How Do Car Dealers Make Their Cars So Shiny?

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car dealer

I was always amazed by how shiny all the cars at dealerships are. For a long time I was wondering how they keep their vehicles so shiny, and a few days ago, my friend who works in a dealership explained the whole process to me. I decided to share everything with you guys.

Car dealers make their cars extremely shiny by using these methods:

  • Thoroughly washing their cars.
  • Polishing and compounding cars to remove swirl marks and scratches.
  • Applying waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings to cars to make them shiny and protected.
  • Using plastic restorers for bumpers and other plastic parts.
  • Applying tire dressings.
  • Using quick detailer sprays or spray waxes on a daily basis to keep cars shiny all the time.

1. Thorough Car Wash

As you know, everything begins with a nice and thorough car wash. The dealers always do a complete car wash first. They often hire some new car detailers to do that, and they almost always underpay them a lot (I’m not too fond of it). 

When the vehicle is thoroughly washed, it’s prepared for all the other steps car dealers are doing to make their cars as shiny as possible. 

If you don’t clean every inch of the car, it’ll be harder to do some other things later (polishing, waxing, etc.).

2. Polishing and Compounding

I would say that 99% of the used cars need polishing and compounding. So, if the dealers get a used car, they’ll almost surely polish it to get the best color appearance. Of course, if the vehicle is brand new, there’s no need to do this step. 

Polishing and compounding are paint correction processes whose primary goal is to remove all the swirl marks, scratches, and other paint imperfections that cause paint to look awful. When you polish the vehicle, the color will already look 10x better than before, even without using any other products. 

Polishing isn’t laborious (check my guide here), but still, you need some knowledge to do it properly. Otherwise, you could burn the clear coat and damage the car’s paint. Car dealers often have contracts with professional detailers, so the process is cheaper because of bulk pricing. 

3. Applying Waxes and Sealants

Applying waxes and sealants is the most crucial step for car color shine. Car dealers always apply some kind of paint protection on their cars, and the biggest reason for this is the car’s appearance. Even if the vehicle is brand new, car dealers will also wax it to improve the shine and gloss of the paint. 

Waxes and sealants give the car that deep shine and glow, which amazes every potential customer who comes in. Just think about it: when you see a gleaming car over some dirty one, you will automatically choose the prettier one (even without checking other things such as mechanic parts, etc.). 

Some car dealers that sell more expensive cars will invest in high-quality waxes and sealants that last longer and give the vehicle paint the best possible look. However, in most cases, they’ll use some cheap products to increase the profit margin. So, don’t expect car dealers to use high-end products on mid-priced vehicles. 

4. Restoring Plastic Parts on Cars

Restoring plastic parts (bumpers, fenders, etc.) is a quick and easy way to improve the vehicle’s appearance, especially on older cars. Experienced car dealers will always restore faded plastic parts because they know that they have more chances of selling cars and earning money by doing that. 

All the weather elements and the Sun’s UV rays damage the car plastics. If the car is a bit older, there’s a big chance that the plastics need restoration. It’s a non-expensive yet essential step for a car to look shiny. 

5. Applying Tire Shine Products

Car dealers will often apply tire shine products to car tires. Not only can they improve the car’s appearance by doing that, but they can also “hide” the obsolete tires that way. When you apply the tire shine (gels, sprays, etc.) on tires, they’ll immediately look newer. 

When buying a car at a dealership, you should be careful about this one. Tires may look brand new, but make sure always to check the production date. After only a couple of washes, you’ll be able to see the actual tire condition. 

6. Using Quick Detailers and Waxes Daily

Even if car dealers do all the steps above, there’s always some dust and debris that’ll show on the car after some time, even in closed environments. That’s the reason why they’ll often use quick detailers and waxes on a daily basis. 

Quick detailers are used to clean minor dust and debris while offering little protection and shine. On the other hand, quick waxes don’t provide so much cleaning power, but they offer much more protection, shine, and gloss. 

Mostly, dealers won’t use both products because it’s not so profitable. However, it’s good to know that they often use them every few days just to keep the car as clean and shiny as possible, even though their vehicles are already “clean enough.” 

Conclusion: It’s Easier For Car Dealers

car dealer selling a car

After showing you all the six steps on how car dealers make their cars so shiny, I want to show you why it’s easier for them to have spotless vehicles all the time. I’ll be short here, but I just want to point some things out. 

  1. They mostly don’t drive those cars – mostly, cars in dealerships will stay out of the road. That way, they won’t attract so much dirt and debris on them, so they’ll need detailing less often. 
  2. Some cars are in a closed environment – most dealerships that sell brand-new vehicles keep the vehicles in a secure environment (halls). Those cars don’t come in contact with all the weather elements daily driven cars do, and that’s why it’s effortless to keep them shiny. 
  3. Their job is to keep the car clean and attractive to customers – if you don’t wash your car so often, mostly, nobody cares. However, car dealers need to keep their cars as shiny as possible to attract customers. Nobody wants to buy a dirty car, even if it’s an old one. 

I think you get the point. To conclude, it’s just more straightforward for car dealers than for you, and that’s how they increase the chances of selling more cars. In the end, it all comes to profit. If car dealers didn’t benefit from it, trust me, they wouldn’t care so much about the car’s look.


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