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You’re proud of your car and keep it mint, I get that. Me too! Or so I thought. Turns out, however, what I thought was a shiny example of a looked after motor is barely a step above a 50-year-old barn find and I’m a little bit upset by this revelation.

What have I been doing to my car?

If you’re a member of Kiwi online forums relating to European cars, you may have spotted more than one photo of me either posting proud how my car is shinier than yours or asking for advice on how to clean something better… yeah, I’m that guy. I have all the bloody gear… and today I learned I actually have no idea. So what was it that brought my world crumbling down? A trip to Auto Niche in Hamilton, that’s what.

Curse of the repeat visit

I’m not a stranger to Auto Niche; when I bought my car, I posted on forums for advice for the best ceramic coating and everyone shouted “Fireball” in pretty much unison so off to Auto Niche I went. They did a stunning job on the car, but I took a showroom fresh vehicle to them so the actual extent of their extraordinaire didn’t quite click back then.

Auto Niche and Fireball stickers
I chose to protect my car with Fireball from Auto Niche.

For the past year I’ve been giving the car a weekly wash and every week I’m amazed at how well any grime comes off with little more than a pressure washer. Had my wife not ruined the interior of the car, I wouldn’t have taken the car in for a detail at all. No way! I was absolutely pleased with how my car is tidier than any other car on the road. Why would I pay someone when I do the job better than them anyway? …aaaaaand today was the day I got well and truly put back in my station.

When the pros do it

Okay so how big of a dick am I? Picture this… I roll out to Auto Niche this morning straight after breakfast and… cringe warning… I actually say “not sure if you can do much on the exterior” as I hand over the keys, smug as you like, and off I stroll pushing my daughter back home on a lovely morning walk. The thing is, I actually believed what I was saying! Looking back now, I cannot express the extent of my embarrassment with my limited vocabulary. I. Am. Such. A. Tool!

Donald Trump, smug idiot.
This image is stolen… I was just searching for “smug idiot” to illustrate how I felt, but all I could find was Trump.

A few hours of storybooks and peek-a-boos later, the kid and I walk back to pick up the car and I could see from the end of the drive that there was a gargantuan piece of humble pie with one lonely spoon waiting at the end of it!

2019 SEAT Ateca detailed by Auto Niche Hamilton New Zealand
Stunning Spaniard

What on earth have I been doing for the past year? Spraying it with mud and spoil by the looks of things!

Sky reflection on car surface
Mirror, mirror on my car…

The first thing I saw was the transformation of the shine on the panels, but what they did on my Ateca’s black trims was the most profound difference and improvement. The entire character of the car changed in a matter of a few hours and let’s not forget, it wasn’t really a filthy car to start with!

More FM on SEAT Ateca infotainment screen
Not. One. Finger print. My dash looks better than new. N.B. I don’t care what anyone says, Jay-Jay is the Queen of Kiwi radio!

The walkaround

I felt like I was on an episode of Pimp My Car, albeit a very middle-aged, family-man, special episode, when I picked up my car. My car looks better now than when I drove it out of the SEAT Store in Newmarket 18 months ago. I don’t know what kind of magic, poison or tears of lost children they used to shine up my car, but there isn’t a blemish on it. When I was proud of my own work looking after the car, deep down I knew the car looked like it was a year old but it doesn’t anymore. The trims are flawless, the paint is immaculate… not even the slightest hint of a water drop, dead bug or a speckle of dust from a farm road in Karaka. All of it gone and I don’t know how they did it.

2019 SEAT Ateca front interior
Every interior surface is cleaned to absolute perfection.

$1,000,000 to find a fault

Challenge accepted. Auto Niche did an epic job, but I did find pre-detail dirt when I looked long and hard enough but I’m not sure I can expect these to be picked up in a standard interior and exterior combo package for $300.

2019 Ateca Xcellence door trim
Zoom in enough and you’ll find a bit of dust in the door seal. Hardly a deal-breaker.
Dirt around SEAT Ateca fuel cap
They certainly didn’t look in there.
Leaves in SEAT Ateca engine bay
Nor did they pop the hood.

Pretty obvious that I don’t pick up on those “problem areas” either unless I have another reason to go there. I pick up the leaves when I fill the wiper fluid and I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about catching that dirt around the fuel cap when I’m cleaning my car. Maybe someone can tell me if these should’ve been picked up in the comments?

Reality bites

I no longer fancy myself as a bit of a self-taught car grooming wunderkid. After seeing how the true pros play the game, I know my place and I’ll keep my stupid photos off them forums from now on, too. The masochist in me is weirdly looking forward to next weekend’s home groom as I try to up my game. Might have to turn to Google and see if I need a better sponge. After all, it’s all in the equipment, isn’t it?

Full disclosures

I paid full price for my service and the folks at Auto Niche have no idea I’m writing about them on the interwebs.

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