Automatic drive through carwashes have become more popular than ever because they save time and seem virtually hassle free. But are they safe for your car?
Automatic Car Wash with Abrasive Brushes
Some automatic car washes still use abrasive brushes. These are known as the swirl-o-matics. The dirt from all of the previous vehicles gets applied to your car, at a high rate of speed. These brushes can leave tiny scratches in the paint. Avoid these at all costs.
Soft Cloth Automatic Car Wash
With the soft cloth type where the cloths are hanging from the ceiling and supposedly just touch the surface of the car; these are gentler than the spinning brush type but there tends to be swirls and other marring left in the car’s paint job. The soft cloth isn’t quite as soft as you might think because the crud and grit from previous washes gets stuck in the cloth. Also, without the eyes of a person inside the car wash, stuck on dirt and grit tends to get stuck deep into the car’s finish.
Chemical Filled Automatic Car Wash
Typically, harsh chemicals are used to break the bond between the dirt and the paint. Usually these chemicals have some sort of acid in them. The acid breaks down any waxes or protective coatings on the paint’s surface. This combined with the brushes or clothes really does a number on the paint job over time. Not to mention the fact that the brushes and clothes are not cleaned between washes, so you also get old chemicals from previous washes.
High-Pressured Recycled Water Car Wash
Because of state and local environmental laws, the water at these automatic car washes must be reclaimed and reused. Depending on how well this water is filtered, you might be blasting dirty, gritty water back onto the paint job on your car. Again, marring the paint job and not cleaning your car very well. High-pressured water is used at these car washes. It is blasted toward your car in an attempt to remove the chemicals and dirt. Any remaining dirt will be driven right into the paint job by the high-pressured water. There is also the possibility of the water being blasted into places it doesn’t belong, taking the chance of doing damage.
The Dreaded Car Wash Blow Dryer
At the end of most automatic car washes, there is a huge blower to dry off the car. This is not a good method for drying. The dryer will blow off water from the main part of the car, but will not get into the cracks and crevices that water was forced into. After driving away, this water will slowly leak out and leave mineral spots on the paint, which over time will do permanent damage to the paint job.
The owners of these drive through car washes know the possibility of damage to the paint and/or vehicle exists. This is evidenced by the no liability signs posted around the property of these machines.
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