Will An Automatic Car Wash Damage Your Car’s Finish?

automatic car wash damage to paint

There’s not too much room for debate when it comes to how bad an automatic car wash can damage your vehicle. And although the automated method might seem as a convenient and cheap way to wash your car, the resulting damage can be extremely costly.

It’s that dreaded moment we can all relate to. Your perfectly new and shiny auto starts to show signs of coat scratching and paintwork abrasion. And unless you never really cared too much about taking good care of your car, I’m sure you can relate to how frustrating it would be to seeing your car damaged after trying to do what you think is best for it. 

So begins the tiring but inevitable argument with yourself:

Is it bad to take your car through a carwash everyday?

How bad is an automatic car wash from time to time?

What’s the worst damage automatic car washes can cause?

This is what I am here to discuss with you today. I don’t blame you if you choose, or have chosen, an automatic car wash instead of a good old hand cleaning. Been there, done that! The convenience of the automatic car wash is, after all, almost too powerful to resist when compared to the time and energy consuming process of washing by hand.

But if you’re feeling a little powerless against the allure of taking your car to the automatic car wash, I’ve compiled some handy facts about this method that are bound to motivate you to opt for the safer, hand wash routine. So the next time you are looking at your car, thinking that it needs a bit of cleaning, try to remember the following:

close up of porsche being washed

An Automatic Car Wash Will Damage Your Car Paint Over Time

If you are trying to determine whether you may justify a quick visit to the automatic car wash by weighing the value of your car up against the likelihood of damage and the potential cost of repair, here’s some food for thought: an automatic car wash can damage your vehicle so fast, that signs might appear even after just one visit.

How come damage happens so fast you might wonder?

The answer is simple. The brushes used by automatic washes are usually not properly maintained and thus, make deep micro scratches on the car’s surface, also called swirl marks. The swirl marks can appear after just one visit, but in time, after repeated washes, the damage builds, eventually resulting in the paint becoming dull and the scratches extremely visible.

Car Washes Can Damage Your Car Engine

Can an automatic car wash damage your engine?” is a question I receive a lot from car owners. And from what I noticed, there are many people who routinely do this. But although there’s a bit of controversy regarding whether staying with the engine started while washing vehicles is safe or not, I will tell you my personal opinion. 

As many of you know already, I like to wash my car at home and never take it to the automatic car wash. Not even once in a blue moon. But those of you who still do, should never leave the engine running. That’s because cold water hitting the hot engine, and getting into the electrical components while they are active, can result in the cracking of the block, head, radiator and much more.

As for another question many of you are contacting me about “Can a car wash mess up your alignment?”, I don’t think you should be too worried about this aspect. The way an automatic car wash might  damage your alignment is from the tracks that guide your vehicle through but from what I spoke with people running car repair services, it rarely happens. 

automatic car wash damage vs manual wash

How To Safely Remove Dirt From Your Car 

So what’s the best alternative for busy car owners who still want clean cars but wish to keep safe from the automatic car wash damage ?

Well, I personally think that nothing beats washing the car yourself. If you use a clean, soft cloth, and high quality cleaning and detailing products, you can avoid most of the damages reckless car wash employees do to cars. 

And if you’re curious what products I use, here’s a list of the ones that I always have on stock in my garage:

If you want to keep your car clean for a longer time, without dirt and grime sticking to the paintwork, applying a ceramic coating is a must. These products usually have hydrophobic properties, which helps to encapsulate and rinse off dirt when it rains. 

There are many ceramic protection products that I have tried so far, including Torque Detail and Shine Armor, but Nexgen beats them all in terms of price, longevity and shine. After using it my car looks like it just came back from a professional detailing. Not kidding!

So there you have it, the next time your car gets dirty and you might consider using the automatic car wash, remember all the damage we discussed above. And if you have more questions regarding how to take best care of your car, or you are curious about what other products I recommend, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am more than happy to help!

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