How much does a Car Detailing cost?

For those who are relatively new to the world of car detailing, the question of cost can be quite confusing and even unsettling at first. Many people who inquire about car detailing have used regular car wash services before. They therefore have in their minds a rough idea of what they think it should cost to get the car detailed.

The disparity between a regular budget car wash and a regular detailing job is large, and can seem unreasonable at first glance. This is why it’s important to understand the reasons for car detailing costing what it costs compared to a regular car wash. This was the subject of our recent Wings Mobile Detailing podcast, explaining how much you should expect to pay for car detailing, and adding the necessary context to explain that.

Broadly speaking, we can break it down into the following three factors:

1. Location within the US

Getting your car detailed in the Midwest where living costs are generally lower will mean a lower final cost, though it may still be relatively high when compared to your income. You pay much more to have the work done in coastal areas and major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, again because of the many additional costs that come with that.

2. Level of Service

Car wash services are typically a lot simpler compared to detailing. There are many more specific tasks that detailers can undertake, and services are usually broken down into those tasks and then sold as packages. It is therefore much less meaningful to say to car detailing provider, “Give my car a full detailing.” From your perspective, you likely mean clean the car thoroughly. From a detailer’s perspective, however, it seems as though you want the big “full works” package with all the bells and whistles. The level of service package or number of individual services you select for detailing will be a big determining factor on price

3. Need for Restoration or Additional Protection

Finally, the cost of your detailing service will also change in a big way if you need the more “extreme” elements of the detailer’s craft. These elements typically include restorative measures like paint correction, as well as powerful protections like ceramic coating or specialist paint protection products. The conducting of such work requires very specialist skills and years of experience to do properly, and thus will result in a premium being added to the price.

So, How Much Does Car Detailing Cost?

First, let’s look at some raw, broad numbers to get an idea of the range you can expect to work within.

  • $80-100 – The most basic detailing package which is essentially a significant upgrade on what you might get at a car wash.

The level and depth of the clean is much greater than you could get at any self-service or even professional quick wash location. For example, instead of just vacuuming the interior in broad strokes to pick up large dirt and dust clumps, the detailer gets into every hidden corner, the vents, the cup holders, every nook and cranny you can find in the car.

  • $100-150 – This service level would

Typically include a hand wash with an additional application of simple spray-on wax. It would p

provide a nice glossy finish, but lack the more protective elements of the higher-cost packages

  • $200-280 – This level might include carpet and upholstery shampooing and conditioning, as well as a higher-quality wax like a carnauba wax or more protective sealant.

The wax is also applied more meticulously to get the perfect finish.