First time through an automatic car wash

Joined
Aug 5, 2004
Messages
2,864
Location
Back in Arizona. Finally
My dad passed away 2/12 this year and we are in the process of settling his estate. One of the things that’s got to go is his ‘18 150 Ford Transit van. I can’t imagine why at 90 y/o he bought this monster but he did. I washed it a couple of times by hand and that’s idiotic so when it was time to shop it around to see what it’s worth my sister and I took it through an automated car wash she uses.
She told me to select the $10 (base) wash job and we were off.
The soap literally drenched the van, 3 different colors. Then came the water, brushes and high pressure blast. Rinsing came next with a Lake Michigan of water followed by a fan that blows at least 1000 mph. When we finally escaped the washing operation we pulled it into the vacuum / compressed air interior cleaning station. Clean rags are supplied; the vacuum was so strong I feared for the carpets‘ life. The compressed air blew out a cloud of dust similar to a desert haboob. Wow, dad’s really let this thing go....
I have to say though, for a vehicle this size this is the only way to go! I don’t know what was in that detergent pack but everything, and I mean everything, was clean, right down to the factory wheels that dad never cleaned. That stuff literally dissolved away every spec of dirt, everywhere. If the van had any wax on it at all before going in, it sure didn’t after coming out!
I‘ve always wondered how my sister kept her Elantra so clean, now I know. I asked what wax she uses. None, ever. Geez....
I can’t subscribe to this type of car care (yet). As I’ve gotten older I’ve simply downsized my cars - at 68 I’m down to a Kia Soul and still wash and wax it proper. Aging like I am I‘ve found that it’s better to do a small project properly than have something so big you never really do the job to the level you’d like to but just can’t.

I dread the day I have to take my car into the bowels......
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,341
Location
MO
I have an unlimited membership to a nice tunnel wash for my Raptor and my wife’s Yukon XL. With 3 little kids it’s just too much time to wash big vehicles by hand. I pay $500/year for 2 vehicles, unlimited washes with some sort of wax, wheel cleaner, tire dressing and dryer. This package also includes interior cleaning by the kids that work there but I don’t usually mess with that and just head out of the tunnel afterwards. I used to be very anal about my vehicles but now just don’t care as much. They look great all the time and I don’t have to do a thing except maybe do some extra hand drying afterwards if I feel like it and hit the wheels by hand occasionally.

I did witness a Yakima roof rack with basket get ripped off right in front of me on Friday. Fortunately I was able to stop and avoid it and it didn’t look like it did too much damage to the Subaru it came off of.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
6,255
Location
Atlanta,GA
First, condolences. I hope your dad was in good health up until his passing.

Second, my wife will use that type of wash and our location must be cheapen out on the components because it never comes out cleaner than a hand wash. I wonder if you have some really soft water up there.
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,341
Location
MO
Touchless or spinning brushes? I could never trust the spinning brushes.

The one I go to has a section with spinning cloth instead of nylon brushes. The person at the entrance hits it with a pre-spray with a pressure washer/soap solution. Then there’s a few stages of soap and the cloth section, a bottom blaster, a rinse, some sort of wax spray and a spot free rinse with air dryer. If I had a black vehicle maybe I’d worry about scratching or swirls in the clear coat but having 3 little kids and a wife I’ve come to realize the perfect finish isn’t worth the time or stress to me. I keep the Corvette in a different garage and only hand wash it.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
Messages
6,024
Location
NJ
A new chain of car washes opened in NJ. Sounds like what you experienced. The vacuums are really powerful! They're a little pricey just exterior. Once Covid is over, I'm going back to my regular car wash where they clean the inside, too. I attempt to use my high school Spanish and talk to the workers there and they take good care of me.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2003
Messages
11,584
Location
Florida, Cape Coral
Nice soft rain water is best but, occasionally I do the wand wash myself. Just before my annual NuFinish, I go to the local car wash and let them do inside and out. . Ed
 

hrv

Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
165
I think the newer car washes are great. They do not use brushes anymore...If you see one with the brushes...well they are very old car washes...the newer ones use a soft sponge type of material and use a lot of water and soap. While I like to wash my HRV myself there are times that I go to the car wash and never worry about the results..
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
2,801
Location
Ontario, Canada
Touchless or spinning brushes? I could never trust the spinning brushes.
Touch less is not much better. The high pressure spray just imbeds the dirt further into the paint.

Fun fact, BMW says right in the owners manual not to use high pressure touch less car washes, that is why every car gets hand washed at the dealer.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2011
Messages
9,817
Location
North Carolina
I have an unlimited membership to a nice tunnel wash for my Raptor and my wife’s Yukon XL. With 3 little kids it’s just too much time to wash big vehicles by hand. I pay $500/year for 2 vehicles, unlimited washes with some sort of wax, wheel cleaner, tire dressing and dryer. This package also includes interior cleaning by the kids that work there but I don’t usually mess with that and just head out of the tunnel afterwards. I used to be very anal about my vehicles but now just don’t care as much. They look great all the time and I don’t have to do a thing except maybe do some extra hand drying afterwards if I feel like it and hit the wheels by hand occasionally.

I did witness a Yakima roof rack with basket get ripped off right in front of me on Friday. Fortunately I was able to stop and avoid it and it didn’t look like it did too much damage to the Subaru it came off of.
Wait until you see the long term effects on that Yukon.

GM paint is hot garbage. Every single used Yukon/Tahoe/Burb that I have seen has absolutely HAMMERED paint. And the best part is, the garbage paint is so thin you can correct it ONCE, if that.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2003
Messages
23,472
Location
Apple Valley, California
I think the newer car washes are great. They do not use brushes anymore...If you see one with the brushes...well they are very old car washes...the newer ones use a soft sponge type of material and use a lot of water and soap. While I like to wash my HRV myself there are times that I go to the car wash and never worry about the results..
They just built a new one here and it has brushes
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2016
Messages
851
Location
Alberta
Theres a newer one (built 4 yrs ago) the nearby city we frequent, and it has brushes. They have a monthly subscription service and is priced competitively compared to visiting a touchless car wash once a week. And it is fast, almost no waiting in line behind other cars with the 'assembly line' style conveyer system.

So last summer I thought I would give it a try, after watching cars, trucks and suvs pouring out of the exit. Most of those vehicles were newer and worth far more than my '07 Accord, so if it is good enough for them... so I bought one wash to try.

We went through (my wife was with me), and I was quite pleased with the speed and lots of water and soap, but a bit concerned about the supposedly 'soft' brushes. Parked the car in the sun at our next stop and turned around to glance at it as we were walking away..
My heart sank as I viewed all the fine 'scratches' down the sides and over the hood, roof and trunk. Took a lot of buffing, polishing, and a couple coats of wax to bring the paint to its former state. My wife did warn me "Are you sure about this?".

I guess all those other drivers I saw exiting that wash aren't too concerned, as long as it's clean.
 
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