How Much Money Is it to Detail Your Car?

by Michelle LaRowe

If you're looking to recapture that showroom scent and shine, a good car detailing may be just what you need. Whether it is a do-it-yourself or professional car detailing, investing a little time, elbow grease or money into deep cleaning your vehicle can significantly impact the appearance of your car.


Car detailing consists of thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior of a vehicle. While the features of the detailing may vary from detailer to detailer, most car details include a through vacuuming or washing of the seating and floor areas, wiping down the interior dashboard and all other surfaces, washing, claying and waxing or polishing the exterior of the automobile and cleaning the wheels, mirrored and glass surfaces. Some detailers will also pressure wash the vehicle's engine. Brushes, small vacuum attachments and other small tools are used to get into the crevices and hard-to-reach spots. Many detailers also like to touch up any exterior paint problems and buff out any surface scratches. Some detailers will also apply protective sealants to the exterior of the automobile.


There is interior, exterior and engine car detailing. All three require different types of detailing products. For example, the grease-cutting detergents that are used to clean a car engine would be too harsh to use on leather interior. If you are doing your own auto detailing, you'll need to be sure that the products you are using are meant to be used on the materials your car is made of. To do a basic car detail, you'll need a car wash, wax or polish, wheel cleaner, window cleaner and a product to clean down the dash area of your vehicle. A kit that includes these items will cost anywhere from $30-75 (See Resources).


The size of your vehicle and detailing package will determine the cost to detail your car. The average cost for a standard, auto detailing package on a passenger vehicle that includes a car wash and wax, tire cleaning, interior vacuuming and surface wipe-down is $58. SUV's are more expensive at about $89 for the same package. If you add on shampooing, leather cleaning or exterior surface repair the rates can go way up into the $200 or more range (See Resources).


Car washes, auto supply stores and individuals often offer detailing services. The most inexpensive place to get a car detail is usually your local car wash. Many detailers offer discounts for pre-paid or package services. You can often find coupons for auto detailing in your phone book (See Resources).


If you will be using a professional detailing service, be sure to ask if they have insurance that would cover the costs of any damages that were to occur while the vehicle was in their possession. You'll also want to ask if they have a policy in place regarding items that are lost or damaged during detailing (See Resources).

About the Author

Michelle LaRowe is the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and the author of "Nanny to the Rescue!", "Working Mom's 411" and a "Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists." LaRowe graduated from Bridgewater State College with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and holds a Certificate in Pastoral Studies from Global University.

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