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Vehicle Groomer/​Cleaner

Kaiwhakapaipai Waka

Alternative titles for this job

Vehicle groomers/cleaners clean and polish vehicles, and may also drive, park and maintain vehicles.


Vehicle groomers/cleaners usually earn

$23 per hour

Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a vehicle groomer/cleaner are good due to a shortage of workers


Pay for vehicle groomers/cleaners varies, but they usually earn minimum wage or above.

Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Vehicle groomers/cleaners may do some or all of the following:

  • vacuum and shampoo vehicles
  • clean door jambs, rubber seals, and plastic work
  • clean the vehicle's exterior, including wheels, mudflaps and bumpers
  • steam-clean the engine, boot, door sills and outside of the vehicle
  • remove surface scratches on bodywork
  • shift and position vehicles
  • pick up and drop off vehicles and their owners
  • perform basic mechanical checks such as water, oil and tyre pressure.

Those who work for car rental companies may also:

  • complete paperwork
  • assist clients with their luggage
  • identify and report damage 
  • check and report on fuel levels.

Skills and knowledge

Vehicle groomers/cleaners need to have:

  • good cleaning skills, including knowledge of cleaning equipment and substances, and how to use them safely
  • knowledge of paint technology (how paints are made, and their properties)
  • knowledge of skills and techniques required for cleaning and polishing different paint types
  • customer service skills.

Business management skills may also be useful for vehicle groomers/cleaners who run their own business.

Working conditions

Vehicle groomers/cleaners:

  • usually work regular business hours but may also work weekends or evenings, or have early starts or late finishes
  • work indoors and outdoors in workshops, showrooms and at rental car companies
  • work in conditions that can be noisy, with strong smells of solvents and chemicals (although there is usually equipment to remove fumes).

What's the job really like?

Dianne Palmer

Vehicle Groomer/Cleaner

Trade secrets help with the harder jobs

Dog hair on carseats is a vehicle groomer’s worst enemy, according to Dianne Palmer. "It’s one of the hardest things to get out because of the different fabrics used on car upholstery. It can take me hours and hours to try and vacuum it out, but I have some trade secrets that allow me to get it out a little easier."

Teamwork key to a successful business

Dianne has owned and operated her own vehicle grooming business for nearly seven years and still finds every day different. "I get to meet my clients, organise and train my staff, and get out there doing the hard work of cleaning vehicles."

Dianne puts her success down to a great team who put their heart into the work they do. "My team is great, they have a good eye for detail, they are motivated and full of energy on every car they work on. We aim for quality and that keeps our clients coming back.

"I love standing back admiring a finished product and going 'Wow, we did that.' It’s those moments that keep me motivated in this job."

Entry requirements

To become a vehicle groomer/cleaner you usually need to have a full, clean driver's licence, although some employers may accept a restricted licence.

Vehicle groomers/cleaners must be able to drive manual as well as automatic vehicles.

Personal requirements

Vehicle groomers/cleaners need to be:

  • organised
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • reliable and honest.

Useful experience

Useful experience for vehicle groomers/cleaners includes:

  • work as a cleaner
  • work with cars, particularly paint or panel work.

Physical requirements

Vehicle groomers/cleaners need to be reasonably fit and healthy, and agile enough to easily move around the interior of a vehicle.

Find out more about training

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of getting a job as a vehicle groomer/cleaner are good because:

  • there is high staff turnover in the job
  • vehicle grooming and cleaning is not thought of as a long-term career
  • more than 30% of vehicle groomers/cleaners are 15 to 24 years old.

Job chances better in spring and summer

Demand for vehicle groomers/cleaners rises during spring and summer, when both rental car hires and car sales tend to increase.

According to the Census, 3,675 vehicle groomers/cleaners worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Types of employers varied

Vehicle groomers/cleaners may work for:

  • specialist car grooming businesses
  • new and used car dealers
  • car and van rental companies
  • panelbeaters and garages
  • owners of large fleets of vehicles such as the police.

Some vehicle groomers/cleaners own their own businesses and are self-employed.


  • Cropp, A, 'Rental Car Companies Scramble to Meet Demand from Overseas Visitors', 2 February 2016.
  • Maetzig, R, 'Accelerate! New Zealand New Vehicle Sales Blast Off on a 2017 flyer', 3 February 2017, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2006-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Vehicle groomers/cleaners may progress to set up their own business.

Dianne Palmer polishing the bonnet of a car

Vehicle groomers usually work in workshops or showrooms

Last updated 3 April 2023