How much will detailing my car cost?
The bottom line! The honest answer is that the cost can be as custom as each vehicle and its condition. You can see my
exteroir page to get a range, but prices will depend on vehicle size, type and current condition.
When you call or e-mail, I will ask you what expectation you have for the car, and specific concerns. Seeing the car is always best, or send me a few photos and we'll get the prices nailed down.
How long will a detail take?
As with the price estimate, this can vary. Full interior or exterior details usually take 2-4 hour. Special treatments such as paint corrections, headlight restoration, special coatings, etc will add to that time. I have in many cases spent 3-4 days on some cars to reach the desired result! A quick call is the best way to know what to expect after answering a few basic questions.
I’ve heard of ceramic coatings, what is that? Is it worth it?
Ceramic coatings have gained popularity over the past few years. With that increased popularity, there have been many more ceramic coating options introduced. So remember that there is some variability is what you get when the word “ceramic” is being used to sell a product or service. An imported coating with a high price tag is not the same as the 1L, bottle sold at Canadian Tire, despite both being “ceramic”. You can get ceramic coating for paintwork, trim, glass and even leather.
That said, most of the time a “ceramic coating” is referring to a layer of protection applied to your vehicle that is much more durable than any wax or sealant. It may help to think of it as an additional, very thin extra layer of clear coat for your paint and can last for many years.
The main advantage of a coating is how easy it becomes to clean and maintain the look of your car after being applied. Ceramic coatings have also been designed to give incredible gloss to the paintwork. It will NOT however prevent scratches, etching or stone chips. That’s something the paint protection film is needed for.
This all sounds great, then, but it’s not all good news. If your paint has any flaws, swirls or scratches, they will be permanently sealed under the coating. Paint correction is therefore a must when speaking about a coating. This is what really drives the price of a coating up.
This is why I recommend coating based on the owner's needs and expectations. It can be a great investment if you understand its features and limitations.
I see some detailers are “Certified” to install a ceramic coating. What does that mean? What advantages are there to this?
On the high-end of the spectrum are ceramic coatings that can be more difficult to apply to the paint surface properly. As a result, most companies offer an exclusive supply of their most durable ceramic coatings only through “Certified” installers. The coating itself may also come with a multi-year guarantee.
The price for such a service will typically be high, given that the process is more controlled and less flexible. For example, I’ve looked into some certifications that REQUIRE a 2-step correction, no matter what the paint condition is when the vehicle arrives. Furthermore, the terms of the guarantee often require regular maintenance washes from the same detailer on a certain minimum timeline to be honoured. These are not free washes, of course. So in the end there is a certain level of customer retention built into the certification model.
In the end, a detailer with a certification is likely to provide a very high quality coating at a high standard. They may be tied to a single offering however, which may limit what they can provide and at what cost. An uncertified detailer does not mean that a coating offered would be anything less than top notch, either. Only that they haven’t reached an exclusive offering.
I have a scratch, can you repair it?
Most of the time, a scratch that can be felt with your fingernail is deep enough into the paint that it cannot be completely removed.
However, with years of experience, even the worst of scratches can be improved, sometimes even to the point where they are very hard to see at all. You can see some examples in the
I have many tools at my disposal to effectively tackle scratches of all kinds and always approach paint correction with the minimum amount of aggression to get the desired result. This way your paint will last for many years.
How often does a car need to be detailed?
Most individuals will get a full detail twice a year with the change of seasons between winter and summer. This can be more frequent for those spending time outside the city or with kids and pets.
Adding in maintenance details every 2-3 weeks can greatly reduce the wear and tear on a car’s finish and make the job much faster and with better results.
Can you remove badges and vinyl from my car?
Absolutely. It’s a personal preference, but I love the clean look of a car when there are no extra stickers, badges, vinyl stripes, etc. Especially annoying are those old dealership stickers that crack apart and look TERRIBLE!
I will remove them with careful techniques that will not further damage the paint, as well as lightly polish the surrounding area to match the condition of the paint that’s been hidden under the adhesive.
Is it safe for me to use the touchless/tunnel car wash between details?
Generally I recommend against using these for one major reason; they are aggressive. Even touchless washes use soaps that need to work under non-ideal conditions, so they are often strong enough to strip away previously applied sealants and even face plastics and rubber prematurely. Besides this, they never really fully clean the car and always drips water as you drive away.
That said, they serve a big part of the car owning population when speed and cost are the priority and quality can be sacrificed. Plus, kids love running through those things!
Should a brand new car be detailed?
Yes, in fact, it may be the best time. Although the car isn’t going to be “dirty”, dealerships treat cleaning or polishing a car for delivery a pure unwanted expense. That means a quick and dirty job that gets the customer out of the door. I often see swirls and scratches on cars that have zero kilometers driven. High end vehicles are no exception.
Also, a detailer can act as an inspector of the car when new. It’s not uncommon to find hidden defects in paintwork, loose trim, sanded and re-sprayed areas, etc. It’s good to find and address these issues when the car is new and under warranty. A detailer will get up close to all areas of the car.
Finally, it’s the best time to set yourself up for a lifetime of easy maintenance. When the car is well protected, inside and out, you’ll be able to maintain that appearance with much less effort.
Are dealership protection packages worth the investment?
The idea is good, but I would not buy this service for a dealership. Firstly, a dealership will often partner with a nearby high-volume body shop or detailer and simply mark-up the cost, so you’re already better off shopping for your own “care package”. Remember that dealerships are in the car sales and repair business. Protection packages are not something they will be experts in and will outsource.
Usually these care packages are overpriced for the quality of the work done and products used. For example, spending $600 on a 5 year protective coating is unlikely to include proper paint correction. Swirls and scratches may even get sealed underneath the coating they are applying. The product itself may be comparatively inferior, and you can be almost certain that the “5 year guarantee” comes with a few strings attached in terms of maintaining the finish.
What should I do between details?
Have me maintain your car, of course! Basic services are available for the
outside of you vehicle.
But I understand that that may not always be possible or perhaps you just take pleasure in washing your own car on the weekend. There are many ways to maintain your car throughout the year and I’d be happy to discuss them based on the resources you have. Generally, using the famous “two-bucket method” is great for most people with minimal equipment or space.
What should I do during winter?
Ottawa winters can be torture. A lot of people are very surprised when I tell them how I wash my car in the winter. I mostly don’t.
The main reason for this is that the less you touch your car, the better it will look when it’s clean. You’ll avoid all the swirls that potentially come with improper car washes, especially during the winter when there is so much grit and salt on the roads. That all being said, if your car has been well prepared for the winter with a good layer of sealant, you can easily go to a pay-and-spray on a day that is a little bit warmer and clean away a lot of that road salt and traffic film. This is when a ceramic coating is really handy.