Car detailing cost for pros and at home (2023)

Car detailing cost has gone up quite a bit over the years. Detailing is becoming more and more popular each an every single day. Maintaining a clean ride is a lot of work, but has a ton of benefits as well. Today, I'm going to discuss the average cost of having your car detailed professionally, versus doing it yourself!

The average cost to have a vehicle detailed professionally is usually between $70-$400 depending on vehicle size. Most shops will either charge by hour or by package. The average cost to detail a vehicle yourself is around $50-$200 in equipment. This is what determines overall cost.

Now let's take a look at each of the steps in the detailing process to understand why the average cost can be variable.

It's a lot of work...

A full on detail is a lot of work. I don't think society really understands what a proper detail is or how much effort goes into it. Detailing is just as it sounds, attention to all the small details to make your ride look great again.

However, there is a lot of work that goes into the madness and while it may not be the most complicated task in the world, it certainly can take a long time. A true detail usually consists of a few washes, decontamination of paint, color correction, scratch and swirl removal, polishing, and a treatment process to seal the work that's been done.

This is only the outside of the vehicle as well, the inside still needs to be vacuumed, scrubbed, and conditioned/protected as well. Add all these variables together and a detail can easily take 3-8 hours depending on the size of the vehicle.

As a detailer myself, we don't actually have "hard" jobs, but we do have labor extensive duties. I personally go above and beyond for anyone I detail for. I know how I would want my vehicle to look, and I want those that have their car detailed to clearly see the difference of before and after.

We spend a long time on these vehicles depending on their current condition and size as stated above. This is what fluctuates cost so hard which is why there are many different options at detailing shops. As I stated above, usually you will be charged either by package 1, 2, or 3, or just be billed by the hour. It's truly up to your detailer and their pricing.

As an example, someone could opt into a $100 package, which will only include a wash, polish, and wax treatment. Whereas a $400 package could include, wash, clay, compound, polish, wax, and interior treatment. The value and time/cost per product increases which is why you pay more.

Long story short, detailing takes a long time, try detailing a vehicle fully from head to tow yourself, and you will understand where I'm coming from. It is a lot of work, but the end of the job is something to behold.

Size matters...

Car detailing cost for pros and at home (1)

In the detailing world, size does matter. You can't expect someone to have an entire bus detailed in an hour. It's just not a logical outcome unless you want bear bottom results. A small coupe styled car like my Cobalt takes a lot less time than say an SUV like a Chevy Blazer.

There's a lot more space, a lot more body, and a lot more interior to work through versus smaller vehicles. This is why the average car detailing cost also jumps around quite a bit and varies. Not much really to say else here other than be patient with your detailer and let them know exactly what kind of results you are looking for.

This way your detailer can understand your core concerns on what you want to have done. This allows them to quote you more properly and give you a better ETA.

Current condition plays a big factor...

If you keep up on your vehicle's cleanliness, then chances are it's going to be a lot less work for your detailer. This in turn usually means a lot less cost for you the consumer. That being said, I've personally seen vehicles that were so bad, they had mold on the inside.

Now while these were mostly older vehicles that were getting restored. They could of saved quite a bit of money had they kept up and kept the inside clean. Detailing a vehicle with mold is a whole new ball game and needs to be handled carefully, and safely. This once again, will offset the average cost of your detail.

If I have a customer personally that hasn't had a detail in 5 years, versus someone that just returned 6 months later. I'm going to have a lot less work ahead of me, which is less time, which is less cost. Additionally, it's all about upkeep after as well.

Detailers usually have aftercare instructions (or at least they should) on how to keep their detail looking the best and performing the best for years to come. I know you've all seen it, 30 year old cars that look brand new still 20 years later. They kept up on them, followed instructions, and kept their rides looking incredible.

Long story short, the better you take care of your vehicle, the easier it's going to be on your detailer. Less scratches, swirls, and discoloration on the outside, and less stains, moisture, and dirt that needs to be cleaned up on the inside.

Your location is a huge factor as well.

Car detailing cost for pros and at home (2)

As some of you know that follow us, we belong to a part of the world that unfortunately, has snow. This means salt on the roads, slush and sleet. Dealing and treating with the weather is a constant battle for those of you looking to keep your rides clean.

Rust is beatable, but requires the proper protection and care in order to do so. Yet, there's some of us that don't even have to deal with the snow, but rather wind, or hail, or even sandstorms. Dirt easily gets trapped in our paint and getting it out without damaging the paint can be a hefty task.

If you're in an area where the weather tends to be more aggressive, your average car detailing cost goes up quite a bit unfortunately. There's a lot more work to be done, and different product variety may need to be used to treat/detail your vehicles correctly. Which brings us to our next point...

You pay for what you get...

And this couldn't be anymore true. We all know that their is going to be a "product preference" in this industry. Some individuals love Meguire's products, whereas others may like Chemical Guys, or Rupes products.

Not only does this apply to shops, but also to you as well, do not cheap out on your detailing products. Whether it be new buffing pads, compounds, or polishes, you want a product that's going to work with you and give you great results. Rather than a mass produced "par" product that gives miniscule results.

There are products that work significantly better than others, but sometimes as a detailer, we pay the price to use these products as well. This also will offset your average vehicle detailing cost as well. You could very well go to a $1 store and get yourself $20 in cleaning products.

On the contrary though, you could go down to a detailing shop and spend up to $150-$200 in detailing supplies but will get significantly better results. Whether you are a shop, or someone looking to detail yourself. Think about what kind of results you are looking for, and what kind of products you are going to need to get there.

Additionally there's the tools we use a detailers. Orbital buffers, dual action polishers, extractors, and steam cleaners are all examples of tools that make our lives so much easier.

Detailing by hand is fun, and does get great results, but having these expensive tools at your disposal will yield better results, and make it significantly easier to get a quality detail done.

To detail yourself? Or to have it done?

So, I talked a little bit earlier how you can detail yourself, or have it done at a shop. Obviously detailing yourself is usually always going to be cheaper. You're in control of product selection, what you want done, and the biggest part, you're doing the labor.

Now while detailing is a lot of work, I personally love it. Rather than making it feel like a job, it feels more like a hobby that I'm getting paid to do. But that's the dream right?

Long story short, a shop is typically going to give you incredible results as long as they know they are doing. But, if you know your way around your detailing products and processes, you yourself can get the same exact results if your willing to put in the work. Sometimes, this can be a lot.

I am all for people detailing vehicles themselves, after all, that's what were all about here. However, the detailing industry as a whole will always survive. The reason? We all don't have that much time in the world to take care of our vehicles properly.

There's also those of you who just want a clean looking ride and don't typically associate a cost with it. I would obviously recommend a shop to anyone that doesn't have the time, energy, or knowledge to tackle a true detail.

However, if you're eager to learn and willing to be okay with mistakes, then by all means, try a detail yourself. Get a feel for how it actually works, the processes with it, and how much time, energy, and cost actually goes into the entire project.

That pretty much wraps it up though. I hope you all found this small "guide" we'll call it helpful. Pop in and leave a comment below and let us know! Do you detail yourself? Do you pay a shop? If so and why? Take care car enthusiasts.

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