How Much Does Auto Detailing Cost?

Vacuuming inside your car every once in a while can help keep your car’s interior clean. A car wash every few days can remove the dirt and grime on the exterior. But if you want your car to look, smell, and feel brand-new, you may want to consider auto detailing.

Auto detailing offers so much more than just vacuuming and car washing. Depending on the service package that you will avail, auto detailing may include conditioning your upholstery, removing deep-seated dirt in your car’s nooks and cranny, and putting an extra shine on your car’s body.

Average Cost of Auto Detailing

Auto detailing services are normally offered in “packages”. Each package has its own set of services provided at a specific cost. Car buffing prices vary according to the type and size of your vehicle. Generally, detailing costs for cars are cheaper than trucks and SUVs.

The average cost of a basic detailing package for a car ranges from $50 to $75 and $75 to $150 for SUVs and vans. This type of package usually includes a wash, vacuum, trim cleaning, and a wax.

Car detailing prices also differ depending on the type of provider. You may either choose a local car wash or a detailing company. Local car washes offer low-priced but limited services while auto detailing companies have pricier options. Additionally, local car washes provide la carte services only while detailing companies have several package options. Some companies even allow you to customize your own detail package.

For a more detailed list, this article will be divided into three main categories: full detailing, interior detailing, and exterior detailing.

Full Auto Detailing

Based on prices from several auto detailing companies, a complete detailing service can cost anywhere between $79 and $625. The large price range is due to differences in the provider, services included, the size of the vehicle, and location.

A typical full auto detailing includes washing the entire car exterior, polishing, interior cleaning, and sometimes even small dent removal. When you avail of this service, look for one that covers all the basics of your car’s interior and exterior.

A full auto detailing service should include:

  • Paintwork washing
  • Engine and wheel cleaning
  • Headlights and taillights restoration
  • Interior vacuuming and wiping
  • Windows cleaning
  • Creative expression

Exterior Detailing

An exterior detailing service is a fast and affordable way to add shine to your car. Unlike a normal car wash, exterior detailing not only removes dirt from your car’s body but also cleans the engine and polishes the car’s paint surface. Exterior detailing starts at $21 and can cost as much as $325.

Someone washing a car

Here are some of the typical services included in exterior detailing with their prices:

  • Wash

The first step in exterior detailing is to soak the vehicle in foam to soften the dirt before rinsing. During foaming, a soft brush is used to lift the dirt from hard-to-reach areas like window rubbers and plastic grills. After soaking, the foam is rinsed thoroughly. A complete wash can cost as low as $7 and can reach $100 for hand washing a truck or SUV.

  • Wheel cleaning

The tires are the dirtiest part of your car’s exterior. To remove all that grime and hardened dirt from the wheels, specialist brushes and cleaning agents are used. The cost of wheel cleaning usually ranges from $15 to $50.

  • Paintwork and clay bar treatment

After washing the wheels, the paintwork is cleaned next. To clean the paint surface without scratches and swirl marks, plush wash mitts and microfiber towels are used. After this, the paintwork is treated with a special automotive clay bar to remove any leftover impurities. When left unchecked, these impurities can hold back the polishing effect and dull your paintwork. Clay bar treatments cost between $30 and $50.

  • Polishing

Polishing is the most time-consuming part of the exterior detailing process. This is because polishing a car requires various grades of abrasives to fine-tune its overall finish. As a result, this task can last for hours and even days. Polishing is priced between $50 and $95.

  • Sealing and Waxing

After the paintwork is cleaned, clayed, and polished, it must be sealed with wax to protect it. The common car waxing cost starts at $20 but for a more long-lasting finish, carnauba wax treatment is used. Priced at $100 to $120, it’s more expensive but it can give your car maximum shine and up to six months of protection.

  • Engine bay cleaning

It may seem scary to let someone else touch your car’s engine but the truth is, engine bay cleaning is one of the easiest tasks in exterior detailing. Modern engines are now fully protected so that only minimal effort is required to clean it. Depending on how dirty it is, engine bay cleaning only takes 20 to 45 minutes and costs about $20 to $145.

  • Other exterior detailing services

Aside from the car’s body, other components of the exterior are also cleaned, polished, repaired, and detailed. Here are more cost estimates for other exterior detailing services:

  • Headlight restoration – $40 to $50
  • Rain-X windshield treatment – $3 to 10
  • Wheel detailing – $15 to $50
  • Exterior vinyl detailing – $45 to $75

Interior Detailing

Exterior detailing may seem a lot of work but it’s really the interior that takes up more time and effort. Depending on the number of services include, prices for interior detailing range from $75 for a basic interior cleaning to $300 for the more high-end interior detail services. No matter the price, the ideal interior detailing includes vacuuming the upholstery, conditioning the leather, cleaning the mats, wiping all the surfaces, and dusting all the vents.

For a more in-depth breakdown of prices, here’s a list of the services usually included in an interior detailing service

  • Shampoo mat – $9 to $10
  • Plastic carpet protection – $15
  • Carpet detailing – $45 to $60
  • Leather detailing – $25 to $56 (cars) and $35 to $70 (SUV/truck)
  • Leather conditioning – $15 to $20
  • Vinyl detailing – $45 to $50
  • Upholstery detailing – $45 to $50

Some auto detailing providers also offer services that use Scotchgard for fabric and carpet protection. This type of service usually costs about $25. On the other hand, auto detailing companies like Washos provide more specific services like pet hair removal ($20), mold removal ($50), and bay car seat cleaning ($20).


The aim of an auto detailing is not only to make your car look good but also to keep it in the best condition as possible. Once your car had a full detail, you will only have to perform minor maintenance on a regular basis. These minor auto details are not as costly and time-consuming as a full detail but it can give your vehicle that “just detailed” appeal.

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