Why Not to Use Self-Serve Car Washes

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Car Wash

Fancy car washes with glittering water signs, can seem appealing to some of us when it’s hot and your car needs to be cleaned.   The appeal of getting it done quickly in ten minutes may be what sounds attractive to you.  And, you may even be able to relax, spend another five bucks and get a coffee or smoothie while you are waiting.  But, is this what matters to you when the protection of your car is at stake?

Scratches from Car Wash

Every time you use a car wash you are subjecting your vehicle to brushes that repeatedly hit against your car’s paint job.  These carry dirt, not just from your car but from others in front of you.  Each particle of dirt acts like a tiny piece of sandpaper eating at your car’s paint job.  Additionally, other moving parts in the car wash can damage or break the antenna on your vehicle and possibly cause your wheel covers to fall off.

Pressure Damage

The pressure of water can damage your car even further. Let’s say you have a small rock chip, a quick blast of water at close range with enough pressure is all it takes to do serious damage. If your paint happens to get pressurized water under it, it can force up the exposed edge and peel away even more paint.


Pre cleaners used in car washes and heavy duty cleaners contain hydrofluoric acid concentrates.  Car washes use these certain wash products, such as rust removers, aluminum brighteners, and wash formulations, because it is inexpensive.  It’s been known for etching/discoloration of things like window frames etc.  Not to mention that hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a chemical that poses health risks.  HF seeps through tissue, eats into bones, and turns calcium into calcium fluoride, taking hours before the burn victim realizes the damage.

Link to CDC https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6432a4.htm?s_cid=mm6432a4_w

Water Spots

The Spot Free Rinse is actually water that has been treated to become “softer”. “Soft water” is a relative term, but water to be soft must contain low amounts of dissolved calcium and magnesium, which cause water to be hard.

Unless you’re using water that’s so heavily filtered it can be used in a medical saline solution, it can leave mineral deposits on your paint if it evaporates too quickly. Not only are water spots ugly as sin, they’re basically permanent — like cleaning soap scum off your shower, and you can’t always get them off without heavy-duty polishing. If you run through the car wash and get back on the road without drying, or by simply letting those cool-but-worthless giant hair blowers push the water around, you will cause damage to your paint once you’re back out in the hot sun.

Modern Cars and Modern Car Washes Don’t Mix

Modern cars are equipped with all sorts of fancy new safety equipment. The increasingly advanced automatic driver-assistance safety systems in modern cars is causing some major issues in the queue for automated car washes, according to a report from Craig Fitzgerald over at Best Ride.

The issue is that the sensory safety systems that help to prevent crashes on the road also often prevent cars from thinking the enclosure full of spraying water and spinning brushes is a good place to be, causing the systems to overload and essentially disable the vehicle.

Car Wash Liability car-washes

We have all seen that sign that reads “Not responsible for damage”.  That sign that clearly states they are not responsible for any damage.  Legally saying when a proprietor or vendor posts that sign they are saying that they are not responsible for damage, the legal theory upon which they are trying to rely is assumption of the risk.

Unfortunately, there is always a risk of vehicle damage when you have your car washed at an automated car wash. Whether it’s from any of the other dozens of moving parts in the washing unit, or debris and rocks.  The damages could be severe and costly.

Calling a Professional Mobile Detailer to Car Wash

Every area of the car is meticulously cleaned, by hand, to insure quality.  We use the method of hand washing instead of an automated system.  Proper procedures, along with the right products for your car, means you are giving your vehicle the best treatment available. The goal is to have your car, truck, van or SUV looking as great as it did when you first bought it.


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