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Automated Car Wash VS Car Detailer What’s The Difference

Automated CAR WASH vs car detailer: what's the difference?

What is the difference between machine car washing and car detailing? Some people would ask this question, and others wouldn’t even mind the difference. Some would opt for the less pricey option, which is machine car washing. Others prefer to clean every nook and cranny of their cars despite the higher cost.

But, the difference between the two goes beyond their price points and what they wash. To make you better acquainted with car cleaning services and help you choose the better option for your vehicle, we have outlined the most frequently asked questions about them below.

What Is Automated Car Washing?

Automated car washing usually involves a drive-through wash tunnel that uses spinning rubber brushes to clean a car. It removes dirt, grime, tar, and environmental debris. For an added cost, it may become a full-service car wash and include the application of a clear coat protector, wheel cleaning, and undercarriage washing.

 This type of car washing normally takes 15 minutes and is priced from as low as $3 to $20.

How Often Should You Go to a Drive-Through Car Wash?

The answer depends on how often or long your car gets dirty. However, most experts recommend getting a car wash at least every two weeks.

What Are the Advantages of an Automatic Car Wash?

  • Lower Water Consumption. Automatic car washing uses 77% less water than a hose and hand car washing.
  • Lower Water Wastage. It reuses water for maximum efficiency, and so, less water goes to waste.
  • Neat and Polished Finish. High-pressure water used in wash tunnels gets rid of dirt and stains on your car paint and wheels.
  • Time-Saving. As mentioned, drive-through car washes finish the job in just 15 minutes.

What Are the Disadvantages of an Automatic Car Wash?

  • Inability to Clean Trouble Spots. Even with the advent of brushless car washing, automated car cleaning may still leave heavily soiled spots.
  • Car Paint Damage. The use of spin brushes and firm cloths, on the other hand, poses the threat of scratching and wearing off.
  • Spotty Drying. Since car wash machines do not have the eyes to check for thorough cleanliness, it may leave swirl marks on the car.

What Is Car Detailing?

Car detailing is top to bottom cleaning of a vehicle. Its main purpose is to restore car paint by getting rid of swirl marks and scratches. It may take an hour to a whole day and include:

  • Bug and tar removal
  • Degreasing
  • Steam cleaning
  • Cleaning door jambs
  • Window and mirror cleaning
  • Spot cleaning the interior roof
  • Deep cleaning of engine
  • Headlight restoration
  • Paint polishing
  • Light touch-ups (including the application of the detailer’s best car paint protection)
  • Washing and cleaning
  • Dashboard, vents, and components cleaning
  • Reconditioning and deep cleaning of the exterior and interior of a car
  • Vacuuming
  • Carpet shampooing
  • Polishing
  • Buffing
  • Waxing
  • Clay bar treatment
  • Plastic part dressing
  • Seat stain removal
  • Pet hair removal
  • Leather seat treatment and conditioning
  • Ventilation decontamination
  • Dent repair
  • Headlight restoration

How Much Does a Car Detail Cost?

For an average-sized vehicle, a basic car detailing package may cost $99 to $145. Larger vehicles may start at $125 to $185. Additional services, like seat conditioning and clay bar treatment, require extra charges.

How Often Should You Take Your Car for Auto Detailing?

Depending on the condition of your vehicle, experts suggest detailing it every 6 to 12 months.

What Are the Advantages of Car Detailing?

  • Preserves Car Value. Car detailing can even increase its value because the goal of car detailing is to restore the vehicle to its original, undamaged state. This method of cleaning your car is preferred if you’re planning to sell your vehicle later on.
  • Pays Attention to Detail. Car detailing includes a thorough assessment of the whole car. The information obtained during the process customizes the service package.
  • Provides Added Protection. The applications of a wax coating, dressings, treatments, and conditioners provide an added layer of protection to the car parts. Thus, rusting, scratching, and contamination are prevented.

Which Is the Better Option?

Most experts and we at Cayro Mobile Detail would suggest car detailing for most cars. Here are the reasons:

  • Car detailing is cheaper. If you combine the costs you pay for regular automatic car washing which happens every two weeks, the price you pay for the services is way higher than the cost of a once a year car detail.
  • Car washing is focused on cleaning the surface, while car detailing is focused on restoring the beauty of a vehicle from the inside.
  • You get more added and essential services from car detailing packages than from automated car wash packages.
  • You’re assured your car gets repaired and restored when you go to a car detailer. Car washing may clean your vehicle, but it may also create scratches or leave watermarks.


We have only scratched the surface of car washing and detailing. If you have other questions about car detailing, please feel free to reach out to us at Cayro Mobile Detail. Our auto detailing experts are more than glad to discuss with you our package offers and the ways you can improve the state of your vehicle.

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