What’s the difference you ask? Well, they are actually in the same ballpark, but opposite ends of the field! In simple terms:
A detail is just that, getting to the details – the cracks, crevices, addressing trim and conditioning it, conditioning leather, cleaning glass, waxing the exterior paint to protect it, cleaning the wheels, etc. This entails the basics where you go over and simply clean and condition all parts of the car. Rough time estimate is about 3 hours, give or take.
Paint correction, however, that’s a whole different game plan! This involves decontaminating the paint via clay or de-ironizer sprays, multi-step machine compounding and polishing, re-leveling the paint to a completely flat surface so there are no scratches or swirl marks that are taking away from the gloss of the paint, correcting and polishing metal trim, and so forth. This is much more labor intensive, and will no doubt cost 3-4 times the price of a “detail”. Rough time estimate ranges depending on the size, condition, expected final results which can lead to 12-30 hour jobs, add in color sanding and you can hit the 40-60 hour time point rather easily!
How do you know which one you should choose?
Well, if you are the type to always take your car through the local car wash, then you should probably plan on just getting a “detail” since the car wash will rapidly ruin the finish of a full paint correction rendering it pointless. I have done full corrections on cars only to go back a month later and it would be really scratched up due to 4 car washes from the local car wash. Had the owner been hand washing it with proper technique, it would have still looked good!
If you are car crazy, always liking to drive a freshly detailed car, then paint correction might be what you need! This will restore that like new condition to the paint, or better than new where there are no scratches, oxidation, swirling…just purely liquid looking paint! Paint correction is the process typically done on show cars to get that fresh paint job look, without the paint job! One can take a lack luster car and turn it into a car the owner falls in love with all over again via true paint correction! It may be pricey in comparison, but the results speak for themselves in the end!
I would love to perform only full correction jobs, but truth be told, you don’t always have to do that in order to keep your car in tip top condition. Figure one massive detail to get things looking how they should from the start, and then maintaining it from that point on with lots of little details and occasional single step polishings! Maintaining is easier than fixing, and cheaper, so get on a good regimen, stick to it, and always drive a brand new car!