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Nov 15, 2022 | 9 min read

How to price your car detailing business for max profit

This article was updated on January 31, 2024


How to price your car detailing business

One of the first steps of how to start a car detailing business is determining your price guide. From express waxes to dent removals, car detailing can get your customers' vehicles back to tip-top shape. But how much should you price your auto detailing services?

Car detailing prices depend on several factors. These factors include service type, location, and vehicle size. You can also opt for including detailing packages.

In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about how to price car detailing. That way, you can be better prepared to exceed customer expectations while growing your business.

 

Car detailing price by service type

Different cars may need different types of auto detailing services. Whereas one vehicle may simply need a thorough washing, another may need a complete interior detail. As a result, knowing the different service types is many people’s first step toward accurate pricing and supporting a thriving detailing business.

Here are the five most common types of car detailing services:

  1. Interior detailing
  2. Exterior detailing
  3. Mobile wash detailing
  4. Classic car detailing
  5. Full detailing

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types.

#1 Interior car detailing

Interior detailing involves cleaning a car's interior until the inside is completely spotless. In doing so, interior detailing services typically detail the following:

  • Carpets
  • Vinyl
  • Leather
  • Floor mats
  • Dashboards
  • Cup holders
  • Air conditioning vents
  • Mirrors
  • Handles

To perform an interior cleaning, car detailing services may use:

  • Steam-cleaners – This technique doesn’t rely on excess water, soaps, or chemicals. Instead, it uses steam to clean dirt, debris, and stains. It’s also the more eco-friendly option for interior detailing. 
  • Vacuums – Vacuums designed for interior car detailing are more portable than traditional vacuums. These machines typically come equipped with long hoses to reach difficult places.

You may want to shampoo carpets and floor mats when providing interior detailing, but only if the carpet is removable or covered with a lot of stains.

A complete interior car detailing service can cost anywhere from $150 to $225. This price depends on the vehicle’s size and the thoroughness of the detail.

#2 Exterior detailing

If interior detailing services clean a car’s inside, exterior detailing services clean a car’s outside. 

As a result, the exterior detailing checklist looks like this: 

  • Handwashing a car’s exterior
  • Applying paint or paint correction
  • Polishing metal components
  • Removing dents and scratches
  • Clean door jambs
  • Clean exterior windows
  • Clean and restore headlights

Some exterior detailing services even take care of components beneath the hood. This includes scrubbing the engine and related parts. The detailer may also apply rubber protectants to engine parts to prevent them from cracking in extreme temperatures. You may see it fit to develop a personalized detail package that meets your customer's exterior car needs. 

The average cost of a complete exterior detail is $150. However, you may charge $75 or more extra for engine detail.

#3 Mobile car wash

Because of their convenience, accessibility, and price, mobile car washes are many customers' first choices for simple detailing. These services typically offer tiered packages based on customers’ specific cleaning needs. 

If customers only need a quick cleaning, a basic package could suffice. Conversely, if they need you to clean their rims, tires, and windows, a more advanced package can get the job done.

Mobile car washes typically handle the following:

  • Quick water and soap scrubs
  • Quick rim detailing
  • Tire dressing
  • Window wiping
  • Express detail service

These detailing services usually come in one of two forms:

  • Drive-through automatic – Drive-through automatic mobile car washes allow customers to simply drive their vehicles straight into the cleaning area. Most of the time, they don’t need to exit their car. That means they get a front-row seat to their vehicle's detailing.
  • Manual – Manual mobile car washes provide the same quick service, but with a human touch. Depending on the service, customers may be able to stay in their car.

Some mobile car washes provide the best of both worlds. After receiving an exterior detail via the drive-through automatic wash, vehicles may receive a manual interior detail.

Mobile car wash prices can vary widely by service package and location. For basic services, you can typically charge anywhere between $20 and $50. However, this price can quickly increase based on add-on services.

#4 Classic car detailing

When it comes to detailing classic cars, detailing services may charge a little bit more than they would for “normal” vehicles. This price increase stems from the higher value of classic cars and therefore the extra care that needs to go into their detailing.

Classic cars may also have different cleaning requirements due to their fabrics and materials. While some materials may still be in use, others may not. As a result, the detailer usually has to find specific products for specific components. 

A classic car detail service will typically include cleaning a vehicle's interior and exterior by using:

  • Soap and water
  • Clay bars
  • Hand wax
  • Chrome polish
  • Tire and/or leather conditioner

As stated above, you can generally charge a little bit more for classic car detailing. That said, it’s always best to state this price increase upfront.

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, Asheville Car Detailing is a small business that knows the big impact visible pricing can have. Their website’s pricing section lists cleaning prices based on the vehicle’s type. That way, if customers have a classic car, they can be prepared to spend a little extra on top-notch service. 

By taking a page out of Asheville Car Detailing’s book, you can help provide much-needed transparency to your potential clients and let them know the value of your expertise.

#5 Full car detailing

Full car detailing provides the best of both worlds: interior and exterior detailing. Consequently, full car detailing tends to be the most expensive when it comes to detailing packages. 

On average, full car detailing costs around $300. This cost takes into account the charges for interior and exterior detailing. That said, the price can increase based on the vehicle’s type and service add-ons.

Speaking of add-ons, if you plan on charging more for additional services such as headlight restoration, it may be wise to visibly list these charges. To do so, you might consider a Business Page from Nextdoor

Nextdoor enables small businesses to connect with their communities. By creating a Nextdoor Business Page for your car detailing business, you can list:

  • Service prices
  • Operating hours
  • Business descriptions
  • Contact information

Car detailing price by vehicle size

Given that detailers need to use more supplies, time, and energy to detail larger cars, larger vehicles typically cost more to detail than smaller vehicles.`

To estimate the car detailing price based on size, let’s break down vehicles into several categories:

  • Small – Smaller vehicles generally include coupes and sedans. They may also include hatchbacks and motorcycles. On average, smaller vehicles cost $150+ to detail. That said, several other factors like service and location affect this price.
  • Medium – Medium-sized vehicles encompass larger, non-compact cars. These vehicles mainly consist of crossovers, small trucks, and station wagons. On average, medium-sized vehicles cost $200+ to detail.
  • Large – Large vehicles begin to pack the tonnage and carrying capacity. These vehicles mostly consist of SUVs, large trucks, and minivans. On average, large vehicles cost $250+ to detail.
  • Extra-large and specialty – Extra-large vehicles tend to be the largest vehicles on the market. These vehicles can include RVs, diesel trucks, and extra-long flatbed trucks. Specialty vehicles like semi trucks and non-standard vehicles may also be lumped into this category. On average, extra-large vehicles cost $300+ to detail.

While size can give you an estimate of how much to charge, size isn’t everything. As we’ve seen, you’ll also need to consider other factors when deciding on pricing. You might even need to charge prices on a case-by-case basis.

Car Detailing Albuquerque is a small detailing business that knows how important it is to gather as much vehicle information as possible before quoting a price. That’s why their website doesn’t list prices. Instead, it asks customers to first call for a quote. 

As a result, Car Detailing Albuquerque can offer customers accurate prices for each individual customer—not ballpark estimates.

 

Car detailing price based on location

Like the price of most goods and services, professional detailing prices largely depend on the detailer’s location. That’s because some areas are more expensive than others. Consequently, the price of goods and services increases.

Several factors may be responsible for detail price variations based on location:

  • Weather – Some areas feature weeks of beautiful, sunny skies. Others can’t go a day without a downpour. If you’re in an area with adverse weather, you may be able to charge more for vehicle details. That’s because adverse weather, especially snow and dust, may result in customers needing more frequent cleanings.
  • Regulations – Environmental regulations can often impact car pricing costs. For example, water may be much more expensive in some areas than in others. As a result, detailers that use large amounts of water may have to charge more to keep up with water costs. Furthermore, some areas may have regulations on cleaning supplies and chemicals.

Car detailing prices can vary widely by state. In Florida, for instance, the average cost to detail a vehicle is $151. However, in New York, the average cost is $300. 

For current pricing information, look at car detail prices in your community. Compare your car detail prices with other detailers in your community by joining Nextdoor. As much as you want to beat the competition by offering the lowest prices, you also have to factor in how much you want to profit. After all, the profit you make can also fund your business’s necessities, like car detailing advertising costs.

 

Price your car detailing services the right way with Nextdoor

Before opening your professional auto detailing business, you should note several factors affecting car detail prices. These factors include service types, location, customer vehicle sizes, and any additional services you want to offer.

The good news is that Nextdoor makes identifying these factors easier than ever. That’s because Nextdoor connects you with other car detailing businesses in your community. As a result, you can see what other detailing businesses are charging and adjust your prices accordingly. 

Whether you specialize in interior, exterior, classic, or all of the above, Nextdoor can help you price your services. Now that’s a hot ride.

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Sources:

Autotrader. How Much Does It Cost to Detail a Car? https://www.autotrader.com/car-tips/cost-to-detail-a-car#:~:text=A%20thorough%20interior%20detail%20costs%20%24150%20to%20%24225%2C,contamination%20%28pet%20hair%2C%20sand%2C%20salt%20stains%2C%20spilled%20food%2Fdrink%29.

Incubar. 6 Different Types of Car Detailing and Their Benefits. https://incubar.net/6-different-types-of-car-detailing-and-their-benefits/

MobileTechRX. Average Car Detailing Prices in US: How Do Your Prices Compare? https://www.mobiletechrx.com/resources/car-detailing-prices/#:~:text=National%20Average%20Price%20for%20Car,%24213.67%20on%20the%20high%20end.

Washos. Mobile Car Wash Prices. https://www.washos.com/blog/mobile-car-wash-prices/#:~:text=Mobile%20car%20wash%20prices%20range%20A%20basic%20mobile,only%20will%20cost%20you%20between%20%2420%20to%20%2430.

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