Car Wash vs Car Detailing: What’s the Difference?

Taking good care of your car is an important part of owning a vehicle. After all, if you can’t take care of your car, how will it take care of you? Good machinery only functions at its best when well-maintained. But that maintenance also extends to the exterior of your car. Attention and care to the paint, the headlights, and the trim make the difference between a car that ages with time and one that glows like new year after year.

So what should you do? Getting your car washed is a great start, but you may have also considered auto detailing. What’s the difference? How do you differentiate between car washes and auto detailing, and which one is best for your car maintenance schedule?


Car Wash vs Auto Detailing: The Real Difference

If you’re not sure how car washes and auto detailing are different, you’re not alone. Both have to do with washing your vehicle, but only one focuses on maintenance as a key priority in how the vehicle is cleaned.

A car wash removes dirt, dust, and the general grit of use from your vehicle. But auto detailing focuses on getting your car clean, then improving every little detail so it lasts longer and stays nicely high-quality for longer as well. Auto detailing is a once to twice a year event that increases the longevity and quality of your vehicle. A car wash is something you do every other weekend to remove the road dust and wash the wheels.


Interior and Exterior

Car washes rarely focus on the interior of the vehicle. They can. There are car washes that include a quick vacuuming, windex, and Armor All treatment for the inside of the car. But it’s always quick. The goal with most car wash services – automated or personalized – is the desire to meet a time limit. The faster a car is washed, the better. Automated car washes never reach into a vehicle and clean the inside. But auto detailing always does.

Auto detailing focuses equally on the interior and exterior of the vehicle. For the interior, carpets and seats are shampooed and treated so they are refreshed, smell good, and are even protected from damage for a few additional months. Leather is treated with a special leather cleaner. Dash surfaces are buffed and polished so that they shine with the perfect dust-resistant glow. Screen protectors may be laid to ensure no small impacts put your car screens at risk.


Vacuuming vs Like-New Floors

Some car washes include a quick round with the vacuum. Detailing, however, focuses on returning the vehicle to a like-new state. Every pebble and speck of dust is removed, Floor mats are removed, shampooed, dried, and returned in pristine condition. The nooks and channels along the footwells are not just vacuumed, they are cleared and polished clean.

It’s often the floors that give away a car that is in constant use. But with auto detailing, you can restore your floorboards, mats, and lower grooves to pristine condition once or twice a year eliminate long-term buildup of grit.


Improving with Every Pass

The key to auto detailing is that it’s not just cleaning, it’s improving. Detailing doesn’t just vacuum, it shampoos. Detailing doesn’t just wipe the dash, it finds the dust in every groove and cranny. Every surface that is cleaned is also polished or buffed. Every stretch of fabric that is vacuumed is also washed and refreshed.

On the exterior, detailing a car involves healing little scratches and dents in the paint, smoothing those blemishes so that a protective layer can be added to ensure your vehicle stays pristine for the next few months.


Installing Surface Protection

Detailing surface protection is one of the best reasons to get your vehicle detailed, aside from that new-car smell all over again. You can choose from one of several protective options for the exterior of your vehicle. Waxing is the traditional option, adding a protective layer of car wax over your polished paint job, while a clear layer of vinyl is a high-tech solution that can be custom-shaped to every contour of your vehicle.

A car wash will rarely offer any sort of protection after the dirt is washed away. Some automatic car washes will spray on lightweight layer of car wax and some hand-washing places offer wax – but getting your car waxed can quickly cross over into car detailing territory.


So, What is the Difference Between Car Wash and Auto Detailing?

The major difference between a car wash and auto detailing is planning for the future. When detailing, every action is done with the next year of the car’s life in mind. Every surface is polished, buffed, and protected. Carpets and upholstery are shampooed to increase their longevity over time. Clear coat protection is added to your paint to reduce damage over the next few months.

Is auto detailing still cleaning every fingerprint and pebble from your car in perfect detail? Absolutely. But where car detailing rises above and beyond car washes, even really good car washes, is how detailing prepares the car to thrive and shine in the months to follow.


Are you building your car maintenance schedule? Car need a wash and you’re not sure if you want to have it washed or detailed? Here at Elite Window Tint, we are proud to offer elite car detailing services. In addition to bringing your car back to that new-car pristine clean, our vinyl coating experts can apply your ideal clear or designed coat to protect your paint and customize your vehicle with every detailing service.

Increase the longevity and beauty of your vehicle with every trip you take for the next six months to a year. If you’re ready to have your car detailed in a high quality protective coating, so are we. Contact us today to discuss your detailing options or book a complete professional auto detailing service for your vehicle. Have more than one vehicle you want to detail? No problem. let us know and we’ll book your vehicles to detail together in a cluster or in rotation based on your preferences.

Kenley Wallis