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Wax on, wax off: Detailers service high-end cars in downtown garages

Clean Car Co., located in the parking garage at 333 Bay St., is part of a growing trend of car detailing companies working out of parking garages in downtown Toronto to service the cars of busy executives.

Tucked away in the back corner of the fourth level of the parking garage below the Bay Adelaide Centre in downtown Toronto, Justin David, manager and franchise owner of Clean Car Co., carefully inspects a blue BMW 325i for nicks and scratches.

"When you polish and wax a car, you'll see things you've never seen before," he said, going over a dark spot with a chamois towel. "These are all sap marks she hasn't taken care of. Feel how smooth it is – you can see the shine from the gloss."

Clean Car Co. is just one of the many shops occupying space in the parking garages of downtown Toronto, providing executive clients a quick and convenient opportunity to get their cars detailed on a regular basis.

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His clients work in the office tower above the garage, and about 80 per cent of them have their cars washed multiple times a week, with the cost ranging from $24 for a basic hand wash to a $379 package that includes a three-step buff, polish, and wax, as well as carpet shampoo and leather cleaning. Most of his regulars get a basic wash once or more each week, and a full detail between twice a year and twice a month.

"Some of these guys work on the 60th floor," he said. "Sometimes they come in on the Friday and the Monday. The best is the single guy who doesn't have kids – he pays for the wash but it's already clean. I just did it two days ago."

David's cell phone and social media channels overflow with pictures of the high-end cars he has had the pleasure of polishing over the four years he's worked in the garage, including Ferraris, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Teslas, Porsches, and more.

For the owners, the convenience of detailing shops in downtown garages in Toronto and other major cities is worth the price. They keep their vehicles looking like they just rolled off the showroom floor, without having to leave the office.

"Having that clean odour and feel about it makes it really nice to get into," said Robert Klopot, president and CEO of the Forest Hill Group. He takes his BMW M4 and Land Rover LR4 to another detailing outfit, At Your Car's Service Inc., which is located on the first floor of the parking garage at First Canadian Place.

"I've got two kids, so I require regular maintenance," he said. "I usually get a complete detailing once every two months, and in between I use maintenance cleaning services pretty regularly."

Klopot buys packages of 10, at a cost of about $400 for the sports car and $550 for the SUV. Though having a prime downtown location makes such services a bit more expensive, Klopot doesn't mind paying a little extra for the convenience. "They really take the headache out of it, and within 30 seconds of dropping off my keys, I'm in the elevator."

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Vallerie Gillis, owner of the BMW that David attended to, works in the building above his garage, as an advisory services partner for KPMG. "He has a really strong attention to detail," she said. "I find that Justin does a really good job on the wheels in terms of the rims and the tires themselves. He makes them look spectacular."

For a $229 polish, shampoo and cleaning package, plus taxes, David began by hand washing the exterior, spraying the rims with cleaning product and wiping the wheels with tire shine. Then he wiped the inside and outside windows, shampooed and vacuumed the carpets, wiped down the seats, cleaned the door jams and rubber mats, the centre console, the cup holders, the vents, the mirrors and steering wheel.

"I buffed out the scratches , then polished the entire car which protects it, then I waxed it with carnauba wax which lasts four to six months," said David. "I apply wax to the whole car by hand, and then I take it off with a towel."

Later that day, Gillis was pleased to find her car looking "shiny and beautiful."

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