The detailers at Mike's Auto Spa designed a signature process to leave vehicles looking like they just came off the line. They start by documenting the car's condition, flipping through the car’s old baby pictures, and thoroughly washing its exterior. They then clean engines and treat leather or carpet interiors. Then it's back to the exterior, where they apply compounds and polishes that leave paint jobs shiny, protect windshields, clean headlights as needed, and shine tires. Finally, they perform a triple-check on every part of the vehicle.
If customers don't have time for the signature treatment, Mike's team also scrubs up vehicles with express services. Vehicles roll through the car wash tunnel, before heading to the vacuum lane, where staffers suck up dirt and crumbs.
As part of the international WaterSavers program, the green-minded team behind Car Wash Express urges drivers to eschew the potentially harmful environmental effects of at-home car washes in favor of quick, thorough cleanses. 100% of the water used on your wash will be recycled and 80% of that will go toward the next wash. Across Car Wash Express?s five Denver-area locations, an automated tunnel attacks exterior buildup with biodegradable cleaning products and shine-enhancing protectants. The wash?s express lanes expedite the scrubbing process and cater to drivers in a hurry, and its fleet/bulk sales program meets the high-volume demands of people who own multiple cars or frequently race roadsters through the local pit.
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.
Chains have greater name recognition, but family-owned companies are more likely to have personal relationships with their customers. Or so says Dolphin Car Wash owner Dan LaFaver, who encourages his employees to get to know customers on a first-name basis. That’s not to say that the business shuns all major brands though; the certified staff works with Valvoline products during services, which include replenishing motor-oil reserves, upgrading windshield wipers, and brightening headlights. After any service, clients can use Dolphin’s fleet of free vacuums for additional cleanup or supplemental tickling.
Since 1988, Auto Care Super Saver has been helping car owners save cash with maintenance punch cards redeemable at local auto shops throughout the course of a full year. These cards come loaded with all kinds of prepaid services, including at least three full-service oil changes with up to 5 quarts of oil, lube, and a new filter. Depending on the location, punch cards may also feature tire rotations, brake inspections, engine-light readings, air-conditioning performance tests, and other repairs and inspections essential to a car's well-being. Customers can transfer the punch card's benefits to any ride, ranging from station wagons to sports cars to feral merry-go-round mounts.
Although Mototech's Chris Bond and Robert Mayer are ASE-certified experts in the maintenance of vehicles ranging from flashy Audis to muscular Dodges, their most important innovations are invisible to the naked eye. The co-owners both worked as engineers, but now exercise their knack for invention with product-developing companies, researching and designing chemical degreasers and cleaners with the least environmental impact. Their molecular triumphs grew into the shop's signature line of decontaminants, which they create onsite with environmentally friendly ingredients from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Design for Environment list. During day-to-day operations, knowledge of science empowers them to perform sustainable car modifications, such as converting a motor to run on renewable ethanol or a puppy's boundless love, and to implement a broad program to reduce energy costs and recycle waste such as motor oil.
Bond and Mayer's met as industrial designers at Intelagard, a firefighting-equipment manufacturer, and bonded over their previous careers as mechanics. Missing friendly chats with clients and the impressions of Louise Jefferson wheezed out by jalopies, they quit the firm to open their ASE Blue Seal–recognized garage. Bond contributes specializations in metal fabrication, welding, and machining, and Mayer brings 12 years of expertise as a master mechanic and certification as an L1 advanced engine-performance specialist. They keep their team small to ensure a high quality of work and to welcome clients with familiar faces, and are a participating center in the NAPA AutoCare network, which guarantees parts and labor at any of its locations nationwide.