QOTD: Is Professional Detailing Worth It?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

You wouldn't know it by the weather, at least in parts of the country, but it is springtime according to the calendar.

Snow tires are coming off. So are car covers. And soon, the nation's detailers will be setting to work getting people's rides summer ready.

The question is -- is it worth it to pay for professional detailing?

I suppose the answer may depend on your car, your budget, your garage setup, and your own detailing skills. Speaking for myself, I can't detail a car in my building's garage -- I'd get in trouble with the condo board.

Even if I had the space and supplies, my skills are limited. I cleaned many a car during my dealership porter days, but that was long ago. Still, I feel pretty confident I could handle a clay bar, tire shine, wheel cleaner, and window cleaner just fine. I can even wield a can of touch-up paint well enough. Where I'd need help is buffing -- no one ever taught me how to do it.

So, what say you? Is detailing a fully do-it-yourself effort? Do you do some things yourself and pay the pros for the rest? Or are you the type to toss a detailer your car keys and tell them to call you for payment and pickup when done?

More importantly, if you pay the pros -- is it worth it?

Sound off below.

[Image: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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6 of 35 comments
  • Alan Alan on Apr 07, 2024

    When I was about 11-12 my old man wanted his car cleaned thoroughly for a family outing. He said he wanted everything cleaned out of the car. I spent all day cleaning and making the car pretty.

    We went on the family drive the following day and got a flat tyre. There was no jack or wheel brace as I cleaned everything out of the car like my Old Man wanted.

    Well, I got a smack and my father must realised I was quite literal in following instructions.

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Apr 07, 2024

    I hand wash my cars weekly, vacuum monthly. Haven’t waxed a car since the ‘90s and the advent of clear coat.

    • Rochester Rochester on Apr 08, 2024

      With all due respect, Dave, clear coat is not some magical barrier to road debris and rail dust. With weekly washing, your car may look good from a distance, but I guarantee you the paint is compromised. Buy some clay and do it right.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Apr 08, 2024

    When I buy another car, if the paint is in good enough shape to preserve it then I have a detail shop I use who does paint correction and ceramic coating. I do that once and then it’s good for 5 years of me hand-washing it.

    • Blueice Blueice on Apr 09, 2024

      i never knew this. Tanks for informing us ! My wife uses

      the same processure before appling makeup.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Apr 08, 2024

    Sergeant O'Leary is trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac. If he can't drive with a broken back, at least he can polish the fenders.