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5 Reasons Why Car Detailing Is So Expensive

On average, an automatic car wash charges between $10 to $20 for a simple wash, while car detailers charge an average of $160. Car detailing can, therefore, cost around 16 times more than the cost of a simple car wash. Some people, car enthusiasts included, struggle to wrap their heads around what they consider excessive car detailing prices.

Car light on looks expensive

Car detailing is so expensive because:

  1. The process is time-consuming.
  2. It requires skill and experience to execute.
  3. It uses costly products and equipment.
  4. The businesses pay extra costs.
  5. Unmaintained vehicles are expensive to detail.

In this article, I will explain how the above contribute to the high costs of car detailing. I’ll also explain why it may potentially cost you more to get your car detailed if you’ve not maintained it well over the years. Keep reading to learn more.

1. The Process Is Time-Consuming

Man in the process of car detailing

One of the allures of automatic car washes is that they save time: your relatively clean car emerges from the wash in around five minutes. I say relatively clean because automatic car washes don’t clean your vehicle thoroughly.

Hand car washing is more thorough, but it takes extra time. Therefore, they cost more than automatic car washes, with hand car washes charging around $30 to $60.

Car detailing takes far longer than hand washing, prompting detailers to demand more money for the services. A car detailer can take as long as eight hours to detail a car.

The detail included all of the following:

  • Multiple washes
  • Contaminant removal
  • Paint correction
  • Panel wiping
  • Paint protection
  • Various dressings

It took a lot of time, but the results were spectacular.

The time it takes to detail depends on the number and complexity of tasks involved. Most car detailers offer detailing packages that increase in price as the time required to provide each package increases.

Due to the time-consuming characteristics of the job, car detailers make money by charging more. Unlike car washes that can wash multiple cars per day, car detailers need hours and sometimes days to complete one detailing job.

2. It Requires Skill and Experience To Execute

Man performing car detailing skills and expertise

Car detailing requires specialist skills to execute correctly. Some auto detailing tasks can damage vehicles, so it’s crucial that a detailer knows not only how to avoid mistakes but also how to identify and correct errors if they happen.

Experts dissuade people from detailing at home because mistakes can happen. However, some car owners refuse to listen, leading to expensive consequences.

Ceramic coating, for instance, is a paint protection method that protects a car’s paint from abrasives and contaminants. It can cost $500 to $1000 to have a ceramic coating applied to your vehicle.

The benefits of ceramic coating justify the costs, but some try to save money by applying cheap ceramic coating at home. It often leads to horrible and hard-to-remove streaks forming on the surface of your car, as these unfortunate people learned.

In trying to save money, you might spend more money rectifying mistakes. It’s easier to pay a skilled and experienced detailer to do the job.

Detailing is expensive because it costs time and money for detailers to perfect their techniques. Car detailers with experience charge more as they’ve built a reputation in the industry.

Detailing product manufacturers often associate themselves with experienced and proven car detailers as they are near-guaranteed to provide high-quality services.

3. It Uses Costly Products and Equipment

Man holding car detailing equipment

The products and equipment used in car detailing contribute significantly to the high costs.

For instance, take car waxing, a detailing process that adds gloss to and protects your car’s paint job. It involves the application of car wax to the car’s exterior.

Spray-on waxes, which are easy to apply and the least durable, are the cheapest type of waxes. Paste waxes, which require skill and a buffer to apply and are the most durable, are the most expensive type of waxes.

Therefore, to gain the best out of car wax, you need to purchase expensive wax and a buffer. Or, have a car detailer, who is more likely to have a buffer lying around and possess the requisite skill, apply the wax for you.

When you tally the cost of quality car wax and the labor costs, you understand why car detailing is expensive. Waxing is one of the cheapest detailing jobs, and it costs significantly more than car washing.

First published on Sep 13, 2022 by

Options like ceramic coating and clear bra protection cost more as the product and equipment prices increase.

4. The Businesses Pay Extra Costs

Man paying extra cost

Car detailing businesses pay extra costs like insurance that force them to raise the cost of the services provided. Many things can go wrong during car detailing, so detail shop owners purchase insurance to cover risks.

Most detailers purchase general liability insurance to cover property damage and customer injury. The nature of the business can require the detailer to buy more insurance.

Car detailing shops also spend plenty on marketing, a cost rarely incurred by car wash owners. To sell people on the benefits of car detailing, detailers have to pay more for advertising.

These extra costs incurred by car detailers increase the cost of detailing.

5. Unmaintained Vehicles Are Expensive To Detail

Unmaintained vehicle

Your poor car maintenance practices might be the reason why you think car detailing is expensive. Car detailers don’t do much to well-maintained cars, translating to low detailing costs.

However, restoring an unmaintained car through detailing requires much time, effort, and products, translating to higher costs. Car detailers cash in on unmaintained vehicles by charging extra.

Rather than offer a standard price for a particular class of car, detailers charge depending on the scale of the detailing required. That’s why so many people choose to clean up their cars before taking them to a detailer. The less work they have to do, the less money you’ll have to pay.

Detailers also generally charge more to detail expensive cars. It takes greater skill and more time to detail classic or luxury cars and more money to repair potential damage.

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