Well, just like a lot of things when it comes with your vehicle, it depends.
What kind of car do you have? Do you want the exterior or interior done? What type of interior or exterior service do you want?
Do you have a specific budget you want to stay under? Are you going to sell your car? Are you going to enter it into a car show?
It’s not rocket science, but pricing will always vary depending on who you take your vehicle too.
For instance with our detailing services, we have all our pricing listed throughout our website.
For another detailing provider, they may want to see the vehicle and ask you a bunch of questions before they give you a price.
Car Wash vs Professional Detailing
Before we get into the pricing, let’s first talk about the difference between a car wash facility and a professional detailer and what they both offer.
For instance, the car was facility focuses more on high-volume and low pricing.
So their goal is to get as many cars to come in through their doors, finish it in the fastest time they can, and bring in the next vehicle.
Is that bad?
Again, it depends what you’re looking for.
If you just want a quick and affordable car wash on your way home from work, that may be the perfect option for you.
They can get you in, finish relatively quickly, and then you’ll be on your way.
However, if you want to hire a detailer to restore your paint or clean your interior back to the best condition possible, then perhaps a professional detailer is your better option.
Usually a professional detailer goes by appointments only since the details take longer to complete. So you’d have to plan out the details in advance as you most likely can’t drive through and get it done.
Auto Detailing Price Comparison
Remember, depending on where you live and what part of town you go to will be another factor in pricing.
These prices I’m going to share are based on what I’ve seen around Houston TX. If you’re in Seattle, Chicago, New York, or anywhere else in the US, prices will vary.
Also, just like when it comes to many things about your car like an oil change or replacing your tires, the bigger your car is, usually the more expensive it is due to the nature of it being bigger.
I’m going to keep the services and prices very basic since each company will provide its own packages which will be an even bigger factor into pricing.
Basic Car Wash
Car Wash Facility: $10 to $25
Professional Detailer: $30 to $70
Deep Interior Cleaning
Car Wash Facility: $60 to $100
Professional Detailer: $140 to $280
Car Wash Facility: $30 to $50
Professional Detailer: $70 to $160
Wash and Wax
Car Wash Facility: $80 to $130
Professional Detailer: $140 to $280
Car Wash Facility: $100 to $200
Professional Detailer: $240 to $600
To give you more context, let’s breakdown a service based on what’s included between the two.
Let’s take a wash and wax for example. That’s a pretty basic service to offer. From a professional detailer, this is what you’ll get:
#1: Clean wheels, wheel barrels, tires, fenders, and gas cap
#2: Remove bugs front-end and thorough wash
#3: Chemically remove iron particles from paint
#4: Clay bar entire vehicle to remove above surface contaminants
#5: Dry the car and blow out in standing water from the nooks and crannies
#6: Apply quality wax or sealant to all your paint
#7: Apply water-based dressing to your tires for shine
#8: Clean all exterior glass and mirrors
#9: Wipe down door jambs
This service can take between 2 to 4 hours and cost $120 to $240.
Each step is used with the proper tools, products, and methods to give you the best results. You tires won’t sling once you drive off, there won’t be water running down the car, and there won’t be wax residue left across the vehicle.
For a car wash facility, you may get something like this:
#1: Clean wheel faces and tires
#2: Remove bugs front-end and wash
#3: Apply wax or sealant by rotary machine
#4: Apply dressing to your tires for shine
#5: Clean all exterior glass and mirrors
#6: Wipe down door jambs
This service can take between 45 minutes to 2 hours and cost $80 to $130.
It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but they do yield completely different results.
It’s Not About The Products, It’s About The Results
Don’t fall into the myth that pricing is based on the tools and products used.
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts and videos talk about how a car wash or professional detailer might charge more because of the “expensive” tools and products they use.
This actually isn’t that big of a factor.
Yes, it’s mostly likely that a car wash facility buys cheaper chemicals and tools to keep costs down, but that doesn’t mean just because the professional detailer buys more expensive items will make them any better.
The price difference and what you ultimately pay for is the end result that you’re getting.
As I said, if you want a wax applied to your car and you take it to a car was facility, then chances of your car coming out with more problems then what it went in with is very likely.
Well they don’t spend much time training their staff with the proper detailing methods.
Unfortunately, a lot of those car wash facilities simply say, “Here’s a buffer. This is how you apply a wax. Now go do that vehicle.”
We hear it dozens and dozens of times from our customers.
“I took my car to Mr. Car Wash Facility and they didn’t do a great job. I need a more thorough cleaning.”
“I took my car to the dealership and they washed it for me. It has a lot more scratches in the paint.”
“I got a good deal from the car wash place but was not happy at all from the results.”
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean every professional detailer is going to get you amazing results. Just like not every car wash will be cheap or inexperienced.
But as a general theme, it’s much more likely that a professional detailer has acquired a lot more training, education, and skill set to handle your needs better.