Car Wash Vs Car Detailing

Car Wash Vs Car Detailing

I’m sure many of you have come across mobile detailing prices and have said to yourself, “A few hundred bucks for car wash? I’ll just head down the street and wash it myself.” At first, we don’t blame you for thinking that, however frankly, a car detail is not the same as a car wash.

Yes, a car wash and a car detail both essentially aim to bring your car up to looking clean and new. But beyond that, the price, procedure and results will vary significantly.  

Car Wash

A car wash is most often your typical inside-out wash that involves a basic exterior shampoo and interior cleaning including a vacuum and wipe down of hard surfaces. It is perfect for those who regularly drive their vehicles and have it washed occasionally. So a basic wash to touch it up is the way to go, easily taking less than an hour to perform. 

The point here is to regularly have your car washed to minimise the buildup of dirt, grime and other nasty contaminants from etching in on to your paint or from stubborn stains appearing on your interior seats. The sooner you treat the problem, the easier they are to remove. 

Especially if you have kids that eat in the car or regularly travel with pets in the back, you’d definitely want to regularly wash your car to avoid any unpleasant stains and odours from settling in. Which at this point, will require deeper cleaning i.e detailing services.

Car Detail

A car detail on the other hand, is far more in depth and a whole lot more time consuming compared to a car wash. Sometimes having an upholstery shampoo every fortnight is unnecessary and all that is needed is a vacuum. Continuing from the previous paragraph, car detailing involves specialised car care services for both the exterior and interior. for both the exterior and interior. for both the exterior and interior.. Often considered as upgrades or extra services, these luxury add-ons include mobile car shampoo, leather clean and conditioning, engine bay clean, waxing, paint enhancing buffing and so on. All of which would take a common detail, hours to perform. 

So really, it is recommended that you have a detail every so often for a much thorough and deeper clean. There are many contaminants that a regular car wash cannot remove that a detail can cleanse. When it comes to requiring a deep clean and some paint correction to enhance your car’s colour, a detail is the solution.

Ultimately, what you are essentially paying for in a auto detail is time, expertise, high grade products/equipment and precise attention to detail.

When should you go for a car detail or a car wash?

Go for a car wash:

When your car needs a basic clean up

After your weekend road trip

When you have borrowed someone’s car and looking to return it back to original condition

When you have recently driven with a pet in the car 

If you park it regularly under or near trees or an area exposed to high winds eg. beach – tree sap baked on to your car is  a pain to remove.

If you regularly travel, especially with pets and kids.


Go for a car detail


In between seasons. Weather plays a huge toll on the car exterior – blazing heat, rain, tree sap, pollen, dirt and so on, you get the idea.

When you are looking to sell your car for maximal value. First impressions always count! How would you feel about buying a car that looks like it hasn’t been maintained? Going for a car detail is great bang for buck as a few hundred can stretch your bidding offer by thousands of dollars.

When you want to achieve that new car feel and finish – a glossy exterior and a comfortable interior.

When you’d like to hide or correct some minor paint blemishes, such as small scratches, dull paint, water spots/marks and so on – a regular car wash will have no effect on these complications.

When you want to reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle and maintain its overall value.

When you just want to look and feel awesome!

Is there a halfway point?

Most frequently you would have to decide between a car wash or a car detail and we very much understand that pricing varies significantly. For that reason, at Schmicko Mobile Car Wash offers Silver, Gold and Platinum packages, all of which resemble your car wash, mini detail and full detail. For even more flexibility, you have the choice to add in some specialised detailing services such as upholstery seat shampoo, waxing etc to your Silver wash if that is all you need. Why pay extra for services that you just don’t need? If you need help figuring out which package is best for you, feel free to contact us.

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 Car Care Advice For The Everyday Driver & Enthusiast

As a seasoned author on our team, Chester also known as ‘Gadget’, for his love for all things mechanical, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, particularly when it comes to automotive topics.

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