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Car Valeting or Car Detailing: What’s the Difference?

Are you confused about the terms "car valeting" and "car detailing"? Wikipedia and most dictionaries will tell you that the two terms mean the same thing. It's just that the term "car detailing" is used in the USA while the term "car valeting" is used in the UK.

However, the meaning of car valeting and car detailing have started to differ as people began using their interpretations of these two services.

In this article, we will run you through the various meanings of the two and what you may expect when you are hiring valeting services.

What Do These Services Include?

Both terms refer to the cleaning, polishing, and waxing of a car to achieve a good-as-new look that ups its resale value. This cleaning process can include wheels, bodywork, exterior plastics, and glass.

Various contaminants can make the car paint feel rough and appear dull. This can include the following:

  • Iron filings

  • Industrial fallout

  • Tar spots

  • Tree sap

A clay bar is applied during the cleaning process to remove these contaminants.

There are also awkward spaces in a car's exterior that can be hard to clean, so chemicals, tools, and accessories are used to reach these spots.

The process can also include vacuuming the interiors, including the following:

  • Dashboard and centre console

  • Vents

  • Seats

  • Carpeting

  • Luggage areas

Any soiled areas in the upholstery, trim, carpets, and headlining are also wet cleaned with chemicals and tools.

This overall process ensures that your car looks as close to the condition it was in when it first left the showroom.

How Do They Differ?

Various interpretations for the two terms make it unclear whether they are the same or different services.

For some, car detailing is not as simple as cleaning and polishing the vehicle. Car detailing can include intensive cleaning and repair services such as:

  • Paint rectification for swirl marks, scratching, and blemishes which makes use of abrasive polishes and pads to remove the defects and leave the surface flawless

  • Wheel refurbishment for corroded or damaged rims

  • Cleaning otherwise unreachable areas such as the suspension, arch liners, brake components, and inner rims of the wheel

The Services Can Vary

The main difference does not rely on whether a valeting company refers to the service as "car detailing" or "car valeting" but more on whether it is a quality service or a cheaper inferior service.

A quality valeting company may still call it "car valeting" while offering intensive cleaning and repair service. At the same time, a cheaper company may call it "car detailing" while only offering the cleaning, polishing, and waxing service.

Not all car detailing and car valeting services are made the same. Make sure you know what services a company is offering and check their previous track record to ensure you are paying for the service you expect.


Car detailing and car valeting are two terms referring to the same service. Still, given the two terms' various interpretations, the services you get may vary from one provider to another. Make sure you ask what specific services you are getting and trust a quality car valeting company with your vehicle.

Are you looking for professional valeting in the UK? We at Secure Group have over 20 years of trusted valeting experience. Book our services today!


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