The chances of having your car damaged by a car wash are relatively small. Most car washes these days have plenty of safeguards in place to make sure your car won’t get damaged, however there are still a few ways it can happen and if you’re really crazy about the finish on your car you should take the time to wash your car by hand instead of using an automatic car wash. Automatic car washes can cause damage in a number of ways although it does depend on the type of automatic car wash you’re using.
Touchless automatic car washes use a combination of strong chemicals and high pressure water to remove the dirt from your car. First the chemicals are sprayed on so they can dissolve the dirt, then the water is sprayed on to remove the combination of chemicals and dirt. Since there is nothing that touches the car while it is being washed there is no risk from contact scratches, but the chemicals are strong enough that they can sometimes damage the clear-coat finish on your car.
Some Car washes can also have brushes that use the soap as a lubricant while they wipe the dirt off. This works very well normally but sometimes the bushes can get small particles of dirt trapped underneath them, leaving small, shallow scratches on the car.
Car washes also require you to drive into a track that pulls your car through the wash. Make sure that you line yourself up and drive in carefully otherwise the powerful track can damage the underside of your car. The tracks are designed to give you plenty of room for error though, so if you move slowly and try to be as accurate as possible you should avoid damage.
Most of the damage that a car wash will do, if any, is a little bit of cosmetic damage. Most car washes wouldn’t be in business if their units regularly damaged cars. Even so, make sure you check the car before you leave the car wash and bring up any issues with the manager straight away. If you have a cell phone with a camera then you can take a picture of the damage and save it so you can use it later if you need to.
If you’ve ever had a car damaged by a car wash then let us know. Leave us a comment.
For further reading you can take a look at some articles on car wash damage at AOL Autos and from Modern Car Care.