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Are automatic car washes bad for your car? : Car wash FAQ

  • Cars Explained
  • Natasha Young
  • 5 minutes

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Every now and then, you look at your car and can’t help but notice that it needs to be washed. You can’t, however, take a day off from work and spend a reasonable amount of time delicately cleaning your car, nor can you hire someone to do it for you. So, naturally, a better option occurs to you: use an automatic car wash. But at some point, you might have wondered if automatic car washes are bad for your car or not. Well, we are here to help you find answers.¬†


One common misconception in the¬†car wash and¬†detailing industry is that all automatic car washes are the same. That is simply not the case. In fact, there are numerous types of automatic wash techniques and facilities, each with a unique approach to completing the same task ‚Äď removing debris from your vehicle.¬†But mainly,¬†there are two types of automatic car washes: touchless and friction-based.¬†

Touchless car wash  

The touchless car wash is the easiest to use and is less likely to damage your vehicle. This system is typically equipped with an in-bay automated system, in which the driver pulls into a wash bay, and the system rolls over their stationary vehicle to wash it. Some of these touchless car wash systems connect the wheels to a series of gears and a conveyor system that move the vehicle through the touchless process ‚Äď which may include undercarriage washing.¬†

Friction-based car wash  

The friction-based automated car wash, similar to that found at a gas station, is the second type of automated car wash. To wash the surface, a series of industrial-strength spinning machines with a fabric-like material is used. These materials are designed for long-term use, not for gentle application of force. As a result, the risk of swirl marks, paint chips, and other damage to the vehicle’s paint surface is higher than with a touchless automated car wash system.¬†

Hybrid car wash 

There are hybrid automated car washing stations that use both touchless and friction-based car wash techniques. The detergents used to wash the vehicle are the main difference between these systems. The touchless machines will typically use a lower pH car soap than the hybrid machines. 

Because touchless machines rely on high-pressure water, the shampoo must be more alkaline in nature to loosen debris, dirt, and contaminants from the surface. Hybrids that use the wash wheel or strips can use less aggressive soaps to scrub the car clean. 

Hybrid car wash

Automatic car wash: Advantages and disadvantages 

There are some advantages and disadvantages to using an automatic car wash to keep your vehicle clean. These statements will help you to reach a conclusion whether automatic car washes are bad for your car or not. 


  • Efficiency: Much better cleaning than in previous technologies. Recent automatic car washing facilities incorporate cutting-edge technology. They wash a vehicle more thoroughly and cover every nook and corner of your car. They are efficient and quick. It’s always a plus when you can get your car washed in a matter of minutes.¬†
  • Reduced paint damage: Touchless systems reduce the possibility of paint damage. High-pressure washing facilities outperform friction-based systems. If you cannot hand wash your vehicle with high-quality microfiber media (such as a wash mitt), an automatic car wash is the best alternative. If you’re going to use an automatic car wash, a touchless car wash is your best bet.¬† ¬†


  • Need for research: Using the incorrect method can cause damage to your car. Professionals in the car wash facility will certainly focus on not causing any damage to your car’s paint. However, automatic car washes can cause damage to other parts of your vehicle. In fact, some have been known to rip off the antenna, side view mirrors, and even the front or rear bumpers. You have to go prepared and need to do some research on the products and techniques they use.¬†
  • Car wash products: The use of harsh chemicals and car soaps is a disadvantage. Some automatic car washing facilities use an industrial-strength alkaline enhanced degreasing shampoo. These formulas are excellent for removing wax, paint sealants, and even bird droppings, bug guts, and tree sap. However, the abrasive soap leaves a mark on unprotected paint. In fact, it can begin to eat away at the clear coat over time, causing oxidation, corrosion, and, eventually, rust.¬†
  • Water spots: Even car washes with super hair driers are susceptible to water spotting. Most facilities use unfiltered city industrial water, which contains higher calcium deposits and other minerals. As water evaporates from the surface, those deposits dry quickly, leaving dried mineral deposits that are difficult to remove.¬†

Read: How often should you wash your car?

Are automatic car washes bad for your car? 

The use of advanced techniques and better cleaning agents in automatic car washes is now improving the overall process. You no longer have to worry about bristly brushes, thanks to foam and microfiber technology. The most recent technology allows cleaning your cars in a soft-touch and automatic manner. Finally, each method of car cleaning has advantages and disadvantages. However, if you value convenience, safety, and affordability above all else, going with an advanced automatic car wash facility that uses the best car wash products and techniques is the best option for you. UNLIMITED CAR WASHES

Wondering where to find the best car wash for your car in your location? We recommend you to visit Way.com or download the Way app (available on iOS and Android). Enjoy a safe and contactless car wash experience with Way. Just scan and drive away with a spotless car! 

Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


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