Washing your car requires energy, sufficient time, enough working space, and a few tools. But when any of these is unavailable, a car wash is the next best solution for cleaning your car up.
But how much does a car wash cost?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as there are different types of car washes with varying costs. Prices also vary according to location and the services rendered.
This article will highlight the average costs of several popular car wash methods so that you can make the right choice.
Types of Car Washes and Their Average Costs
How much does a car wash cost? Here’s the breakdown:
Automatic Car Wash Cost
An automatic car wash offers a quick and easy cleaning service. It utilizes large brushes, high-pressure jets for water and soap, and a conveyor for pulling a vehicle through various cleaning machines.
An automatic car wash will set you back around $10–20 for a simple exterior wash. But you’ll have to pay more if you want extra services like tire shining, car waxing, and undercarriage washing.
Of course, you don’t need to opt for the extra services every time you take your car to an automatic car wash. Only do this when necessary.
Self-Service Car Wash Cost
A self-service car wash is a car wash that sets up coin-operated machines furnished with tools and the necessary environment for you to wash your car yourself. When you slot a certain amount of coins into the machine, it turns on for a limited time, allowing you to wash your car.
You would need around $7–15 to clean your car at a self-service car wash. Like an automatic service, this rate is subject to change depending on the options you choose on the machine.
Many self-service machines have simple settings like washing, soaping, and rinsing. Some advanced devices may have extra functions, such as pre-soaking and high-pressure rinsing.
A self-service car wash comes in handy if you live in a place with little to no space to wash your car.
Touchless Car Wash Cost
A touchless car wash is based on an automated process like the automatic car wash. However, it eliminates the use of bristles, brushes, or microfiber applicator pads.
As the name goes, a touchless car wash uses only high-pressure washers and strong detergents to clean your vehicle. This minimizes the risk of scratches and paint damage from debris embedded in these tools.
With a similar price to the average car wash, a touchless service may cost around $10–30.
Hand Car Wash Cost
Hand car washing involves taking your car to a detailer to help you do the cleaning. If you are worried about your car getting swirl marks and scratches from an auto car wash, the old-fashioned hand wash is for you.
That said, hand washing costs $20–60, two to three times pricier than an automated car wash, and takes longer to complete. Plus, if you want the car waxed and polished, you can expect to spend even more.
Full-Service Car Wash Cost
A full-service car wash is the real deal. It involves a thorough cleaning and detailing of both the interior and exterior of your car.
Of course, a package as rewarding as this doesn’t cost peanuts. A full-service car wash package will set you back $150–200, a staggering 15 times more than an automated car wash. But there’s no doubt you are getting value for your money.
The money spent on a full-service car wash should not be considered an extravagant expense but a long-term investment. This is because the service keeps your car beautiful and healthy for a long time. Should you choose to sell, the market forces will be a lot kinder to you as a result.
While it’s asking a lot to visit a full-service car wash often, visiting one once or twice yearly is a good form of maintenance.
Mobile Car Wash Cost
A mobile car wash removes the stress of queuing up before any car wash company to get your vehicle washed. Instead, they come to your doorstep to fulfill your car cleaning needs. Think of it like a home service for your car.
A mobile car wash can cost you approximately $23–60, depending on the number of services rendered. For example, a simple wash will cost less than washing alongside interior cleaning, car detailing, and the likes.
Gas Station Car Wash Cost
The car wash in most gas stations will charge you around $5–15 for a simple wash. However, it is important to pay close attention to the kind of cleaning equipment they use.
Home Car Wash Cost
Washing your car at home is one of the least expensive car wash methods around. Once you buy your car wash soap, microfiber towels, wash mitts, wash brushes, and other necessary equipment, all other washes are basically free.
Of course, you’d need to replace your soap and other finite tools every now and then. A one-time purchase of all the necessary tools should cost a few hundred dollars.
However, assuming you only have to replace your soap from time to time, the average cost of a home car wash should come down to about $10 in the short term and be free after a few years.
Factors Affecting Car Wash Cost
Here are some factors affecting car wash costs:
The bigger the car, the more the soap and water consumed. Also, the washing process will require more effort. This raises the costs. So, if you have a large vehicle, don’t be too surprised if you get charged more than other car owners with sedans.
Additional servicing equals extra cost—it’s that simple. Waxing, tire shining, and undercarriage washing are examples of extra car detailing procedures that would increase your total spending.
Type of Car Wash
You’ll already notice from the list above that a hand car wash service costs way more than an automatic one. That’s because of the detail and time involved in washing a car by hand. Not to mention that it’s safer and easier on the paint too.
How to Save Money on Car Washes
Car washes undoubtedly make life easier. But sometimes, they can become something of a recurrent wallet drainer. There are ways to save money on car washes, though. Here are some of them:
Regular Washer Discount
Most car wash companies frequently offer discounts to car owners who patronize them. For instance, you could get a free car wash after every 10 washes. Endeavor to make use of this.
Some companies offer coupons for discounts or promotions. You can find this online on their website or social media handles. You can also search for this offer in local savings mailers or phone books. Or you could ask them directly at the car wash company.
Monthly Subscription for Unlimited Car Washes
Some car washes may offer a mega monthly offer—for example, “get unlimited car washes in a certain period for a certain price.” This could save you a lot, considering the amount you would pay if you washed your car a similar number of times without the package.
What About Unlimited Car Wash Plans?
They are definitely worth your time because they are cost-efficient and would help you save money. As stated earlier, when you choose an unlimited car wash plan, you’re likely to save a decent amount in the long run compared to if you paid for single car washes.
Choose a Car Wash According to Your Budget
There are a lot of car wash options around you. But you need to consider your needs and budget before patronizing one. But you don’t need to use a car wash every time you clean your car. If you’re short on cash, you can always opt to wash your vehicle at home.
Speaking of car washing, you can make cleaning your vehicle’s interior less cumbersome. See our 10-point checklist on cleaning your car’s interior.