While there are no specific guidelines for what actually makes up a ‘detail,’ it is typically considered more extensive than washing and drying a car, and will often involve many steps. Main goals are typically beautification and protection, but can also touch other areas such as minor paint repair and surface restoration, as well as thoroughly cleaning areas which are normally ignored such as the engine and underchassis, wheels, tires, and trim.
The steps of a basic exterior detail of the paint surface consist of, in this order, wash, dry, clay bar, wash again, polish, glaze, sealant, wax. Application of a glaze is optional, as is application of both a sealant and wax.
A variety of shampoos, cleaners, degreasers, protectants, lubricants, polishes, clay bars, and waxes have developed over time to suit various demands of consumers and professionals.