Hi, Skykid here. I'm the proud new owner of an 07 RL Sky and loving every second of it. I thought my inside knowledge would be useful especially on this subject. I used to work in the detail department for Saturn. I liked my job a lot and the dealership was awesome. This is not a knock on the dealership by any means and I do not want to come across as some disgruntled employee. I am just going to state fact about the way mydealership did things and our policies.
1. All new cars before sale are prep-ed using a chemical called crystal wash. This solvent is specifically designed to remove industrial fallout from factory chemicals.
a) (Opinion) I do not like this chemical at all. It is toxic and may cause micro scratches in the protective coating that could posibbly lead to more permanent damage such as swirling in the cars finish.
2. All cars are washed with brushes and dried with chamois. The detail department uses brushes to wash all vehicles whether it is a service vehicle for courtesy wash, sold unit for new customer, or (this is a big one) a high priced Caltex to protect your interior and finish. ALL VEHICLES ARE WASHED AND DRIED THE SAME WAY
a) Like Gary said in the earlier post, microfiber and chenille mits are the only way to go for washing your baby. The do not scratch the finish and are completely non-abrasive.
b) In the detail shop we used two buckets both filled with soap and water. These buckets are used all day long and seldom does the water get changed. Think about all that dirt and grime from the previous 20 vehicles scratching the surface of your new car.
c) Don't blame the detailers at the dealership or the dealership itself. Most of the employees make less than $10 an hour to wash cars by hand all day long. They do not care about your car anymore than the drive-through car washes. The dealership has to meet it's overhead costs and money for Saturn has been restricted by GM to allow for product development on new vehicles. How do you think the Sky came to be? The dealerships do the very best they can in most cases and genuinely care about their customers cares and concerns.
d) If you take your vehicle in to be serviced, request that it not be washed or detailed. If not it will be treated just like all other service vehicles and will go back for the usual courtesy wash and vacuum.
3. The most important thing is turn-around time for the detail department. We may have five technicians working on cars and they all finish at the same time. There may only be one or two detailers on shift. You may be waiting for your vehicle for quite a while at this point. The poor detailer is moving as fast as he can but he has five cars to wash and dry by hand. What kind of quality work do you expect to receive from this process? Not to include if there is a new or used car for prep or a Caltex job standing by. He is the only one doing all this. So once again ask yourself about quality.
a) (Fact) The dealer will sell you an expensive Caltex detail as a detail. It is not neccessarily that. It is a kind of detail and we do apply paint, upholstery, and carpet protectant to the vehicle. Don't be mislead or confused though. You are buying a warranty when you purchase a Caltex detail more than you are purchasing a detail. If we cannot get out that stain or scratch or whatever, that is when the Caltex warranty should kick in. They (The dealership) should replace or fix the problem as long as you paid for the Caltex during the initial vehicle purchase. A Caltex will not cover pre-existing damage to the vehicle.
This is the way my dealership ran things. I cannot speak for other dealerships or other saturn detailers. The information I gave above is accurate to my experiences working there. I have detailed cars since I was sixteen years old and am now twenty seven. The info contained in Garys article is spot on and is the way most professional detailers work. Detailing can be a pain but treat it as an art and enjoy yourself and you will reap the results. Just follow Garys instuctions and you can keep that baby in the garage shining and sparkling for years.
Thanks for your time and it is awesome to be apart of the community.