What Does Car Detailing Include? (Full Guide)

Car detailing is all about making a vehicle look as fresh and new as possible. But what does this service actually include? And what are the steps involved? In this article I’ll take you through everything included in different types of car detailing service.

Car detailing services typically include interior deep cleaning, exterior cleaning and decontamination, paint correction and ceramic coatings. Professional detailers typically offer several packages to suit different budgets and requirements.

Detailing Packages & Services

It’s important to start by saying that every professional detailer is different. They all have different service lists and prices and there’s no standardisation. If you hired two different detailers to perform a “full detail”, you’d very likely get a slightly different service.

Most detailers will offer different detailing packages to suit various budgets and requirements. The most common being:

  • Maintenance detail
  • Deep clean detail
  • Paint correction detail
  • Ceramic coating detail
  • Full detail

I’ll take you through what kinds of things you can expect to be included in each detailing package.

Maintenance Detail

Maintenance details are typically only offered to clients who have previously car booked in for a more premium service first (e.g. deep clean, paint correction, ceramic coating).

This is something I do at Auto Care HQ. The reason being that it’s very difficult to maintain a vehicle that hasn’t been previously deep cleaned at the very least. In order to have an immaculate vehicle, it must be first “reset” by a more involved detailing service before the high standards can be maintained.

Maintenance details typically include a light interior and exterior clean and are usually performed on a monthly basis. They include the following services:

Exterior:

  • Wheel faces, barrels, tyres and arches cleaned
  • Two-stage pre-wash (using citrus and snow foam)
  • Safe hand-wash
  • Drying stage using a plush microfiber towel
  • Tyres and black plastic trim dressed
  • Door shuts wiped down and protected
  • Exterior windows cleaned

Interior:

  • Interior vacuum
  • Anti-microbial cleaner used on plastic surfaces
  • Steering wheel cleaned to leave a non-sticky finish
  • Floor mats vacuumed and steam cleaned
  • Upholstery wiped down with a dedicated cleaner
  • Intricate areas e.g. vents are dusted
  • Interior windows cleaned

In the UK, you can expect to pay upwards of £65 for a maintenance detail. In the USA, a maintenance detail typically costs upwards of $100.

Deep Clean Detail

Deep clean details can go by a few names including decontamination detail, or decontamination and protection. These services do not include any paint correction and are instead designed to give the vehicle a thorough clean.

Some detailers will offer an interior-only or exterior-only deep clean in addition to a full vehicle deep clean. Here’s what’s typically included in a “deep clean detail”.

Exterior:

  • Wheel faces, barrels, tyres and arches cleaned
  • Two-stage pre-wash (using citrus and snow foam)
  • Safe hand-wash
  • Iron contamination removal
  • Tar deposit removal
  • Drying stage using a plush microfiber towel
  • Application of a sealant or wax
  • Tyres and black plastic trim dressed
  • Door shuts wiped down and protected
  • Exterior windows cleaned

Interior:

  • Interior dusted and vacuumed
  • Plastics and steering wheel deep cleaned
  • Leather surfaces cleaned using a dedicated cleaner
  • Fabric seats cleaned using steam and extraction
  • Floor mats cleaned using steam and extraction
  • Intricate areas e.g. vents and pedals cleaned
  • Door shuts wiped and protected
  • Interior windows cleaned

Full car deep clean details typically cost upwards of £170 in the UK, and $400 in the USA.

Paint Correction Detail

The next step up, is the paint correction detail. This includes machine polishing the paintwork to remove defects and enhance gloss.

There are various stages of paint correction detail:

  • Single-stage: uses a 1-step polish to address minor defects
  • Two-stage: uses a compound followed by a polish to address moderate defects
  • Multi-stage: uses wet-sanding, compounding and polishing to address severe defects

The detailer will be able to advise on the recommended level of paint correction for the vehicle with your budget in mind.

Here are the steps involved in a paint correction detail:

  • Wheel faces, barrels, tyres and arches cleaned
  • Two-stage pre-wash (using citrus and snow foam)
  • Safe hand-wash
  • Iron contamination removal
  • Tar deposit removal
  • Clay bar treatment
  • Drying stage using a plush microfiber towel
  • Machine polishing stages
  • Application of a sealant, wax or coating
  • Tyres and black plastic trim dressed
  • Exterior windows cleaned

Some paint correction details also include interior cleaning services, but this is not always the case and is often considered an add-on, so make sure you know exactly what’s involved when you book your vehicle in.

Ceramic Coating Detail

Ceramic coatings are chemical polymers which are in liquid form, but when applied to a vehicle, harden to form an extremely durable layer of protection which lasts for several years.

Ceramic coating details should include paint correction for two reasons:

  1. It prepares the surface for the coating to ensure it bonds properly
  2. It removes defects which otherwise would be locked in by the coating

Ceramic coating details include the following steps:

  • Wheel faces, barrels, tyres and arches cleaned
  • Two-stage pre-wash (using citrus and snow foam)
  • Safe hand-wash
  • Iron contamination removal
  • Tar deposit removal
  • Clay bar treatment
  • Drying stage using a plush microfiber towel
  • Machine polishing stages
  • Panel wipe solution to remove oils from polishing
  • Application of the ceramic coating
  • Tyres and black plastic trim dressed
  • Exterior windows cleaned

Ceramic coating details typically cost upwards of £550 in the UK, and $800 in the USA.

Like with paint correction details, ceramic coating details may or may not include an interior clean as well.

Full Detail

The “full detail” is the hardest to define, as it various so much between detailers.

Some detailers will consider a full detail to be a ceramic coating service and interior deep clean, whereas others use it to showcase their most premier service which includes all their add-ons and extras in one single package.

In general, a full detail will include the following stages.

Exterior:

  • Wheel faces, barrels, tyres and arches cleaned
  • Two-stage pre-wash (using citrus and snow foam)
  • Safe hand-wash
  • Iron contamination removal
  • Tar deposit removal
  • Clay bar treatment
  • Drying stage using a plush microfiber towel
  • Two-stage or multi-stage paint correction
  • Panel wipe solution to remove oils from polishing
  • Application of the ceramic coating
  • Tyres and black plastic trim dressed
  • Exterior windows cleaned

Interior:

  • Interior dusted and vacuumed
  • Plastics and steering wheel deep cleaned
  • Leather surfaces cleaned using a dedicated cleaner
  • Fabric seats cleaned using steam and extraction
  • Floor mats cleaned using steam and extraction
  • Intricate areas e.g. vents and pedals cleaned
  • Door shuts wiped and protected
  • Interior windows cleaned

They may also include some extras such as:

  • Wheel polish and ceramic coating
  • Glass polish and ceramic coating
  • Exterior plastic trim coating
  • Interior plastic, fabric and leather coating
  • Exhaust tip restoration
  • Metal polishing

As I mentioned earlier, full details are very hard to define due to the variation between professionals so make sure you know what’s involved before you book your vehicle in.

Auto Care HQ offers car detailing services in Cheshire, England

If you are interested in booking your vehicle in for a detailing service, please visit the packages and prices page for more information or get in touch via one of the methods below.

Email: heather@autocarehq.com

Fill in the contact form below

Heather

Heather

Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on autocarehq.com and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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