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Average Cost of a Car Wash UK 2020

The average cost of an automatic car wash is £6.30 in the UK, but you can spend anywhere from £4.50 up to £250 to get your car washed depending on where you live and the level of service required. Considering the low cost of an automatic or self serve car wash, there’s no excuse to skip your regular car washes based on car wash prices alone, because the cost to get your car washed can be affordable if you know what to look out for.

Your car is a major investment, so it makes sense to take care of it. Regularly cleaning your car in the form of a wash, valet and detail service will prevent contaminants like dust, dirt, pollen, tree sap, bug guts, salt, air-borne pollutants from adhering to your vehicle, plus give it that "just-out-of-the-showroom" feel. Take a look at our independent research of car wash prices, car valet prices and car detailing prices in major cities to bring you an average cost for making your car look like new.

How Much Does it Cost to Wash a Car?

Car wash prices depend on the service you request, as some car wash outlets will offer packages ranging from £3 for a simple wash only to over £100 depending on what is included. There are different types of car washes and cleans available defined below:

Hand Car Wash: It involves washing your car’s exterior by hand by trained professionals. This often is more time-consuming than an automatic car wash, but it has been said to be more effective for giving your car a longer-lasting clean finish. A hand car wash can do a better job, say, of cleaning your wiper blades so that they don't streak your windscreen.

Automatic Tunnel Car Wash: You will find an unattended terminal where you buy a car wash service. Automatic car washes include the spinning brushes and the dangling cloth pieces that aid car washing. These may be quick and efficient enough if you are in a rush.

Self Service Car Wash: Here you insert coins into a self-service machine and wash the car yourself using the jet spray attached to the machine. You begin by parking your car in a wash bay. Self-service car washes are timed, and the amount of money you insert corresponds with the length of time you'll have to wash your car. Most straightforward machines include three settings—wash, soap, and rinse—while more innovative machines include pre-wash and wax settings.

All the above options take care of the exterior of the car. We now move on to looking at options for cleaning the interior of the car:

Auto Valet: Car valets’ clean cars interior and exterior, including windows, wheels and mirrors, as well as vacuuming and shampooing the interior. They tend to use high-pressure sprays and steam cleaners to clean the grit from engine, frame and wheel arches, as well as using wax and polish on the bodywork.

Auto Detail: Some argue, that car valet and car detailing are the same thing. But specialists in the field have said that detailing is a cut above the rest. Interior detailing involves cleaning the inner parts of a vehicle, handles, glovebox, cigarette box, arm rests and so on, using specialist detergents for each part to bring it back to its former glory. Some of the components found in the interior cabin include leather, plastics, vinyl, carbon fibre plastics and natural fibres which will be cleaned using special cleansing agents for each type of material. To clean the interior cabinet, different techniques such as steam-cleaning and vacuuming are used.

We take a general look at car wash prices by independent car washers for a small/medium sized vehicle, such as a VW Golf or a Ford Fiesta.

TypeHand Car washAutomatic Car WashWaves Car WashSelf-Serve Car WashFull valet car washFull Detail Car wash
London£20£8£6£1 for 2 minutes£150£250
Manchester£5£5£6£1 for 2 minutes£65£120
Glasgow£5£5£6£1 for 2 minutes£40£100

Here are some car wash and dry prices from major brands:

Cost for Automatic Wash and Dry
Tesco£6
BP£7
Shell£7
Esso£7
Co-Op£4.50

Car Valet Prices

Car valets clean both the interior and exterior of cars, including windows, wheels and mirrors, as well as vacuuming and shampooing the interior. Some (but not all) mobile valet service providers ask for the supply of water and electricity on site.

Average Cost of Car ValetFull ValetInterior Valet CostMobile Valet CostTesco Valet CostWave Valet Cost
London£45£45£195£20£20
Manchester£35£30£85£20£20
Glasgow£45£30£60£20£20

What is car valeting?

A car valet is a common way for owners to have their car, polished and waxed to make it look ‘as new’ in appearance and, often, improve the resale value. You’ll find an option for a full valet, which takes care of both the interior and exterior or just an interior valet that will clean just the inside of your car.

What is car detailing?

Car detailing is becoming more and more popular within the UK. Originating in America, car detailing, as a term, has found its way across the pond recently. This is a method of car cleaning that is focused chiefly on bringing the paintwork, plastics and exterior metals back to their utter finest.

Car detailing comprises of restoring paint, eliminating oxidation and going through numerous methods to correct any wear and tear that might be noticeable. Detailers try to bring a vehicle back to “new” condition. Typically, a good car detailer will spend a lot longer on your car to aim for car cleaning perfection.

How much is a car wash with wax ?

Average cost of Car Wash with Wax UK
London£15
Manchester£12
Glasgow£10

How much does a drive through car wash cost?

Average Cost of Drive Through Car Wash UK
London£8
Manchester£5
Glasgow£5

Are hand car washes bad for your car?

Hand car washes are very popular in today’s day. Costing around a £5, it’s the most common method used by motorists to get their car cleaned. Most hand car washes offer a valet service for an additional cost.

There are a few things to consider before using a hand car wash, especially if you’ve purchased paint protection on your car. Many hand car washes use a traffic film remover (TFR), which is extremely strong, as part of the pre-wash and can sometimes strip off any paint protection or waxing. It’s a good idea to ask about this prior to getting your car hand-washed.

Are automatic car washes bad for your car?

Automatic car washes that are usually located on petrol forecourts and are a quick method to get your car cleaned. They’ve had some bad press in recent years for scratching or leaving swirl marks on cars, but thankfully, many automatic car washes have been upgraded to use soft cloths and brushes since they were first introduced.

Still, some have claimed the brushes are covered in dirt cleaned from the cars of earlier customers; or, they have said it can leave water spots; or, cannot adequately remove caked on bird droppings, and use harsh chemicals that can damage the paint protection.

How often should I wash my car in the UK?

Experts recommend that you wash your car at least every two weeks. Motorway.co.uk for example say: “To stop dirt and grime building up on the bodywork, we recommend washing your car at least once a fortnight.”

How much is a good car detail?

Car Detailing is a good option if your car is your pride and joy and you wish to give each component a thorough clean. Also bear it mind that some service providers offer a valet, yet label it as a full detail, so ensure you know what you are looking for and ask the right questions for a good car detail.

A good car detail will cost you in the region of £100+ due to the number of man hours required, plus the specialist equipment and cleaners they will use to lovingly bring back each material and component of the car back to its “like-new” condition.

Average Cost of Car Detail Wash UK
London£250
Manchester£150
Glasgow£110

How much is a mobile car valet?

If you’re looking for a home car valet, then it’s a good idea to know what it will cost you. Of course, the benefit of getting your car valeted using a mobile service is that they come to you so there is very little, if any, inconvenience for you.

Average Cost of Mobile Valet UK
London£195
Manchester£85
Glasgow£60

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