How Much to Tip Car Wash

By London Fog

March 4, 2021


Keeping your car clean and regularly washed is a part of its basic maintenance, so it’s quite important to do so, especially if it’s gotten extra dirty for some reason. 

One of the easiest and most comfortable ways to get your car clean is to take it to a car wash, where a car wash assistant will get the job done right there and then, with great results.

However, as the car wash is a service, you might start wondering about the rules of etiquette in order to be a good customer. Especially regarding the rules around tipping.

You tip at most restaurants and customer services, but do you need to tip at a car wash? It can be awkward to just outright ask, and it probably wouldn’t be appropriate either. So to help clarify the basics, we’ve answered some of the main questions regarding this topic!

But as a quick answer to the question, it’s not mandatory to tip at a car wash, but it is well-received if you do so to reward good service. And if you do tip, it should be proportional to the service you’ve received.

Should you tip at a car wash?

Let’s start by answering the biggest and most important question regarding this topic: should you tip at a car wash? What are the rules of etiquette around this?

Well, opinions really differ on this subject. Some people think it’s not necessary, and it certainly isn’t mandatory, so you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so in any way.

But others think it’s more courteous and more etiquette correct to indeed tip the car wash assistant because they’re providing you a direct service in the same way that a waiter at a restaurant would.

So…there’s not really a set answer. Basically, tip if you want to.

However, if you ask for what we think is best, then we’d recommend tipping the car wash assistant, as long as a good job has been done. Why? Well, it’s good manners!

And sure, you’re already paying for the service, but it’s just like when you tip a waiter, the person actually providing the service probably deserves that little extra, and it’s a nice gesture.

Plus, if you go to the same car wash regularly, and you often get the same car wash assistant, giving them a tip will show that you value the service, and they’re more likely to put in extra effort as a thank you!

How much should you tip at a car wash?

If you do decide to tip at the car wash, the next important question is: how much? Sadly, there’s not a universal guide indicating the exact amount that you should tip, and that’s because the tip you give should be proportional to the service received, meaning it varies.

So basically, you tip more with a bigger service and less with a smaller service.

But let’s look at some basic guidelines that might save you from having to maths too much:

  • Basic car wash service, on an economy car: around $2 to $3 is probably fine!
  • Basic car wash service, on a bigger car or a van: around $4 to $5 is more suitable, as the bigger vehicle requires more work!
  • A more complex full car wash service: this will include not only washing the car, but probably waxing, and polishing, and more. So as this is a bigger service, you should aim to tip around 10% of the total cost of the service. So for example, if the service cost $100 in total, you would top $10. This one does require a bit of maths, but it should be simple enough!

These are the basic guidelines that most people follow when tipping at a car wash, but ultimately, it depends on the amount you feel comfortable tipping. You shouldn’t be tipping too much (unless you really want to reward that specific car wash assistant for some reason), but tipping too low might be seen more as a mockery than a genuine tip, so do be careful!

How to tip at a car wash:

Figuring out the amount that you’re tipping can be hard enough, but then figuring out how to give the tip can be just as awkward for some! It’s a lot easier in a restaurant scenario, where you can just leave it on the table with the rest of the payment, right?

How do you tip at a car wash? Sometimes you don’t even come in contact with the car wash assistant, so it can be a lot more tricky.

Here are a few ways in which you can go about the whole tipping process:

  • Walk up to them! If they’re close by and you manage to talk to them, you can probably just hand them the tip in person and express your thanks for the service. It might catch them off guard, but it’s more than viable!
  • Add the tip to your bill! This isn’t always possible, but you can ask the cashier whether you can add a tip to the overall cost, and they might have a system that allows for it.
  • Look for a tip jar or tip box! Sometimes, places will have a container on display in which you can leave your tips for the car wash assistant, so it’s always good to look around just in case it’s there.

The key is to not feel too awkward about it, and if you’re really stressing out about it you can probably ask the manager about how you can go about tipping. They’ll be more than happy to help out!

In Conclusion

It’s not mandatory to leave a tip at the car wash, but it certainly shows good etiquette, and it’s a great way of expressing that you’re happy with the service you received.

The amount you tip should be proportional to the service you receive, so around $2 for small cars and basic service, around $4 for bigger cars with a basic service, and around 10% of the total cost if the service is bigger or includes more things!

If you’re unsure about tipping, you can look around the car wash and check for any signs about tipping, or check if there are any tip jars, or you could simply ask whether it’s okay!