Having your vehicle detailed leaves your ride looking and smelling like new, and is an excellent way to increase the trade-in or resale value.
Whether you’re looking to improve your car’s worth or just want a clean interior, know that car detailing service prices vary depending on several factors.
So, how much is a full car detail?
The average price for car detailing is between $300 and $400 for a complete car detail. This typically includes an exterior hand wash, wax, stain removal, interior detail, window cleaning, tire cleaning, vacuuming, and carpet shampooing. Some prices may be as low as $100 or as high as $700+.
Needless to say, the process isn’t cheap!
However, the cost is justified, as you’ll see in this article. Let’s take a closer look at the cost breakdown of a full car detail.
Cost Breakdown of a Full Vehicle Detail
To have your vehicle professionally detailed, with paint correction and protection, the average detailing price you’ll have to pay is $400.
Although, full details are often packaged without paint correction for less.
Meanwhile, it costs around $100 to get your car detailed by a professional car wash to get your car looking shiny again.
Below is a table that breaks down how much a car wash and full detail with paint correction costs at several detailing shops across the country.
It’ll give you a better idea of how detailing is priced based on package and per state.
|Name of detailing company||Price for exterior wash/basic exterior detailing||Price for interior detailing||Price for exterior detail with paint protection, polishing, etc||Price for exterior detail incl. paint correction and high-end paint protection like ceramic coating|
|Auto Salon at Leschi (Seattle, WA)||$75 to $125*||$300 to $450*||$300 to $450*||$700 to $1000*|
|Mr. Perfection, Inc. (Boston, MA)||$80 to $100*||$140 to $190||$130 to $170*||$195 to $250*|
|Platinum Details (New York City, NY)||$100 or $60 for water-free “eco” wash||$100||$300||$400|
|Fred’s Mobile Car Wash & Auto Detailing (Miami, FL)||$150||$150||$400||$900|
|Perfection Is In The Details (Las Vegas, NV)||$65 to $75*||$150 to $200*||$300 to $400*||$600 to $750*|
|Premier Auto Detail (Sacramento, CA)||$120||$120||$200||N/A|
|AB Professional Detailing (Dallas, TX)||$120||$180||$350 – $450**||$1100**|
|Pearl Auto Spa (Chicago, IL)||$25 to $50*||$160 to $220*||$210 to $250*||$260 to $320*|
|Georgetown Fine Auto Detailing (Washington D.C.)||$60||$60||$150||$400|
|ECO Mobile Detailing (Los Angeles, CA)||$30 to $35*||$130 to $160||$310 to $375*||$750 to $900*|
|Detail to the Max (St. Louis, MO)||$75 to $120***||$150 to $235***||$130 to $210***||$365 to $645***|
|Apogee Detail (Atlanta, GA)||N/A||Starting at $150||Starting at $150||Starting at $700|
|DF Premium Automotive Detailing (Detroit, MI)||$55 to $75*||$45||$300 to $350*||$505 to $525* (paint correction and exterior detail combined)|
|Polish-It Garage (Phoenix, AZ)||$125 (€110)||$200||$450||$600|
|Detail Boulevard (Honolulu, HI)||$80 (€70)||$300 (€263)||$600 (€526)||$1200 to $2000 based on ceramic coating(€1058 to €1763)|
|Boss Auto Detailing (Nashville, TN)||$100 to $200* (€88 to €175)||$150 to $250*(€132 to €220)||$300 to $500* (€263 to €438)||$500 to $750*(€438 to €661)|
* = varies based on vehicle make, model, and/or size
** = varies based on level of paint correction and recommended add-ons
*** = varies based on vehicle condition, level of dirtiness, and presence of biohazards
Instead of going to a detail shop, you could also do all the work yourself and perform DIY car detailing.
However, keep in mind doing so won’t immediately save you money.
To detail your car on your own, you’re going to have to buy all the supplies yourself. And a machine buffer alone can cost you upwards of $150.
Not to mention the time it takes to learn how to use all the equipment properly.
For more information about car detailing prices and how they vary, check out this article from mobiletechrx.com.
Factors That Affect Car Detailing Price
You may have noticed that the prices vary quite a bit between detailing services. Some will wash the exterior of your ride for $25, while others start their prices at $200.
This is because several factors influence how much detailing costs, such as:
As you can see, determining how much a full car detail costs you isn’t always straightforward.
To help you understand what you’re paying for, I’ll explore each of these factors more in-depth below.
What Are Different Types of Car Detailing Services
Most car wash chains, car detailing companies, and body shops offer several different package options for car detailing services.
And as you can see from the table above, the price you pay depends on which package you choose.
Here’s a breakdown of these services so that you have a better idea of what they include:
A full car detail costs more than bundling a la carte choices — but it’s worth it once you consider the benefits.
Location Affects Average Car Detailing Prices
It’s nearly a given that the package you choose affects the price, but what about location?
Well, yes. Location affects car detailing prices as well.
Depending on where you live, car detailing may be more or less expensive.
The national average in the United States ranges from $140 to $160 for a full vehicle detailing service.
The low-end average is around $115, with the high-end average one-hundred dollars more at $215.
As far as states go, Oregon has the highest average rate for a full-service car detail, going as high as $300!
On the other hand, Hawaii offers the lowest average for a full car detail, starting at only $90.
Interestingly, studies have shown that areas with a higher cost of living tend to have lower prices for car detail services compared to cities with a lower cost of living.
The Materials Used by the Car Detailing Company Matter
There are thousands of car detailing companies worldwide, and they don’t all use the same products.
Expect to pay more for a car detailing service that uses more expensive detergents, tools, restoration kits, and other materials.
It only makes sense that a company using top-of-the-line products is going to charge more to offset those costs — and rightfully so.
Many of the tools, products, and materials used by these companies are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, especially when you get into technical tools.
Here’s a list of some of the common tools, gadgets, and materials used by car detailing companies:
Some items can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars each, especially the mechanical polishers, steamers, and extractors.
Not only that, but mechanical tools also require maintenance if they start to break down — and towels, filters, sprayer bottles, and things of the sort must be replaced from time to time.
As such, these items are factored into the cost of a car detailing service.
Mobile Auto Detailing Services May Cost More
Today, many car detailing companies offer mobile services.
They’ll come to you to detail your vehicle, which is a convenient option—especially if the vehicle is not currently mobile or if you’re unable to visit the brick-and-mortar location.
However, mobile car detailing services may cost more than having your vehicle serviced on-site.
This is because of gasoline prices, routine maintenance (i.e., oil changes, tune-ups, etc.), vehicle insurance, and other fixed costs factoring into the detailing prices.
So, the prices tend to be a bit higher.
The Size of Your Car Plays a Role in Detailing Costs
Before assuming that you’re going to pay the low-end average cost for car detailing, there are several more factors to consider, including the size of your vehicle.
Vehicle size, in fact, is a major determining factor when it comes to the cost of a full car detail service.
A larger vehicle means more space to clean, which requires more time and product. T
herefore, if you’re driving a Chevrolet Suburban, you should expect to pay more than a person that brings their Honda Accord in for a full-service car detail.
The same goes for extended cab trucks, vans, or other SUVs.
If you own a bus or RV, expect to pay significantly more.
A Vehicle in Poor Condition Takes Longer to Detail
If you drop off your vehicle to the company filled with trash, covered in stains, with gum stuck to the seats, and the exterior looking as though it’s been taken mudding recently, then you can expect to pay more for detailing services.
On the other hand, if you pull up to the detailing company, and your vehicle is clean, shiny, and overall well cared for, then you will generally pay less than the aforementioned case.
This is simply because the car doesn’t need as much attention. Therefore, the job is less labor-intensive.
So, at the very least, remove loose trash from the cabin and maybe give it a good rinse before dropping it off.
And remember, if you’re not willing to pay for the time and effort it takes to get your car into tip-top shape, then don’t be surprised when you end up with subpar results.
Chain, Professional, or Body Shop: Which is Cheaper?
Car wash chains and body shops cost less than car detailing companies on average. Chains are fine for light cleaning but are not recommended for annual car detailing. Body shops offer decent services but take longer. Car detailing companies provide more services than chains and body shops.
The price you pay for your vehicle detail also depends on where you take your car for servicing.
Car Wash Chains and Full Auto Detailing
Car wash chains often offer discounts to customers for a wash, wax, interior cleaning, window washing, and the cleaning of tires and wheels.
With a discount, you can expect to pay around $90 and up for these services.
However, these chains aren’t typically as thorough as professional vehicle detailing services or body shops.
That said, some car wash chains offer upgrades to your vehicle cleaning, including hand washing or more intricate detailing.
You can inquire about these services and pricing, but expect to pay anywhere from $200 and up for premium service.
Body Shops and Full Auto Detailing
Body shops, on the other hand, do a fine job of detailing vehicles.
However, because they don’t specialize in car detailing alone, the process tends to take longer.
After all, they’re busy repairing vehicles, too.
Depending on your location, the price of a full detailing service at a body shop starts at around $100.
Professional Car Detailing Companies and Full Auto Detailing
Professional car detailing companies can do far more than car wash chains and body shops.
It’s your one-stop location for fixing dents, getting clay waxes, repairing paint, and getting a thorough, top-notch cleaning.
Nevertheless, they tend to be pricier. You can expect to pay anywhere from $140 and up for premium services.
If you’re looking for a detail that includes paint repairs, acid rain removal, reconditioning, and more on top of the standard packaging — basically, everything the company has to offer — then you could be looking at $400 to $800.
When it comes to auto detailing, it’s best to stick with professional auto detailers, especially if you have a luxury or vintage vehicle.
What To Look For in a Car Detailer
When you’re searching for a car detailing service, you likely have several questions:
These are legitimate questions, and it’s vital to answer them before you choose just any random detailing service.
As mentioned throughout this article, car detailing service prices vary based on numerous factors.
And in some cases, those costs might make you do a double-take and wonder if they’re worth it.
Still, I feel it’s important to note that the old adage is true: You get what you pay for.
Chances are, the lower the cost, the lower the quality of service.
So, don’t just choose the cheapest option. Instead, opt for a middle ground.
If the lowest price you’re quoted is $90 and the highest is $175, maybe stick to a company that offers detailing between $100 and $150.
However, a high price doesn’t always mean that the quality is top-notch (although the price does typically reflect quality in this case).
So, keep reading to get more tips on choosing the right dealer.
Experience, Products, and Variety Matter as Well
The experience of the person doing the car detailing matters a great deal. It’s best to choose a company that hires employees with extensive experience.
Or those that have attended a trade school to master the skills needed for a thorough car detailing.
Additionally, you’ll want to opt for a company that utilizes high-quality products. There’s no shame in asking them what products they use.
If they can’t name them, or if it’s a brand that you can find at your local department store, consider choosing an alternative.
Finally, you’ll also want to choose a car detailing company that offers the following:
Find a Company with Good Reviews
Always research the companies that you’re considering.
Even a two-minute Internet search can bring up the companies in your area, as well as their star rating based on customer reviews.
Look at photographs and the cleanliness of their workspace. If there are hundreds of positive reviews, it’s a good sign.
Also, social media makes it easier than ever to determine if a company is worth the prices they’re charging.
Ask for recommendations or experiences with any company that you’re considering.
Once you’ve done a little digging, it’ll be pretty easy to decide which company is best for your car detailing needs.
How Often Should You Detail Your Auto?
You should have your vehicle detailed at least once per year. Vehicle experts recommend car details every six months, but it’s unnecessary if you care for your car. However, it’s advised to have your vehicle detailed before selling, as it attracts buyers and increases resale or trade-in value.
What’s the Difference Between a Car Wash and Car Detail?
Automatic car washes clean vehicles using extra-large rotating bristles. This service only cleans the exterior of the automobile. Car detailing includes washing the automobile by hand, waxing, polishing, tire cleaning, an interior wipe down, and other services, such as dent removal or headlight restoration.
Needless to say, you can’t just run your car through an automatic car wash and expect the same results as taking it to an auto detailing company.
An automatic car wash is much quicker and significantly cheaper than car detailing, costing around $10 per wash.
However, you’ll likely end up drying the vehicle by hand and cleaning the interior on your own.
Car detailing, however, provides your vehicle with cleanliness that an automatic car wash could only dream of delivering.
Not only do car detailers wash the entire vehicle by hand, but they also wax, polish, clean the tires, deep clean the interior, and even provide dent removal and other services in some cases.
This process may take between four and six hours for one vehicle.
Having your vehicle detailed at least once per year is highly recommended by automotive experts to keep it in tip-top shape (along with regular maintenance).
By choosing a car detailing service, you’re guaranteed to get your vehicle looking as new as possible without having to do any of the work yourself.
These professionals know what they’re doing, and in as little as four hours, you’ll have a spick-and-span vehicle.
It may seem pricey, but the results speak for themselves.