How Much Does a Car Wash Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

A car wash is often meant for those who don’t have the time to wash it at home or don’t have the space to do so.  Car washes can come in many types and each one can offer its own perks.  The costs depend on the package you choose, the type of car wash you go to and the size of your vehicle.

Car-Wash_IGP4852 by niiicedave, on Flickr
Car-Wash_IGP4852” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  niiicedave

How much does a car wash cost?

On average, most people pay anywhere from $3 to $10 for a basic drive-through car wash.  The cost will depend on the car wash, what’s included with the car wash, the car wash company and the geographical location.  A premium car wash, often referred to as the “works,” may include a tire shine and wax, and this type of wash can cost closer to $10 to $15.

Autos.com says the average basic automatic wash will cost about $5 to $12 for a top of the line express wash, while a full-service automatic wash could cost $15 to $30.

Self-serve car washes are going to charge by the minute, and most self-serve car washes will require $1 to $3 to start, and $1 to $2 per additional minute after.

A full-service car wash, which will often include the car wash, a vacuumed interior and dusted down console, can cost $15 to $25.

Car detailing, which will include all services performed by hand, can include everything from a hand wash to shampooing the rugs and floor mats.  Something like this will depend on the type of vehicle and amount of detail that goes into the car.  The average car will cost about $85, while an SUV or van could cost $125 to $150.

A mobile car wash, where the service comes to you, can cost $25 to $50 for a basic car wash to as much as $80 to $110+ for a premium car wash and interior deep clean.

We researched a few of the most popular car wash brands and listed the prices in the table below:

Car WashPrices
7 Eleven Car Wash$6 for basic
BP Car Wash$7 for basic to $10 for premium
Exxon Car Wash$12 to $16
Kwik Trip Car Wash$7 for basic to $11 for elite
Mister Car Wash$25 to $30 for basic interior/exterior clean
Phillips 66 Car Wash$6 to $9
Shell Car Wash$4 for basic to $9 for premium

Car wash overview

A car wash can come in many types.  The most basic car wash, which is often referred to as a basic or value wash, will simply power wash and brush your car as you go through the tunnel on a track system that pulls the car along.  These types can either be a touchless or brushless system.  Most of the time, the most basic wash won’t even include an air dry at the end; it will simply wash your car with soap and that’s about it.  A higher-end wash will include an undercarriage clean, wheel cleaning, clear-coat protector and one minute dry clean at the end.  Some car washes may employ employees who hand dry your car at the end while others won’t.

Most car washes will fall into the following categories:

Hand car wash

As the name notes, the car will be washed by hand by the employees on site.

Self-service

A self-service facility will usually be coin operated and the customer will be responsible for all the washing.  These car washes will almost always be opened 24 hours.

In-bay

This setup will be automatic, but unlike the traditional conveyor, the car will sit in park while the machine rolls back and forth cleaning the vehicle.  This type is often seen at gas stations and local self-service companies.

Tunnel

This is the most common car wash option and uses a conveyor which will take the vehicle through a series of cleaning mechanisms.

Waterless

Known as a chemical car wash, this eco-friendly wash won’t use any water; instead, it will use special chemicals to wash and polish the car service.

Mobile

Mobile car wash professionals will carry plastic water tanks that use a high-pressure washer, which is often mounted to a truck or van.

What are the extra costs?

A $1 to $2 surcharge may apply to SUVs and larger vehicles.

How can I save money?

Check for coupons online or on the company’s official website/Facebook.  Oftentimes, the car wash may offer promotions or a deal you can take advantage of.

Many car wash companies will have a frequent washer discount.  For example, for every 10 washes, they will do one for free.  Some even allow you to purchase a monthly pass that allows you to get unlimited washes during the month.

Gas stations may offer a slight discount if you purchase gas with your car wash purchase.


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