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How to Choose a Professional Detailer


The professionals that make up the Ask A Pro section of Detailed Image try to do all we can to help fellow car enthusiasts treat their cars better and achieve higher and higher levels of gloss and personal satisfaction. That being said, there are many cases in which an individual simply doesn’t have the time or energy to get their car back into proper shape. This article will focus on helping you choose the right detailer to satisfy your car care needs.

Here is some advice on how to choose a professional detailer:

Don’t automatically think that anyone that calls themself a pro, is in fact a pro. There are many people in detailing looking to make a quick buck with limited knowledge and supplies. On numerous occasions, images of work professionals have done has been stolen and used illegally without their permission.
Do research on potential detailers within driving range of your area or detailers that are willing to come to you. Individuals should be able and willing to share some of the work they’ve done for other clients with you and answer questions on the type of work they offer.

Don’t expect a professional to be able to give you the most accurate quote price over the phone. Until we see a car in person under light, we can’t be sure what to fully expect. In some cases, odd or rare problems arise and require extra time to work on them.
Do expect to pay a fair price for a fair amount of work. Many professionals will need 10+ hours of work to transform your car back to like-new condition (and in some cases nearly 40!). A Professional using a lot of high quality products may spend over $100 in product use alone on your vehicle: don’t expect to get a miracle turn-around performed for $75.

Don’t hesitate to ask about a detailer’s background, why and how they got into detailing, or questions about your specific type of car. Many of the top detailers are passionate about their work and avid car enthusiasts. A professional that truly loves cars is more likely to provide a higher level of work than someone who’s indifferent about automobiles. Put your car in the hands of someone that will treat it as good, if not better, than their own car.
Do be sure to find out about payment options, safety precautions, and scheduling information as soon as possible. You’ll need to make sure a detailer accepts your form of payment before they start on your car. It is additionally important to find out about various safety precautions a detailer takes. To begin, your detailer should be insured and his or her business should be registered. Other important factors to some clients include but is not limited to: does a detailer take paint thickness measurements, what risky areas are on your car that may need special attention, what type of wheel cleaner will be used on your specific type of wheels, and if the detailer has an opening for the time of the year in which you want work performed?

Some other keys to discuss with your detailer or to think about:
o Do you have options in the look / finish of interior surfaces? Matte finish vs satin finish vs gloss. This also applies to tire-dressing
o Are no-slip products used on interior surfaces, especially pedals?
o Is the detailer well organized?
o Does the detailers have untouched photos of cars they’ve worked on in full sunlight or under intense halogen lights?
o For those looking for something special to brag about; are luxury wax options, or concours prep details offered?

I hope this article has shed some light on this topic for those looking for a third party source of car care. Feel free to ask any additional questions you may have (comment box below), and be sure to check out the Detailed Image Find A Detailer for a certified professional near you!

Marc Harris and Jacob Bunyan
Auto Lavish
Rochester, MI

9 comments on How to Choose a Professional Detailer

  1. Tim H. says:

    Great write up. I love the work you guys do. I look forward to meeting you guys someday. I truly thought I was crazy about cars and there appearance until I saw the work you and others have done. Now I have a whole new level to try and achieve.



    • Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan Marc Harris says:

      Thanks a lot for the kind words. We strive hard to provide the highest quality work available and the comments by fellow car enthusiast such as yourself really motivate us to keep working hard.
      If you ever need anything from us, we’re easy to contact. Hope to be in touch and happy detailing!
      -Marc Harris

  2. Eric Schuster Eric says:

    I agree 100% with this article…especially the “not every pro is a pro comment” Ive fixed over detailers work on the last 4 cars I have done this year. Not fun, and more costly to the owner since they basically have to pay twice, and more clear is removed each time!

    • Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan Marc Harris says:

      You’re right with that Eric,
      No client enjoys seeing their pride and joy turned into a mess by someone without the right experience, tools, technique, or care, and often times it leads to much more money being spent to fix the damage than it would have cost to do the work the right way in the first place.

  3. […] How to Choose a Professional Detailer: (by Marc Harris) All detailers are NOT created equal, and only a small percentage have the skills to properly restore a car’s finish to like-new condition. Follow Marc’s tips to find the right detailer the first time! […]

  4. Scott says:

    Hey Guys. For awhile now I’ve wanted to get my father’s 930 Porsche Detailed. Its been garage kept since day one, and its been at least 8 years since its received any TLC as far as polishing,sealant,etc (a true detail). It used to be washed once in a while but since its rarely driven its not often enough. The car is in impeccable condition with less than 15k miles for a car that’s nearly 25 years old. Its a car he holds very closely and smiles every time he sees it in the garage (Which in turn makes him very cautious with what he does with it).

    Which is why I’ve turned to you guys. I’ve taught myself the art of detailing through your website and value your opinions. I’d love to do the car myself; however, I think you’d agree with me when I say I think the car should have a professional’s eye going over it.

    Can anyone give me any recommendations of professionals in or around the Philadelphia area or would be willing to travel to the house to perform the work? In addition, how much should I be looking to spend on such a task? (Ballpark figure I was hoping was around $500 – realistic?) I laugh every time I pass a “professional detailer” who is charging 100 dollars to detail a car without proper supplies(clay, polish, sealant).

    I greatly appreciate your help and look forward to hearing back from you.

  5. Eric Schuster Eric says:

    Scott, I see no one replied to this, sorry about that!

    most of us on here are around $60-75/hr. We do true paint correction, not glaze and fill details! You can expect it to be anywhere from $300 if it takes a simple detailing, or $600+ if it actually needs some paint correction work.

    I dont know anyone in the PA area, hopefully someone else might be able to chime in

  6. r says:

    Any recommendations for the Chicagoland area? I can’t seem to find someone with constantly excellent work.

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