Car Detailing Cost [2022 Average Prices & Guide]

Wondering how much it costs to detail a car? We break down the average car detailing cost and look at the different factors that affect the cost.

Car Detail Cost

Cleaning the car might seem like a hassle, but it’s important to keep both the interior and exterior looking their best. With regular car detailing, you can maximize the resale value of your vehicle and ensure it always looks new.

In this guide, we evaluate the basics of car detailing and show you what affects the car detailing cost. We also help you determine how often you should have your vehicle detailed. At the end of the article, we give you a few tips to save more money with your next car detailing service. 

How Much Does A Car Detailing Cost?

On average, the car detailing cost might be anywhere from $125 to $350. The price varies on your car make and model, whether you choose to do it yourself or have it professionally done and the location you live in. It also varies based on the products used, the services chosen and how often detailing is done. 

First, let’s take a quick look at what car detailing is and what is included in the service. Then we will go through all the different factors that affect the car detailing cost.

What is Car Detailing?

Car detailing includes restoring the condition of the vehicle, both inside and outside, with a deep cleaning. The process is more intensive than a simple car wash, which is why it’s normally more expensive. 

When you have the car washed, you can send it into an automated system or have it hand washed. Detailing is going to take much longer and is always done by hand, normally with the help of more than one person. 

While services included with car detailing can vary, they often include the regular exterior wash and dry, along with sealing, waxing, polishing, claying with a bar, vacuuming, auto glass cleaning, steam cleaning, upholstery care, and more. You can also generally add ceramic coating, paint protection film or paint correction services for an additional charge. 

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Factors Affecting the Car Detailing Cost

1. Car Make/Model

The make and model are a big factor when it comes to the car detailing cost. The more surface that the detailers need to work with, the higher the cost will naturally be. For this reason, you can find some of the cheapest rates if you drive a small, economy car.

Among the top prices, it costs the most to detail heavy-duty trucks, big SUVs and vans. Some shops will also offer specialty detailing for vehicles, such as your vintage cars, motorcycles, boats or RVs.

2. Professional vs. DIY

Those looking to save money might prefer to do the detailing work themselves. You can perform the same services for a lot less money, but it comes at the cost of time.

What might only cost you $25 or less in products can be done in a fraction of the time with the help of a professional. However, you are going to pay substantially more for professional detailing services. The key is determining what’s more important to you – the money or the time. Plus, you need to have enough experience to replicate the same results that a professional can. 

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3. Location

As with any professional service, you can pay a lot more just based on where you live. If you are near a busy urban area, you can face a much higher car detailing cost than someone living in a suburban or rural location.

As an example, recent reports show that the average car detailing cost could reach $250 or higher in Oregon. On the other hand, if you live in parts of Florida, you could easily spend $100 or less for some vehicles. 

4. Products Used

As with any service, you can choose from budget-friendly products to top-of-the-line options for detailing. If you are doing the job yourself, you will get all of the products for less money, but there’s still a profound car detailing cost difference.

If you want to take proper care of your vehicle, you are going to choose products that will prolong its life. There are also detailing shops that offer environmentally-friendly products, but these also cost more. If you are judging different providers, make sure you take into consideration what products are used. You may think choosing the cheapest location is best until you see what products they are using. 

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5. Services Chosen

Car Detail Interior

Discussing car detailing has a wide range of meanings. It could simply be the process of having a deep-cleaned exterior all the way through a full day of cleaning and detailing the entire vehicle.

Most establishments will offer a variety of packages, bundling many of the services together. An exterior service might include wash, wax, tire cleaning and polish, while an interior package could include a vacuum, glass cleanup and upholstery care. However, you can usually add on premium services to go with the detailing, such as engine cleaning, wheel shine and dent removal. For every service you add, the car detailing cost is bound to rise accordingly. 

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6. Frequency of Detailing

If you have your car detailed often, the workers won’t have to do much every time you visit. The grime will be to a minimum and the time spent on your vehicle will be reduced. For this reason, you may spend more if the provider takes this into consideration.

On the other hand, if you think you are saving money by letting your car get super dirty, you might be in for a shocker. The more work that needs to be done to get the car clean, the more you can expect to spend. 

How Often Should I Detail My Car?

There’s no set rule as to how often you should have the car detailed. Instead, it’s best to decide based on how you are using the vehicle. At the very least, it’s best to detail your car a minimum of once a year, but it’s usually better to do it more often.

Some people choose to have the car detailed twice a year, while others will do it at the change of every season. By applying wax twice a year, you further help protect the paint from damage and scratches. 

Not only should you think about how you use your vehicle, but you should consider where you live. If you drive on salted roads over the winter or you live near the beach, you may require more frequent detailing to keep the car paint looking its best. With simple detailing services, you can prevent rust and corrosion on the car

You can talk to your detailing provider to see what is recommended by them. Based on your type of car, the location you live, and how you drive, they will be able to offer the best customized experience. 

RELATED: 10 Best Car Scratch Removers

How to Save Money on Car Detailing

1. Do It Yourself

Detailing Red Porsche

The most obvious way to save money is to perform the detail work on your own. Over time, you can stock up on the cleaning supplies and equipment needed to provide regular car detailing. At first, this might be an investment, but you will be able to use the products for multiple detailing services, making the car detailing cost minimal overall.

You will need to have some expertise to complete this task. Additionally, you need to set aside a good amount of time. If you have good friends, you might be able to convince them to help for an afternoon if you buy pizza and beer. 

2. Discounts & Coupons

To gain new customers, detailing companies will often publish coupons online that could save you money. If you aren’t committed to one provider, using these coupons could be beneficial. They could also help you find a regular company to do business with.

On the other hand, if you are getting regular detailing work done by the same provider, you should ask for a discount. Maybe you can work out a discount plan where you purchase three detailing services and get one for free or you bundle the top services you use for a small discount. It never hurts to ask. 

3. Detail More Often

You may think that you are going to spend too much to have the car detailed often. However, it often costs you more to have the vehicle detailed only once it is extremely dirty. The more work the company has to provide, the higher the car detailing cost is going to be.

Even if you aren’t getting the car detailed often, perform a quick cleanup before you head in for service. With a simple cleanup and vacuum, you can ensure that the workers spend less time on the vehicle, and you make it look good enough that the rate will be quoted lower.

FAQs

Will Detailing Remove Scratches?

A basic detailing service will remove small scratches by polishing the car paint in most cases. However, if there are deep scratches that need to be fixed, you will most likely have to pay for an extensive auto detailing service that can cost a lot more. Sometimes you even need to repaint the entire part.

What Do Professional Car Detailers Use?

Professional car detailers use a variety of equipment and products to clean and protect cars. They usually use the highest quality products you can find on the market, but not products that are exclusive to detailers. Some of the most common tools include steam cleaners, vacuums, polishers, brushes, microfiber cloths, and chamois.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean The Inside Of A Car?

It can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 to detail a car’s interior, depending on the size of the car, other work done at the same time, the amount of dirt and debris inside, and the type of service. You can also try to clean the inside of your car yourself with some basic supplies, such as a bucket, water, soap, and a rag.

How Long Does It Take To Do A Full Detail On A Car?

It usually takes about 2 to 10 hours to detail a car, depending on the type of detailing. A quick exterior detail usually only takes around 2 hours, while a full interior and exterior detail with paint repair can take up to 10 hours to complete.

Conclusion

The car detailing cost can vary depending on a number of factors. The size and type of vehicle, the desired level of detailing, and the geographic location are all important considerations.

Generally, expect to pay between $125 and $200 for a basic car detail. If you want more extensive work done, such as interior cleaning and scratch fixes, it can cost closer to $500. When considering the car detailing cost, always remember that you often get what you pay for.

Cheaper services may not provide the same level of quality or attention to detail as more expensive ones, but that’s not always the case. Do your research carefully and choose a reputable supplier who uses high-quality products and takes the time to do the job right.

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Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.