5 Dangers of Automatic Car Washes

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For many Australians it has become a weekly routine to take our car through the local automatic car wash. Most Australian’s are busy people and simply don’t have the time, energy or interest to commit to a proper wash routine. Leaving them with the quick fix, automatic car washes.

But not everything is as it seems. There are serious dangers lurking in those cleaning tubes. While touch-less systems are now more common than ever before, the risks to your car are still much higher than washing by hand. Here are some Brisbane car detailing insights that you may find important to note before your next automatic car wash. 

wax on wheels car detailing brisbane
Flickr/Michael Gill

1. It's like washing your car with a sandblaster.

The problem with the automatic car washes is not with the the brushes are made from, it’s how well they are maintained. The problem lies with what the other cars bring in to the car wash including all the dirt, sand and other material that has built up on their vehicles. That grit tends to stick onto the cleaning apparatus of the car wash, which after a while can start to turn to sandpaper.

With the high speed of the brushes and high pressure water, all of that grit is rubbed along the surface of the car on its way off the body. All is not lost if you take your car through one of these car washes once or twice, the real damage is done if you take it through the sand blaster regularly. Eventually you will end up with what’s called spider-web scratches that require machine compounding and polishing to remove.

2. Wheel rash and tyre scuffs

One of the biggest problems with mechanical car washes that is almost impossible to avoid is wheel rash and tyre scuffs. Once your wheels are locked in place on the rollers you hand over all control of your car to the machine. Those rail-guards that keep you pointed toward the light at the end of the tunnel are going to give your nice alloys a good roughing up and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you decide to complain, management will probably point to a sign that says “Not responsible for any damage” and you’ll be sent packing. 


3. Wiper woes

Wipers are another component at risk from the malicious car wash rollers. After all they are generally made of plastic and are easier to bend and snap than you might realise. The pressure applied to them is often enough to erode plastic regulation teeth.

4. Harsh cleaning agents

Every business aims to maximize profits, one way of doing this is to lower operational cost. As more mechanical car washes pop up around the place, the more competitive they get. This often results in many of these car washes using cheap, highly acidic cleaners in efforts to clean your car as fast as possible, especially in touchless car washes.

Although the outcome is what looks like a sparkling clean car, the acidic cleaners will erode the clear coat and remove any protective product. Due to the nature of a drive through car wash, important areas are never cleaned such as the door jambs and fuel cap. Thanks to the inefficient drying capabilities of many car washes, what happens is that the residual water stuck in the door jambs will drip down as you drive away leaving dirty streaks all down your vehicle.

5. Water spots

It’s great that mechanical car washes use recycled water, we are all about helping the environment. The bad thing about recycled water and car washes is that the water has a much higher density of mineral particles. Pair this with an inefficient drying system and you’ll be left with hard water spots all over your car if you don’t take care of them immediately after the car wash is finished. If left to dry into your paint, you may require thorough machine polishing to remove them.

Ben Chiu/Flickr

Many of us have made the mistake of taking our car through the car wash and some of us got away with it. Don’t be afraid, your car wont fall apart but if protecting your investment is important to you then it’s time to start washing your car yourself or taking it to be hand washed elsewhere. If you simply don’t have the time or interest in taking care of you care, here at Wax on Wheels we provide a safe, convenient and affordable way to keep your car clean all year round. Get in touch today to learn more.

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