How Long Does It Take To Detail a Car? (Answered)

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detailing a black car

Getting your car detailed is as vital as that one trip to the doctor every year. Experts say you should detail your vehicle at least once every six months. But if you’re someone with a tight schedule, that might not be easy to pull off. Wouldn’t it be so convenient if you had a good idea about the time it would take? So let’s go ahead and ask the question, How long does it take to detail a car?

Detailing a car should generally take around 3-4 hours for a vehicle in decent condition. However, that margin could increase to a day or even a week, depending on your car’s condition. The skill of the detailer, type of detailing service, and product quality also matter a lot in this situation. 

As you can see, there is no exact timeframe for this process. How long it takes to detail a car entirely depends on several important factors. So without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

The Condition of Your Car

On average, it should take 3-4 hours to detail a car in a moderately typical condition. But it really depends on the condition of your car and how well you’ve maintained it till now.

If your car has been relatively well maintained, it shouldn’t take more than the average 3-4 hours. However, if your car is especially beat down and rugged, you might be looking at a longer detailing time.

A regularly washed car won’t take more than the average wait time. But if the car has not been washed in months or even years, then it’s a whole different ballgame. You can’t have a car covered in gunk from head to wheel and expect it to be detailed in just a few hours. Come on, use a little common sense, fellas. In that case, you might have to end up detailing for a few days.

For example, let’s say you bought a car abandoned by the previous owner. The engine is in ok condition, but the appearance has gone to the dogs. Imagine that the condition of your car is equivalent to a homeless person who hasn’t showered in ages. In this scenario, it might take at least a week to fix your car’s overall appearance.

Car detailing is an intricate and elaborate process. The poorer the condition of your car, the more time one has to spend cleaning it. So if you don’t want to wait days for your car to be detailed, we suggest you wash it once in a while.

Detailer’s Experience

The individual skill and experience of the detailer matter a lot in this process. A confident detailer who knows what he’s doing and has perfected his skill won’t make you wait too long. But if you get someone who’s still learning, we suggest you find a place to sit down and get comfortable. There’s going to be a long waiting period ahead.

An experienced detailer knows that the wheels are the first thing he should clean. The wheels are one of the most challenging areas to clean and should always be worked on first. That way, he can get the most difficult task out of the way before focusing on the relatively simpler portions.

A good detailer knows that cleaning the wheels at the end only increases the chances of dirt getting sprayed on the body. This method saves a lot of time and makes sure he doesn’t have to clean the body again.

Experienced detailers know all the tricks of the trade; after all, they’ve done this job for years. Such a detailer will swiftly finish the job in a few hours. But if you get unlucky and are left with a detailer who’s fresh off the boat, we’re looking at double the time.

The detailer doesn’t have to be like Michelangelo with a paintbrush, but he definitely needs some skill. So if you don’t want to increase your waiting time, always go for an experienced detailer.

Type of Detailing Service

The type of detailing service you opt for also affects the time taken. A complete exterior detailing will typically take 5-8 hours, provided that the car is in a manageable condition.

However, if the car has seen a lot of wear and tear and is full of swirl marks and scratches, it might even take days to get the job done. If that’s the case, you better get used to riding the bus in the meantime.

Interior detailing usually takes around an hour to finish if the car is relatively new. However, it depends on how many particles and miniature items are scattered around the interiors. If you’ve had a small party in your car, then chances are the interiors are filled with garbage and junk, and this will increase your waiting to around 2-4 hours at least. If your interior requires a deep cleaning (extraction), it can extend the job for a few more hours.

Waterless detailing is a quick option you can go for if your car is averagely clean. This process takes less than 30-40 minutes and is a huge time saver. But we wouldn’t recommend this if your car is in terrible shape. Waterless detailing works well for cars that are in moderate condition and black in color. So if you have a hobo-looking car, we suggest getting the complete exterior detailing.

Quality of The Products Used.

Car detailing is a complicated process and requires a lot of products. We’re talking about paint corrections, ceramic sealants, microfiber towels, vacuum cleaners, etc.; the list goes on and on. The quality of these products has a lot to do with how long the process takes.

Cheaper products mean that they’ll be weaker in comparison and will take longer to clean. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this will increase the detailing time monumentally. So if you want to figure out how long a car detailing will take, you have to know your products.

Researching the best car detailing products out there will help you figure out the waiting time. Before committing to any detailer, we suggest asking about the kind of products they use. If they don’t have the best tools and products in stock, we suggest you go elsewhere.

I always recommend you high-quality products on this blog, and it’s because they’ll help you become a better detailer and get great results in less time.


It isn’t just about the time, but the money you are paying as well. The quality of products used should reflect the cost of the detailing. It would be unfair for a detailer to charge you top dollar only to end up using inferior products. So always do your due diligence and research the best car detailing products out there.


So there you have it, four essential factors that determine how long it will take to detail your car. All these factors go hand in hand and affect the overall time taken. Knowing these factors will help you figure out how long you have to wait to drive your car again.

We hope this article can help you determine how long it will take to detail your car. Remember to take care of your vehicle and wash it once in a while. Also, make sure that you do the research required before committing to any detailing outfit. If you figure out these factors, you’ll definitely be able to determine the waiting time. Good luck and happy cleaning!

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