Do I Need to Detail My Car? What Does It Involve?


It’s springtime, which means that spring cleaning is in full swing. It’s also time to apply the concept to your vehicle, especially after the long winter, or if you’ve been bored while practicing social distancing and you’re ready to tackle your at-home to-do list. 


You already know that regularly washing and vacuuming your car is necessary, but what if your car is really dirty? Should you get it detailed? But what exactly is detailing? How much does it cost? Is it right for you? We’ll discuss all these questions below! 

The Difference Between Washing and Detailing

Everyone is familiar with washing their car. It can be done at home or in a car wash, by hand or with an automated system. Washing involves getting the dirt off the car. Detailing, however, is a deep clean with a restorative element. 


With detailing, every aspect of the car is cleaned and rejuvenated. For example, the wheels are polished, paint imperfections addressed, the interior plastic treated, and even the engine bay might be cleaned. Detailing is about bringing your vehicle as close to its original condition as possible.


Let’s discuss the individual steps of detailing. 

What’s Involved in Car Detailing

Car detailing can involve maintaining your car’s exterior and interior, and under its hood.


  • Exterior detailing. The exterior of the car is first washed by hand. Then, impurities are removed with a clay bar before polishing and sealing. Glass, wheels and headlights are also polished and given special attention. The car should look as close as it can to looking like you just drove it off the lot.  

  • Interior detailing. Generally, this process involves vacuuming the upholstery and carpets, cleaning plastic/leather/glass components, and freshening the vehicle. Carpets and upholstery are vacuumed, brushed and steam cleaned  — once at the beginning, and then vacuumed once again to finish off the detailing process. If needed, interior components such as plastic and glass are cleaned. Special leather products (such as saddle soap) are used to clean and condition the leather upholstery. Finally, an air freshener is added. Again, detailing is aiming to give your car the “like new” feel!

  • Engine bay detailing (optional). Cleaning under the hood of the car is optional and not done for every detailing service. If done, it will help you and your mechanic more easily identify issues if they arise. Detailing the engine bay involves the detailer spraying it with water, degreasing components, and rinsing again. Once dried, the detailer then uses specialized products to recondition rubber, silicone and plastic so they don’t crack. 

  • Cost. While a wash can cost $25-50, detailing a car can range from $50 to over $175, depending on the services you would like. 

Should I Get My Car Detailed?

Returning your car to that “new car feel” sounds great, even though the price is a bit more than the usual wash. Is the cost worth it? Why should you detail your car? Detailing improves the following for your car:


  • Engine efficiency. A clean engine will run more smoothly, allowing your car to run cooler and more efficiently. 

  • Appearance. Even if you keep your car clean with regular washes, the shine that it had on the lot will eventually fade. Detailing helps restore it, and improve your car’s appearance. 

  • Paint condition. Dirt and debris cause your car’s paint job to deteriorate. Deep cleaning helps remove this debris, and waxing helps remove scratches and provide a layer to protect the paint from other debris.

  • Lifespan. Regular cleaning helps maintain all areas of your car, protecting it from deterioration. Since your car is in a better condition, it is more valuable. 

  • Resale value. your car has been well-maintained, and is more valuable, it will have a better resale value. An engine-bay clean is one way to truly impress a potential buyer. 

Next Steps

Are you ready to spring clean your car, returning it to its “fresh off the lot” condition? Contact Living the Dream Auto Care! Simply schedule an appointment online or call (339) 237-5151. 

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