Car Wash + Marital Disagreement

OK here goes… I have a monthly membership to an automatic car wash. Unlimited washes. My husband gets annoyed that I take our truck through the wash four or five times a week. He snarls at me with “wait til the paint starts getting ruined”. I don’t believe the paint will be ‘ruined’ as he says. I just want to feel like I get my money’s worth. Also, not going to wash it myself as I am still working and too many other things to do. He will never do it even though he is retired. Any thoughts or experience with this? :blush: Thank you.

If that wash has brushes then you really need to stop going there that often . I will not take either of our vehicles through a wash unless it is brushless . Going that often just can not be good for your finish .


I would say 4 or 5 times a week might be a tad too much. I like a clean car, too, but mine just doesn’t get that dirty.

As far as your husband not taking it to the wash… if it is a drive thru while you sit in the car, he might be a bit claustraphobic.

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Biggest risk is the wax gets washed off by the soap, leaving the paint less protected. Just apply wax more frequently.

Does the car wash have a water-only option? If so, another possibility, use that most of the time. I rinse the dust & grit off my cars once a week with the garden hose, plain water; only wash w/soap every month or two.

One more idea, might be in your own interest to just follow hubby’s advice. Just a few less car washes after all. Remember, “happy hubby, happy life!”


I agree with the others. If it’s a touchless car wash, then 4 or 5 times a week is still excessive and wasteful of water, but it won’t hurt the car as long as you keep it properly waxed (and no, the “wax” at automatic car washes is a joke and does not count).

If, however it has brushes, you’re wrecking your paint. The dirt and grit that was on the 200 cars in front of you is on those brushes and getting dragged across your paint. You won’t notice it right away, but you’ll eventually see ugly little swirls and lines in your paint when you look at it in the bright sunlight. That’s the car wash’s fault.

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I only use the car wash in the winter when you can’t hand wash a car, and then only touchless. It gets the dirt off but with chemicals and high pressure which takes its toll on the paint. It has also been rumored that the water is recycled which means all the salts from the road is sprayed back on the car. Much better to hand wash and hand wax twice a year.


Regardless of the type of automatic car wash, 4 times a week seems excessive but if you’re only planning on keeping the car for a couple of years, what the heck.
It looks good, keeps you happy and by the time the damage becomes obvious it’ll be someone else’s problem.

Since I keep cars for 10 years and have seen the damage the automatic car washes can do, I only hand wash. The filming/hazing of the paint from the brushes is obvious but since all the places around here use recycled water, the idea of pressure spraying my car with recycled salt/brine/road schmutz is of more concern.

As a compromise have you considered a similar subscription hand wash service? More expensive, takes more time but the results are great and judging from the lines are very popular.
And the intangible benefit is that it also seems to keep a lot more folks gainfully employed.

Back in the ‘70s, the owner of a carwash near my old place of employment had a black Cadillac, and he used to run his car through the machinery first thing every morning, before the customers’ cars began to line up. The brush mark damage to the paint was very obvious because of the black paint, and I used to wonder if that guy realized that his car was not a good advertisement for his establishment.

That being said, I use an automatic carwash about once a month (my car is garaged), and there is no perceptible damage to the paint, even after 11+years, so I think the OP should consider that washing is good, but it shouldn’t be overdone.

Tell him to take his truck and put it where the sun don’t shine!

You didn’t say, but I’m hoping this is the soft cloth type of car wash. If it happens to be an old one with brushes, I don’t think you should use it at all.

I do think there’s a chance of some paint damage (at least some minor swirls) over time, especially if you happen to follow another car that was very dirty, so I think you’re overdoing it here, to be honest. Does your car really get that dirty in a day or two?

For what it’s worth, I use only a touch-free car wash on my car. My wife uses a soft cloth car wash with a membership like yours, but only once a week or so; she knows my thoughts here, but it’s her car and her decision.

Are you taking it in that often because it’s dirty, or just because the wash is paid for? Cut back to ‘it’s dirty’, and that’d be fine with me. I wash mine maybe every other month.

I believe even hand washing 4 to 5 times a week would result in fine swirl marks in the paint (or clear coat, really). That’s a whole lot of rubbing on the paint.

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The part about the retired husband not wanting to wash the truck . That may be because to wash the top requires some kind of step ladder and he may not be comfortable doing that .


This is the first time I’ve heard of a “go as many times as you like in a month” car wash.

I wonder if OP resides in Calif. In most metro areas of Calif it is illegal to wash your car at your residence. Seriously. You could very easily get a fine if a neighbor reported they saw you washing your car! Car washing is only allowed at a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes save water apparently.

Oh oh, here’s another of George’s stories … lol … A few weeks ago I’m watching tv at night, about 11:30 pm, all of a sudden a loud buzzing noise. After 45 minutes of this late night audio disturbance, I decide to take a look what’s going on. Somebody up the street has their pressure washer on full force and washing all four of their cars. Guessing done at night to avoid detection of the car-wash police, but no apparent worries about the pressure-washer sound level .

I wouldn’t do this myself if it was illegal, but I’m wondering what stops less honest people from just washing their cars inside their garage.

Garage? Lots of carports from my memory. But have you ever washed your car inside the garage without a floor drain? Really a mess and you have to sweep the water out under the door. I suspect though that the water meters are carefully monitored. I think it was Colorado that even made it illegal to collect rain water off your roof. Rain from the heavens belongs to the people I think was their rationale.

Seems like the major downside, that would get the stuff sitting on the garage floor wet.

I notice a lot of folks washing their car’s windows. Outside in plain view I mean. Thinking the reason, they can just say if questioned about it, they are preparing to drive the car to the car wash and dirty windows are a safety issue. Some of them take the cleaning beyond just the windows of course. But they are pretty careful not to allow water to run down the gutters, wash with rags and sponges only, and if water saving is the purpose, seems like while a technical violation, the objective is being met.

Personally I’d prefer the water-monitors just tell me how much water I can use each month, and let me decide how I want to use it. Make it hurt my wallet a little by the water pricing if I go over my limit. l Neighbors tattle-telling on other car-washing neighbors, and worse, now knowing who reported it, makes for a lot of unnecessary neighborhood strife.

My sympathy. There must be a point though where the negatives outway the positives. The thing about water is that what goes up must come down again. It just may not come down where you want it. Lots of water in Yellowstone I see. Enough to float a house or two.

Flooding pretty common this time of the year in the Rocky Mountains. Accumulated snow at higher altitude melts all at once if weather turns extra warm quickly. Some cities create temporary rivers that run through their downtown area. They put up plastic-lined sand-bags along the sides of a main street, create a river, and some even allow downtown fishing … lol …