A Complete Guide To Truck Detailing

Truck enthusiasts show off their freshly detailed vehicles as if they were priceless works of art. No joke, car detailing products are a 9 billion dollar a year business in the US alone. That’s a whole lot of microfiber and wax! Some people choose to pay a professional to detail their trucks while others invest in the tools and training to do custom detail jobs of their very own. The amount of work that goes into detailing varies by the car owner but we have some great starter advice and tips for anyone looking to make auto detailing part of their regular truck maintenance routine.

What Is Truck Detailing?

Truck detailing goes above and beyond a simple car wash. It includes a detailed cleaning of the interior and exterior of the car and uses protectants to help enhance shine, reflection and depth of the paint job and lessen the effects of being exposed to the outdoor elements. Detailing should help keep the paint job looking fresh and eliminate the possibility of rusting or other damage. Interior protection to the dashboard, steering wheel and seats is also important. The interior of your car gets a lot of wear and tear and is also exposed to high temperatures and the sun’s UV rays.

How Much Does Truck Detailing Cost?

The price and time it takes to detail your automobile can vary greatly depending on how new the car is, what kind of shape it is in, how often you detail it and whether or not you do it yourself or hire a professional. You can purchase a DIY kit for personal use for as little as $25 or as much as $100 for more premium products. Some of the items in the kit are reusable. A truck detailing kit would include the tools and protectants you need to do the job yourself. Custom detailing by a professional for a truck or SUV falls between an average of $100 to $150 dollars, depending on the total services they provide. An all day service on a large vehicle might cost even more. Some people choose only to detail the exterior of the car, this of course would cost less and take less time than a more comprehensive cleaning of both the interior and exterior.  

Should I Detail My Own Truck Or Hire A Professional Detail Service?

This is purely a matter of choice. Many truck lovers find the detailing process very rewarding and prefer to do it themselves, priding themselves on a job well done. Other people don’t have the time or desire to do the work themselves and are happy to pay someone else to take over the chore. The number of times per year that you detail your truck could also impact this decision. If you only plan to detail once a year, it’s probably quicker, cheaper and easier to pay for the service. If you plan on detailing the recommended 3 to 4 times per year then investing in the kit and learning the tricks of the trade to do it all yourself is probably a worthwhile investment.

What Types Of Cleaning Are Typically Included In Detailing A Car or Truck?

The goal is to both clean and protect the vehicle to get long lasting shine and life from your truck. The first step of any detailing job is cleaning the truck. Yes this is a typical wash and this makes sure that all of the dirt and debris is removed from the exterior. Most car owners use microfiber towels, a wash mitt, and car wash soap products to avoid scratching the paint. Even microscopic scratches will deteriorate your paint. You should also always wash from the top down to avoid streaks as well. After cleaning the truck it’s time to protect it with waxes and other dressings. You will do a similar process with the interior of the car, first doing the basic cleaning before getting down to the gritty details and lastly, adding protectants to the interior.

The more detailed you plan to get, the more time you should set aside and block out for your job to be done. Each small task takes time and the minutes add up quickly. Also some waxes and protectants have to include natural drying time and then polishing to get that perfect shine when finished.

Here’s a 20-point detailing checklist:

  1. Wash exterior paint with car wash shampoo (also called soap) and a car wash mitt, making sure to dry completely  
  2. Tires are key – scrub tires and wheels using a good cleaner and a car wash brush
  3. Clean and polish exterior windows and mirrors using a good glass cleaner that prevents streaking
  4. Paint job magic – clean and polish paint using a clay bar followed by car polish to renew paint job especially if your car’s paint feels bumpy to the touch
  5. Wax paint using the liquid or paste car wax of your choice
  6. Polish chrome trim using specific chrome & metal polish
  7. Clean door, hood and trunk jambs with a microfiber cleaning towel, taking away any dirt or dust that could cause rust eventually  
  8. Protect, clean and dress your rubber seals using a rubber conditioner
  9. Tire dressing – treat tires and trim with at tire and trim dressing
  10. Don’t forget to vacuum the entire interior
  11. Remove floor mats from truck, scrub or shampoo and allow to dry before replacing
  12. Make it look new – shampoo interior carpet using a carpet & upholstery cleaner
  13. Make it count – clean fabric upholstery using a versatile cleaner meant for the type of fabric
  14. Clean and protect the dashboard and console
  15. Knock out dust – clean vents using a vent duster tool
  16. Apply a specialized water repellent leather or vinyl conditioner to console, vinyl and leather to protect against sweat and spills
  17. Streak-free living – clean interior windows and rear-view mirror with an ammonia-free glass cleaner
  18. Empty and clean ashtrays if it’s an older truck model, newer cars might not include ashtrays and you shouldn’t be smoking in your prized automobile anyway
  19. Not quite getting the new car smell? Deodorize vents and carpet if needed, it really helps
  20. Protect carpet and upholstery fabric with a protectant spray guarding against stains

If you or a service you have hired are doing all 20 things on this list then you can be sure that your job will take up most of a day and fall on the more expensive end of the detailing price range. It’s not necessary to do every step each and every time. Your needs will vary with the amount of use your truck gets, how dirty it gets between cleanings and how often you do the detail work per year. Car detailing can actually be a fun hobby but be careful because using the wrong products or techniques could set back your efforts and cause more harm than good. Study up on the best materials and tips to get the job done right. When detailing your own car make sure to invest in high quality tools and cleaners.

Once the job is done, it’s time to show off your freshly cleaned and shiney truck to friends, family and strangers on the street. Enjoy the accolades of your hard work and soak up all the compliments from other truck lovers you meet.



2 Responses

  1. It was really helpful when you said to hire a professional if you want to detail your truck once a year. My husband owns a trucking company and he was telling me last night about how he needs to get some of his trucks detailed because of how much they’ve been used. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him so he can look into finding a professional detailing company for his trucks!f

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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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