Do You Tip Car Detailers?

Getting your car detailed and unsure if you should tip? Since tipping a car detailer isn’t required, it’s up to you. If you’re pleased with the service and want to show your appreciation, you can tip between 10% and 15% of the total bill. Let’s review the ins and outs of tipping a car detailer.

Do Car Detailers Get Tipped?

Tipping someone for providing a service isn’t as clear-cut as it is in some industries (think along the lines of cafes, bars, and restaurants). In fact, whether car detailers earn tips is dependent on individual business policies. Often, car detailers that are also owners of small companies will not accept tips. Likewise, a business that employs car detailers may not permit individual tipping or tips in general.

However, there are car detailers and detailing businesses that do accept tips. You may find that group or shared tips are the policy at some shops. At others, individual tips are okay.

When in doubt, the best policy is to check with the business owner beforehand to see if tipping is allowed and under what circumstances. That way, you can be prepared and not get you or your detailer into an awkward situation.

What Is Included in a Full Car Detailing?

If you haven’t had a car detailing in a while, you might be wondering what it will entail. While packages can vary between shops, you can expect work on the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Here’s a breakdown of the different services.

Foam Bath and Wax

The outside of your car will get a complete foam bath and wax job. This means a detailer will wash away dirt and grime. Then, the detailer will apply a clear coat of wax to the body. The wax will go on all painted body surfaces.

In addition, your tires and the rims will get a deep cleaning. Some packages also include tire dressing or Armor All following the cleaning. The detailer will finish by cleaning and wiping down the outside of the car’s windows to ensure they’re spot-free.

Engine Steaming and Degreasing

As part of the spruce-up of your car’s exterior, the engine will get a cleaning. To do this, a car detailer degreases the surface of the engine. As well, they’ll steam clean it to bring its appearance back to life.

Vacuum and Cleaning of Carpets

Your car’s carpets, mats, and upholstery surfaces are included in full car detailing jobs. A detailer will vacuum up all dirt, debris, pet hair, and particles. Typically, this will include the seats and the trunk. As they do get to work, detailers will remove any spots and stains they can from these surfaces. Then, the upholstery gets a thorough cleaning.

Cleaning and Shining of All Interior Surfaces

Besides the carpets and upholstered surfaces, a full detailing takes care of the car’s dashboard, steering wheel, and door jams. Essentially, every visible surface is cleaned and wiped down. Some packages also go over these surfaces with a shine protectant. Many of these products leave behind a pleasant scent to help remove or mask stale odors.

Do You Tip a Car Detailer at the Dealership?

In most cases, you’ll tip a car detailer at the dealership. Usually, this will happen after the service is complete and you’ve had a chance to look at your car. Unlike tipping a delivery driver for takeout, you won’t want to submit a tip beforehand. This is because you may want to adjust your tip based on the quality of the service.

Say you arrive at the dealership and plan to give the car detailer a 15% tip. However, the car detailer has clearly gone above and beyond. YOr the detailer was able to get out a tough stain no one else has. Either way, the care the person took with your car is impressive. You decide to bump up your tip to 20% for the detailer’s excellent work.

Unfortunately, we all know the opposite can happen when it comes to receiving service. If the detail job wasn’t up to your standards or the detailer missed obvious things, you might want to downgrade your tip to 10%.

Do You Tip Mobile Car Detailers?

Yes, you should probably tip mobile car detailers. After all, they’re literally going the extra mile to bring you service. The only times you should rethink tipping a mobile car detailer are if they don’t accept tips or you receive poor service. When it comes to the latter, a small tip of 5% will at least acknowledge the fact that the detailer had to travel to you.

Factors that Determine the Amount of Tip to Give

Let’s look at some of the reasons you may want to adjust your tip.


Consider the end result. You can adjust your tip percentage according to whether you got exemplary, standard, or subpar service.


Some people tip mobile detailers slightly more for the convenience of at-home or curbside service. Mobile detailers also service your vehicle while you’re at work, which can save you time.

Interpersonal Skills

If a car detailer is exceptionally gifted with their soft skills, you may want to increase your tip.

Added Services

Some car detailers will throw in extras for long-time or repeat customers. You might consider increasing your tip slightly.

Vehicle Size

Larger vehicles naturally take more time and work. You can adjust your tip based on whether you have an economy car or an SUV.

How Much Should You Tip Car Detailers?

While the amount does vary, a range of 10% to 15% is standard for most detailers.

How to Tip Mobile Detailers and Dealership Detailers

In either case, you can tip with cash. With cash, you simply hand it to the detailer personally. In addition, there is usually a tip jar you can place cash into for group tips. If you’re tipping with a credit or debit card, ask to include the tip on your ticket or invoice. The dealership or mobile detailing company is responsible for ensuring the individual detailer receives your tip.

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Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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