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Automatic Car Wash vs. Hand Car Wash: Pros and Cons

  • April 14, 2011
    Automatic Car Wash vs. Hand Car Wash: Pros and Cons
    Automatic Car Wash vs. Hand Car Wash: Pros and Cons

    Automatic car washes are more popular than ever because they save time and hassle.

    Unlike the bristle brush systems of the past, today’s car wash facilities are equipped with an array of modern soft cloths and sprays to protect your vehicle’s finish. Although not all automatic car washes are up to date, you do risk being the culprit of swirl marks that appear, especially on darker-colored cars, and are very difficult to get rid of once they have shown up.

    Cars with wider wheel widths or a low profile will sometimes have problems with automatic car washes. In this case you may fall victim to scratches and scrapes on your rims or on your undercarriage. You will also have to keep in mind spinning brushes and the dangling cloth pieces that do most of the washing. These may be quick, efficient, and fun for the kids to look at, but if you’ve got a car that you want safe from swirl-marks and contaminants then this is the wrong road for you. Most people don’t realize that these brushes & cloth pieces have touched hundreds if not thousands of other cars, collecting dirt and debris along the way.

    On the other hand, home car washing releases contaminated water directly into the environment or into storm drains intended for rainwater.

    This causes pollution in our rivers, lakes, streams and harbors. The wastewater that runs off a car when it is washed contains a range of substances that may pollute the environment. These include soaps and detergents, mud, rubber and grease. Washing your vehicle at home can also be hard on your car. First, rags and sponges used in the process inevitably become impregnated with tiny grit particles that scratch the paint and clear coat. Lastly, typical household garden hoses are unable to generate sufficient water volume and hydraulic pressure to remove all the soap film from the finish of your car. And since garden hoses often fail to remove all soap film, soap residue can “bake” into the finish and eat into the paint for days afterward.

    So, when comparing automatic car wash and hand car wash side by side, however, a variety of pros and cons arise.

    • Automatic washes shine in their speed and convenience. Automatic wash simply requires getting into your car and visiting your local car wash. While even a basic hand car wash requires running water, a bucket, soap, and a mitt for washing and drying.
    • An automatic wash will take only 5-10 minutes to complete. Whereas a hand washing, even when rushed, will take between 20 minutes to an hour or more.
    • Claying, polishing and waxing help remove embedded contaminants, and restore the luster of a damaged finish, which is done when you hand wash your vehicle. None of these steps have comparable steps in automatic washing.
    • Most automatic washes will use either air drying or hand drying with a towel. These methods tend to leave extensive water spotting and exterior scratching respectively when compared to proper hand drying with a clean, microfiber cloth.

    Should time not be a factor, hand car wash tends to be better in every way when compared to automatic washes.

    Good car maintenance is important to keep your vehicle looking and running like new. Besides basic maintenance such as replacing tires or checking tire pressure, oil changes, and fluid checks, regular car washes can help preserve the exterior finish of your vehicle. In the real world, however, where busy schedules and daily commuters are commonplace, a mix of both methods may be the best approach. Hand washes along with the corresponding additional steps such as claying, polishing and waxing should be done whenever time allows, for best results. Automatic washing and quick detailing should be done after particularly dusty days or any time weather is particularly severe, in order to help slow the accumulation of dirt and grime. By combining both options as time allows, you can essentially have the best of both worlds and a cleaner, better-looking car as a result.

    Ideally, when you schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts you will not have to worry about convenience because we are mobile and we will come to you. There will be no worries about how long it will take to have your car complete because your vehicle will be getting steam cleaned while you are at work or enjoying your favorite leisure activity. When DetailXPerts uses microfiber clothes and steam to detail your vehicle, no scratches, swirls, or water spots will appear. Since steam is being used as opposed to a garden hose, DetailXPerts is eco friendly in many ways!

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