Auto Detailer or Body Shop: What’s the Difference?

One of the questions we often receive is, “What is the difference between a detailing shop and an auto repair body shop? Don’t they do the same thing?”
Generally, auto detailing is the process of extensive cleaning, both inside and out, restoring exteriors and interiors and even fixing and preventing scratches. An auto body shop, on the other hand, focuses more on fixing larger damages, both cosmetically and internally.

Auto Detailing can include elements of cleaning and restoring the exterior and interior of a vehicle such as:

  • Washing
  • Waxing
  • Bug and tar removal
  • Clay bar surface or Nano mitt
  • Using degreasers
  • Dressing outside plastics and rubber
  • Waxing or wax sealant
  • Buffing
  • Cleaning and dressing tires
  • Cleaning the engine
  • Dent repair
  • Ventilation decontamination
  • Headlight restoration
  • Touch-Up painting
  • Fixing scratches or marring in the paint or wheels
  • Applying paint protective coatings like Ceramic Pro or Opti-Coat Pro
  • Applying paint protection film


  • Vacuuming interior and trunk
  • Steam cleaning
  • Cleaning windows and mirrors
  • Cleaning door jambs
  • Cleaning the dashboard, console, vents and components
  • Cleaning and dressing interior leather, vinyl and rubber
  • Spot cleaning the interior roof
  • Shampooing the seats, mats, carpets and door panels

On the other hand, auto body shops generally specialize in services like:

  • Body repairs like bumper and fender replacements, cracked windows,
  • Painting
  • Mechanical repairs (engine, transmission, brakes, etc.)
  • Replacing parts
  • Fixing large damages, crinkles

Bottom line, if your vehicle is wrecked, needs severe cosmetic work, replacement parts or engine and transmission tuning, a body shop is where to go. If your vehicle needs to be cleaned or even has scratches or fading on the paint, a detailer is the correct choice.

Capitol Shine is the premier detailer of choice in the Washington, D.C. area for many. We provide all of the detailing items listed above in addition to other options.

To schedule your vehicle for any of our detailing services, including waxing, washing, shampooing, paint correction and more, click here or call 202.380.7100. Please schedule in advance to insure time and date.