There are four main types of detailing. Knowing the difference can help you choose what is the right fit for you and your vehicle and can help to avoid potential headaches.
This is typically the type you find at car wash detailing, low end detail shops, or dealerships. Simply walk in pick your package and your vehicle is done in a couple hours. The focus here is typically on volume instead of quality. Products used here are typically bulk products that can likely be found at your local auto store. You may also find terms like buff, gold, silver, bronze package. Sometimes you may find more swirls and scratches on your vehicle, but despite this your vehicle will look clean and shiny. You can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars here.
High End Detailing
This type of service is a totally different experience all together products used here will not be easily accessible to the public. This is usually your boutique detail shop or specialists where the focus is on quality and not as much on quantity. When choosing this type of detailing be prepared to answer questions. Typically, a high end detailer will focus on you and your vehicle asking things like “What concerns do you have?” or “What are you looking to have done?” Typically you can expect to see licensing or certifications here showing that your vehicle is with a trusted professional.
You can also expect to receive an inspection of your vehicle that will note things like damage, concerns, or wear and tear. You may also be offered additional services to fix these types of things. These types of shops will have all kinds of options like detailing services, restoration, paint correction, ceramic coatings, or PPF. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200-2,000+ and take anywhere from several hours to several days.
Show Car Detailing
This is very rare form of detailing that is often rarely ever seen and misused all the time! Not many people are willing to spend several thousand dollars restoring a vehicle which is usually where the price ranges are. This type of detailing is done on very limited high-end show cars that gather more mileage inside a boxed truck than actually being driven on the road themselves.
Craigslist Detailing (Honorable Mention)
This can be summed up as the 'black market detailing', this comes with a tempting price tag such as $60 for a full detail. Usually, this ends up causing more damage to your vehicle than any good due to cheaper products that corrode the surfaces or with low experience of the professional that may cause swirling or scratching of the paint job. Typically, these types of detailers are operating under the radar without proper licensing or insurance. Like the saying goes, 'A professional detail costs money but wait till you try an amateur one.'