Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Car Washes


I’m just curious how you all wash your vehicles. Do you do it by hand, automatic car wash, etc? Has anyone used the automatic ones with the guide rails and conveyor belt that pushes their car through the wash?

I usually do it by hand, but I was thinking maybe the automatic would be easier and obviously faster. It sounds like (from what I’ve read) that they’ve come along way with the materials used.

Anyway, just curious.

We have a local brushless car wash which does quite a good job. Many years ago I used to wash my own car by hand in the driveway, but we now have a local prohibition against that.

In any case, the car wash does a good job, especially in the winter!

I would avoid car washes with those powerful brushes; they really do damage the paint.

The touchless ones never seem to really clean my car when it’s really dirty.

From May Thru Sept I wash by hand.

Sept thru early May I’ll take it a car wash (usually a touchless one).

The best wash by far is doing it by hand.

I use them in winter only to get wrid of road salt. I avoid the ones that clean the underside of the car at all cost because they send dirt particule on the bodywork and scratch it. There is nothing better than doing it the old fashon way…by hand.

Do the guide rail automatic washes scratch your rims?

Guide rails in an automatic car wash do not contact the wheels

1 Like

Really? I thought that they at least did when you drive into the rails?

This is old school car washes your talking about… we don’t have to drive unto ramps any more.You drive your car at a certain spot in the carwash and the spray arms adjust themselves automatically. Everything is done without moving the vehicule.

I use a touch-free car wash on my white car and I’m pretty happy with the results. I know that the detergents are pretty strong and it would be better to wash it by hand, but I just don’t have the time. I’m also aware that there’s still dirt on the car when it comes out, even it’s not very noticeable, so I never dry it further by hand (as I see some people do).

Some automatics still use the rails to push you through

Bingo, do it by hand.
My vehicles are never going near a wash that has brushes.

I use all three types of car washes described with no problem. My car did have bodywork done, still no paint damage with brush type washes. If my vehicle has a heavy layer of sand, mud, or pollen I do brushless first or the DIY bay.

1 Like

During the spring, summer, and early fall, (basically if it’s not below 55 degrees or so) I wash my car by hand. I have a 4000 psi pressure washer, with a foam cannon, then I use the standard two bucket method, usually once a week or so depending on how dirty the car I’m washing is. Once it starts getting colder. I go the local full service car wash about every other week.

I agree with @Jman136 the touchless washes are crap, they don’t get all the road grime off. I’m convinced that you need friction to have an effective wash. I’m also concerned that the due to higher concentration of the chemicals they use that they are more likely to strip any wax/sealant you have on your car.

The answer to that depends on what type of wheels (rims) you have. It should not affect anything but the very largest wheel offered by the manufacturer and even then they are tested on those type of washes. Custom wheels and tires, you are on you own there. I’ve seen, and owned cars with custom wheels that should not be run between any rail-type wash system. Very wide wheels with very low profile tires (25-35 series) would be no-go for me.

I use brush-type washes on 2 of my cars. Both are over 13 years old and the paint still looks good. The brush-less ones never get the cars clean. The 3rd car gets hand washed because its wheel and tire combo is too large and the car is too low for rail-types.

One caveat on the tradional car washes that pull your car through the tunnel. Make sure your doors do not automatically lock. It is rare but I have seen cars lock the door and of course the keys are inside.

I used to wash by hand with dish soap. I haven’t in some 15 years. The clear coat on my 30-year-old pickup truck was blasted and burnt off years ago (I live in the high desert.) so I can’t get it beautiful no matter what. Living in the desert means I don’t have to fear rust.

What about OEM 225/55/19 tires/rims? Would those be safe?

Automatic car washes with rails are still extremely common. Whether they contact your rims ir not depends on the exact rim and tire combination. Over the past 12 years I’ve had tires that did not protrude past the rim edge and the same size and rating tires in a different make that did.

If a tire did rub a rail, the rail would be well lubricated with water, the speed would be about 1 mph, and the angle of incidence (the angle between the plane of the rim’s outside surface) and the rail would be probably less than 1 degree. IMHO the probability of the rail damaging the rim would be extremely small.

But the brushes! Oh, the evil brushes! They’ll beat the living crap out of your car.
Ever notice cars with the ends of their front license plates bent over? Guess what does that! :sob:

Dish soap strips wax, so it’s generally much preferred to use real car wash soap.

1 Like