Auto Detail Business -
Have Fun Taking Care of Cars!

An auto detail business may be just the business for you if you love working with cars and making toys sparkle like new.  An automobile can be a person's second biggest purchase after their house and keeping their car like shining like new is important.

Another benefit is you can start your business as either a mobile business where you go to your customers, locate your business at a fixed site, or do a combination of mobile while  operating at a temporary location on a periodic basis. 

The biggest draw to starting this type of business is you can start small when funds may be limited and grow your business as the success of your auto detail business grows. 

With a few basic tools, you can get started.   Start with basic cleaning supplies, sponges, chamois, brushes, and some sweat equity (your physical labor) to get your express detailing and car wash service running. 

As your auto detail business grows, you can add additional equipment such as an air compressor, generator,  water tank and pressure washer so you can be fully self contained and provide your services any where they are needed. 

When you expand your auto detail business to offering interior details, you will need to purchase deodorizing equipment, a heated extractor, shampooing equipment, and a ozone generator.  You may have to invest in a water collection system to collect your auto detail business waste water.  Make sure you research your local ordinances regarding the disposal of waste water.

Marketing your auto detail business is the key to your success.  There are many ways to market your business -- if you're on a limited budget, your best bet will be to network with others who want to take care of their cars. 

Also, you'll want to do some market research in your local area to determine how much other detailers are charging their customers.  If your overhead is low enough, you may be able to meet or beat their pricing to encourage customers to give you a try. 

N2 - Niche Notes

Niche Notes!!

An autom detail business can offere many additional services to add to your business bottom line -- consider a few of these and decide what fits you!

1)  Offer paintless dent repair and patner with local body shop and car dealers.

2)  Repair windshield chips and small cracks as part of your auto detail.

3)  Clean traveling homes -- RVs, fifth-wheels, and travel trailers.

4)  Provide pain touch-ups as an additional service.

5)  Repair vinyl and leather seate.

6)  Offere carepet repair and dying services to repair worn interior carpets

7)  Partner with a watercraft repair or motorcycle repair to provide cleaning/detailing services for for these toys (don't forget boats too!)

8)  Add home cleaning services for the ladies!

Talk to car dealerships and see if you can leave a card or flyer for them to provide to their customers.  Look in office parking lots for potential customers.  Cars are everywhere and you want to find someone who wants to take care of their vehicle!

There are also traditional direct mail, yellow pages, and creating your own website to have an internet marketing presence.  Of course, these are a little more expensive, but are definitely worthwhile as your auto detail business grows. 

The best marketing techniques may require time and effort but may be where you see your greatest return for your marketing dollars.  Volunteer at a car wash fund raiser to help wash vehicles.  Sponsor a little league team or a golf tournament. 

Create a flyer and target affluent subdivisions where individuals with hectic schedules would welcome the convenience of you cleaning and detailing their cars -- you may even pick-up multiple vehicles in one location - SCORE!  

Visit local real estate companies and offer your services to busy agents who use their cars as mobile offices.  Get creative -- vehicles and their proud owners are everywhere!  

Auto Detail Business -- What's It Take?


  • Love working on cars and the feeling of accomplishment when they look their best.
  • Like to work outdoors and with your hands.
  • Experience washing/waxing cars and what products are safe for each surface.
  • Good physical conditioning.
  • Organization and time management skills.
  • Good eye for detail.


To start your business, you'll need to research different cleaning and training systems on the market.  There are online resources which provide training at the vendors location or through DVD training systems.  You can also get "on-the-job" experience by working at a dealership or auto wash business. It's important to learn about different types of paints and finishes which may be on a variety of cars and the best way to care for them.  

Read this short chapter on Auto Detailing put out by   It's an easy read and may give you some terrific ideas about getting started in your business. 

Time Required:

10-15 hours/week, full-time 30-40 hours/week.


Busy professionals who don't have time to detail their own vehicle.  Real estate agents, business executives, smaller auto dealers who want to outsource their detailing.

Home Based:  Yes - if you are a mobile auto detail business.

Internet:  No.

Location:  Local

Start- Up Costs:  $500-up to $20,000 for a fully equipped mobile detail trailer.

Minimizing Start-up Costs:

Start out offering "express detailing" and focus on exterior details.  Work with real estate offices and other professional businesses to set up a weekly car wash service at their office locations.  Approach smaller car dealerships to provide weekly cleanings of their lot inventory.  Use word-of-mouth marketing with business cards and/or flyers outlining your services.

Business Ideas . . .

Mobile Business Ideas . . .

Auto Detailing Business Back to Service Business Ideas . . .