7 Reasons Not To Use Automatic Car Washes

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car wash service with brushes, car detailing planet

When I just bought my Peugeot 308 SW, I was far away from my home and just didn’t see any self-car wash service.

And guess what?

I washed my car at an automatic car wash service, even though I knew that it can’t be any good for my car. That was the first and the last time I did that harm to my car. That’s why I decided to share these 7 reasons not to use automatic car wash services.

Automatic car washes are bad for your car, and you should avoid them, especially the ones that use brushes to wash vehicles. They’ll scratch your car and do more harm than good. If you don’t have other ways to wash your vehicle, then at least go to an automatic car wash that doesn’t use brushes.

If you have ever asked yourself the question “Should I Use An Automatic Car Wash Service?”, this article is for you.

7 Reasons Not To Use An Automatic Car Wash Service

Here are the top reasons why you should never use automatic car wash services.

1. Usage Of Recycled Water

You may haven’t known that, but all the automatic car wash services are using recycled water. 

Automatic car wash services are trying to be as profitable as possible. Automatic car wash services have plenty of purification systems to clean the used water and prepare it for another client.

Yes, it’s great for the environment, but not for our lovely cars. 

Even though there are plenty of purification systems, not all the dirt from water can be extracted. There is always some dirt trapped.

Dirt and particles inside the “cleaned” water may damage your clear coat, and cause wear and tear.

Aside from dirt and particles, recycled water has a higher amount of minerals, which can lead to water spots in your car paint when it dries. 

2. Questionable Quality of Products

As I said above, automatic car wash services are trying to be as profitable as possible. That’s okay, but some high-quality products can be pretty expensive and affect their earnings.

We never know what kind of chemicals are they using. The chemicals used can be too strong or too weak for cleaning the car. 

And of course, you won’t get the best results with the low-quality products. Some of them are maybe using high-end chemicals, but that’s not the case with the majority of them.

3. Wheels Damage

Wheel damage is very common when using automatic car washes. 

There are several reasons why some damage may occur:

  • Too strong chemicals
  • Too hard brushes
  • Rail-guards

It’s almost impossible to go through the automatic car wash and leave it without any damage on your wheels. 

The worst thing for your nice alloy wheels are rail guards. They are keeping you in the right direction, and it’s almost for sure that you will scrub your wheels on them. 

And guess what, you can’t do anything about it. 

4. Car Paint Damage

Recycled water, harsh chemicals, and brushes are a big enemy to your car paint, especially the clear coat.

As I mentioned before, recycled water will always have some dirt particles inside, and may damage your car right away.

Harsh chemicals may be acidic and also make severe damage to the car paint. They can damage your clear coat, and fading will occur very soon.

Last but not the least, the brushes. Brushes are always too strong for the car paint. It’s like using sandpaper for the car wash. Together with strongness, they also have dirt on them from the previous cars, which is again scrubbing the clear coat.

At first, you probably won’t see any paint damage, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see swirls and scratches all over the car.

5. Not Cleaning All Parts of The Car

I think everybody understands this reason. It’s just impossible for a machine to clean all the parts of the car.

The machine just can’t reach some parts that you can with your hand and pressure washer. 

Also, the machine is programmed to wash every car the same way. It doesn’t have eyes to see if there is more dirt on the car to clean. 

When I wash the car, I can see every piece of dirt, and clean it immediately. Automatic car washes are not capable of that, so, proper car washing is probably not the case with them.

6. They’re Not Responsible For Any Car Damage

Even if you notice some damage and try to report it. They will say that they’re not responsible for any car damage.

There is probably a statement about that somewhere near the user manual, but honestly, who reads the user manual?

For instance, when some car detailer makes any damage to your car, he will pay for it (or his car detailing business insurance).

7. In The End, It Can Be More Expensive

Even though automatic car wash services have an affordable price, in the end, it can be much more expensive than taking a car to the car detailing service or washing it on your own.

In this article, you could see plenty of dangers and risks of using an automatic car service. 

But why do I say that it can be more expensive? 

For example, some swirls and scratches occur on your car paint, what’s the cost of fixing it? You’ll probably need to do the paint correction on your car.

It can cost you anywhere from $250 to $2,500 depending on the car’s condition. Here’s the full video about the average car paint correction price.

Now you get the point, right?


Are automatic car washes bad for your car?

Automatic car washes are undoubtedly bad for your car because 99% of them use brushes with hard bristles that cause swirl marks and scratches on the clear coat.

Do automatic car washes damage paint?

Most automatic car washes will damage the paint on your car. A combination of brushes and harsh chemicals will scratch and degrade the paint on your vehicle, especially if you’re regularly using automatic car washes. Some automatic car washes only use pressure washers, and they’re less dangerous to the car.

Why do so many people still use them?

Automatic car washes are the quickest and the easiest way for washing cars, and that’s the reason why so many people still use them, even though they’re proven to scratch the paint. Another reason is the price, it’s often pretty cheap to wash your car over there.

What Should You Do Instead of Using Automatic Car Wash?

My advice to all of you is to always choose some car detailer to wash your car, or to wash it by yourself. It’s not rocket science to do.

With a little experience, everybody can do it very easily without doing any damage to their car and yet get great results.

It doesn’t matter if you are a weekend warrior, or you are doing it professionally, it’s not hard to do a safe car wash. Especially with some methods such as the 3 bucket method.

Of course, you’ll get the best results by taking your car to some car detailing service, but if you want to do it on your own, I suggest you get some detailing kits, especially if you are a beginner. 

My recommended Car Detailing Kits will have everything you need to do a safe car wash with amazing results.

Let’s get some cars washed! Cheers 

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