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How Much Does a Car Wash Cost? – Average Cost

By Bruce Sonnier

Wash & Dry

how much does a car wash cost

A car wash is an answer to when you have no time, energy, appropriate space, or necessary tools for washing your car yourself. But then that leads you to the question: “How much does a car wash cost?”

It depends because there are different car wash types. It may cost as low as approximately $10 for an automatic car wash or as high as approximately $100 for a full-service car wash. And other factors can affect the cost, but there are also ways to save on car washes.

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Different Types of Car Washes and Their Cost

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Each of the various car wash types uses different methods for washing or cleaning vehicles as well as equipment. The varying methods and equipment entail variable average car wash prices. Check out the list of the different types of car washes to see what fits your needs and budget.

1. Automatic Car Wash

The average automatic car wash cost isn’t too expensive compared to other car wash types’ average cost. The usual basic automatic car wash price is around $10 to $20. However, you shouldn’t get this car wash too often because frequent automatic car washes can damage the car’s paint, as the brushes’ bristles can scratch the paint.

Typically, an automatic car wash makes use of large brushes, high-pressure jets for water and soap, and a conveyor for pulling a vehicle towards the cleaning mechanisms within a tunnel structure. This process is a quick and effortless way to get your car cleaned.

2. Touchless Car Wash

Similar to the automatic car wash, this car wash type is also automated and more or less has a similar average car wash price, which is around $10 to $30.

But one difference is that it uses high-pressure jets and strong detergents for washing vehicles. This car wash type has lower chances of damaging vehicles’ paint than the automatic car wash.

3. Hand Car Wash

Compared to an automated car wash, a hand car wash takes longer and is more expensive, usually costing around $20 to $30. However, its advantages are that it’s more gentle on vehicles, as it doesn’t cause any scratches, and it also doesn’t leave swirl marks or watermarks after washing.

In a hand car wash, a team would usually manually apply the soap on a vehicle, scrub the dirt and grime, and dry the car with much care and attention to detail. It would usually also include vacuum cleaning and cleaning the vehicle’s interior.

4. Full-Service Car Wash

A full-service car wash takes care of the entire car from the exterior down to the interior, involving thorough car washing and car detailing.

Compared to a basic car wash, which would only last a couple of minutes, a full-service car wash can take several hours. It would also include many other cleaning services or premium products and additional equipment.

So, it is understandable that the cost is normally much higher than a basic car wash. Of course, it also depends on what services you avail of and the size of your vehicle.

The full-service car wash with basic car detailing includes car washing, waxing, interior vacuum cleaning and polishing, window washing, mirror and trim cleaning, tire cleaning and protectant application, and headlight polishing.

  • For regular-sized vehicles, the average cost would be around $50 to $100
  • For the bigger SUVs and vans, it would be around $75 to $125.

There are also upgraded detailing packages you can avail of with premium products like high-quality wax, carpet shampoo, leather cleaner, etc. The service also includes additional equipment like a steam cleaner, extractor vacuum, etc.

Other upgraded detailing packages would also offer engine cleaning and dent removal.

An upgraded package

  • For regular-sided vehicles would cost around $100 to $200 on average
  • For the bigger SUVs or vans, the average cost for an upgraded package would be $150-250

5. Mobile Car Wash

A mobile car wash takes away the hassle of traveling to a car wash establishment and waiting in line to get a car wash.

  • Hand car washing is around $30 to $60.
  • Full-service washing and interior cleaning is around $60 to $150 for regular-sized cars and $100 to $175 dollars for the bigger SUVs and vans.
  • And detailing is around $125 to $275 for regular-sized cars and $175 to $325 for the bigger SUVs and vans.

It will be the one to come to you to provide your car cleaning needs. Mobile car washes usually offer hand car washing, full-service washing, interior cleaning, and detailing, usually costing more.

6. Self-Service Car Wash

A self-service car wash establishment provides coin-operated machines equipped with tools and settings that car owners can wash their cars themselves.

It works as we insert coins into the machine. Then, the coins will activate the machine for a set period for car washing. It would usually cost around $7 to $15.

Self-service car wash machines usually come with brushes and hoses. Some even have vacuum hoses for vacuum cleaning car interiors.

For your information, they would also usually have settings for washing, soaking, and rinsing. Meanwhile, we can encounter advanced self-service car wash machines with additional settings for pre-soaking, high-pressure rinsing, etc.

Self-service car washes would often usually be open 24 hours. A self-service car wash would be the best option for those who wish to save money but don’t have the appropriate space or necessary tools for washing their car.

Factors Affecting Car Wash Cost

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Apart from the earlier mentioned average car wash pricing, other factors can affect car wash cost, which are listed below:

  • Vehicle Size

A car wash for the bigger-sized SUVs and vans would consume more water and soap as well as take more effort. So normally, it would cost higher. If you have a large vehicle, expect to get charged more than small-sized cars to clean all its parts.

  • Additional Services

If you’re going for additional services, like undercarriage wash, waxing, tire shine, etc., it will cost more. Each service would cost around $5 to $10.

  • Tips

Tipping is customary at hand car washes and full-service car washes. Doing so will show appreciation for their service and ensure that you get the best service the next time you get a car wash from them.

How much you should tip would depend on the amount and quality of work done. 10 to 15% of the minimum cost would be the advisable amount to tip.

And if you go for an automatic car wash, there may be a staff that would hand dry your vehicle. For that service, $2 to $3 is commonly given.

Ways to Save Money on Car Washes

Car washes are, indeed, are very helpful. But one might think it would be too costly to go for car washes often. There are ways that you can save money on car washes, such as:

  • Frequent Washer Discount

Car wash companies often give frequent washer discounts to car owners who often get car washes from them. Like after a car owner gets 10 car washes from them, the car owner can get a car wash from them for free.

  • Coupons

Car wash companies often offer coupons for promotions or discounts. You can usually find their coupons online, on their website or Facebook, in local savings mailers, or phone books. Or they may even give you some if you ask from them.

  • Monthly Subscription for Unlimited Car Washes

Most car washes also offer monthly subscriptions for unlimited car washes, allowing you to save a lot. It usually costs around $15 to $30.

  • Discounts From Gas Stations When You Purchase Gas

Some gas stations with car wash services also offer a discount to those who purchase gas from them. You can take advantage of this discount when you need to gas up.

Conclusion

Your car washing and cleaning needs along with your budget will determine how much does a car wash cost for you. Take note that there are also factors that can affect the price you would pay. And you can also take advantage of the different ways you can save money on car wash costs.

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