Why Automatic Car Wash Is Not Safe for Your Car
January 16, 2014
Have you ever been to a drive-through automatic car wash? If the answer is yes, then you might be wondering why your car was returned to you clean but chock-a-block with streaks, swirl marks, or even scratches after you’re done with the wash process.
Even your detailer is well aware of the dangers of putting your car onto the conveyor belt system to be washed, scrubbed, and rinsed. You probably saw the numerous signs warning customers that the facility will not be held responsible for any damage to the vehicle. Your detailer knows that while the cleaning machines are designed to work on your vehicle with care, there might still be glitches in the system. Some brushes can literally scrub off your clear coat right through to the metal surface, while harsh cleaning chemicals can dull your paint job. In a worst case scenario, your windshield might crack or your side view mirror might snap clean off.
Automatic Car Wash – Safe to a Certain Extent
Despite these possible worst-case situations, the automatic car wash system is still relatively safe to use. It would not have survived through all these years if not for the fact that customers return over and over to have their cars cleaned this way.
However, there are also times when the system will not work as efficiently as promised. For instance, most conveyor belt car wash systems use hundreds of gallons of water every day to clean cars. What happens to all the dirty rinse water? The facility has the option of hauling it off to a recycling center, or it can install its own filtration and recycling equipment on site. Once the water is stripped of harmful chemicals, it becomes available for use during the next wash cycle.
Unfortunately, water filtration systems cannot get rid of all the chemicals in the waste water. The concentration of chemicals can increase to the extent that the water is no longer safe to be used, but for the sake of cost-effectiveness and efficiency, such water is still diverted back into the system. When your car is rinsed with unclean, impure water, the paint job can turn dull as it reacts to the chemicals already present in the water. That’s why it is recommended to apply paint sealant more often if you’re a big fan of the conventional drive-through car wash.
So, the automatic car wash does not really clean your car all that much.
Pressure-perfect is the automatic car wash
As you already know, applying pressure is recommended when you really need to take out stubborn, deep-seated dirt. But for those instances when a delicate touch is needed, such as the polishing phase, too much pressure is a bad thing.
The same can be said when your car is put through the final round of rinsing. The machines will indiscriminately blast away at your car to get rid of the soap suds, and while the pressure can be calibrated to a certain extent, it does not come close to what you can do with a chamois cloth and light pressure.