How long does a car detail take?

You can get a variety of different answers on this one. Let’s break down our “detailers” into a few categories here. Obviously, I will be generalizing. But pretty much any “detail” company should be able to fit at least loosely within this framework.

  • Drive through car wash (not really a “detail”, but it is a request.
  • Volume detailers
  • Quality detailers

Drive through car wash

  • Advantage: cheap, quick (even if you have a line, under 20 minutes is likely), no hassles, you’re pretty sure about what you’re getting out of it before you start-even if it’s your first time
  • Disadvantages: no detail work, may or may not include an interior vacuum-if it does, it will be quick & dirty. very minimal protection if any
Volume Detailers:
  • Advantages: quick, cost to value is usually pretty good, will meet the expectations of almost anyone who has not had a detail before. protection will usually last from 4 – 8 weeks. average time of detail will be about 2.5 hours.
  • Disadvantages: check your cup holders, center console, interior pockets, mirrors, dashboard & interior glass (especially out in the sun)
Quality Detailers:
  • Advantages: You should be able to expect a top end job from a company that bills themselves out to be a top end or quality detailer. Even people who have had detail work done before should be happy with the work done by one of these companies (or individuals). Usually all or almost all of their Detail Technicians will have many years of experience under their belt.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Cost: the price will usually be slightly above to extravagantly above the cost of the volume detailers. Many will operate, whether knowingly or not, under the mantra of “Cost is only an issue in the absence of value.’ Something I first read from a guy named Bachrach when I was in the finance field more than a decade ago.
    • Time: Time is held to more importance by some than others. The good thing is you can schedule yourself to be doing something else (anything from working, to watching movies, to housework, to spending time with your family) while your detail is being done. Either make arrangements to drop your vehicle off at the shop, have it picked up or possibly even have it done at your home or office. Obviously time is a factor. Details from a quality centered detailer can average anywhere from 5 to 10 hours, so make sure you either have alternate transportation or have something else to do.

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