Can Houston Automatic Car Wash Damage Your Car?

Many people prefer automatic car wash solutions, as they can save them a lot of time and hassle. However, the big question is whether such drive-thru, automatic car washes are safe for your car or not. The answer is that such solutions are actually the safest for car owners who enjoy driving a clean vehicle at all times.

More often than not, car owners washing their vehicles by themselves don’t use the right amount of water to remove dirt in a safe manner. Many of them wash their car in direct sunlight. This is a big mistake, as it leads to the softening of the paint. As water will dry very quickly, this method generates water spots. Some of these people use the wrong soap. Dishwashing detergent, for instance, can remove the protective wax layer, making the paint more vulnerable and leaving a white residue on the finish. Any of these mistakes can alter the paint, making it look dull.

Maintaining your car clean and ensuring that you don’t spoil the finish will enable you to sell the car for a higher value by the time you’ll want to replace it. A vehicle with faded paint will lose about 10-20 percent of its market value. This is a good reason for you to take good care of your car right from the beginning.

You may ask yourself how often to have your car washed in order to keep it in good shape. The answer depends on how fast it gets dirty. If you park your car in a garage and you don’t use it too often, you may not need to wash it more often than once a month or even once every two months. On the contrary, a car parked outdoors will need more frequent washing, as it will be a big target for birds leaving their droppings. Similarly, driving your car in winter conditions, on icy roads will require you to have your vehicle washed more often. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when thinking about taking your vehicle to an automatic car wash:

Brushless Is The Safest

Older car washes may still use those giant brushes that may leave tiny scratches in the paint. Older car models feature single-stage paint. In such situations, budding out the scratches is a very easy and effective task. However, when it comes to modern cars that use several layers of paint and clear coatings, the only method to repair the damaged clear coat layer is to repaint the vehicle.

The touchless car wash that uses only high-pressure water jets and mild detergents to remove dirt is another safer bet. Since nobody will physically touch the car, the chances for it to get damaged are next to zero. If you live in an area that has those coin-operated self-service car wash facilities, you can use them to remove stubborn dirt. Beware, though, you may have to bring your own bucket, dry towels and any other things you may need to use.

Be Careful When It Comes To After-wash Wipe-down Services

Many drive-thru washes use a powerful jet of hot air to remove excess water from the surface of the car. Other full-service car washes use human workers to hand-wipe the vehicles after washing. While this is usually harmless, you need to pay attention to these workers to see if they use fresh, soft and clean towels to dry your car. If you notice them using dirty clothes, thank them very much for their service, but don’t let them touch your car. It’s better to drive away in a wet car than have it treated this way. Dirt particles can scratch the finish just like sandpaper does. By simply driving away right after the washing, your car will dry under the action of the airflow, so it won’t suffer any damage. Once you get home, you can wipe off any visible streaks with a special spray cleaner.

Don’t Get Any Extras

Although a works car wash will cost you twice the price of a regular one, you won’t get twice the wash for your money. Undercarriage rustproofing is only one example of a potentially useless service. All vehicles get effective rustproofing from the factory, so their metal is already sealed against corrosive agents. Any further treatment is less effective, and therefore a waste of money.

On the contrary, an undercarriage bath may be well worth it. These strong jets of water sprayed directly underneath the vehicle will dismantle and remove stubborn dirt accumulations. Removing that dirt by using a garden hose can be a tricky and difficult thing to do. Keeping underbody drainage holes clear of any obstruction is a very good thing, as it will prevent the accumulation of moisture that can accelerate rust. The role of an undercarriage bath is to clear those drain holes.

Spray-on wax, though, is something to think twice before doing. This increases your car wash cost with a few dollars, but it won’t be a good substitute for hand-applied wax or car polish. It is harmless, though, so you won’t risk ruining your car finish if you go for it.

Wheel and tire cleaning is something to go for. All that dirt and baked-on brake dust would be almost impossible to remove by yourself. Keeping aluminum alloy rims clean is a must, as brake dust can leave permanent stains on the metal if not regularly removed.

Check That Your Car Is OK Before Leaving

While many car washes won’t take responsibility for any damages that may occur during the car washing process, this doesn’t mean that you should accept damage caused by their human workers or by their equipment. If you notice a problem, ask to see the manager and explain the situation. He may agree to fix the problem for the sake of maintaining good relationships with their clients. If they don’t, you can always try to reach out to one of their superiors (if the carwash is a franchise, you’ll want to contact the company headquarters). Always make sure that you take some photos of the damage so that you can support your claim.

Last but not least, never leave any valuables in the car if an employee will have access to the interior of your vehicle. In order to be on the safe side, take your purse with you as you get out of the car.

SOAP Hand Car Wash is an eco-friendly, car wash and detailing service that serves the Greater Houston area.