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Updated: Oct 28, 2021

If you have more than one vehicle then you are fortunate. It's one of the most expensive purchases you will make. If you are driving your ride, your vehicle,

vehicle, your baby, your best friend that does most everything you the operator wants. Just think about how many other dirty pickup tucks and cars that have traveled on the conveyors leaving behind grit, dirt, rock granules, and sand on the mitter curtains and bristles. And now its your turn to get through curtains. You wont see the dirt while they are moving, and full of soap suds.

Please see the 2 photos of the MITTER curtains that may be in the next CAR WASH that wash your car!

You pay money for them to unleash that dirt and debris on your EXPENSIVE car leaving it riddled with scratches that will cost you a grip in the future for you to get it fixed. The dirt on these brushes, rotating heads, and curtains are dragged all over your vehicles clear coat leaving it with swirls and scratches all over the surface. The attack is compounded by the elements like the sun, wind, and rain which penetrates into those microscopic scuffs increasing the probability of pealing, rusting, and can lead to total paint failure. Scratching your vehicles paint is a the big, in your face secret of automatic car washes.

I used to go through there myself a handful of years ago. Your friendly neighborhood "Car wash". I can remember the last time I want through one. There was rock salt, and dirt on my car. I wanted it to be fresh and clean for the weekend. I went to an automatic car wash and got the FULL PACKAGE because I wanted my car to look "FRESH". The full service package with the wheel treatment, glass cleaned, interior VACUUME & clean, and undercarriage protectant. I gave my Grand AM (see below) to the attendant who drove it to the entrance and quickly vacuumed it out.

I was worried about the coins I had stashed in the ashtray.

After going inside the door next to the car tunnel, passing the sign every customer LOOKS at (See above photo) that reads "we are not responsible for damages to your car blah blah blah" LOL. How many customers read this notice? If they did the might not trust their ride in there!

I watched through the glass wall like all customers do. I watched my car going done, or should I say "DONE IN".

I watched my car get hit with a rainbow of suds, flashing lights that indicated each additional paid upgrade, and don't forget about the brushes, yes the spinning brushes. They are mostly very abrasive, filled with grit, dirt, grime, and abrasive debris collected from all of the other vehicles that have gone through the “scratch-o-matic” are now being dragged onto my car.

As I paid the cashier and exited the tunnel to receive my car, I witnessed one of the service guys go right up to my car before I get close enough to stop him, he start to dry my ride with the towel he used on the last car.

I yelled "yo yo yoyo, can you get some fresh towels".

He immediately stopped and got two fresh towels. I guess I should have been the VERY first car, so I wouldn't have to worry about such things.


As I got close enough to see the finished product, I noticed the whole length of the bottoms of the left and right sides still had a film of dirt and salt on it. Just image the scratches that could have been inflicted in the paint by the guys drying the car that's not even clean. They would have wipe all them particles into my paint, with them towels if I was not there to stop them.

So if the lower half of the car was still dirty then the rims had to be filthy as well. I told them to "DON'T TOWEL MY RIDE"!

I walked back inside to complain to the person in charge. I spoke to the manager about the horrible job done on my car. I was really upset about this because he was getting top dollar for a poor job, not just from me but from every car that went through that car wash.

This was a Friday and the place was packed. The line was backed up into the street. I made a big deal of this so everyone can hear and pay attention. The manager was not going to give me my money back, I can tell from his attitude. All he said was "I'm sorry, can I please take your car through again".

I was sooo HEATED!

He acted like I was out of line, and just making a big deal for nothing. What he MAY NOT have understood is that the particles that I prevented the workers from wiping of with the dry towel would have damaged my paint with thousands of micro scratches and dulled the shine.

When I went through the second time, the dirt that was on the bottom was gone. This lead me to believe that I was not getting what I paid top dollar for, the premium service.

"I was getting bamboozled!" I wasn't even getting a good clean car wash...."BOY WAS I HEATED".

I had to get away from there, and fast. I sped out of there as fast as I could (I am getting upset just by writing this part of the article). I never want into another automatic car wash after that experience. That year was 1999!

Yawl better be wary of them places. You might, just be getting taken advantage of, in more ways than one.


The brushless car wash have soft fiber curtains that aren’t so soft because it’s covered with galling debris from all of the previous vehicles, which includes such things as grease, grime, dirt, micro particles of sand, rocks, all hanging out on these so called soft fiber curtains. When the brushes and\or curtains at a car wash are not correctly cleaned and maintained properly, they slapped your car with material strips that can cause the same kind of damage as a very dirty mop can make. Dirt, grit, grime, and particles in brushes and\or curtains can inflict hundreds of deep micro-scratches called swirl marks. As this happens over and over enough times, the damage multiplies and builds up. Over time, a car or truck's paint will become dull. Eventually, the scratches build-up and will become easy to spot, even at a distance. They are not being cleaned thoroughly enough between each vehicle they wash. It’s not like they have a dedicated cleaning crew to cleaning the cloth after each use. We should avoid these types of washes if at all possible. Moreover, even touch-free car washes could damage a vehicle's surface coat. These touch-free car washes utilize aggressive acids to clean. Over time, these acidic cleansers can deteriorate and break down your car's protective coatings. Automatic and drive-thru car washes are not totally bad, they do save time and hassle. But it does not translate into cleaner vehicles. They do have their place for the people that make the choice of using them. I know this first hand, as mentioned above, I used them until I got my wake up call.

In my opinion, If you don't want to that driver that pulls your car out into the sun to admire the finished product of an automatic car wash that reveals water spotting, swirls, and a scratch that definitely had not been there before. You need to take good care of your ride to the best of your ability. In short, convenience isn't caring when it comes to caring for your car.

A pro hand wash offers the best cleaning, period. BUT, the best wash for YOU depends on what you're looking for in respects of caring for your car. So if you want to minimize the impact on the nature, soft-touch might be the choice for you. Touchless may be for you if you want the least wear and damage on your finish. If you want your car to shine like a show car then you want a hand was with detail service.

While one car washes is worse than the other, and vise versa, even if you are carefully hand washing it, or using the self service car wash, or automatic washes, you are still actually applying abrasives of some sort. Even touchless washes use harsh chemicals that harms paint finish in other ways. The risk of paint damage to the finish is always there.

Why should you care?

These days we are all busy and most people won't make the time, have the time to, or don't set aside the time to clean their car correctly. Lots of us may not have the money to pay a professional detailer to clean it correctly. If you care about your car, then it's in your BEST interest to take care of your investment and give your ride it's best life. The appearance is the first thing people care about when you are looking to selling or trading your car. It's the first thing they see, the first thing their brain processes in evaluating the vehicles value and it's WORTH THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

The cost of a detail or just a properly cared for car exterior, is proportionally less then the price of a new paint job, or loss of trade value. So if you want to make your cars shine last longer and retain your cars value, take care of it like you now you should. If you read some of my other articles you can learn from my experiences in car detailing. This will increase your knowledge by ADDING to what you already know.

NO ONE PERSON KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING! WE can all learn from each other by sharing with each other.

PS: If I missed something feel free to mention it in the comments. I would love to learn more about caring for MY cars finish.

Best Regards,

Thanks for reading!

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