How to Become an Automotive Detailer

June 17, 2024

Team ACV




How to Become an Automotive Detailer

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An automotive detailer touches a car with a glove

If you love cars and have an eye for detail, working as an automotive detailer may be a good position for you. In this article, we will explore the typical duties and responsibilities for this role, the qualifications needed before applying, and what car dealers should look for when hiring an automotive detailer.

What is an Automotive Detailer?

Automotive detailers work in the service department at dealerships and also can work in other types of businesses, like auto body shops and car washes. Their main responsibility is to clean and polish cars to a high standard. Using cleaning products and tools, they’ll touch up the vehicle’s interior and exterior, including vacuuming the upholstery and polishing and sealing the exterior with protective coatings. Customer service is a key element of an automotive detailer’s role, as they must listen and communicate to understand the customer’s needs and deliver on those expectations. 1

Sometimes a detailer’s role will be called a “car washer” or “cleaning technician,” so if you are searching for a position, be sure to include those terms.2 An automotive detailer truly specializes in restoring a vehicle’s exterior appearance and will be able to wash, wax, buff, remove dirt, and clean up scratches across the body, windows, and wheels. Interior cleaning will involve the carpets, seats, upholstery, and dashboard. 

These professionals play an integral role in maintaining the appearance of vehicles at a dealership before they are sold and upholding the vehicles customers purchase when they bring them in for services.3

What Does an Automotive Detailer Do?

If you’re looking for a role as a detailer, you will see listings that ask for the following competencies and responsibilities. These are the skills and tasks typically found in listings for the position: 

  • Cleans vehicle exterior, including windows and door jambs 
  • Waxes auto body, wipes and buffs surface 
  • Cleans the interior of the vehicle, including waxing and dusting to remove debris and odor 
  • Meticulously cleans rugs and upholstery inside of the vehicle
  • Treats fabric surfaces with stain-resistant chemicals and applies preserving agents to leather interiors 
  • Steam-cleans engine compartment 
  • Removes stains and damage with special cleaning products 
  • Inspects vehicles for defects and propose solutions
  • Uses touch-up paint where necessary
  • Upholds all safety standards by using eye and hand protection 
  • Applies dressing on tires and replaces any small missing parts
  • Maintains vehicles in the showroom to present the best possible quality 
  • Upholds a clean and organized work area4 

How Can Someone Become an Automotive Detailer?

It is possible to start a career as an automotive detailer at an entry level. Previous experience can be beneficial to getting a job, but it is certainly not necessary. New employees are often given the opportunity to get on-the-job training to learn the skills and techniques of the role. The most important quality you should have as an entry-level detailer is a passion for cars.3

In general, the following criteria will help you become an automotive detailer: 

  • Previous experience when possible 
  • High school diploma or equivalent 
  • Demonstrated experience with cars 
  • Flexibility with scheduling and shifts 
  • Excellent customer service 
  • Ability to use cleaning materials and tools1 

Beyond those qualifications, the following transferable skills will help you succeed as an automotive detailer: 

  • Ability to communicate clearly, as well as to read and interpret instructions, memos, and other correspondence 
  • Ability to do basic arithmetic, ratios, and percentages
  • Understanding of liquid measurements and distances4  

What to Look For When Hiring an Automotive Detailer

The most important quality to look for when hiring an auto detailer is finding someone who has strong attention to detail. This will be essential for getting the job done well and ensuring customers are satisfied with the service. Whether you are interviewing applicants who have prior experience or not, this is a quality to focus on. 5

Partner With ACV Auctions

When you’re hiring for your dealership, work with us at ACV Auctions. As you strengthen your business with the highest quality team, we’ll help you find top-tier inventory to match. Our platform supports dealers like you with a full suite of services that makes it easy to feel confident when you bid on vehicles. Each vehicle on our platform comes with a report completed by our expert team and includes all the details you need to know. Reach out to us today to get started.

  1. Workstream. “Car Detailer Job Descriptions.” Workstream. Retrieved June 10, 2024. 
  2. Peters, Paul. 2022. “Car Detailer Job Description.” Betterteam. Retrieved June 10, 2024. 
  3. Body Shop Jobs. “Auto Body Detailer.” Body Shop Jobs. Retrieved June 10, 2024. 
  4. “Automotive Detailer Job Description.” Retrieved June 10, 2024. 
  5. “Cart Detailer Job Description.” Retrieved June 10, 2024.