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Drive-through Car Wash: Which to Use and Which to Avoid

Drive-through Car Wash: Which to Use and Which to Avoid

The need to maintain the beauty and extend the life and functionality of a car are the primary reasons why car washing has progressed through the years.  The neighborhood drive-through car wash, due to its low rates and speedy services is preferred by most car owners today. But as with anything else, there are drive-through car washes to use and those that should be avoided.

Drive-through Car Wash: A Closer Look

There are basically two types of drive-through car washes: the automatic car wash, which uses cloths and brushes and the touchless car wash, which uses lasers for cleaning cars.

The automatic drive-through car wash has been in existence for decades and can be seen in most gas stations or independent car washes. You simply choose the type of wash you want, drive your car towards the entrance and set it to neutral. Then, your car is pulled inside the tunnel, where an assortment of giant brushes, sponges, cloths and hoses work on your car. Towards the end, your car will be dried either manually or with huge blowers.

Speed and economy are the advantages offered by a drive-through car wash. However, due to the number of cars that it has to clean every single day, the brushes, sponges and other equipment can get filthy and may transfer contaminants from one car to the next. Some car owners say that drive-through car washes do not do a thorough cleaning job and may even cause paint swirls and scratches.

A laser car wash, on the other hand, does not need those gigantic cleaning implements. All it needs is water and cleaning substances. The water is guided by lasers specifically aimed at different parts of the vehicle – roof, windows, doors, tires, etc.

As with the drive-through car wash, a laser car wash features cheap and fast cleaning. The same disadvantages are reported by some car owners – swirls, scratches and inefficient removal of dust, dirt and contaminants.

Which Should You Use and Which Should You Avoid?

Before using the services of a drive-through car wash, it is recommended that you check the following:

  • Water treatment systems. Although car washes are now required to have their own water treatment systems, some car washes do not treat the water enough to remove elements like salt and toxic chemicals from previous users. These substances can eventually cause paint damage and premature rusting.
  • Cleaning methods. Avoid systems that use high-pressure water and harsh detergents for removing dirt. This can potentially damage the finish of the exterior.
  • Drying methods. Watch out for the after-wash wipe-down. Most drive-through washes use a strong jet of heated air to force excess water off after the car goes through the wash.
  • Cleaning implements. Think twice when the drive-through car wash you are considering uses stiff brushes as these can cause paint damage too.

As detailers who use hand car wash and steam cleaning, swirls, scratches, toughened dirt and grime are the most common issues we have to face on a daily basis. Sadly, these are usually the result of contaminated cleaning materials, harsh chemicals and improper cleaning methods. So, if you ask us which to use – touchless or automatic? Between the two, the touchless car wash is better. But if you really want to maintain the appearance of your car, give hand car wash and steam cleaning a try. Steam has enough power to dissolve tough dirt and grime, so there’s virtually no need for brushes.

Schedule an appointment and experience what it’s like to have a super clean car.

10 Responses to “Drive-through Car Wash: Which to Use and Which to Avoid”

  1. Hello, i am very very interested in establishing a drive through car wash so i would like to know all the charges needed for the whole machinery. Am in botswana.

  2. Hi there, thanks for your post. Someone from our office will be in touch with you shortly. What interested you the most? ~ Angela

  3. snitsky999 says:

    First off the article should tell you to avoid gas station car washes at all costs. I went to one gas station car wash and the car wash scratched the car with the blow dryer. I went to another gas station car wash and my car wasn’t even fully cleaned. I prefer touchless car washes if possible as the car comes out really clean from them and no harm is ever done. Around here a basic car wash at a touchless place is $8 and up to $13 with all of the extras.

  4. Snitsky999, thanks for your input. It seems that you had a bad experience with gas station car washes. Remember that not all of them are bad.

  5. Malik says:

    Hi there , i am very very interested in
    starting a drive through car wash so i
    would like to know all the charges needed
    for the whole machinery, im in a country that has no drive through or touch less car wash and id like to have the opportunity to be the first.

  6. Nick says:

    I am unable to wash my car at my apartment. I live in WI where they salt the roads, so I find myself washing very frequently. Whats your option on the best way to wash my car if I am unable to wash at home?

  7. Liberty Baldovino says:

    Hi Nick,

    Washing your car frequently is not the solution to your issue. The secret to excellent salt removal lies in the method. We recommend the use of steam as it effectively dissolves salt from all areas of a vehicle, even old salt deposits in hard-to-reach areas. No worries about not being able to clean your car at home either. You can opt for mobile detailing services. This way, you can have your car cleaned right where you want. And for extra protection, try to have your car waxed too.

    You might also want to read the following articles:

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