First time through an automatic car wash

hrv

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Sep 14, 2021
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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.
Have used them for years and never notices and scratches in the paint....And I have looked too. I guess it is how the car wash place takes care of there equipment...
 
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Joined
Dec 24, 2011
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Have used them for years and never notices and scratches in the paint....A I have looked too. I guess it is how the car wash place takes care of there equipment...
They're there, I promise.

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MO
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.
Traded the Yukon on a white 2021 Z71 Suburban. That white will hide all the scratches and I’m to the point I don’t care anymore. If my wife drives it thru once a week I’m happy just to have it clean. The new Raptor is almost black (antimatter blue) and has been thru the wash a bunch and looks fine so far. I’m sure it will have some scratches over time as well but it’ll look good from 15 feet!
 
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Scottsdale, AZ
The amount of mental gymnastics on display by people who are too lazy to wash their cars properly is astounding.

I had a company car and an unlimited pass at one of those new fangled light impact auto car wash places . By year one the paint had obvious swirl marking, year two deep swirls, year 3 paint was starting to oxidize and was swirled and the plastics where already turning grey. I did a little waxing to appease the next person after I turned it in for a new one but no, if you plan to own a car for an extended period of time, and keep it in good condition and you use one of those things you’re just lazy.

Even a Half assed 20-30 minutes once a week with even a single bucket and a grit guard plus a few waxes spread throughout the year and you’ll be able to keep a car 10+ years and have it look essentially new.
 

CleanSump

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I use the no-touch spray ones during the winter. My concern is road salt on the undercarriage so I drive very slow over the up-spray. Gets the salt off and it does make the car look good if you get the super wax and shine. Blow dry. I tip the kid who does the wheels before you roll in. Otherwise, there is dust in the corners of the spokes.
 

CKN

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Oct 14, 2014
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Utah
The amount of mental gymnastics on display by people who are too lazy to wash their cars properly is astounding.

I had a company car and an unlimited pass at one of those new fangled light impact auto car wash places . By year one the paint had obvious swirl marking, year two deep swirls, year 3 paint was starting to oxidize and was swirled and the plastics where already turning grey. I did a little waxing to appease the next person after I turned it in for a new one but no, if you plan to own a car for an extended period of time, and keep it in good condition and you use one of those things you’re just lazy.

Even a Half assed 20-30 minutes once a week with even a single bucket and a grit guard plus a few waxes spread throughout the year and you’ll be able to keep a car 10+ years and have it look essentially new.
Easy to say when winter in Scottsdale is 70 degrees.....
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
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Nah, did it when I lived in Buffalo, NY as well, doesn’t take much effort to hose off the salt which is most of what you’re likely to do in the winter anyways.
Soooo....in order to wash your car you have to store a hose inside somewhere, connect it in the freezing cold to a hose bib, turn the hose bib feed valve on from inside,wash your car and than go back and do it all in reverse...OK, sure. Really something to look forward to when it's 26 in the sun in January.
 
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Hermann

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Being retired I seldom drive in the rain unless necessary, so my vehicles don't get really dirty. In the 3.5 years I had the Race Red F-150 it was only hand washed twice. Most of my car care was done with a wand at the car wash. Tokens are buck each which is enough to soap it down and hit the dirty spots with a MF Wash mitt. The Rain-X wax and spot free rinse were used at each visit. Between visits to the car wash, Mother Nature's rain was the thing that kept it looking nice. Rain water would dry without spots. When I traded it recently they were very complimentary on the condition of the paint. FYI lighter reds are easy to keep clean and doesn't show dirt IME
 
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Kevil,Ky
I have 2 monthly subscriptions to the local car wash. They have spinning foam brushes on the body and soft blankets that swish side to side. Vacuums that work and rags and cleaner for windows and dash. For $25/month for each car I can keep the Oak tree sap off and the bottom blaster on the bottom to keep salt off. Worth it to me to drive a clean truck and a clean car for my wife to drive. My truck is a 2007 Ram and her car is a 2012 Mazda 5. Both look very good. You can use it every day if you want to.
 

Shel_B

Site Donor 2023
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The amount of mental gymnastics on display by people who are too lazy to wash their cars properly is astounding.

I had a company car and an unlimited pass at one of those new fangled light impact auto car wash places . By year one the paint had obvious swirl marking, year two deep swirls, year 3 paint was starting to oxidize and was swirled and the plastics where already turning grey. I did a little waxing to appease the next person after I turned it in for a new one but no, if you plan to own a car for an extended period of time, and keep it in good condition and you use one of those things you’re just lazy.

Even a Half assed 20-30 minutes once a week with even a single bucket and a grit guard plus a few waxes spread throughout the year and you’ll be able to keep a car 10+ years and have it look essentially new.
Maybe those "lazy" people have different priorities and situations than you ... young guy working and trying to start/raise a family, older folks with mobility problems, doing volunteer work, travel ... the list is endless. I fit some of the mentioned situations, as well as doing a number of other time-consuming activities, and the idea of spending a couple of hours handwashing my 10-year-old, bought used, Camry in the parking lot of my apartment building doesn't readily fit into how I live my life these days.

Your classification of people not doing things the way you would as being lazy is condescending and myopic.
 
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Caldwell Idaho
I love Mr Carwash is is better than a Disneyland ride. . I would rather stare at a blank wall than hand wash a car ! Yes a hand wash does the best job and I do not have a passion for a depreciating liability.
 
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Joined
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Maybe those "lazy" people have different priorities and situations than you ... young guy working and trying to start/raise a family, older folks with mobility problems, doing volunteer work, travel ... the list is endless. I fit some of the mentioned situations, as well as doing a number of other time-consuming activities, and the idea of spending a couple of hours handwashing my 10-year-old, bought used, Camry in the parking lot of my apartment building doesn't readily fit into how I live my life these days.

Your classification of people not doing things the way you would as being lazy is condescending and myopic.
Why? Even in my post I explain that I’ve used an automatic wash with my company car as it is a convenient lazy option that trades paint damage for convenience. Obviously in the aforementioned scenario I don’t care because it’s a company car which is similar to how I’d care for a leased car. Regardless the idea that new automatic car washes are even close to as safe for paint as hand washing is ludicrous, the outcomes are the same as 20+ years ago. A less lazy approach would be finding a hand wash operation that would cost comparably to a jet wash but do a better job and not do as much damage to the paint. Not as convenient but not limited to only the young and able bodied.
 
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Why? Even in my post I explain that I’ve used an automatic wash with my company car as it is a convenient lazy option that trades paint damage for convenience. Obviously in the aforementioned scenario I don’t care because it’s a company car which is similar to how I’d care for a leased car. Regardless the idea that new automatic car washes are even close to as safe for paint as hand washing is ludicrous, the outcomes are the same as 20+ years ago. A less lazy approach would be finding a hand wash operation that would cost comparably to a jet wash but do a better job and not do as much damage to the paint. Not as convenient but not limited to only the young and able bodied.
So you have no regard for a company car or one that you know will end up owned by another person. But you're all good with that special treatment for a car you believe you will own for an extended period.
I get it. Think a few others here do too.
 
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North Carolina
The running joke here in Wilmington NC is car washes are like Dollar General stores. If there is an empty lot, there will be either one popping up soon. Off hand, I can count at least 12 of the automated ones here and four are within 1 to 2 miles of each other some only a half mile.

The local paper said that the reason there are so many car washes and storage places, (we have a ton of them as well) is because of all the apartment buildings. People need storage and a place to wash their vehicle since most complexes don't allow it.

I like the one that hand washes and it just goes through the tunnel to get a light spray to rinse it off.

I've also seen really nice bran new Mercedes, BMW's, Jaguars go through.
 
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