What Exactly Does Auto Detailing Mean?

The confusion of “washing” vs. the professional “detailing” of a car is not uncommon. After all, aren’t we really just cleaning the car? The answer is not quite as simple and requires a detailed explanation (pun intended).

When referring to a “car wash,” the general definition is a tunnel setup whereby the vehicle can either drive through or be automatically pulled along a track where brushes, soap and water are applied – think “automatic.” The drying process usually consists of employees using a towel or a giant blow dryer. The end result is a car that on first glance can appear mostly clean for a relatively cheap price.

“Cheap” can sometimes be a positive thing, but did you really spend tens of thousands of dollars on your car just to give it a cheap cleaning? Do bodybuilders eat the cheapest food to maintain their form? Do fortune 500 companies hire mediocre talent?

Of course not – you shouldn’t settle either!

So What’s Wrong with an Automatic Car Wash?

An automatic car wash can leave scratches and swirls in your paint. We have had countless vehicles roll through our many locations with damaged paint as a result of the brushes at these automatic car washes. First off, many times the brushes used to scrub your vehicle are not cleaned. If the car that went in before you just got back from a sandy beach vacation, or just has general dirt and grim built up, there will be some sand or dirt left in the brushes that can scratch your paint. In addition, many times the workers at the end use the same towel as the car before to dry your car by hand which means cross-contamination and can leave a residue. Automatic car washes focus on efficiency over quality; meaning, how fast can they get your car out so that the next one can get through.

How Does Detailing a Vehicle Differ?

For starters, auto detailers (such as Capitol Shine) use the method of hand washing instead of an automated system. All of our detailers are trained to the highest caliber on how to take care of a vehicle. Proper procedures along with the right formulas mean your vehicle receives only the best treatment. The goal is to have your car, truck, van or SUV looking as great as it did when you first bought it. Every area of the car is meticulously cleaned, by hand, to insure quality. Beyond simply washing, 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
  • Wax sealant
  • Buffing
  • Cleaning and dressing tires
  • Cleaning the engine
  • 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

What If You Have Already Been through an Automatic Car Wash?

Many times we are able to fix those scratches before they get worse through a process called Paint Correction. We also have a variety of detailing packages to suit your individual needs. Does your vehicle have an odor such as cigarette smoke or mold? Try our interior shampoo to restore your vehicle back to it’s former glory. Worried about sun damage from the incredibly hot summer days? Bring your vehicle in for a hand wash and wax sealant. This will help prevent the weather from damaging your paint along with adding a glossy shine. Looking for a simple cleaning? Try our Quick Shine package where we detail your vehicle inside and out while still having you home in time for dinner.

Schedule your detailing at capitolshine.com/schedule-your-shine.

2019 Capitol Shine Interior Shampoo.001

Right now, we are offering 10% off interior shampoos which include:

  • Clean Windows and Mirrors Inside and Out
  • Wipe Dashboard and Console
  • Vacuum Inside and Trunk
  • Apply Air Freshener
  • Clean and Dress Leather, Vinyl and Rubber
  • Shampoo Seats, Mats, Carpets & Door Panels
  • Spot Clean Interior Roof
  • Fine Clean Dash and All Components
*Prices before discount depending on vehicle size. Please see your size HERE*
To schedule your Interior Shampoo with 10% off (or for any of our other detailing packages), use promo code “InteriorTen” and visit capitolshine.com/schedule-your-shine. 10% off Interior Shampoo promotion ends September 30th, 2019.