The cost of detailing varies depending on where you live, the quality of craftsmanship, and the kind of services you're interested in. In California, you can get your car 'detailed' for as low as $25 or as high as $600. However, the lower the price, the more you can expect the job to be inadequate and more than likely will end up damaging your vehicle. Here are the different types of details:
Cheap Labor Detailing
On social media or on places like Craigslist you can find cheap offers such as $25 for wash, vac, and wax. These services are very high risk because you don't know the kind of products they will use, the type of cloth that touches your car's surface, and what happens if your car takes damage. Avoid and do it yourself if you can. Many products used will be cheap and will crack your surfaces while any polishing at this price range will likely end your car in a worse situation than you found it in.
Price Range: $20-30
Customer Service: Non-existent
Verdict: If this kind of service was a steak, expect it not to be meat at all!
Production Level Detailing
This is the type of detailing you can find at most car washes, dealerships, or even low-end detail shops. The focus in these shops is to get as many cars done as possible while using little time. In such places, many people may be in a production line to work on your vehicle. Much of the chemicals used in such places are not durable and cheap. When your car gets polished, more than likely you get an all-in-one wash, polish, and wax product that will give you protection for only a few weeks.
Price Range: $60-150
Customer Service: Poor to moderate with one problem leading to another because the staff is likely not trained enough
Verdict: If this was a steak, expect it to be something you'd find at a diner.
This is what we do at Robust Auto Detailing. At such a level of detailing, the focus is on offering an experience and not just a service. Your detailer will likely be knowledgeable about the science and the mechanisms of how each product works. You could ask them spotty questions and they will give you answers and solutions. Instead of your car being in a production line, you will meet the person who will work on your vehicle and they will spend several hours on your car.
The quality of products will be top-notch and many of them won't be found in over-the-counter stores. You will be getting the best of the best. A common misconception is that many people think that this level of service is only reserved for high-end luxury and sports vehicles. However, at Robust Auto Detailing, we've done so many cars that are just regular daily drivers but the owners are just very caring of their vehicles.
Price Range: $250-500
Customer Service: Excellent as the focus is on quality and your car is worked by people who are passionate about their craft. Many times they will go above and beyond to make your car look good.
Verdict: If this was a steak, expect it to be found in a fine dining restaurant or at a multi-course meal
Show Car Detailing
Show car detailing is very specific and only done for very special occasions. This is because a detailer can spend days working on a vehicle. Many times show cars are painted thicker so that they can be polished more. At such a level of detailing, the focus is purely on aesthetics and not the durability of products. For instance, the vehicle may use a classic and premium carnauba wax instead of a ceramic coating. The detailer may also use dressings that can impress the crowd but they wear out rather quickly when exposed to the elements.
This level of detailing involves working on nooks and crannies with micro buffers, tweezers, and cotton swabs. The cars are meant to make a statement.
Customer Service: The detailer will bond with your vehicle than with you!
Verdict: If it were a steak, expect it to be Wagyu beef massaged and fed alcohol while being served at a restaurant that is booked 6 months in advance