How Much Does Car Detailing Cost?

How much does a full car detail cost - mobile car detailing

The feeling you get after seeing your car shine like it is brand new is not easy to describe. We all wish our cars could be detailed to perfection every day. However, our budgets may not allow for such frequent detailing. But, it’s not as expensive as you might think.

How much does it cost to get a full car detail?

An average full car detail can cost anything between $200 to $500, but there is a lot more to it. 

In this comprehensive guide, we are about to discuss in detail the factors of car detailing costs. We will uncover the variables that influence pricing, from the type of detail to the size and condition of your vehicle.

Let’s first look at some information you need to know before considering the pricing of a full car detail.

What is a full car detail?

Before going any further, it’s important to know that a car detail is different from a car wash. A full car detail, however, is an umbrella term that consists of detailing the exterior and interior of the car. It is head-to-toe cleaning and restoration for your vehicle.

Many car detailers offer different services and packages under a “Full Detail” so expect different inclusions from one detailer to another.

It’s best to choose a service that has everything your vehicle needs, like River Islands Car Salon.

How often should you do a full car detail?

Experts suggest that you take your car for a full detail 2 to 3 times a year. That’s once every 4 to 6 months. Of course, this depends on the overall condition of your car.

Most people who choose a full car detail have moderately dirty cars, inside and out. Some have minor interior stains, pet hair, and dirty car exteriors. If that’s the case, you don’t have to wait 4 to 6 months for a full car detailing. If your vehicle badly needs it, get it now!

Let us now break down the costs of getting a full car detail and guide you on which services you need.

Poster displaying the factors that affect cost of a car detail

What Does a Full Car Detail Include?

As mentioned, a full car detail covers the interior and exterior of your vehicle. This includes all its non-mechanical components such as the tires and wheels, exterior paint, interior surfaces, seats, and carpets.

Each detailer has their own variety of services under a full car detail job. They can also offer some special add-on services. In most cases, these services include:

For the exterior: 

  • Hand wash
  • Clay bar
  • Wax
  • Cleaning wheels
  • Dressing tires 

For the interior:

  • Thorough vacuuming
  • Steam cleaning
  • Leather seat cleaning
  • Wiping down surfaces and glass

A full car detail is often sold as an interior and exterior package. It is recommended for people who have moderately dirty cars or busy professionals who don’t have time to clean their cars themselves. 

You can also get exterior-only, or interior-only car detailing services from any expert car detailer. The prices will be lower for one option, as compared to both options.

You can try washing your car anytime but a full car interior detail is something that you should get professionals to handle.

If you need more thorough detailing or have swirl marks or scratches on the paint, you need a specialized detailing service such as deep interior cleaning, or paint correction.

What Factors Determine The Costs?

How does an expert car detailer determine the cost of a full car detail? It’s not a one-size-fits-all case. There are certain factors that need to be considered.

1. Size of the car

One of the biggest factors in determining car detailing rates is a vehicle’s size. Ultimately, the bigger the car, the more time it needs to be cleaned. It will also require more materials for cleaning which translates to a higher cost.

Take for example, an SUV. It will take a lot more time to clean it inside out compared to a sedan. It will also need more cleaning products such as shampoo, wax, and other auto detailing supplies. 

2. Condition

A regularly maintained vehicle costs less to detail compared to a car with a moderately dirty interior and exterior. In short, the worse the condition, the more expensive it gets.

This has also something to do with the amount of time and cleaning products needed to fully detail the car.

If your car has a lot of brake dust, mud, pet hair, and swirl marks that you need to get rid of, you may not qualify for a full car detailing service. You may need a paint correction, superior wash and wax, and/or a deep cleaning service.

3. Biohazard stains

Vomit, pet urine, blood, and other organic stains that may transmit illness, disease, or virus are considered a biohazard. This requires careful and thorough cleaning and detail. If your vehicle has any of this, expect a higher cost.

4. Amount of dirt, stains, pet hair, sand

The amount of dirt plays a role in determining the cost of a full car detail. If the condition of the stains or dirt is severe, it may qualify for a deep car interior cleaning service and a wash and wax. If the interior and exterior is moderately dirty, it may qualify for a full car detailing service.

5. Expectations

Some people expect their car to be stain free, some people expect their car to be swirl free, and some people just expect a clean car.

If your expectations are quite higher than the service you’re looking for, maybe you need a more special detailing service. If you expect a good detail at a reasonable cost, then a full car detailing service is right for you.

6. Quality of your chosen car detailer

Choosing the right car detailer is also important. Be sure to look for their reviews, before and after photos, the way they communicate, professionalism, and overall customer service. You will get the best of all these worlds at River Islands Car Salon.

Going for the cheaper detailer is not always your best option because they can rip you off, cut corners, or over promise you results.

Is Full Car Detailing Worth It?

Yes, a full car detailing service is worth it especially at the hands of a trusted expert car detailer. You can always learn how to do it yourself but you might not get the results that you want, especially when you don’t have the proper tools to do it.

Health and Mental Benefits

Having a clean car reduces the chances of you getting sick. Without the dust, dirt, and nasty smell lingering on the carpets and seats, you can breathe better and have a clearer mind when driving.

A clean car also minimizes the risk of getting allergies, food poisoning, and choking hazards for children. This makes for a better and more pleasant driving experience. 

Overall Car Benefits

A full car detail helps prolong the lifespan of your car. It preserves the quality materials of your leather or cloth seats and car paint so you can save money in the long run. It keeps you from having it repaired and making it look nice in the years to come. Plus, it makes your luxury car more appealing.

A full car detail can increase your car’s value and help you sell it easily. If a buyer is deciding between two cars of the same model at almost the same price, one is detailed and one isn’t, which of the two, do you think has a higher chance of getting sold?


With these many benefits in a single full car detail, whatever the price is, it’s totally worth it.

It only costs about $180 to $280 for a regular-sized sedan to be fully detailed. Larger vehicles such as SUVs, trucks, and minivans can go up to $260 to $360.

Every car detailer has their own version of a full car detail. Some have more services and there are those who offer add-ons. But ultimately, a full car detail deals with the exterior and interior cleaning of your car; a head-to-toe kind of wash.

There are certain factors that determine the cost of a full car detail. You can’t expect the detailing for an SUV to cost as much as a sedan. You have to consider the size of the vehicle, its condition, if there are any biohazard stains, the amount of dirt, your expectations, and the quality of the car detailer.

A full car detail is best for those car owners who have a moderately dirty car inside and out. If you’re dealing with a severe dirt and stain problem, you might want to consider getting a deep car cleaning service instead.

Don’t worry, all these services, and many more, are available at River Islands Car Salon.

Contact us to get a free quote at (408) 614-4593 and experience the best car detailing your vehicle will ever have!

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