Home Based Business – Auto Detailing – How to start an Auto Detailing Business

How to start an Auto Detailing Business

man-washing-the-carAuto Detailing
The job market is tough right now and many people are having a hard time finding a job. If you’re a self starter, and motivated  this could be a blessing in disguise.

The Auto Detailing business is an easy one to start and has a low start-up cost. In fact you may already have many of the items you will need. This is an excellent business to consider if you don’t have a lot of money to get started. You can start small and work your way upto a pressure washer, and 100 gallon water tank and even  up to a truck. This is a business that hard work can get you through the beginning.

The Process:
There are many processes and techniques that auto detailers use when detailing. You  will develop you own custom process as you progress, but here are the basics:

Getting Started
If possible ask your customer to remove anything that they wouldn’t normally keep in their car such as boogie boards, clothing, anything they don’t normally store in their car. You should of course help them with this process.

Get out the equipment you will need and set up your work station, if you work directly from your car or truck it will pay to have all the equipment easily accessible.

Open up  everything on the car including all the doors, the hood the trunk, gas compartment, everything.

Trash & Debris Clean out
Start by cleaning out any trash and debris throughout the car. Don’t forget the leaves, sticks etc, that may have built up in the rain gutters inside the hood and around the truck. Make sure to get the back seat pockets, side door compartments and ashtrays. Have a starting point such as the driver side, moving around to the back seat, then the trunk and end at the passenger seat. This way your sure not to leave anything out. You can choose any starting ending point that you are comfortable with but make it a process and stick to it each time you start a detail.

After you’ve cleaned out all the trash and debris that you can with your hands,  it’s time to get out the vacuum. Vacuum out the residual dirt and debris under the hood and truck gutters, everything you weren’t able to get by hand. Next vacuum out the entire trunk and the interior carpets, seats, back deck under the window etc. Do a through job with vacuuming and the following steps will be much easier.

Carpet Shampoo
Shampooing the carpets and interior is key to any great detailing  job. You’ll need a bucket of water, some spot remover and some descent carpet shampoo. Again follow a process starting at one point and ending  in another. It’s key not to over saturate with water and be sure to get all those stubborn stains. Once you’ve shampooed the carpets and interior seats including the truck. It’s once again time to vacuum out all the moisture. (Later you can upgrade to a carpet shampooer)

Detailing with a cloth towel, tooth brush, sponges, etc
Now your ready for the interior dash, the door panels, all the interior hard surfaces, clean and wash with a non abrasive, non bleaching soft soap/water mixture. When cleaning these surfaces don’t forget the details. Clean all the creveses, between the buttons, knobs, switches, all components, everything. This is where the detailing really comes in. Many detailers do the interior windows at this point as well. Finish up with a nice interior dressing such as armour all.

Moving to the Outside.
Close all the doors and truck, leave the hood open. When starting on the outside, it pays to start with the engine. Follow the directions on the bottle. Cover the electrical components, and distributor, protect the paint on the fenders as degreaser can discolor the paint. Spray the entire engine with the degreaser, let sit for 20 minutes or however long the directions recommend scrub all the stubborn and extra greasy spots with  a brush and then rinse. Once you’ve rinsed the engine well, you can close the hood and continue rinsing the entire vehicle.

Now it’s time to wash the outside.
With a warm bucket of soapy water, and a large sponge, wash the entire outside of the car your working on. This is a detail so it pays to do a great job. Don’t forget the stubborn bugs on the grill and the mud and dirt on the under carriage, even the license plate gets a good scrubbing and don’t forget the rims and wheels. Once you’ve finished scrubbing, rinse thoroughly.

Wax and Polish
Some cars will need a rubbing compound first, if this is the case, you’ll have to charge extra. You can do a nice had wax and polish in about an hour, simply follow the directions the wax and polish but the basics are to apply the wax to all painted surfaces. Choose a starting point, then work your way around the car all the way back to your starting point. Then remove wax/polish going in the same direction, last on, last off. Remove wax with a soft terry cloth towl. Metal bumpers and certain other surfaces can benefit from a wax and polish as well.

Finishing up
Finally you’ll be ready to clean the outside windows, dress the tires, and go over the vehicle inside and out, making sure that no detail was left out. Keep a cloth and small brush handy to take care of any spot still remaining.
That’s it, your done. The entire job can take anywhere from 3-6 hours with a fee of anywhere from 75-300 dollars.

What you’ll Need:
If it says (Work Towards) next to it then y
ou don’t need this items to start but will make your work easier.

Small Tools:
Small, medium and large brushes.
A few buckets
assorted Sponges
Assorted Rags & Towels
q-tips & tooth picks (creveses)

Big Tools
Shop Vacuum
Extension Cordes

Orbital Waxer (Work towards)
Orbital Polisher (Work towards)
Mobile Water Supply 50-100 Gallon Drum (Work towards)
Generator (Work towards)
Pressure Washer (Work Towards)


Cleaning agents:
Car Shampoo
Carpet Shampoo
Wax & Polish
Engine De-greaser
Metal Polish
Spot Remover
Window Cleaner
Tire and Interior Dressing

A few things to consider:
This is a business that you can start small and grow. It’s ok if you use your customers water supply when getting started,  simply reinvest your profits back into your business.

Everyone is your customer but you may want to consider spending extra effort with real estate agents as their car must always be clean when showing homes. Consider visiting office parks for potential customers. Retirement areas are full of potential customers as they enjoy a clean vehicle but some cannot do it themselves, perhaps offer a senior discounts.

The auto detailing business can be customized in may ways an example of this would be semi trucks. You can specialize in pressure washing  and cleaning large semi trucks. You can specialize in utility vehicles, or high end cars, you can specialize in just about any type of vehicle.

The income potential is enormous, you can make as much or as little as you like.You can work full time or part time. Think about this 2-3 125 dollar jobs per day and you’ll be making executive pay and before you know it hiring an assistant!

To your success.

You may also be interested in:

Mobile Car Wash Business

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8 Responses

  1. It is very essential to keep our vehicle neat and clean.

  2. This is very valuable and informative. Thanks a lot for this post.

  3. The auto detailing business can easily start-up by anyone especially poor.

  4. admin says:

    @long island auto detailing
    You welcome, I’m glad you liked it.

  5. Thanks for the tips and ideas! I will bookmark
    this for future reference!

  6. Our home business in our village is a small catering service. The profit is good in the food and beverage business. .;

  7. Great Post! Fun to share techniques and passion for the cars with others people.

  8. pennyroll says:

    Ya I love this little business, I used to do it a lot more than I have in recent years. I guess it because it works better in big cities than little towns. Were in a little town right now.

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