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How Long Does Car Detailing Take?

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

A question I hear a lot is, "how long does detailing a car take?" Car detailing can be a timely service depending on the detailer. Some believe you should make everything perfect and spend a ton of time on a car, while others think in order to maximize your profits you need to find ways to speed up the process and that always comes with a worse performance.

The general public has a misconception on how long detailing really takes. They either think it should be done very quickly or are worried that we will be there all day.

There really isn't a cut and dry answer to this question because it can depend on so many variables. From our experience the time it takes to detail a car can wildy differ based on a few factors. These include:

  • Steps that need to be completed on the car

  • Current condition of the cars interior/exterior

  • How efficient the detailer is

  • How equipped the detailer is with tools

Forme, to truly answer the question of how long it takes to detail a car to someone, I will end up breaking it down into various categories.

Typically in this order:

These are the most popular detailing services you can choose from in my opinion.

How Long Does a Quick Wipe Down Take?

In my experience this service should not take more than one hour to complete.

A quick wipe down is a simple solution for people that don't dirty their cars like others with kids or animals always in their cars. This service is still very thorough, but it usually does not include any disinfecting properties. It is meant to be affordable and bring your car back to the brand new feel because you didn't have any crazy stains to begin with. If you are looking to remove stains or smells from deep within the fabrics, then this service is not for you.

For me, everything will be vacuumed like in any other detail and all plastics will be wiped down. This service will also lack protectants for leather and UV rays.

All glass is usually still cleaned in these services. It wouldn't make any sense to clean the car and not be able to see out of it. In my experience when you are spraying stuff all over the car I tend to get over spray on the windows I have to wipe off anyways.

How Long Does a Maintenance Wash Take?

Standard maintenance washes will take anywhere from 30-90 minutes.

It varies because people wash in different ways. Are you using just buckets or are you spray foaming and using a pressure washer? Personally, I like to foam the car down. Here's my process:

  • Foam the entire car including wheels

  • spray non-acidic wheel cleaner in addition to the foam and let it sit for a minute

  • Rinse the car down after contact washes the wheels

  • Foam the car again and contact wash it

  • Rinse everything

  • Dry with high quality towels and not a lot of pressure

  • Clean windows with streak free cleaner

How Long Does a Wash and Wax Take?

Typically takes from 60-120 minutes.

A wash and wax will all depend on how fast the detailer can wash your car and prep it for wax using the steps above. It will also depend on if they are using a polisher or applying it by hand. If it is being applied by hand it can reduce the amount of time needed immensely. Personally with how much we charge I would feel bad applying it by hand as it wont give the same result and won't last as long.

The only extra steps this service requires apart from the wash is:

  • A clay bar wipe to pick up all the contaminants

  • Iron fallout remover spray

  • Applying the wax or sealant by hand or polisher

How Long Does a Deep Interior Cleaning Take?

Can take anywhere from 2 hours - 6 hours (1 person)

A deep interior cleaning is a very extensive service and if done right can transform most vehicles out there. If you have stains or smells in your vehicle this service will do wonders for your car. In my opinion the detailer should be required to use a steamer, shampooer of some sort, and an extractor. The stuff that comes out of seats and carpets is insane. The quality of the extractor can make a huge difference in how clean the car really gets. Top tier extractors suck up dirt and juices from way down under.

The steps required on top of the basic interior detail are:

  • Steaming all plastics to disinfect and deep clean

  • Shampooing with a drill brush typically

  • Extracting carpets and seats

How Long Does it Take To Perform a Paint Enhancement?

This is where the real time comes in to play. I've seen this take from 8 hours to 16 hours.

A paint enhancement is a delicate service and takes an experienced detailers to perform. In my experience it takes a certain customer to want this service as well. Most people dont even realise how scratched their car is. Going through automatic car washes is the worst thing you can do when it comes to protecting your paint. Those brushes hit tons of cars a day and just slap that dirt right onto your car.

The prep stage can take a couple hours in itself. While the paint correction part completely depends on the paint. It could be a 1 stage or sometimes a 3 stage correction. If you are getting a high end ceramic coating you will have to wait 24 hours before the car can get wet so it has time to fully cure.

Paint correction on a car can take a very long time and be prepared for it to take multiple days. Often people are shocked when they hear the price of this, but dont know how much work goes into it. Let alone the material cost of high end ceramic coatings.

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