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Are Car Washes Bad For Your Car : Automatic Car Wash Damage Risks

Are Car Washes Bad For Your Car?

One thing we get asked commonly is are car washes bad for your car (automatic)? And if so why? We will explore the potential risks associated with automatic car washes and discuss the best ways to keep your car clean without any harm.

Car washes are bad for your car if you don’t know what to look for. Washing your vehicle is important for keeping the vehicle clean and to prevent scratches and rust. However, automatic car washes that physically touch your vehicle are bad for your car because of the contaminated fibers that touch your vehicle. These small fibers have smell pebbles, dirt, and grease trapped in them which can scratch or ruin your cars paint.

It’s best to wash your vehicle at home or having a professional detail hand wash your vehicle. If you need to use an automated car wash, use one that is touchless and only use water to minimize damage risks. 

Key Points:

  • Traditional at home washing is still best
  • Automatic car washes are bad for your car
  • You should use a touchless wash if absolutely necessary 
  • Automated car washes can be more expensive in the long run
  • You have no control over products used when using automated washes

Are Car Washes Bad For Your Car? Automated Car Washes

are car washes bad for your car scratch

Understanding the concept of automatic car wash

An automatic car wash is a facility where vehicles go through a mechanized process of washing. The process usually involves various stages such as pre-soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, and drying, all performed by machines. It is a quick and efficient way to get your car clean without having to do it manually.

The downside, is your risk of getting scratches and body damage goes up drastically.

Potential risks associated with automatic car wash

Another commonly asked question, is if they’re bad, what’s the risks associated with them? I’m glad you asked! The common risks and damages associated with taking your car through an automatic car wash are:

  1. Swirls and scratches in the clear coat and paint
  2. Harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners used which can strip wax or paint
  3. Vehicle damage due to mechanical failure of car wash components
  4. Hard to remove water spots
  5. Tire damage from excess nails, screws, or rocks being dislodged from other vehicles

Effects of automatic car wash on your car’s finish

If not properly maintained, the automatic car wash can have a negative impact on your car’s finish. Scratches, swirls, and water spots are common issues that can arise from using these car washes. The dirt and grime left behind by previous vehicles can also stick to your car, causing an unsightly appearance.

Related : How To Prevent Car Wash Scratches

While I just touched on this in the section above, I cannot express this enough. Chances are, the vehicle before you probably didn’t take care of their car on a routine basis and now they have tons of particles and contaminates trapped on their vehicle. These get spread to brushes, which then gets pressed hard into your vehicle’s paint. 

This forms small scratches and can eventually lead to rust and discoloration.

How does an automatic car wash hurt your car?

are car washes bad for your car hand scrub

Type of automatic car wash to avoid

One type of automatic car wash to avoid is the one with brushes. The brushes can be too harsh, especially if they are dirty or worn out. This can lead to scratches and damage to your car’s paint and finish.

It’s simply not worth it these days. These brushes are so hard on our clear coat layer and once that’s stripped, everything starts eating at the color layer of your paint and then you have serious issues. Avoid these like a plague.

Common issues with automatic car wash

Another common issue with automatic car washes is the use of strong chemicals and detergents. These can strip away the protective wax and dry out your car’s paint, making it more prone to scratching and fading.

The brushes used in automatic car washes can be abrasive and can cause micro-scratches on your car’s paint. Over time, these scratches can accumulate, leading to a dull and damaged appearance.

Can an automatic car wash cause scratches and damage to your car’s paint?

are car washes bad for your car shiny

The risk of scratching and swirling from an automatic car wash

Yes, if not properly maintained or if the brushes are too harsh, an automatic car wash can cause scratches and swirls on your car’s paint. These scratches can be particularly visible on dark-colored vehicles. The results of these scratches will vary and you’ll notice the effects after a couple of weeks. 

Ways to protect your car’s paint finish in an automatic car wash

Honestly, just don’t bring your vehicle to one of these as I stated above. Another common question is, If I can’t take it through an automatic car wash tunnel, then what kind of car wash should I use? 

Anything that is touchless, or just wash your car at home.

All In One Detailing Kit:

Expert Car Washing Kit
Image : Top Coat

The importance of proper maintenance after an automatic car wash

After going through an automatic car wash, it is essential to inspect your car for any remaining dirt or water spots. Thoroughly dry your vehicle using a soft cloth to prevent any water spots or streaks from forming. Additionally, applying a protective wax or sealant can help maintain your car’s paint finish and protect it from potential damage.

Is it better to hand wash your car instead of going to an automatic car wash?

car wash scratches

The benefits of hand washing over automatic car wash

Hand washing your car gives you more control and allows you to pay attention to detail. You can ensure that every nook and cranny of your car is properly cleaned without the risk of abrasive brushes or chemicals.

Other Readers Liked : How often should you wash your car?

Additionally, you’re in control and can learn how to clean your vehicle properly, with much nicer results too. 

Steps to hand wash your car effectively

If you decide to hand wash your car, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Gather all the necessary supplies, including car wash soap, a bucket, a soft sponge or cloth, and a hose.
  2. Start by rinsing your car thoroughly to remove any loose dirt or debris.
  3. Mix the car wash soap with water in the bucket and create a soapy solution.
  4. Using the sponge or cloth, gently scrub your car in sections, starting from the top and working your way down.
  5. Rinse off the soap with the hose, making sure to remove all the suds.
  6. Finally, dry your car with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.

How to choose the right type of soap for hand washing

When hand washing your car, it is important to use a soap specifically designed for automotive use. Avoid using household cleaners as they may be too harsh and can damage your car’s paint. Look for pH-balanced, non-abrasive car wash soaps that provide a gentle and effective cleaning.

Recommended Car Wash Soap:

Top Coat Car Wash
Image : Top Coat

What is the best way to keep your car clean without causing damage?

are car washes bad for your car

Alternatives to automatic car wash for a scratch-free clean

If you want to keep your car clean without the risk of damage from automatic car washes, there are several alternatives you can consider. Opting for hand washing or using a touchless car wash can help eliminate the risk of scratches or swirls on your car’s paint.

In Case You Missed It : How Often Should You Wax Your Car?

In addition, this saves you a ton of time and money too. $15-$20 every time you go through a car wash adds up. Instead, purchase some cleaning supplies and wash your car yourself!

The importance of using a soft cloth for cleaning

When cleaning your car, always use a soft cloth or sponge that is specifically designed for automotive use. This will minimize the risk of scratching your car’s paint surface.

Easy To Use Hand Wash Mitten:

Top Coat Wash Mit
Image : Top Coat

If you’re using microfiber towels to clean and dry, make sure you remove the tag too!

Regular maintenance tips to keep your car looking its best

In addition to regular cleaning, it is important to maintain your car’s paint finish on a regular basis. This includes waxing or applying a protective sealant to provide an extra layer of defense against the elements, dirt, and grime. Regularly inspect your car and promptly address any issues such as paint chips or scratches to prevent further damage.

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