There is nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from detailing the exterior of the car. I don't know why it is but it seems that black cars are the ones that have the most reflective qualities when they are clean. This is probably because black as a color when it is clean tends to have the most mirrorlike finish. Having said that it still is something that very few owners are willing to commit to over the long term. I've often said that detailing as a hobby is a fine line between mental illness.
Most owners get into the act of detailing her car once or twice but then give up on it, simply because it is just too much work especially if the vehicle is driven regularly. I know this is true in my own case especially with vehicles that are driven in the winter or in cities where it rains a lot. Detailing your car's exterior involves various levels of commitment.
For example you may be what I would call the weekend detailer. The weekend detailer is somebody who is adamant about washing and keeping the exterior of their car clean. This individual is not afraid to experiment with many of the wash and spray and wipe products that are on the market. Some of my favorites include Meguiars Quick Detailer which is a terrific product to be used on a vehicle just after you've washed it.
The reason I like this product is because it has some of the most advanced technology for providing a very quick gloss to the exterior of your car, without the usual cutting cleaning and waxing that is involved in more comprehensive jobs.
For those that are selling a car it makes a lot of sense to have the car professionally detailed on the exterior. This is because research has shown that vehicles with really clean paint will sell for 5 to 15% more than a car with dull paint.
There are increasingly more and more products on the market for those wishing to do professional level detailing at home. For example there is a product called the Ultimate Detailing Machine which is an orbital polisher that comes with different paths and a heavy-duty motor for heavy-duty work. This product will cost a few hundred dollars and does not come with any of the wax and cleaning compounds that you would use it with. I think it is a good idea for people who want to take extra good care of their vehicles paint to have a product like this on hand so that they can detail their car and polish the paint a few times a year.
It is amazing how much longer your pain will last, and how it will be more able to handle the elements and all of the junk paints have to deal with throughout the year.
The bottom line with detailing your car whether you are the weekend detailer or you are serious about using a machine to polish and keep your paint looking good, is to keep it all in perspective and not go overboard with too many products. While yes it is just a car, it is also a thing of beauty... and the most important thing is keeping contaminants OFF the paint with regular washes and little polish so that it lasts for the life of the car.