Car Detailer Job Description

Car detailers, also known as automotive detailers, wash, scrub, and vacuum cars and vehicles inside and out. People in this profession commonly work daytime hours during weekdays and weekends and spend most of their time working outdoors in all weather conditions. Car dealerships, repair shops, and car washes hire car detailers, who report to service managers and lot managers. Travel is not typically required for car detailers, though they will drive vehicles across short distances within the company property.


Car Detailer Duties and Responsibilities

Several types of businesses specializing in automotive services hire car detailers. Based on job listings, the core duties for car detailers are essentially:

Wash, Wax, and Buff Vehicle Exterior

Car detailers thoroughly wash, wax, and buff the exterior of vehicles to remove debris and dirt.

Clean Windows

Car detailers must clean vehicle windows inside and out, staying mindful of using the proper cleaning products when tinting agents have been applied to windows.

Vacuum and Clean Interior

Car detailers shampoo and vacuum the interior fabrics in vehicles, including the floor mats, overhead linings, and seats.

Wash Engine and Engine Housing

Car detailers clean vehicles under the hood, degreasing the engine and engine parts, polishing metal, and scrubbing away automotive gunk.

Clean Wheel Areas

Car detailers wash vehicle tires, wheel wells, and mudguards.

Maintain Cleaning Tools

These professionals are responsible for keeping all automotive cleaning tools and equipment well-organized and clean.

Keep Car Lot Neat

They also keep the car lot and vehicle areas attractive and neat by sweeping, emptying trash cans, shoveling snow, and removing leaves when needed.

Apply Finishing Touches

After cleaning tasks are completed, car detailers finish the job by applying leather conditioner to the interior of vehicles, polishing metals inside and outside of vehicles, and drying vehicles.

Visually Inspect Vehicles

Car detailers visually inspect vehicles inside and out once all cleaning tasks are completed, to ensure that no detail has been missed and no dirt remains.


Car Detailer Skills and Qualifications

Car detailers are energetic professionals who can work quickly and follow detailed instructions and vehicle checklists to ensure that all cleaning tasks have been fulfilled. In addition to looking for employees with a strong work ethic, companies hiring car detailers desire candidates who can display the following experience and abilities:

  • Detail-Oriented – Car detailers must perform many different cleaning tasks and remove grime from even the smallest corners of the vehicle, which means that individuals who seek this job need to be highly detail-oriented
  • Customer Service – Employers want car detailers to maintain a friendly and professional attitude because this job requires a great deal of customer interaction
  • Communication – Car detailers must instruct customers on where to wait for and pick up their vehicles, inform other employees about which cleaning tasks have been fulfilled, and give verbal reports to supervisors, all of which requires excellent communication skills
  • Driving Experience – Because car detailers must move vehicles around on the lot, professionals seeking this job must know how to drive all types of vehicles, including both manual and automatic transmission types
  • Physical Aptitude – Car detailers stand and walk for most of the day, and must crawl, bend, reach, crouch, squat, and maintain a fast work pace, meaning that anyone who seeks this job must be able to physically meet these requirements
  • Sales – In addition to cleaning vehicles, car detailers also make suggestions to customers regarding available detailing services, purchasable cleaning agents, and air fresheners, so employers will be more likely to hire people who can display past sales training and/or experience


Tools of the Trade

Car detailers work with many different types of tools on a regular basis to perform their job duties:

  • Cleaning Equipment – (buckets, sponges, scrub brushes, wire brushes, cleaning agents, cloths)
  • Power Cleaning Tools – (pressure washers, air compressors, steam cleaners, vacuum cleaners)


Car Detailer Education and Training

Car detailers do not typically need special education or training to pursue this career path, though some employers may require job candidates to have a high school diploma or some high school education. Car detailers must have a valid, up-to-date driver’s license. These professionals must also undergo a complete criminal and driving background check and have a clean record in order to obtain this position.

Car detailers will receive paid on-the-job training for a short period of time, usually no more than one week, in order to become familiar with cleaning checklists, tools, and cleaning agents used by the business.


Car Detailer Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that “Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment” earned a median salary of $11.85 hourly and $24,660 annually in 2016. There were almost 350,000 jobs available for cleaners of vehicles and equipment in 2016, a number which is projected to rise by 1 percent into the year 2026. This is slower than the national job growth rate.

Benefits packages for car detailers vary by company, but most full-time employees can expect to receive health insurance and paid vacation leave as a basic job perk. Some companies may offer additional monetary incentives to employees who meet cleaning and sales quotas.


Helpful Resources

Discover guides, tips, job offers, and helpful information for car detailers using these resources:

International Detailing Association – Visit IDA to find webinars, certification information, committees, and other resources for car detailers.

Chilton’s Guide to Auto Detailing: Step-by-step Procedures for Complete Automobile Detailing – Discover step-by-step car detailing information with this guidebook by James Joseph, and get in-depth descriptions of the best methods to complete car cleaning tasks.

Car Wash Magazine – Consult Car Wash Magazine to learn about auto detailing products, watch car cleaning videos, read up on automotive industry news and events, and discover job openings for car detailers.

Griot’s Garage Car Care for the Perfectionist A Detailer’s Handbook – Delve into all the details of being a successful car detailer with this handbook.


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