Troubleshooting: What to Do If Your Detailing Job Goes Wrong

From everyday maintenance tips to professional-grade detailing advice

Troubleshooting: What to Do If Your Detailing Job Goes Wrong

Detailing your car can be a deeply satisfying endeavour, transforming a tired, grimy vehicle into something that looks almost new. However, not every detailing job goes smoothly.

Sometimes, things go wrong. Whether it’s streaky windows, scratched paint, or lingering odours, there are solutions. Here’s a guide to troubleshooting common detailing mishaps and how to fix them.

Streaky Windows

One of the most common issues encountered during detailing is streaky windows. This can be particularly frustrating, as clear windows are crucial for both aesthetics and safety.


Use the Right Cleaner: Ensure you’re using a quality glass cleaner. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners as they can leave streaks and damage tint.

Proper Technique: Use a clean, lint-free microfibre cloth. Spray the cleaner onto the cloth rather than the window to avoid overspray.

Circular Motion: Clean in a circular motion, followed by vertical and horizontal strokes to ensure full coverage.

Buff Dry: Use a separate dry cloth to buff the glass and remove any remaining streaks.

Scratched Paint

Scratches on the paint can occur if the wrong tools or techniques are used. Even minor scratches can be an eyesore.


Identify the Scratch: Determine if the scratch is superficial or deeper into the paint layer.

Use a Scratch Remover: For superficial scratches, a scratch remover or a polishing compound can be effective. Apply with a microfibre cloth and buff in small circles.

Touch-Up Paint: For deeper scratches, you might need touch-up paint. Clean the area, apply the paint sparingly, and let it dry completely before applying a clear coat.

Professional Help: For significant damage, it might be best to consult a professional detailer.

Water Spots

Water spots can form if water dries on the car’s surface, leaving behind mineral deposits. They can be stubborn and challenging to remove.


Quick Action: As soon as you notice water spots, address them. The longer they sit, the harder they are to remove.

Vinegar Solution: A mixture of water and white vinegar (1:1) can dissolve mineral deposits. Apply with a microfibre cloth and gently rub the spots.

Clay Bar: For more stubborn spots, a clay bar can be effective. Lubricate the surface with a clay lubricant and gently glide the clay bar over the area.
Sealant or Wax: Once removed, apply a sealant or wax to protect the paint and prevent future spots.

Lingering Odours

Even after a thorough cleaning, sometimes odours persist inside the car. This can be particularly troublesome if the smell is from something like smoke or spilled food.


Deep Clean: Remove all trash and vacuum thoroughly, including under seats and in crevices.

Odour Eliminators: Use an odour eliminator specifically designed for cars. Products with activated charcoal are particularly effective.

Steam Clean: Steam cleaning the interior, including seats and carpets, can help eliminate deep-seated odours.

Air Fresheners: As a final touch, use an air freshener. However, ensure it complements the scent rather than just masking it.

Hazy Headlights

Hazy headlights can result from oxidation and can significantly reduce visibility at night, posing a safety risk.


Headlight Restoration Kit: Use a headlight restoration kit which typically includes a cleaner, sandpaper, and a polish.

Clean and Sand: Clean the headlights, then wet-sand with the provided sandpaper, starting with the coarser grit and moving to finer grits.

Polish: Apply the included polish and buff until the haze is gone.

Seal: Apply a UV sealant to protect the headlights from future oxidation.

Dull Finish

If the finish of your car looks dull even after washing and waxing, it might be due to oxidation or insufficient polishing.


Clay Bar Treatment: Start with a clay bar treatment to remove contaminants from the paint surface.

Polish: Use a car polish to restore the shine. Apply with an orbital polisher for best results.

Seal and Wax: Seal the polish with a sealant and then apply a high-quality wax to protect the shine.


Detailing your car can be a rewarding process, but sometimes, things don’t go as planned. By following these troubleshooting tips, you can address common detailing issues and ensure your car looks its best. Remember, patience and the right products are key to achieving that showroom finish. Happy detailing!

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