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Are Automatic Car Washes Bad for Your Car?

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Many people take their cars to automatic car washes without hesitation when they are in need of a cleaning. While this is certainly a quick and convenient option, there are a few things that you should know. The fact is that these car washes can damage your car in a number of ways. It is crucial that you learn about this before making another trip to your local automatic car wash place.

Types of Brushes Used by Automatic Car Washes

The type of brushes that an automatic car wash uses to clean vehicles that come through is something to consider. A lot of these businesses still use rotating brushes with flexible bristles. While the older brushes are made of a more abrasive material, they don’t hold onto particulates like the newer ones.

Many of these car washes have started using brushes that are made of a softer material. While the material itself won’t damage your paint job, remnants of grit and debris from previous vehicles can. This can result in noticeable scratches on your car when you exit the carwash tunnel.

Touchless Car Washes

Those who want to preserve their vehicle’s immaculate paint job might be tempted to visit a “touchless” car wash. These businesses are set up so that they don’t actually touch your car when cleaning it, hence the name. The chemical-heavy detergents that they use can wear away the paint on your car. You shouldn’t visit these car washes more than two or three times each year.

The high pressure water that touchless car washes use can also cause damage. This is especially true if there is already ice or something else pointy on your vehicle like a twig from a tree. The water pressure is extremely high, so there is no telling what could happen.

Is it Better to Just Wash My Car by Hand?

While washing your car by hand is far less abrasive than going through an automatic carwash, there are some things to consider. You’ll want to avoid cleaning your tires and the rest of your car with the same rag or sponge. This can do quite a bit of damage to your car’s paintjob very quickly. If you dry your vehicle by hand, you’ll want to use different towels as well.

You also want to make a point of purchasing a soap product that is specifically designed for washing cars. The soap shouldn’t have any abrasive ingredients in it. You should do some research before buying anything in particular.

If you are going to wash your car by hand, you need to be gentle and do it the right way. You should never see any swirl marks, as it means you are doing something wrong. Remember to only use microfiber towels on the body of your car. When it comes to cleaning your tires, you don’t have to use such delicate material.

A lot of parents have their kids wash their cars by hand, but you need to teach them how to do it properly. It is very easy for a child who doesn’t know what they are doing to mess up your paintjob without breaking a sweat.

Tips for Using Automatic Car Washes

Here are some helpful tips that you should follow when it comes to using automatic car washes. This information will help you get your car clean without sacrificing the quality of its paintjob in the process.

Don’t get behind Filthy Vehicles

The last thing you want to do is to go into an automatic car wash after a vehicle that was caked in mud and who knows what else. This increases the chances of residual particulates doing damage to your vehicle’s paint. You’ll only want to go after cars that don’t look like they were driven through a pig farm. This can go a long way towards minimizing the harmful effects of these car washes.

Choose Your Car Washes Carefully

You don’t want to go just anywhere to get your car washed. There are probably a lot of these businesses in your area, so you’ll want to research some of them. One of the best ways to narrow down your options is to read customer reviews. You can use websites like Yelp to get a better idea as to which ones you can trust.

Avoid the Extras (Most of them)

A surprising number of people opt for the little extras that automatic car washes offer, including waxing. Most of these extras are pretty much just a waste of your money.

You should, however, choose to get underside of your vehicle cleaned once or twice each year. This will help to prevent rust from forming on the undercarriage, which can cause a lot of damage. Paying for this extra once in a while can ultimately save you a lot of money in repairs over the long term.

You should also think about taking advantage of the tire cleaning services as well. It won’t do any damage to your tires, and it makes them sparkly clean. This will save you a lot of time and elbow grease.

Check Your Car

It is definitely a good idea to carefully inspect the outside of your vehicle immediately after leaving the car wash. This will help you decide whether or not you should go back. Look for minor scratches that you didn’t have before. Very few people do this, but it will help you out a lot when it comes to finding the right place to get your car cleaned at.

Final Thoughts

The fact is that while automatic car washes can in fact damage your car’s paint job, you don’t have to avoid them entirely. Remember to follow the tips listed above so you can get that nice clean look for your vehicle without any scratches. The ideal option when it comes to cleaning your car is to have a professional do it by hand. Also, keep in mind that some automatic car washes are worse than others.

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