Marlene searches for the best way to have a clean, shiny, maintained car. Her first auto detailing article has been read 100,000+ times.
What Is the Difference Between a Car Wash and Auto Detailing?
The difference is more than the cost. During a typical car wash:
- Your car is run through a machine and washed with brushes. Then air driers remove most of the water. Generally, the drying is finished by hand. Car wash costs range from $10 to $40, depending upon where you live. Prices tend to be lower in the eastern U.S. and higher for an SUV or minivan.
- Car detailing goes beyond a car wash to include hand washing of the entire vehicle, waxing, tire cleaning, interior polish, and even small dent removal. They also can take between four and six hours.
A Breakdown of Detailing Services and Costs
Car detailing can include a range of services from basic hand wash and wax to full interior and exterior police. See the table below for details about what is included and prices.
Price Ranges for Car Wash and Detailing Services
|Detail Service||What Should be Done||Price Range of Separate Care|
Wash exterior, clean wheels, blow out cracks with compressed air, dry with a chamois, vacuum, and dust.
$12.00 - $45.00
Deep clean carpets and mats.
$45.00 - $60.00
Deep clean upholstery fabric.
$45.00 - $50.00
Clean leather seats and conditioning with UV protectant.
$45.00 - $60.00
Clean dash, console and door panels, and then apply a protectant to keep from sun damage.
$45.00 - $50.00
Trunk and Cargo Area
Vacuum and Shampoo.
$9.00 - $15.00
Polish or Wax
Apply a polish or wax to seal and protect the surface.
$50.00 - $95.00
Paintless Dent Removal
Remove door dings and small dents.
$$85.00 - $150.00
Undercarriage and Chassis
Clean directly under the car, inside the wheel wells, and around the major suspension components which include the anti-roll bars; attention should be given to the splash guards, inner fender liners, and wheels and tires.
$2.00 - $5.00 to $85.00 (high)
Headlights, Taillights, and Exterior Trim
Apply a polishing compound to headlights and taillights, and then seal; clean chrome trim and plastic trim, and then apply a protectant.
$65.00 - $70.00
$2.00 (low) to $25.00 - $55.00
Clean with water, and then apply a degreaser. Rinse. After drying, apply a protectant to all silicone, plastic, and rubber components to protect them from cracking.
$30.00 - $145.00
Basic Detailing Vs. Complete Detailing Packages
There are different levels of auto detail services.
Generally, a basic detailing package includes a hand wash, wax, tire cleaning, interior vacuuming, and wipe-down or polish of all interior surfaces, including the dashboard, windows, mirrors, and trim. Special chemicals are used to clean your car, preparing it for what is called the rejuvenation process, which includes using air compressors, compounds, and detailing clay. Detailing clay removes contamination from the paint that is not removed during normal washing. The result of the clay process prepares the car for buffing or polishing. Depending on the particular needs of your car, the auto detailer may then use wax, paint sealant, dressings, leather conditioners, or water protectors for cloth fabric.
A fuller service detailing includes superior wax, interior detailing with steam or hot water extraction, leather upholstery cleaning, dent removal, white wall tire cleaning, an underbody wash, ozonation (odor removal), and engine cleaning.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can you get rid of mold in a conversion van?
Answer: In most cases, if the mold is in the upholstery, the answer is no.
Moreover, mold is an issue that goes beyond detailing a car. If you have mold in your vehicle, I would suggest contacting a company that specializes in removing mold, because removing mold is a specialized process and depending on where the mold is located, only a specialist can tell you whether or not they have the means to remove the mold.