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The spring season is known for its fresh starts — whether that’s finally donating old clothes or deep-cleaning your home. But freshening up your vehicle can cost more than other springtime sprucing.
Getting your car detailed can cost anywhere from $75 for a partial detail to a full interior and exterior clean for $100 to $225, depending on the size of your vehicle and the number of services you receive. So before setting out to pay for a full detail, consider the ins and outs of the service, plus ways to get your vehicle feeling brand new without the additional price.
A car detail is a deep clean, usually interior and exterior, of your vehicle. The goal of the service is to leave your vehicle in like-new condition.
How much does detailing a car cost?
The cost of a full vehicle detail varies by region, says Matt Degen, senior editor at Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. But, Degen explains, drivers generally can expect to pay over $100 for an exterior or interior detailing service, while a more thorough detail can easily cost twice as much.
Prepare to spend up to $225 to get in-depth cleaning.
You can pay even more to add extra and more labor-intensive services. A driver with stubborn interior stains will spend more than a driver simply requesting vacuuming. Each detailer also offers different processes for getting your vehicle squeaky clean. For example, using a clay bar to tidy your clear coat is time-consuming and likely to cost more than a simple wash.
Vehicle size also plays an important role in determining price.
“Larger vehicles such as SUVs, trucks and minivans will cost more since there is literally more vehicle to clean,” shares Degen.
But having a larger vehicle shouldn’t dissuade you from getting your car detailed. Many services offer discounts — especially in the spring season — which can cut down costs even for the biggest of cars.
Factors that impact car detailing cost
Aside from the previously mentioned factors, your vehicle’s use also influences the cost.
“A truck that is outdoors all day and working at a construction site will become dirtier faster and more often than a pampered roadster that only sees the light of day, well, only periodically during the light of day,” Degen says.
The same would be true for the vehicle interior.
“A minivan that’s doing daily duty hauling kids will inherently become soiled faster and more frequently,” Degen shares.
When predicting car detail prices, consider your lifestyle and the car’s current condition.
That said, some interiors are easier to clean than others. For example, a spill or stain on faux leather seats tends to be easier to remove than those on fabric seats.
When vehicle shopping, consider its use to ensure you aren’t left with a vehicle that can’t handle its day-to-day wear and tear.
Other factors include:
- Detailing service. Many vehicle detailers offer packages that will protect your car from future issues. These range from stain protection to intensive exterior waxing. These services can greatly surpass base prices — up to $1,000.
- Vehicle size. Small vehicles mean less to clean and a smaller cost for the service. The price difference between detailing a small sedan versus a larger SUV can be $60 or more.
- Cleaning add-ons. It will increase the cost if you need to address a specific issue, such as odor removal, exterior scratches or pet hair. These add-ons can vary in price from $15 to $100.
- Trim package. Often, the more luxurious your vehicle, the more expensive your detail can be. While a fancier vehicle doesn’t directly equate to a higher detail cost, certain features, like leather seats and chrome interiors, may cost more to tidy.
Average car detailing costs
The cost of your car detail will vary by the state of your vehicle, vehicle size and even your ZIP code. Consider the following expected cost by state for a vehicle detail.
What happens during a car detail?
Much more in-depth than just a traditional car wash, a full car detail is an extensive process that can leave your vehicle feeling brand new. You can expect experts to perform the following services by hand at a full car detailing appointment:
- Exterior washing and drying
- Exterior polishing
- Interior vacuuming
- Glass cleaning
- Paint claying
- Exterior sealing and waxing
- Steam cleaning
- Interior perfuming
How to find a car detailing service
As with finding any service, the first step is to research, advises Degen. You could go to a generic car-wash place or a business specializing in detailing.
“Like any other service, you’ll want to check the reputation of the company or individual and make sure their price is satisfactory to your budget,” he says.
Check out customer reviews from past customers or get a referral from trusted friends or family.
Is getting your car detailed worth it?
Vehicle cleanliness goes beyond just vanity, says Degen.
“There is a real safety risk to driving a dirty vehicle,” Degen explains.
Driving with an unwashed windshield that provides poor visibility or external sensors and cameras blocked with road grime can endanger you and your passengers.
But how your vehicle is used should ultimately determine whether it’s worth it to detail it regularly.
“A work truck that is just going to get dirty the next day won’t receive or necessarily need the pampering of a beloved classic,” says Degen. “It’s not a show car.”
If you plan to sell your car, detailing is a smart first step. KBB notes that a vehicle in excellent condition will command a higher price tag than one in average shape.
DIY tips to keep your car clean
If you want to spring-clean without breaking the bank, consider the following tips from Chase. While cleaning your car may feel like an overwhelming task that should be left to professionals, simple steps can make your car feel new again.
- Take out the trash. One of the easiest ways to keep your car clean is to remove accumulated trash. Pay close attention to hidden spots like your glove compartment and between the seats. Stick a trash bag in the car to avoid trash building up in the future.
- Use glass cleaner. Keeping your windows and windshields clean and clear is vital to keeping you and your passengers safe. Pick up an inexpensive glass cleaner and microfiber towel for streak-free windows. Remember to clean the interior and exterior and roll the windows up and down to release trapped dirt.
- Vacuum. Our shoes constantly track dirt and debris into our cars. Quickly vacuuming the mats will serve as a big refresh. Even easier, shake out your mats to release any built-up dirt.
- Use a multi-surface cleaner. Simply spraying down commonly touched areas in your car can greatly reduce germs. Wipe off your steering wheel, gear shift and main console for less dust and grime.
If you can’t afford to purchase a new vehicle this spring, there are ways to give an old car new life. Consider bringing it in for a car detail, usually costing between $75 and $225, which can leave you with the new car smell you crave — without the high price tag.