Though it originally sold only two things—audio products and wireless phones—Car Toys has gradually expanded its repertoire. Today, with 50 locations spread across four states, electronics-certified technicians install everything from Alpine in-dash navigation units to phone-integration systems that sync iPhones, Androids, and tin cans to car stereos. Meanwhile, in the garage, detailing technicians meticulously spruce up cars inside and out, using deionized water, paint-friendly shampoos, and high-quality wash mitts to protect against scratches, swirls, and water spots. The team also sweeps through interiors with vacuums, hot-water extractors, and ozone deodorizing treatment, which kills airborne bacteria and nasty smells in one fell swoop.
Car after car slowly rolls past as automatic sprayers lather them up and rinse them down before a mist of Simoniz Hot Wax & Shine is applied. It’s from West Oaks Car Wash & Mobil1 Lube Express’ roomy waiting area that customers relax after having cars cleaned, which when performed regularly can maintain the luster of the car’s exterior. Applications of Simoniz products shield the car from UV rays and guard it from minor scratches, and rust inhibitors keep auto exteriors from decaying. Bolstering each car’s surface protection, the Rain-X Complete option also repels water during inclement weather or when parked inside backyard pools. Besides keeping cars cleaned inside and out, the team at West Oaks Car Wash & Mobil1 Lube Express also performs maintenance services such as oil changes and lubes.
Goodyear Car Care's mechanics, certified by the institute for Automotive Service Excellence, slip under car hoods and undercarriages to perform tasks from routine oil changes to intricate engine replacements. Tools let out pneumatic whines as they install new tires from brands such as Michelin and Goodyear, and the complete list of services includes brake adjustments and state inspections. They also pick up and drop off customers by appointment and provide loaner cars when needed. Tow trucks rumble out of the lot en route to get patrons unstuck from ditches or give third graders an idea for their thesis papers.
The computer-driven wash tunnel at Carisma Wash scours vehicles in four minutes or fewer, but that doesn't mean cutting corners. In fact, during the brief cycles, a parade of mild, wet, and grease-cutting soaps coat the body, tires, and windows of cars four times or as many as it takes to remove hitchhikers from the roof rack. Wheels covered with soft cloth gently scrub grime while passengers stay comfortably seated inside.
Washes range from the basic Touch It Up to The Ultimate, which encompasses everything from UV protectant to an undercarriage scrub. After an air dry, customers emerge and grab self-service vacuums to free interiors of crumbs and nephews who fell between the seats. Employees stand by their handiwork, granting patrons a free wash if they're not satisfied after their first spin.
The skilled staff members at Auto Concierge restore vehicular topcoats and tires to their original luster within a 1,200-square-foot detailing studio comfortably heated or cooled according to the season. Armed with top-notch waxes and wheel sealants from brands such as Swissvax and Nanolex Premium, employees make over cars from hubcap to roof rack, bathing exteriors before gently lifting entrenched debris and paring down uneven paint. Compressed air blasts grime from interiors, and dry vapor steam purifies carpets and upholstery while staffers wring out smoky scents and other lingering odors such as fast-food fries, frankincense, or myrrh. Auto Concierge also rights wrongs inflicted by auto dealerships by leveling and polishing flawed paint jobs. Roadsters that need to stay overnight at Auto Concierge are locked indoors and chaperoned by a 24-hour surveillance system.
Every car is different, but they all look good after a fresh wash. The technicians at South Beach Auto Spa keep that in mind, delivering expert detailing services while taking the extra steps needed to protect vehicles. On top of traditional hand wash and wax services, the staff offers three- and five-stage polishing that buffs out nicks, scratches, water spots, or hood paintings of Princess Leia. Techs even use different wash sponges on the wheels than on the body, ensuring that sponges don't pick up the brake dust that can scratch a car's paint finish.
One of only a few local shops lucky enough to carry 3M products, South Beach Auto Spa also protects auto interiors with tint-installation services. Customers can gauge the potential appearance of different tinting films through a simulator, opting for color-stable, crystalline, or premium films. All tinting films are digitally cut using software and a Roland plotter, and help fend off UV rays and adverse temperatures while increasing each auto's security and appearance.
Plastic Trim Restoration (PTR) began as a group of veterans and students working to put themselves through college, but has now evolved into a full-service detailing outfit. PTR’s uniformed technicians specialize in restoring faded plastic trim, which they do with the help of a polymer formula that allows clients to customize the shade of their trim. PTR still employs primarily veterans and students, who also perform services such as headlight restoration and premium detailing for private clients and dealerships.