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Old 10-27-2006
Legendman Legendman is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 70
Default Re: Are Drive-thru car washes a bad idea?

Originally Posted by peteypob
Im talking those laser-wash ones were you sit there until its done. Not the ones where you actually drive-thru into those leather wash strips and that big cookie monster looking spinning thing.

The topic of where and how to wash one's car is a frequent one here on the Forum. Most people would agree that in a perfect world we all would wash our own cars with the finest products -- Mother's -- and the best techniques. But of course, in the real world regular folks don't always have the time or opportunity to do their own hand wash, which leads to the car wash question. Here's my two cents on the subject - edited and reprised here from an older discussion with an addendum. I address the Touch Free wash issue as well:

The use of the expression "drive-in car wash" includes a lot of washes. Yes, that can include one with spinning "brushes", but it also can include soft cloth car washes, hand washes, and touch free washes. Some of these are seen in tunnel applications, and others in those that you drive into then park.

With a little research, one can find a good car wash, especially in the southern and western states where hand car wash tunnels are commonplace. By hand car wash I mean a traditional appearing tunnel wash that is staffed by several employees, some of whom will hand wash your car with traditional wash mitts. Out here in Southern California, arguably 'car nut' capitol of the country, hand washes are practically on every corner. Like everything else, some are better than others. I prefer those that put a lot of water on the car and remove the soap promptly.

Alternatively, there are touch-free washes which I have found can do a pretty good job at safely cleaning your car. Again, some are better than others. I think that the touchless washes manufactured by PDQ - Laser Wash, and the Mark VII, are among the best. Both are fine companies (For what it may be worth, I personally toured the PDQ - LaserWash factory in Greenbay, Wisconsin and visited with several of their car wash operators. Mark VII, another American made brand, has merged with a first-rate German firm that makes drive-in bay car washes for BMW and Mercedes plants in Germany). You can Google these two brand names and go to their respective company sites, at which you can see photos of their equipment which will help you identify their unique washes when you go in search of a touch free wash in your area.

A lot depends on the kind of soaps the operator uses; that's where asking some questions comes in handy. Some are more gentle than others. (The same is true for tunnel washes). An addendum: touch free washes typically involve a longer soap "dwell time", that is, the amount of time that the soap sits on the car. Depending on the facility and the soaps they use -- which can vary widely -- this may result in your wax job wearing off a bit prematurely. Of course, this should be easy to gauge by feeling the surface of your car with your hand (you know how slippery and slick it is after a wax job), as well as how water beads on it. Of course, using a product like Mother's FX Spray Wax could easily replace some of that wax in mere minutes!

Sure, washing AND waxing one's car may be ideal, but not always practical, especially in cold, snowy climates. Finding a trustworthy car wash and then using Mother's fine products can -- and does for me at least -- produce a beautiful, well cared for car that anyone would be proud of.
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