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Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Your Car

It is no doubt that cars are lucrative and need proper maintenance to prolong their lifespan. Dirt, mud, debris or contaminations are a threat to your car’s outer coating. Therefore, it is necessary to wash your car on a regular basis to eliminate these risks.

Although there are several ways to wash your car, automatic car washes are reliable, time-consuming and the most preferred. This is because several car owners’ has busy schedules that make hand-washing not an option for them.

This brings us to our question; are automatic car washes bad for your car? The answer is no. When done with care, automatic car washes are safe, reliable and convenient. 

With that in mind, let’s cover some of the relevant things you need to know about automatic car washes. We have also covered other types of car washes, factors to consider and other relevant frequently asked questions. Keep informed! 

Types Of Car Washes

Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Your Car

Just like there are many ways to kill a rat or cook meat, there are also a number of ways to wash your car. Although they all leave your car clean and attractive, each of them has its own level of effectiveness. Also, each has its own ups and downs. As a result, we found it necessary to cover different types of car washes for you to choose what’s best for your precious car.

1) Automatic car wash

This is our main interest in this page. Also referred to as tunnel wash, this method requires you to drive your car through a conveyor belt that is made of brushes and blowers. Your car is then automatically washed allowing you to drive it out clean.

Although this wash is fast and cheaper, it is not always the best. This is because it uses harsh cleaning agents that can destroy the outer coating of your car. Also, the brushes are often left with abrasive grime from a previously washed car which can damage your finish.

It is fast, reliable and convenient.
Saves time and money
Not effective to wash off heavy contaminations.
Uses harsh chemicals that can strip off your car’s coating.

2) Hand car wash

Basically, this type of car wash entails using a soft mitt or piece of cloth to wash off your car. Being the most practiced type of car wash, hand washing is in two forms; traditional hand washing where you use a bucket of water and the pressurised foam cannon. However, whichever way, both entail using water, soap and a soft mitt to wash the car using your hands.

Hand washing is time-consuming as it involves a number of stages in order to get a thorough clean. Generally, these stages are;

  • Pre-wash your car. This is the first stage that is meant to wipe off excessive dust or mud from your car. At this stage, cover your car with snow foam and rinse it off with running water.
  • The second stage requires you to coat the vehicle with water and soap froth for the second time. This is where your soft mitt comes in. With your hands, move the piece of clothing over your car to break loose all the contamination through the help of the soap froth.
  • Rinse off your car and leave it to dry.
It leaves a thorough clean.
It is safe leaving no possible scratches on your car.
Breaks loose heavy contamination.
It’s time consuming
It’s pocket consuming.
Requires plenty of water.
Challenging to do during winter.

3) Waterless car wash

Is it not obvious that washing requires water? So, how is it possible to wash your car waterless? I know this is the most looming question in your mind. However, this is possible through the use of a spray bottle and microfiber towel. In this, the process is quite simple;

  • Spray the surface of your car using your spray bottle washing product.
  • Use your microfiber towel to dry it off. 
Convenient if you have no space to pack and hand wash your car.
You can clean your car anywhere even while on transit.
Convenient if you are reactive to cold or prohibited to use water.
Has a fast and easy washing process.
It is possible to scratch your car
Cannot get rid of heavy gunk thus not 100% effective.

4) Rinseless car wash

This washing method is a hybrid of both waterless and hand washes. In fact, it is like a hand car wash that requires no soap and rinsing. This method requires you to mix your rinse-less product with water, wash your car and wipe it off without rinsing. Below is the process;

  • In a bucket, mix water and a small amount of rinse-less product.
  • Soak multiple microfiber towels in that mixture.
  • Take one towel out of water and wring it to dry.
  • Using your pre- wash product, spray a panel of your car.
  • Take out one of your soaked towels and clean off dirt from the sprayed panel.
  • Take your wringed dry towel and dry off the cleaned panel.
  • Repeat the same to the other panels until your car is completely clean.
It uses less amount of water.
It is faster and convenient
Requires less energy and equipment.
The process can take place anywhere.
It is not as effective as hand wash.
There is a possibility to scratch your car.

5) Brushless wash

This is an automatic car wash that uses soft clothes in the conveyer belt in place of brushes and bristles. Although soft clothes sound safer than bristles, note that this method can also scratch your car because of harsh chemicals used. Unfortunately, these clothes are also left with dirt from previous cars that will damage your finish.

It is cheap and easy
It is time-consuming.
Uses soft clothes that are safer than bristles.
Uses chemicals that might destroy your finishing.
Holds on dirt from previous car.

6) Touchless wash

This is another type of automatic car wash that washes your car using high-pressure jets of water, air pressure and cleaning chemicals. The process entails; driving your car through a conveyor track, turning it off and allowing a series of rollers to move and wash it through the wash tunnel. 

The process saves time.
It is cheap and effective.
Not 100% effective
Harsh chemicals that might damage your car finish.

Are Automatic Car Washes Worth It

Yes. Although automatic car washes are not as effective and your car will not get much attention as hand washes, it is definitely worth it. Below are reasons why this type of car wash is worth it.

1) It is Water effective

Automatic car wash is so effective when it comes to the consumption of water. This method uses as little water as possible to complete the process. Additionally, this process uses recycled water that is well cleaned and recycled before reuse. Therefore, it does not encourage the wastage of water.

2) It is environmentally friendly.

Although automatic car wash uses cleaning chemicals, these chemicals are collected after use to avoid polluting the environment. Additionally, it uses environmentally friendly products that have no pollution effects. 

3) It is time effective

This is the greatest personal reason that pushes car owners to opt for an automatic car wash. Most car owners are busy with no time for hand-wash. They, therefore, opt to use an automatic car wash which is faster and cheaper. Saving time is equivalent to saving money.

4) Helps to maintain your car

Last but not least, automatic car wash is worth it as it increases the value of your car. How? Some automatic car washes are so gentle and preserve the painting of your car making it look fresh and new. Other automatic wash equipment polish your car while cleaning it, which helps in its maintenance. 

Things To Keep In Mind When You Use Automatic Car Wash

Keeping your car clean is important as it means boosting its resale value. Although you should clean your car regularly, there are things to keep in mind when you want to take it for an automatic car wash.

1) Is it modern

When taking your car for an automatic car wash, find out whether it uses digitally inclined means of cleaning. As seen above, there are brush and brushless automatic car wash. Older automatic car washes use brushes that might scratch your car.

Look out for a modern, brushless automatic car wash that uses soft clothes or pressured water jets and detergents to clean your car. This is because they are gentle and safe on your car’s coating. 

2) Customer service

If not careful, you can drive out of an automatic car wash with your car more damaged than you drove in. In an automatic car wash, ensure there are tight security measures to protect your car’s outer and inner accessories as it is being washed. There should always be an attendant on standby to look after your car.

Also, some attendants are so careless that they don’t take off the dirt from the bristles or clothes left by the previous car. This will contaminate your car’s finish. This requires you to ensure your automatic car wash offers the best services.

3) Drying services

Different automatic car washes have different ways of drying your car. Most modern automatic car washes have heater jets that will blow heated air in your car to dry it off. Others have standby attendants that will wipe off your car until it’s dry. Make sure the attendant does not use a rough or dirty towel to wipe off your car to avoid further damage.

4) Cost

Keep in mind that some automatic car washes have additional costs depending on the extra services offered. For instance, some provide spray on wax after wash, undercarriage rustproofing or clear coat protectors that come with additional costs. However, these services are optional as you might choose to skip them. 

Automatic Car Wash vs Hand Wash

Both automatic car wash and hand wash are effective methods of washing your car. However, they are vastly different in terms of cost, time and effectiveness. Below are their differences;

Automatic over hand wash

First off, automatic car washes are faster compared to hand wash. While most of us have busy schedules, we prefer automatic car wash that takes a record of ten minute or less to have our cars cleaned. Hand wash on the other hand; take a count of hours to clean. This is because unlike machines that are faster, hand wash consumes time.

Secondly, an automatic car wash is cheap and less tiring. Since this method is faster with less consumption of water, it ends up cutting down on cost. Also, washing is done through a machine thus no space for tiredness.

Hand wash, on the other hand, requires intense application of energy and muscles which causes tiredness. Isn’t it obvious that tired muscles are likely to bring out poor results? 

Thirdly, an automatic car wash is environmentally friendly compared to a hand wash. In the modern world, automatic car washes use machines that integrate the recycling of water.

Also, washing chemicals are collected and not buried in the soil. This is unlike hand wash that allows soapy water to flow down and bury in the soil. This brings out pollution and damage to the soil. 

Hand wash over automatic wash

Hand wash guarantees thorough cleaning. Washing your car personally brings out perfect end results. The process might be long but ensures you clean every corner of your car that the machine cannot reach. This is unlike automatic car wash that is so fast with chances that stuck contamination and grime will be left on your car’s surface.

Lastly, hand wash is easy to set up. The process only requires soap, buckets, soft clothing and water that are so easy to find. This is unlike an automated car wash that requires machines and cleaning chemicals. These equipment are not as easy to find and buy. 

What Is The Best Type Of Car Wash ( Editors Recommended )

While all types of car washes have their ups and downs, most experts recommend hand washes as the best type of car wash. This is because it is so effective and thorough. The method guarantees the removal of heavy contamination on your car’s surface. It is also gentle on the finish. Although this method is time-consuming, it is very safe, effective and reliable. 

Final Recap

Automatic car wash has a substantial number of benefits. It is fast, reliable, and effective. However, some entail uses or bristles that can end up scratching your paintwork. Therefore, avoid bristle automatic car wash and go for other brushless options. Choose the most effective type of car wash from our guide and get your car washed.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How often should you take your car through a car wash?

Generally, it is recommended to wash your car after two weeks. However, this differs per every individual. Some wash their cars after a week while others twice in a week. This entirely depends on how often your car gets dirty. If you pass through dusty roads, wash your car as often as possible.

How long does an automatic car wash last?

More often than not, an automatic car wash lasts 7 to 10 minutes. However, this can differ depending on how dirty your car was. However, it would not exceed 20 minutes. 

What cars are best for an automatic car wash?

Most vehicles can go through an automatic car wash; Particularly SUVs, vans, trucks and cars. As long as a vehicle does not exceed 84 inches in height with at least four inches above the ground, then it can comfortably go through an automatic car wash.

Can you pass a newly painted car through an automatic car wash?

No. Not right away. Before washing your car through an automatic car wash, ensure your clear coat paint has taken time to dry before passing it through the automatic washing machine. It is advised to give it a minimum of 30 days after painting. This is to avoid possible scratches from the brushes.