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Let’s face it, cleaning your car by hand during summer heatwaves isn’t always the most fun activity to do. First you have to remove all the solutions and chemicals that you will be using, then you have to hook up the pressure washer and connect all the nozzles, then finally you have to actually clean your car in the scorching heat. The point is, some days it feels more like a chore than a spa day for your pride and joy.


Via Wikimedia Commons

So what to do when you want to clean your pretty little sports car but don’t want to put too much elbow grease on it? Well, if you’re like most people, you’ll probably head over to your local automatic car wash and let a slew of soapy automats take care of the problem. After all, these machines cost tens of thousands of dollars and were literally designed by engineers to clean cars.

Obviously, there is no doubt that these automatic auto showers should do a better job than that of your washcloth and a bucket of soapy water, right? Well, it turns out that maybe it isn’t. In fact, not only do they not clean your car either, but they can actually do more harm than good to your car’s finish.

Let’s see exactly how bad your car going through this automatic car wash can be.

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First of all, automatic car washes are expensive

car wash money

Via: Facebook

Before we even get into the question of how good / bad a car wash is for your car, let’s talk about how bad it is for your wallet. For starters, your average basic car wash will cost you around $ 10. While it doesn’t sound like that bad, you have to remember that your basic car wash usually only includes a little soap and a rinse. Inevitably, when you go, there are bound to be countless water points along your journey.

You can avoid this problem if you are willing to part with more money; However, after all, you could be spending between $ 20 and $ 25 per wash! To add even more injury insult to your bank account, some of the “top tier” washes don’t wash your car any better than some of the cheaper ones.

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Car wash tunnels cause unsightly swirls on your clearcoat

car wash tunnel

Via: Community car wash

The first of the automatic washes we’ll cover today is the classic “tunnel style” car wash. This technique uses a treadmill to pull your car through the building. During the actual wash, your vehicle is sprayed, beaten by rotating brushes, and then usually dried by powerful fans or a man with a towel.

Unfortunately, those rotating brushes which are used to clean your car were also used on all cars before it. As a result, all the dirt from those old vehicles sticks to these hairs and is then slapped against your car’s paintwork at a very rapid rate. At best, you basically clean your car with very fine sandpaper. The results may be the formation of permanent swirl marks all over the clear coat of your vehicle.

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Oddly enough, soft fabric car washes are even worse

soft fabric car wash

Via: Snappy Goat

The next type of car cleaning service that we will discuss is the “soft cloth” car wash. While this method is very similar to the “tunnel style” method, there is one key difference in how it removes dirt and grime from your car. Typically, this is accomplished by removing the seemingly more abrasive brushes and replacing them with strips of soft cloth.

Most people tend to think this technique is better for your car because the tools used seem to be softer and more paint friendly. Oddly enough, however, it is actually the opposite. While soft, the subject fabric actually traps more dirt than the old routine. Therefore, when these textile strips slip on your car’s finish, they also lead to dirt and debris.

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The touchless car wash is probably the best of the bunch

contactless car wash

Via: Flickr

We have now arrived at the last type of washing that we are going to talk about today: the “contactless washing”. This process is relatively straightforward and usually only involves the use of sensors, one or two robotic arms, and a few fans to dry your car at the end. In a nutshell, the car is measured by lasers and then sprayed with water, soap, and whatever else you choose at checkout.

Fortunately, this type of car wash won’t damage your car (unless there is a catastrophic failure on the part of that robotic arm we mentioned, and it decides to beat your car). Since no tools or course materials touch your car, you won’t have to worry about any scratches, scuffs or scuffs. So that means it’s the best solution, right?

soapy car

Via: Flickr

Well, unfortunately there is a downside, and that is the fact that this procedure probably won’t clean your vehicle as well as you would like. Because there is nothing to physically force out the dirt and contaminants that are encrusted in your vehicle’s finish, it is very likely that your car will always look dirty. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose, however?

So, after all of that, which car wash should you use? Well the answer is pretty obvious isn’t it? Just save your money and hand wash it yourself. Your vehicle and your wallet will thank you, plus it’s good exercise!

NEXT: Hand Vs Machine Wash: Which Is Best For Your Car?

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