A Cost Guide To Car Detailing

Having a perfectly cleaned and shiny car isn’t just for vanity. Detailing care can preserve the car’s value and save you money down the line by being proactive in taking care of the paint job and other elements.

Car detailing is recommended by auto experts three to four times a year to keep your car as shiny as the day it drove off the lot. Not to mention, detailing also helps to protect your car from the outdoor elements it is constantly exposed to such as dirt, rain, chemicals, extreme heat and the sun’s UV rays. This isn’t a basic cleaning, though. Detailing goes above and beyond a simple car wash. It includes a systematic cleaning of both the interior and exterior of the car. Detailing should help keep the paint job looking fresh and keep the car from rusting or obtaining other damage. Interior protection to the dashboard, steering wheel and seats is also important because it is exposed to high temperatures and the sun’s UV rays through the windows.

The process of detailing a car can take hours or it can take up most of a day. In order to do the job right, you need special tools and products that not everyone has on hand all the time. Due to the time commitment and cost of supplies, many people choose to pay an expert for the detailing service a few times a year rather than take on the project themselves. How often you detail your car will be a personal choice based on the use of the car and probably the value of the car as well. More expensive or rare cars might need specialized or delicate handling.

So how much can a car owner expect to pay for detailing service?

That’s going to depend on several factors including the level of service, the expertise of the detailer or shop and the type and size of vehicle being cleaned. You should expect to pay more for high-quality service and also for larger sized automobiles like trucks, SUVs and vans. Many shops will have several packages for you to choose from. Here are a few averages so you can ball park your estimated costs.

Basic car detailing service should include a comprehensive wash, wax, vacuuming, interior polish (surfaces like dashboards), window wash, mirror cleaning and tire cleaning. The average cost of a basic package is between $50 to $125 for an car and $75 to $150 for an SUV, truck or van. While it’s much more than your average drive-through car wash, it is a heck of a lot more effective as well. Considering the tools, products and time the job takes the price seems pretty reasonable.

A premium package usually goes into much more detail. These small but important details will vary by shop so be sure to inquire ahead of time about exactly what services you’ll be getting for your money. Premium packages can cost $150 and up for regular sized vehicles and $175 and up for larger trucks and vans.

If you want to go all out you can even add on additional services and upgrades. Higher quality cleaning products, special equipment or extraordinary care for vintage cars or recreational vehicles are all examples of add-on services you can buy ala cart.

This is what to look for in a car detailing service provider

While no one likes having to pay for a service, when you take into account that detailing services performed by a professional will significantly extend the life and appearance of your car, along with the fact that over the long term it can help retain the vehicle’s resale value, then suddenly the cost sounds like a good investment. But how do you know who the most reputable car detailer is?

The easiest and most common way to find the scoop on your local service providers is to head straight to the internet. There are various places you can find detailed reviews from previous customers that will help you select an excellent provider while steering clear of the bad apples. Once you narrow down your list of choices you can compare services, prices and specials to help make your final selection. Don’t discount the value of friend and family referrals as well.

The four most important car detailing hotspots:

#1. Taking Care Of The Paint Job

Protecting the paint job of your car is a delicate process. If ignored, your paint job could end up chipped or faded. An auto detailer will take several steps to clean and protect your exterior paint job. First comes washing and drying the car to remove any dirt, dust or debris. Next, they will use a clay bar application, which removes particles in the clear coat that can cause bumps and imperfections. Finally, the exterior body will be polished and sealed using wax. Now your car will shine and be less susceptible to rusting.

#2. Wheels and Undercarriage

The undercarriage of the car, the tires, inside the wheel wells and around the major suspension components should all be cleaned as part of the service. Tire detailing can really level up the look of your car when finished.

#3. Lights and Exterior Trim

In order to clean and protect the headlights and taillights of your vehicle, your detailer will polish and seal them with a plastic sealant. This prevents scratching and cracking. The beautiful chrome trim also needs to be washed, polished and protected. This can prevent fading and peeling on the chrome details.

#4. Don’t Forget the Interior

Interior detailing should always include a good cleaning of all carpets and seats. You can use a shampooer or a steam cleaner to get this done. Additionally, all interior surfaces should be properly cleaned and dressed to protect against high heat and powerful UV rays. If your car has leather then it should be conditioned and cleaned with leather-specific products.

Is there any way to save money on professional car detailing services?

If you want to get your car detailed several times a year and are looking for a great deal then you are in luck. Most shops will offer volume discounts, prepayment discounts or passes, and multi-car package deals with cheaper rates to reward loyal customers for their business. If you really need help but also need to cut costs you can opt for the less expensive or basic package and then do extras at home yourself. If your hybrid, a do-it-yourself project with a professional service you can save some money. Maybe you want to keep the outside paint job and details looking fresh but want to take care of cleaning and protecting the interior yourself. The route you take will be different for each individual.



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About Me

Hi there, I’m Rod. Honestly, I don’t do much cleaning around the house (and until recently – my car)…

But I’ve always been strict and disciplined in keeping with my workspace clean and organized; my office, my desk, my bookshelfs, etc. A lot of that discipline comes from studying Lean methodologies in the past.

One thing I’ve struggled with has been keeping my car clean! So lately I started buying a few items and putting in some work!

I became interested with “best practices” for detailing a car, and that’s what you’ll find on this website. Hope this information helps you!

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