How Often Should You Detail Your Car?

Your car is a big investment and it it’s one of your most valued and used possessions, so it makes sense that you want to keep it looking great.

We’d all love to maintain that new car look and feel, but unfortunately, that not always reality. Especially if you use your car on a daily basis.

The good news is, there are still ways that you can keep your car looking sparkling clean while still using it for your daily commute, road trips, and more.  Getting your car detailed periodically is a great way to maintain your car’s look and integrity and preserve its value.

There’s a lot of information out there regarding when and how to detail your car, so we break it down and answer all your questions about car detailing. Read on to get clear answers to your most common detailing questions. 

What is Car Detailing?

There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions when it comes to car detailing. In fact, many people believe that car washing and car detailing are the same concept, however, this is not the case.

A car detail goes far beyond a normal car wash, resulting in a vehicle that is spotlessly clean on both the inside and the out. Professional car detailing involves expert detailers meticulously hand washing your entire vehicle.

A good car detail involves two components; interior detailing and exterior detailing. Both components are equally important when it comes to maintaining your vehicle.

Interior detailing involves cleaning all the inside parts of the vehicle, right down to the nitty-gritty. Some of the components found in the inside of the cabin include; leather, vinyl, plastics, and natural fibers. Common techniques used to clean the interior include vacuuming, steam cleaning and using specialized tools that are designed to get into hard to reach places. 

Exterior detailing is meant to restore the exterior components back to their original condition. Tires, window, wheels, paint and other visible components are washed, buffed, waxed, degreased, and more.

Why is Detailing Your Vehicle Important?

Now that you know more about what car detailing is, its important to understand why detailing your car every once in awhile is vital to maintaining it.

Some of the most important reasons why auto detailing is important include: 

Extended lifespan

A good detail will remove contaminations that can damage the leather, vinyl, paint and chrome. While a car’s value depreciates every day, this helps it to depreciate at a slower rate.

Improves your car’s physical appearance

When your car is brand new, there is a clear coat on top of the paint. Over time, that clear coat fades and wears off. With regular details, you can help your car keep that new-car sparkle for longer. A trained detailer will check for scratches, dings, dirt, salt damage and more.

Your engine will run cooler

When you get your car detailed, the engine gets cleaned out of any dust, dirt, or leaks which helps to ensure that your engine runs smoothly.

Higher resale value

Experienced auto detailers are in tune with market standards and what customers are looking for in a used car, so they know exactly how to help make sure your car’s condition is excellent. This helps you to get the highest resale value when it comes time to sell it.

How Often to Detail Car?

Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer to this question as it is extremely subjective and will depend on many factors.

That being said, most experts recommend that your car be detailed at least every four to six months, so roughly two to three times per year. This recommendation, however, is just a rule of thumb. The frequency that you choose to detail your car should be dependent on your car, what you use it for, and what type of person you are.

It goes without saying that the more you have your car detailed, the better its condition will be. But a person who washes, waxes, and cleans the interior of their car on a consistent basis will require a professional detail less frequently than someone who doesn’t put as much effort into their car’s upkeep.

If you’re someone who uses their car frequently and tends skip the car wash and leave the cleaning aspect to the professionals, you’ll likely need to bring it in for professional cleaning more often in order to properly maintain it. Those who don’t spend any time cleaning their car should schedule details at least every other month.

Keep in mind that there really is no such thing as “too much” when it comes to detailing your car. In fact, weekly details would help ensure that your car is in showroom condition year round. However, most people cannot afford or don’t have the time to make this a weekly habit.

In order to extend the time between details and keep your car looking fresh and clean, you should maintain regular washes and interior upkeep.

Lastly, its always a great idea to have your car professionally detailed prior to selling it or trading it in to a dealership. The investment you make in detailing and having a clean car to present can make a huge difference in how much someone is willing to pay you for it.

Between Detail Upkeep

The average person will have their car professionally detailed two to three times per year, but you may be wondering how to maintain your car in between those professional scrub downs. We answer some of your top questions:

How often do you wash your car?

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t wash our cars as often as we should. Whether it’s a time constraint, lack of energy or just overall apathy-there are a lot of dirty cars on the road.

Bug splatter, bird droppings, tree sap, salt, dirt, grime, heat stains…if you are experiencing one or more of these on your vehicle consistently, weekly washes are advised.

On the other hand, if your car doesn’t experience much contact with birds, trees, bugs, or you live in an area with mild weather, or keep your car in a garage most of the time-you can probably get away with bi-weekly washes.

If you’re someone who rarely takes your car out of the garage and it doesn’t see a lot of road time or exposure to the elements, you can probably stretch it to a once a month wash.

You’re best advised to take your car through the car wash or get out your garden hose around once per week to keep the grime and deterioration at bay.

How Often Should I Polish My Car?

In general, you should plan to wax or polish your car every three months. Waxing your car helps to protect your paint from the elements and from minor daily irritants that can end up causing major problems that can ultimately affect your resale value.

Additionally, your weekly car washing will be much easier when you keep up with polishing your vehicle. A waxed car will allow dust, grime, and other irritants to wash off much faster and efficiently.

You may wonder how to determine when your car needs waxing, and the best way to determine if your car needs a good polishing is to do the bead test.

Doing the bead test is easy; simply throw some water on your car to see if the water beads up. If it does, you’re ok for now. If the water streaks and slides down the car, this is your indication that it time to get your wax on.

How Often Should You Buff Your Car?

Your car is subjected to a lot on a daily basis thanks to all the outside elements it encounters. Overtime, you may start to notice that your paint is not as shiny as it once was. This is where buffing comes into play.

Buffing your car is the act of removing a miniscule layer of your car’s clear coat and/or paint. Your first though may be, “why in the world would I want to remove a layer of paint from my car?”

The fact is, when buffing is done properly, using the correct wax or sealant, there are a number of benefits, including; a shinier appearance, minor scratch removal, and prolonged paint life. Buffing should be done at least twice a year for best results.

Buffing helps to remove the scratched layer of clear coat which reveals a smoother, brighter and shinier finish. Proper buffing requires that you use the right type of compound (wax, liquid, paste, etc.) that will evenly blend into the paint and create the shine that we all desire.

Additionally, the wax or sealant that you apply through the buffing process gives your vehicle’s paint an extra layer of protection from the day to day elements it encounters.

A Clean Car Can Take You Far!

With all the conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to understand how often you should detail your car. While the answer to that question is subject to many variables, the fact remains; if you’re the kind of person who takes pride is a spotless car, regular detailing is a must.

Professional detailing, done at least three times per year, can help remove those stubborn stains and scum that your regular washing can’t, protecting the paint and preserving your car’s value.

When You Care for Your Car, It’ll Care for You!



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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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