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Car Wash: Are extra services a scam?

Undercarriage spray for another $5. Is this just an obvious scam?
I mean, I don’t see anyone pushing some switch turning extra water jets on or off.
I don’t see anything disabled when you don’t pay extra.

And what about the “wax” treatment? Seems like BS as well.
I don’t see any machine squirting out liquid wax.
Even spray-on wax would get all over the windows and have to be wiped off.

I always just pay for the basic wash. Is this the right move?

If you believe that car washes are a scam then by all means use the basic service. BTW…the extra services are not a scam. A good friend of mine owns several car washes and I have helped him service them on occasion. Those drums of liquid wax and undercarriage nozzle spray soap don’t empty themselves.

I always go for the “basic wash” and avoid that other stuff. Once a year I wax the car, and it stays shiny for another 12 months. What is sold as “added benefits or features” is internallly called “added profit opportunities” by the marketers.

Car washes, in general, are a “scam.” The only time I use one is during the winter to get the mag chloride off when it’s too cold to wash my car by hand.

I’ve been hand washing ever since I’ve been driving. All you need is a bucket, hose, cotton wash mitt, sponge, and drying cloth. Go to your local auto parts store and buy them all for less than $20. They will pay for themselves it within a few car washes.

Google “how to detail my car” and you will see step-by-step instructions. In general, I don’t use car wash soap as it removes the nice coat of wax I put on twice a year. I only use soap once in the spring and fall, just before clay barring and waxing my car. Other times, just pure clean water.

Avoid automatic car washes.

They recycle the water – good for conserving water, bad for your paint. The filter removes most, but not all, of the dirt. The remainder will sand blast your paint.

The swirling brushes are even worse – like scrubbing your paint with a brillo pad.

Spray the under carriage of your car and wheel wells. Wash and dry it by hand and it will look great. My 15 year-old BMW still looks like the day it rolled of the show room.

When it’s warm outside I wash my vehicles in my driveway. From October through March I have to use a car-wash. Most of the time I use a self-service wash where you get out and use their wand and brush. And when I do…I pay particular attention to the undercarriage. That’s where dirt collects and can trap moisture.

We live on a dirt road. We wash our cars a couple times a year whether they need it or not at a “touchless” car wash. We have our own power washer to keep undercarriage clean which I feel is important. Dirt road liver’s usually have the dirtiest cars on the parking lot and passersby give them a little more distance…that’s a good thing.

When we lived in town, we were very careful about keeping cars clean and waxed. Life is too short. The last wash job before trade in and the cars look as good as if we had done it weekly. My cars never rust which is just as important as the finish. Put your time there.

The inside of the car where we “live”, we keep as clean as possible. Now, the only time I see the real color of my cars is twice a year, on the way home from the car wash to the head of our road.

Not sure where you go but where I go in the winter, the under carriage wash is included in the basic plus 1 service. I want the under carriage wash plus the spot spray but forget about all the rest. The wax really doesn’t do much in my view. $5 extra though?? I pay $5 for the complete wash if you buy a card with ten washes at a time.

The car wash that I use here in SE WI uses new water. A sign lights up at the appropriate time to indicate that the underbody rinse to get rid of the road salt is happening if you pay a dollar more for that option. The final rinse is deionized water before the air dry fans run. I walked in one day to ask about the water. I got a nice tour of the wash; several car lengths long. I wonder how good the washes barely over one car length can be as good. $6.50 with no extras other than the underbody rinse.

If I had the extra money, I would certainly pay someone to wash the car. Washing the undercarriage in areas where they use a lot of salt is worthwhile IMO. Out here in western OR where we get a lot of winter rain and no salt use-undercarriage washing is useless. I think the wax is good enough.

I use the vacs, a quarter for 1 minute is still cheap considering they have a longer hose and more powerful vac than my home vacuums.

My car seems to like me a bit more when she gets washed and interior cleaned.

I usually wash/wax my cars in my driveway, but I’ll use a commercial place sometimes too. In my opinion the commercial place and the options they offer are entirely reasonable. Undercarriage spraying is helpful at reducing body rust in areas where there’s snow on the roads and the roads are frequently salted. When I use a commercial wash I get the wax treatment too, and it doesn’t seem to harm the windows. And yes there is wax applied. You can tell because of the water beading.

Whether these services are worth the price, well, that can be debated. But I think they are useful in maintaining and preserving the car’s appearance. I don’t consider them scams.

I get the underbody flush in the winter but generally avoid the wax unless it’s part of the package. I wax my vehicles by hand a couple times a year with Meguiars. I’ve read the “spray wax” is short lived & can cause smearing on the windshield when wipers are used.

So you’re saying that actually IS some kind of underbody jet that is optionally turned on?
And you’re saying that IS some sort of wax that gets sprayed if you pay extra?

yep.
The biggest question is why don’t you wash your own car or make a donation to the high school clubs trying to raise money by washing cars?

The extra services are not a “scam”. The car wash attendant does indeed hit different buttons to activate more or less services as the car goes through the wash. The services might be overpriced and certainly add a lot of profit for the car wash.

Some car wash facilities are better quality and do a better job than others. Like anything there are “cheaters” who charge for services and don’t really deliver them. Assuming a car wash operator is honest, then the extra services actually are delivered during the car wash cycle.

The add-ons are certainly not a scam, unless the attendant does not program your wash to what you paid for. But for most places that would be hard to do. Your receipt should reflect what you paid for and what you got.

The add-ons are tremendously profitable though, but that’s another discussion.

IMO, waxing a car is extremely important in areas in the sun belt or for cars left in the sun all day while at work. It may be more important then waxing for winter protection.

According to the weatherman this morning, there is an 80% chance that my vehicles will get “washed”.

I’m glad I don’t live where you live. At my usual touch-free wash here, it’s $1 more for the package with the underwash. I always get it, even in summer, because it helps with removing brake dust from my wheels.

You’re correct that the spray-on waxes do next to nothing. I don’t bother with those, especially because I don’t want that stuff on my windshield.

I was an asst mangr. And tell you the truth, there alot of stuff that work and some that is crap. Brightlook sells a very nice multi cleaner but if not mixed it will burn paint. But honestly yes. Its a scam business. If you want a list of stuff that work and i used. Let me know.

gtc, please post what worked and did not. But you’re saying extra services are actually a thing? It’s not just like pressing the elevator close button which has nothing connected to it?