Recommissioning Car Detailing

Recommissioning car detailing is not for the faint-hearted. Most of the recommissioning projects we’ve dealt with at our Hampshire detailing studios have been extensive by their very nature. They generally involve vehicles that have been sitting for long periods of time; often, in less than ideal storage facilities. If you leave a car outside for years, without cover or care, especially under trees, there will be a lot of built-up grime to tackle! Interiors will often go mouldy in cars that have been out of action without proper storage. Aside from the unpleasant smell and aesthetics, this mould can be a health hazard. So, it’s important that to deal with it carefully and thoroughly.

A previous recommissioning car detailing project involved a car that an owner had taken to live in Morocco for a few years. Upon his return, he wanted his car to gleam again. The paint damage was incredible; it was quite literally sand-blasted flat.

Because these projects are big, multi-faceted jobs, we usually end up reaching out to a lot of our contacts on these jobs.

Recommissioning Car Detailing – Working with our Partners:

At Auto Curators, we’ve been in the business of detailing for many years. Even before we opened our Hampshire detailing studio, Paul (our founder) began building his black book of contacts. And that’s where we bring real value to any recommissioning car detailing project. If we can’t solve an issue, we know somebody that can.


Any recommissioning car detailing project generally begins with transportation to our Hampshire detailing studio. In many circumstances, a vehicle may not run, and at the very least, the MOT will have expired, so it won’t be legal to drive. So, we work with our partners to ensure safe transportation to our premises.

Under the Bonnet:

Any car that’s part of a recommissioning project will usually go to our mechanics first. They offer a thorough inspection and assess the requirements to make the car function safely and reliably. Generally, they’ll complete a major service to refresh the various fluids and filters and put them through an MOT. This can extend much further and include complete suspension refreshes, replacing failed components, new tyres, brakes, or anything else it needs.

For example, we had a car with extensive work done after being sat for five years on a driveway. We’d had a couple of issues crop up during disassembly (the front of the car was off to replace the timing chain, and as soon as we had loosened the radiator from its fixings, it just fell apart), and once laid bare; it was obvious that the alternator was well past its best. Whilst still functioning, the pulley bearing on the front was very noisy and probably not far from complete failure. The component itself cost around £500, which we put to our client. He was initially a little reluctant (budget creep was in full effect by now) but agreed to change it.

Of course, we’d have left it if that was his wish, but when that later failed, there would have been around 11 hours of labour to pay for in addition to the component cost. The moral of the story is to go into a recommissioning car detailing project with your eyes open and a little fat in your budget.

A Trip to the Bodyshop:

Next up, if we can’t solve issues in-house with our own detailing skills, is a trip to our friends at the Bodyshop. This might be to address corrosion that has crept in while the vehicle has sat or damage that has occurred. For example, a car that has sat unattended under trees may suffer extensive paint damage from bird and bug droppings or tree sap. So, some areas may need a complete respray.

Finally, back to our Hampshire Studio:

Once the under-the-bonnet and bodywork elements have been addressed, the vehicle comes back to us for the icing on the cake!

We carry out paint correction where necessary to bring the original paint up to the standard of any new paint. We often refurbish wheels, detail the engine bay, deep clean the interior, and restore leather if required. Finally, we apply paint protection in the form of our Signature ceramic coatings and maybe even Xpel paint protection film.

Things to consider before you embark on a recommissioning project:

Before commencing a project, we work fastidiously to assess, document, and provide estimates for all work, especially the extras. We aim to deliver a realistic initial estimate and budget so that our clients can make an informed decision. However, in all honesty, budget creep is commonplace in these types of jobs. Problems sometimes unfold beyond our expectations, and sometimes, they make it uneconomical to continue with the project. But that is always for our client to decide.

It can easily cost more than a car is worth to restore it to its former glory. We’re very happy to offer an opinion on the worthiness of a job if we are asked. But it’s not for us to judge whether that represents value to our client. Sometimes it is not just financial factors in play; a car may be worth the restoration for other reasons.

Working with you to find solutions:

If you decide to go ahead with a recommissioning project and something unexpected crops up, we will always try to find a cost-effective solution. For example, we worked on a rare Audi A8, the flagship W12 model. The wheels were in terrible condition, and the tyres were well past their best. We took them to our wheel refurbishers, at which point, they pointed out the Michelin PAX tyres. The trouble is, we’d never heard of them!

Most things are sold with run-flat tyres these days, but these weren’t straightforward. It turns out that Michelin designed their own proprietary run-flat tyre, PAX, as fitted to high-end cars such as Bugatti, Rolls Royce, and this Audi. It turns out that not only were these tyres eye-wateringly expensive, but there are only half a dozen places in the UK with the correct machine to remove and refit them. However, we managed to source a brand new set of period-correct, conventional OE wheels from Audi Germany and had them fitted with some premium brand new tyres. A much more cost-effective alternative than renewing the original PAX tyres!

A Recent Project:

Finally, we thought we’d share a recent recommissioning car detailing project with you, where we helped to rescue a 2006 Audi RS4 from dilapidation. The car had been owned from new by our client; it was well used and loved. However, after years of use, it was cosmetically in a bit of a state and needed some mechanical attention. When we took it into our Hampshire detailing studio, it had been parked up for two years with just the occasional start-up to get the engine up to temperature.

The timeline:

Once on the ground with our mechanics, they identified some work necessary to pass an MOT and some for preventative maintenance. Our client supplied new suspension springs and dampers to be fitted, but this grew to include all the suspension arms, bushes and ball joints. It was fitted with new tyres, and the vehicle received its MOT.

There was damage to the bonnet and front bumper, the latter being cracked in several places, as well as severe stone chips and some corrosion, so all that needed sorting and bird droppings had eaten through all the paint layers in several places. Probably two-thirds of the car ended up being painted.


Audi recommissioning car project at our Hampshire detailing studio



Mid project at our detailing studio

We had the original wheels refurbished and fitted with new TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) sensors.

The interior was in decent shape, so a good clean was all that was necessary, apart from removing a set of awful window tints from the glass.

Due to the expanded works, the project took a lot longer than expected, but we stayed in touch throughout. We’d avoided sending pictures of the finished car, as we wanted our client to get the full wow factor when he arrived at our Hampshire detailing studio. And he really did! Setting eyes upon the car, our client was speechless. After taking a few moments to walk around it, he proclaimed, “It didn’t look this good the day I bought it.”

Audi recommissioning car project at our Hampshire detailing studio

Audi recommissioning car project at our Hampshire detailing studio

If you have a recommissioning car detailing project you’d like to get started, talk to us, we can help you make an initial assessment. Contact us at our Hampshire detailing studio or via our contact form HERE.