s exterior, engine and undercarriage. Washing is done by hand with soft bristled brushes.

Next comes the interior, which includes the headliner, seats, carpets and those hard-to-reach areas that rarely see the light of day, let alone a vacuum cleaner.

“We also address any stains the seats, headliner and carpet may have,” Hair said. “The last step is waxing the vehicle. First, we apply a product to the tires, fender wells, engine and any of the black plastic surfaces.

“Second we address any minor scratches, paint transfer or any tar that may be on the vehicle. Then the entire painted surface of the exterior is waxed with a buffer. Once the painted surfaces are completed, we go over the glass, chrome and the painted surface of the body one last time.”

After about 90 to 120 minutes of meticulous cleaning, waxing, and polishing, the vehicle is ready to impress.

“The removal of stains, minor scratches, dirt and everything else a detail entails, in my opinion, makes all the difference when it comes to raising the value,” Hair said. 

Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation for Kelly Blue Book, said a car owner interested in selling a vehicle has more leverage once the car has been detailed.

“You could probably negotiate an extra $300 to $500 if it’s properly cleaned,” Gutierrez said.

Car Care Council spokeswoman Lauren Fix said, “the value of a mid-range car can be increased by $2,000 or more when selling it privately by just sprucing it up and making minor, easy repairs.”

While some car owners may not be interested in selling, it’s still recommended they regularly maintain their car’s appearance. Additives in car cleaning products not only help to restore a vehicle’s showroom luster, but they also protect and preserve the car’s paint, chrome, aluminum, vinyl, leather, plastic, carpet, weather stripping and tires.

In addition to preserving and protecting a vehicle’s appearance, Hair noted a clean, detailed car is always more attractive.

“When a buyer looks at a freshly detailed car there are fewer things to deter them from buying,” Hair said. ”The vehicle stands out compared to all the other vehicles.”

If you are looking for services to add value to your customers’ vehicles, but don’t have room to offer detailing in-house, look around your community to see what businesses, such as independent detailers or auto auctions, you can partner with to do so.

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