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Paint Care Ask questions, seek advice, and share techniques about exterior paint care.

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Old 03-27-2006
B.T. B.T. is offline
 
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Default Drive-in Car Washes, Good or Bad?

You know, the ones where you drive into and you just sit there while the rotating clothes go over the car and on the sides to clean your car. Are the rotating clothes harmful to the paint surface? Are they too abrasive or hit the car too hard? It's a lot easier than spending 45 minutes too an hour, just washing. On my old car it seemed to work well, but I just bought a new car and want to keep it looking the best. Objective thoughts please!
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Old 03-27-2006
Wizard Of Iz's Avatar
Wizard Of Iz Wizard Of Iz is offline
 
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Default Re: Drive-in Car Washes, Good or Bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by B.T.
You know, the ones where you drive into and you just sit there while the rotating clothes go over the car and on the sides to clean your car. Are the rotating clothes harmful to the paint surface? Are they too abrasive or hit the car too hard? It's a lot easier than spending 45 minutes too an hour, just washing. On my old car it seemed to work well, but I just bought a new car and want to keep it looking the best. Objective thoughts please!
Okay everyone .... deep breaths!! This really is a legitimate question. Especially for those that want a clean-appearing car and don't think they have the time to do-it-yourself.

B.T. ... Welcome to the forum. Don't judge the answers too harshly, but you've posed this question to a bunch of folks who are just a bit off center when it comes to their car's appearance.

I guess life really is all about the trade-offs. If you're willing to reach for your wallet instead of a wash mitt and you're willing to accept some marring from the whirling bristles and cloths, then taking the car through the automated suds-o-matic is better than not washing it at all - - I think. The problems occur because those whirling cloths have the grit and grime from all of the other cars imbedded in them to scrape around on your car.

And, yes, I confess in my time-rushed days when I had a company car it got ran through the neighborhood "tunnel of doom" more often than I did it myself.

But consider this .... as I recall, most of my trips to the "tunnel of doom" took just as long as if I had washed the car myself.
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Old 03-27-2006
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Forrest T. Forrest T. is offline
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Default Re: Drive-in Car Washes, Good or Bad?

As Wizard indicated, most of us are not fans of the tunnel type washes.

With cloth brushes, dirt and particulates from previous vehicles can remain embedded in the brushes, scratching your paint. Nylon brushes just mar the surface, dirty or not.

From a water usage standpoint, they do save large amount of water by recycling it. But, they use filters which trap only larger particles, meaning small particles and chemicals (think melted salt in the wintertime) get applied to your car.

Occasional use of a good tunnel isn't a big deal, but I wouldn't be washing my car in it weekly.

But, only you can decide based on your time constraints and needs. Do what's best for you and don't worry about what we think.
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Old 03-28-2006
Legendman Legendman is offline
 
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Posts: 70
Default Re: Drive-in Car Washes, Good or Bad?

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.

In a perfect world, I would wash my car by hand. I used to do that as a young man and continued into my late 20s. But with a busy schedule and a bum back, I have come to a compromise. I let someone else wash my car, and then I alone wax and polish it to perfection.

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, due to extensive research, can do a pretty good job at cleaning your car. Again, some are better than others. I think that the Laser Wash and Mark VII (brand of machine) touchless washes do a pretty good job. 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).

Sure, washing AND waxing one's car may be ideal, but not always practical. 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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