Touchless Car Wash: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

what is touchless car wash

Technology in the car care industry is moving fast, with new products and services ready to be tried by eager car enthusiasts. One of them is definitely touchless car washing, which already has fans all across the world. 

But, what is a touchless car wash? Are touchless car washes safe, or is it better to wash your car the traditional way? 

So much to learn, more so considering it’s only when you buy your very own car that you get to feel what millions of other car owners feel: exhilaration, pride, power, and excitement. And then you realize…it needs washing. And not only that…it needs it often! On top of that, you also ought to maintain and repair it, bouncing from joy to frustration over and over again.

In this blog, you will learn about touchless car washing so you can make an informed, hassle-free choice next time your four-wheeled baby needs some TLC.

What Is a Touchless Car Wash?

While touchless car washes have been around for quite some time, it was only recently that they became more popular. This may be because people have realized how effective they are in saving time and money. Marketed as a water-saving method that uses no brushes, some may think touchless car washes are a godsend. 

As the name suggests, a touchless wash employs only water and cleaning products to clean your car. In other words, no brushes or bristles will come into contact with the surface of your vehicle. 

These types of washes offer great value because they can save you time and money by taking care of your car in no time. But are they also effective? 

With all sorts of stubborn contaminants, such as bird droppings, tree sap, or hardened grime which usually require some good old scrub downs, can a touchless car wash provide good results?

You’re about to find out!

How Does a Touchless Car Wash Work?

Although it uses no tools to apply the cleaning products onto the surface of your vehicle, a touchless car wash does have a few tricks up its sleeves to make up for this lack:

High Water Pressure

Almost any car wash will usually involve friction. A touchless wash uses no friction but compensates through high water pressure. The sheer force of water is enough to remove any hardened contaminants that have stuck to your vehicle’s exterior. 

Powerful Chemicals

Once more, since there is no friction to aid in the process, a touchless car wash will use harsh chemicals to break down the contaminants. Whether the use of strong chemicals is good or bad for your car’s paint, you’re about to find out later on in the article.

Modified Water Composition

For the water to run smoothly through the systems, it needs to be conditioned first. This means more salt will be added to it, while other minerals will be removed.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of a Touchless Car Wash?

It’s only natural that every new development on the car care market comes with both its benefits and downsides. Here’s what to expect from a touchless car wash…the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good

If your car is only a bit dirty without being heavily soiled with contaminants, then a touchless car wash might be a good option for you. The lack of physical contact with brushes and bristles can keep your car safe from unnecessary scratches.

Although the brushes used by traditional car washes are not created to harm your car, you can never be sure of how old they really are or what their quality is. So, in the end, it is better to protect your car from them altogether.

A touchless wash will save you time in comparison to traditional methods. There will be no need to use any tools or get your hands dirty. This is especially good if you’re in a hurry and need your vehicle cleaned ASAP.

This also saves space. Because there are no tools used, there is no need for any storage space. As there is less waste involved, if done well, this type of car wash could be more environmentally friendly than traditional methods.

The Bad

The thing about touchless car washes is that they will not clean your car all that well. Although the force used for the water to come down on your car is quite impressive, it doesn’t really compare to a classic, dedicated hand wash. 

Some dirt may still linger on, either because it got hard or because the water jets didn’t really get to every angle of your car. This aside, there’s also the case of the blowers not fully and properly drying the vehicle. Incomplete drying can lead to excess moisture, which, in turn, can lead to water spots.

Another bad thing about touchless car washes is how most use either hard and/or recycled water. Hard water is heavy in minerals. If not removed and dried thoroughly, it leaves water spots. When using recycled water — even though filtered — chances are there’s still leftover dirt from the previous wash that would hit your car hard and fast, causing micro-scratches.

However, if you come to think about it, water spots and scratches are bound to occur in a soft-touch car wash as well. 

In the end, between two potentially damaging systems, a touchless wash may inflict less harm to your car’s clear coat and paint finish.

The Ugly

The ugly comes from the harsh chemicals used by your typical car washes. Keep in mind that the chemicals used in a touchless car wash are meant to strip away dirt but can easily strip away your car’s paint as well. This is especially true if a high-quality car wash solution is not used. 

Of course, the situation tends to be the same with other soft–wash car washes too. Any of them can use less-than-desirable products that can harm your car, health, and the environment, for example, hydrofluoric acid. This chemical, used in the auto industry for its powerful cleaning capabilities is highly toxic — there’s even a CDC report created to prevent its use.

Are Touchless Car Washes Safe?

Unfortunately for touchless washes, as revolutionary as they are, they do tend to lose a few points overall. 

They advocate no direct physical contact with brushes and bristles but the contact with the water and chemicals involved can be ruthless to your car’s finish. This is because the water typically used in a touchless car wash is treated and spewed with great force. The chemicals used are also quite harsh, and the high temperatures they reach can damage the paint, especially if the car is parked in direct sunlight.

Finally, the chemicals used in touchless washes can be harmful to your health and even cause rashes and other skin irritations. 

If you are concerned about your vehicle’s finish, avoiding touchless car washes should be top of mind. There are many other ways you can go about this that are absolutely safe both for yourself and your car.

Hand Washing vs. Touchless Car Washing

man washing car without harsh chemicals

There is plenty to say when it comes to comparing hand washing vs. a touchless car wash: 

Towels 

First of all, touchless car washes will use nothing else but water and cleaning products. During a traditional handwashing session, though, you will use soft microfiber towels or wash mitts. These serve to help treat most affected areas and leave them spotlessly clean. 

High-quality microfiber towels are designed to be soft and effective without leaving any traces. Low-quality ones can cause tiny micro-scratches that may not be visible at first but can become so after multiple uses. 

Control

When you wash your car by hand, you have control over the kind of cleaning products you use. You can go mid-range or downright choose the best there is out there…it’s entirely up to you. 

In other words, you have the absolute final say on what gets to touch your car and what doesn’t while also getting to experiment with a wide range of products and accessories. 

Fun

When taking your car to the touchless car wash, you miss out on one important aspect…the fun you get by washing your car by hand. You go in, go out, but don’t participate at all. 

However, when you wash your car manually, you get to roll up your sleeves and really get into the mix of things — or in the bucket of soapy water, for that matter. You can take as much time as you’d like and get to actively interact with your car, getting to know its every nook and cranny. 

What Is Touchless Car Wash Soap?

Touchless car wash soap is the product used for this type of car washing. A cleaning agent specifically developed for the automotive industry, its purpose is to run smoothly in this specific wash system. 

Formulated to have a lot of cleaning power, while also being gentle, this soap is made to be safe for your vehicle. Unfortunately though, as explained above, not all are — an important distinction when taking your car to a touchless car wash shop.

How To Avoid Touchless Car Wash Damage?

If you’re a fan of the touchless car wash despite all its potential threats, you should safeguard your car as best as possible against the damage it can cause. The only way to do this is to offer your vehicle better protection against contaminants and harmful factors.

One way to do this is by applying ceramic coating. 

Ceramic coatings are products that add shine and protection to your car’s paint for quite a long time. They actually trump polishing and waxing, currently holding the title of best car care procedure on the market. 

Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need to take your car to the body shop for a ceramic coating session. You can do it all by yourself, without having to spend around $1,000. 

All you need is a good product by your side, such as Nexgen Ceramic Spray. With its high silicon dioxide composition (13%) it offers long-lasting durability — a feature no other similar product on the market has.

Last Thoughts: Is Using a Touchless Car Wash Worth It?

Our conclusion: only if necessary. Since there are too many risks involved, we recommend the traditional hand wash instead as it’s safer and gives you more control over the entire process. 

A touchless car wash has its own benefits and can definitely clean your vehicle as it’s more than equipped to handle a quick and light wash. If you need more from your washing session — like removing seriously stubborn contaminants — then better go the old-fashioned way…cleaning by hand.

If you have any questions about touchless car washes, traditional hand washing, or ceramic coating, get in touch with us! We’ll offer our best expertise on the matter.

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