How to Get a Car Wash

by Contributor

A filthy car is unappealing, and dirt and road grime can harm your car's finish. Automatic car washes make it easy to keep your car clean. A quick stop at a car wash bay or center gets you back on the road without spending much time, effort or money.

Decide which type of automatic car wash suits your vehicle's needs. There are two basic types: conveyor belt tunnels and in-bay car washes. Some conveyor car washes are full-service and offer vacuuming of your car's interior while you watch the process from inside. In others, you remain in your car while the conveyor belt pulls the vehicle through the tunnel. An in-bay wash moves around your parked car while you are inside. Both types are good for removing dirt and grime from your vehicle, but an in-bay car wash is usually cheaper.

Select the options for your car wash. Most car washes offer extras such as spray wax, clear coat protectant, under carriage scrub or tire protectant and shine. While these extras add to your overall cost, they can make a simple automatic car wash more like a hand wash for only a few dollars more.

Remove or secure loose or easily damaged parts of your car. Antennas, spoilers, auxiliary lights and magnetic decals can be displaced or damaged by the car wash. Some car washes offer tape to secure rear wipers. Make certain that your windows and moon roof are completely closed.

Proceed to the car wash tunnel or bay, and follow the instructions posted. Stop your car where indicated. There will often be a series of lights letting you know where to position your vehicle on the conveyor belt or in the bay.

Drive slowly out of the car wash once the wash cycle is complete. If your car is on a conveyor, begin driving forward after the conveyor has released your tires. As you exit, the blowers remove excess water that cause spots on your car's finish. Move slowly under the dryers to allow them to remove as much water as possible.


  • close Avoid automatic car washes that use plastic bristle brushes to clean your car. They can damage the finish. Touch-free (which uses only jets of water) or soft cloth rollers are safer bets.

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