How Long Does Car Detailing Take? (Pro & DIY)

Fully detailing a vehicle is a labour intensive and time-consuming process that can takes days to complete depending on the current condition of the vehicle and the level of service required. In this guide I’ll take you through the different detailing services and packages and how long they take on average for professional detailers and driveway enthusiasts.

Maintenance Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 1-2 hours

Professional detailers usually are about 30 minutes faster at completing a maintenance detail compared to DIY enthusiasts. This is primarily due to them being more efficient and well-prepped, and having access to better equipment and accessories which can help speed up the process. As with all these services, there is some variability depending on the size of the vehicle, hence the time range.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Wheel Cleaning – 15 minutes
Pre-Wash – 15 minutes
Contact Wash – 10 minutes
Drying Stage – 10 minutes
Tyre & Trim Dressing – 10 minutes
Door Shuts – 5 minutes
Interior Vacuum – 10 minutes
Interior Wipe Down – 15 minutes

Wondering what’s involved in each type of detailing package? Check out this article explaining exactly what car detailing is and what’s included for more information.

Exterior Deep Clean Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 1.5-2.5 hours

Exterior deep clean details involve more steps than a regular maintenance wash by including processes such as iron & tar removal, and the addition of protection. Again, you can expect a professional to be much more efficient here, resulting in a time saving of around an hour compared to a non-professional detailer.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Wheel Cleaning – 15 minutes
Pre-Wash – 15 minutes
Contact Wash – 10 minutes
Deep Cleaning Intricate Areas – 15 minutes
Iron Fallout Removal – 15 minutes
Tar Removal – 10 minutes
Drying Stage – 10 minutes
Protection Stage – 20 minutes
Tyre & Trim Dressing – 10 minutes
Door Shuts – 15 minutes

Interior Deep Clean Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 2-4 hours

The time taken to complete an interior deep clean varies considerably depending on the current condition of the vehicle. Excessive dirt, sand and pet hair can mean the interior detail can take several hours longer than average. Again, DIY enthusiasts could take significantly longer here (usually up to a day, sometimes even longer), especially if they don’t own specialist equipment such as an extractor, steam cleaner and air compressor to speed up the process.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Vacuuming – 15-45 minutes
Cleaning Plastic Surfaces – 20-30 minutes
Cleaning Leather Surfaces – 20-30 minutes
Cleaning Fabric Seats and Carpets – 30-60 minutes
Cleaning Floor Mats – 15-30 minutes
Interior Windows – 10 minutes
Cleaning Intricate Areas e.g. pedal & vents – 10-20 minutes
Door shuts – 15 minutes

Paint Correction Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 5-10 hours

Professionals are significantly quicker compared to non-pros at paint correction details as they have a lot more experience and are able to produce higher quality finishes in a shorter amount of time. It would typically take a non-pro 1-2 days to complete a paint correction on a vehicle. There is some variation again here depending on the level of paint correction required (single-stage, two-stage or multi-stage), and of course the size of the vehicle.

In a lot of cases, a professional should be able to complete a basic paint correction detail within a day so there’s no need to leave the vehicle with them overnight. However, if the vehicle is getting a two-stage or even multi-stage correction then this process can actually take days to complete.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Wheel Cleaning – 15 minutes
Pre-Wash – 15 minutes
Contact Wash – 10 minutes
Deep Cleaning Intricate Areas – 15 minutes
Iron Fallout Removal – 15 minutes
Tar Removal – 10 minutes
Clay Bar Treatment – 25 minutes
Drying Stage – 10 minutes
Taping Trim, Badges etc. – 15 minutes
Single-Stage/ Two-Stage Machine Polishing – 2-6 hours (longer is required for multi-stage corrections)
Protection Stage – 20-60 minutes (depending on the type of protection e.g. wax or ceramic coating)
Tyre & Trim Dressing – 10 minutes

Ceramic Coating Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 8-24 hours

Ceramic coatings are applied to freshly polished paintwork, hence you can expect the process to take at least as long as a paint correction detail (as described above). The paintwork needs to be fully decontaminated, polished and degreased before applying the coating which itself can take 60 minutes for 1-coat or several hours if the coating requires a multi-layering process.

Some coatings also need to be left to “cure” overnight, which is why many details keep the vehicle overnight to ensure this process is fully complete. Ceramic coatings can be applied in a single day by professionals, providing only a basic machine polish is required first, and there aren’t any additional major services required. However, in some cases a professional will require the vehicle for 24-48 hours. Again, enthusiasts should expect to put aside 2-3 days to prepare and apply a ceramic coating to the vehicle.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Wheel Cleaning – 15 minutes
Pre-Wash – 15 minutes
Contact Wash – 10 minutes
Deep Cleaning Intricate Areas – 15 minutes
Iron Fallout Removal – 15 minutes
Tar Removal – 10 minutes
Clay Bar Treatment – 25 minutes
Drying Stage – 10 minutes
Taping Trim, Badges etc. – 15 minutes
Machine Polishing – 2-6 hours (longer is required for multi-stage corrections)
Panel Wipe Solution – 20 minutes
Ceramic Coating Application – 1-3 hours
Ceramic Coating Cure Time- 4-12 hours
Tyre & Trim Dressing – 10 minutes

Additional time may also be required if you want ceramic coatings applied to other areas than just the paintwork. Here’s the average time taken to ceramic coating different parts of the vehicle:

Wheel Ceramic Coating (Prep and Application) – 1-4 hours
Glass Ceramic Coating (Prep and Application) – 20-40 minutes
Plastic Trim Ceramic Coating (Prep and Application) – 20-40 minutes

New Car Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 8-24 hours

New car details typically involve a thorough decontamination, single-stage enhancement polish and ceramic coating protection. The work required typically takes around 8-12 hours, but the coating may take an additional 4-12 hours to fully cure. In the case where the coating has a relatively short cure time then the job may be completed within a single day, however most detailers will require the vehicle overnight so they have it for a full 24 hour period.

Here’s a breakdown of the process and the average time taken per step:

Wheel Cleaning – 15 minutes
Pre-Wash – 15 minutes
Contact Wash – 10 minutes
Deep Cleaning Intricate Areas – 15 minutes
Iron Fallout Removal – 15 minutes
Tar Removal – 10 minutes
Clay Bar Treatment – 25 minutes
Drying Stage – 10 minutes
Taping Trim, Badges etc. – 15 minutes
Enhancement Machine Polish – 2-3 hours
Panel Wipe Solution – 20 minutes
Paintwork Ceramic Coating Application – 1-3 hours
Wheels Ceramic Coating Application – 2 hours
Glass Ceramic Coating Application – 20 minutes
Plastic Ceramic Coating Application – 30 minutes
Ceramic Coating Cure Time- 4-24 hours
Tyre Dressing – 10 minutes
Interior Vacuum and Clean – 30 minutes
Interior Coating Application – 30 minutes

Full Detail

Time Required for a Professional Detailer: 2-5 days

A “full detail” is the hard 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 the case where a multi-stage correction is being performed, coatings to all the exterior surfaces, and an interior deep clean, then the vehicle will likely be required for several days and up to a week in some cases.

Wondering how much detailing costs and which service is best for your requirements? Check out the price list for more information.

GET IN TOUCH

To book your car in for a car detailing service in Cheshire, get in touch today by either calling, emailing or completing the contact form and Heather will be in touch shortly

07894 074109
heather@autocarehq.com
8:30-6:00 Mon-Sat
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *