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Skip The Automatic Car Wash — Here's Why...

Nov 02, 2020

While driving home from a long week at work, you realize that your car is filthy. The last thing you want to do is spend your weekend cleaning your car by hand. Then, like an oasis in the desert, an automated car wash appears in front of you.. Guaranteed is a quick, inexpensive, and effortless solution — but we promise the short-term benefits offered by an automatic car wash are a mirage. Spending some extra time doing it yourself will save more time and money in the long run.

Recycled water

Most car washes recycle the water and run it through a purification system. While better for the environment, these purification systems don’t catch 100% of the dirt and grime that washed off the previous car. Instead, that contaminated water gets sprayed back onto your car, embedding into the surface and onto the paint. It’s like running a 5k and taking a shower afterward, but then putting on the same sweaty clothes.

Cheap cleaning agents

To maximize profit margins, these automatic car washes use low cost, high pH cleaning agents to clean cars as fast as possible. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning to car wash attendants about the occupational hazards of hydrofluoric acid (HF) used at many automatic car washes. In Washington State, from 2001 to 2013, over 48 burn cases and one death occurred, according to the report. Yikes. Sorry, Rose Royce.

Poor washing and drying methods

It’s possible to find the old plastic bristle-brush scrubbers in some automatic car washes, but today’s modern burlap or cloth replacements still cause scratches and swirls, ruining your paint and dulling the shine of your car. Over time, this gives way to massive zebra-stripping. Furthermore, if a heavily soiled vehicle comes through, their dirt, mud, or sand isn’t thoroughly cleaned off the cloth rollers often enough to be safe for your car.  

The way car washes dry isn’t much better; many of them spray a drying agent and blast hot air at your car, not drying it completely, and leaving behind spots and streaks.

Last, not getting up close and personal with your car means missing early warning signs of rust caused by unaddressed iron deposits.

Verdict

The benefits of opting for cleaning your car by hand instead of automatic car washing are clear. With some extra time and effort, you can prevent massive damage to your car. Plus, you avoid spending the time, money, and hassle of paying for extensive, reparative paint correction or intensive detailing when you go to trade-in. A well-taken care of car will garner some extra value.