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Automatic Car Wash: Everything You Need to Know

No one likes seeing their car dirty, but maintaining it can be a time-consuming activity. Not everyone has the time nor the inclination to clean their car every couple of days, which is why more and more people are turning to automatic car washes to get their vehicles presentable in less time than they would do at home. If you’re going to store the car then a good car wash is a must.

However, some people are cautious of automatic car washing machines because they worry that the machine will scratch or damage their paint. Well, rest easy – here we give answers to all the possible questions that cross your mind before opting for an automatic car wash.

Is Automatic Car Wash Safe?

The first question that crosses your mind must be about how safe automatic car washes really are.

Here’s what you need to know: Automatic car washes are as safe for your car as manual hand washing.

However, problems can arise if one were to use a dirty sponge or washer fluid. If these two things are used on your car, there is a high probability of forming on your vehicle.

But that’s just physical damage. What about the harm that automatic car washes can do to your car’s paint?

Some people believe that automatic washes are too harsh for cars, especially cars with special paint jobs. Consider this: The dirt and mud on your car have a higher chance of scratching up your vehicle than an automatic wash ever will.

Now, if you use a dirty sponge or wash fluid (or both), the chances of your car getting scratched increase exponentially, most likely, the dirt and mud won’t scratch up your car because it’s not as coarse as an automatic washer solution.

However, there are some cases where people have noticed their cars suffer from damage directly from an automatic car wash. These damages ranged from paint damage to broken windows.

But the amount of documented cases is only about 3 percent of all incidents involving auto detailing. To give you a better perspective, there are more than 450 million cars in the US alone. If we were to consider only the 3 percent figure, it means that only 13 million cars have been damaged due to an automatic car wash.

So, to answer the question, “Are automatic car washes safe?” Yes, they are as safe as manual hand washing. Just remember not to use dirty sponges or washer fluid on your vehicle because it may damage your precious car paint.

Types of Car Washes

There are two types of car washes, namely, the brush-type and the touchless system. The difference between these two is how they wash your car.

The brush type uses bristles to clean the dust off your side mirrors, while the touchless type uses water. The brush type is usually cheaper than the touchless type.

Washing Your Car with a Brush Type Car Wash

What do you need?

  • Bucket of water and sponge/rag (to place at your feet or in your back pocket)
  • Glass cleaner (optional: available at most car washes)

How do you do it?

  1. Put your bucket on the floor and fill it with water, ensuring that it is not too hot or cold. If you can, add a few drops of shampoo into the water to make the cleaning process more efficient.
  2. Pick up the sponge or rag, dip it in the water bucket, squeeze out any excess water and fold it slightly.
  3. Scrub your car’s paint with circular motions until all the dirt has come off. If you see streaks of soap on your car, clean them off with a wet rag or by rinsing them off.
  4. Turn your back on the car and spray the glass cleaner (if you have any) onto the windows and wipe them down with a cloth in straight lines. This will remove any crud that is stuck between the layers of your window and make it more transparent.
  5. Rinse your car one last time with the water bucket.

Note:  Use a cloth to clean your tires, wheel arches, and bumpers!

Washing Your Car with a Touchless System

The next car washing method is a touchless system. This is usually preferred by those who are conscious about their car wash methods. 

This touchless system operates without human contact, which means that it can be used on any type of vehicle. It has its own sensor to detect dirt and automatically dispense the correct amount of soap and water required for cleaning.

Some models provide firm rotating bristles to scrub the surface before suds are sprayed. The downside to this method is the lack of water pressure provided by some models. Also, you have to remove any dust accumulated on your car’s body before use.

The advantages are reduced water usage and reduced exposure to harsh chemicals resulting in less impact on the environment. 

Touchless systems are best suited to larger vehicles with smooth surfaces that require little scrubbing during washing. It also leaves behind dirt marks on the surface, which shows that it hasn’t been cleaned thoroughly.

Will Automatic Car Wash Remove The Ceramic Coating?

The next question you will be looking for an answer to is, “Will an automatic car wash remove my vehicles’ ceramic coating?”

No, the touchless system will not harm your vehicle’s paint or ceramic coating. In fact, they won’t even cause any damage to a hard water spot.

There has been some discussion on whether a touchless car wash is harmful to a car with a clear coat finish. The truth is that there is no evidence of any damage being caused due to modern equipment available today in the market.

However, experts recommend that you avoid using this method unless it is specifically designed for use on clear-coated vehicles. This is because it does not provide enough pressure, and the bristles can scratch the surface if misused.

In short, if you take the proper precautions and follow the instructions for use, your vehicle’s coat will remain intact even after a professional car wash.

Automatic Vs. Manual Car Wash – Which One Is Best?

If you are still wondering which type of car wash is the best one, then read along.

Both types of car wash have their own pros and cons. Also, your personal preferences will play an essential role in deciding the type of car wash you should opt for.

Here are some points to consider before choosing one…

1. Location

If the automatic or touchless system is not available near your home, then manual washing could be a better option.

2. Budget

Manual washes are usually cheaper than automated systems as they do not involve installation costs. However, a professional cleaning can cost more than using this method at home.

3. Frequency

If you live out in remote areas or travel long distances to work every day, then manual washing might prove to be inconvenient due to the distance you have to cover between both places.

4. Vehicle’s Condition

Cars with clear coat finishes are best suited to touchless systems. Touchless washes could cause damage in the case of vehicles with an in-painted finish.

5. Time Availability

Here, an automatic car wash will be helpful if you don’t have time to spare for manual washing.

6. Experience Level

If you are new to the area or not too familiar with the local auto detailing shops, it might be better to try out their services before fixing your own appointment. Doing so will help you learn about the costs and services offered by each business near your location.

7. Number Of Vehicles To Be Cleaned

This factor is highly dependent on individual preferences and varies from person to person. However, this is usually the deciding factor that lets you choose between an automatic or manual car wash.

8. Conditioning

If you are concerned about your vehicle’s paint surface, then it might be better to opt for a hand-wash where there is no chance of water pressure being too intense against the surface.

Alternatively, if you have time on your hands and want to spend more hours detailing each area manually, then manual washing will be helpful.

Now that you’ve got all the information required, it’s time to pick one for yourself! We hope this article helped you understand the difference between both types of car washes in detail. 

You can now consider all these factors before choosing which one would be best for your needs.

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