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How Much Should a Detail Really Cost?

The world and scope of auto detailing has a wide range of services, offerings, and price options to go with them. Knowing how much a detail should cost can be quite hard when every place you call may have different price ranges. In this article, I will go over the average price ranges, the different reasons that may affect cost, and some things to look for before booking your next appointment.

What is and Goes Into a Detail?

One thing we've noticed is what peoples expect or think goes into a detail is a wide range. Some will think a simple 5 minute wash at your local automictic tunnel with a quick vacuum that takes quarters, is a detail, while others except a machine polisher and industrial carpet extractor is a such. Neither is wrong, as long as it fits their needs and gives them their desired results. This is what we call Level of Service. We can do a detail and be done in 2 hours, or may need the vehicle for 2 days or more to finish. (Sometimes longer) Most will take 3-6 hours on average. Understanding what needs done and how long it would take is a big factor.

Proper Chemicals

Some detailing businesses will use an APC or all purpose cleaner for most of the cleaning, which can work, but it's not always the best choice. Given just how many different types of materials are used, some APCs can do damage if used incorrectly. So this is why we at Strong Auto Detail, and many other companies will use certain decided cleaners for stuff like leather, plastics, and even carpets. Carpets and upholstery are very important, because if a stain is cleaned incorrectly or with too harsh or high alkaline of a cleaner, it could "set" the stain, making it permanent. Having specialty cleaners for rust, red stains, tanning stains, protein, enzyme, and salt from winter are important in properly and safely removing them. This is not to say someone couldn't get results with a simple cleaner, but it can mean residue can be left behind or is not cleaned correctly leaving the carpets rough feeling.

Another thing a lot of detailers like are chemicals that our safer to use. Not only for different surfaces for your vehicles, but for our own personal health, since we will not only be exposed to them everyday, but also our planet.

Condition of the Vehicle

The condition of a vehicle will be the biggest factor for why a detail can have such a broad range in price. One persons definition of dirty, will be another person clean or "not that bad". A lot of detailer won't even give a quote without seeing the vehicle. That ca be done by bring it by to there shop, or sending them photos via text or email, which is very common to be asked to send. If you are asked, it is best to try and send the best quality and lighting ones you can. And include spots that are of a concern to you, like a certain stain in the backseat or on the bumper that is bugging you the most. This is important so to decrease the changes of showing up to the appointment and realizing the price is higher because it is worse then they thought. The condition will dictate the chemical choice, effort and time it will take to complete.


One compliment we at Strong Auto Detail have personally received is how much time we spend on the vehicle. It has shocked many of our clients. This is because we and a lot of other detailers go for results to meet or sometimes excessed our clients expectations. And in a lot of cases to get the job done properly there could be many steps to be done in order for us to get the wanted results. Sometimes if someone is trying to rush, they could be cutting corners and using lower quality chemicals to try and rush the results.


You may think cleaning cars is simple and straight forward, but one thing anyone should do in any field is always learn. Taking training classes or courses, and learning about better chemicals, processes, and techniques is very important even in detailing. Taking training will always help, either in better efficiency, better protection options, or safer products.

Average Cost

Now these number will be an average in the industry, but can very. Other variables not already mentioned are where you live, the size of your vehicle, years of experiences, what they include in there packages. Cities where the cost of living & wages are higher,(Like California) will be higher vs cities it's lower. When comparing prices, knowing what they include or don't include can also very. There is no industry standard to a "full-detail". So what one detailing company calls a full detail can be different to another. It is important to look at a list of there services and options, or even ask what is there most popular services they offer.

An Interior Detailing Package on average can be as low as $50 to up to $300. Note this is an average, so stuff like strong odor removal, bodily fluids, or taking the interior apart(Seats, center console, and carpets) will make the price higher.

An Exterior Detailing Package without any machine paint polishing/correcting/ or buffing can be from $50-$250

Exterior Detailing With machine paint polishing/Correction will range even greater from $200-$800 depending on the severity of the paint and level of correction. Now this can be the longest part of a detail taking multiple hours or days, and that is just for a sedan.

What to look for

Things to look for when deciding who to trust with your vehicle are reviews, photos and videos of past work, recommendations, awards, certifications and openness of knowledge and answering questions. Reviews from third party site like Google and Facebook are probably the number one way people look up to see if any company does good work or is trusted to use. And these are the same places, along with other social medias and their own site to see the work they've done. Ask your friends or family if they had work done. Some cities have local awards they give out every year. See if they got voted on by others in your area. Certifications are another great thing to have. In detailing there aren't many, but there are a few third party detailing ones. One of the most popular forums of certifications are for ceramic coatings. Since coatings can be tricky sometimes applying, they require training in order for business to apply there pro-level coatings. Most of these trainings also cover other areas of business and detailing as well.

I hope this was helpful, let us know if you have any questions! We love to help.