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What does an Auto Detailer do?

By Amy Hunter
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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An auto detailer is a trained automotive cleaning professional, who performs an extremely thorough cleaning of a vehicle. The detailing can be on the interior of the car, the exterior, or the engine. An auto detailer may work for him or herself, an auto detailing shop, or work for a car dealership or auction house.

Detailing cars requires patience and a great attention to detail. Without both of these, an auto detailer's customers will not be satisfied. A detail is very different from a regular car wash.

The detailer can degrease and steam clean the engine so that it appears like new. He or she will wash, buff, and wax the exterior of the car. An auto detailer has special cleaners that will leave tires looking brand new. The inside of the car is steam cleaned, and any stains scrubbed thoroughly. The windows and windshields receive a thorough wash and polishing.

Auto detailing typically requires several hours. If the auto detailer works for a car sales company, he or she will detail the cars brought in as trade-ins or purchased at auctions. As soon as one car is completed, the detailer starts on the next.

An auto detailer that works in a car wash, or who is self-employed will make appointments for customers to drop their cars off. Some auto detailers provide transportation for customers. The customer may drop the car off and an employee at the detail shop will take the customer to work or home. At the end of the day, the employee either delivers the vehicle or picks the customer up, and brings him or her back to the shop.

No specialized training is required to become an auto detailer. It is important that someone who wishes to detail vehicles for a living be very detail oriented. An auto detailer must be willing to clean inside the air conditioning vents with a cotton swab, remove pieces of trim to clean along the edges of the car, and scrub areas of the car he or she is sure no one will ever check.

Having a vehicle detailed is relatively expensive. When someone invests in an auto detail, there is the expectation that the car will look much better, and be much cleaner than it would after a typical car wash. Most people expect a detailed car to appear in nearly new condition.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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